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• June 29, 2016

Minimum Viable Concept

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Minimum Viable Concept

This article was contributed by
DJ Weidner

In software development (or really any product development), the goal is to get to a minimum viable product as quickly as possible. A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of learning about customers with the least effort.

Testing software in the real-world and with real people allows a team to rapidly evaluate a product’s long term viability and define potential features and functionality.

This concept of “Minimum Viable Product” can be adapted to the creative agency world to help clients get to their true problem and associated solutions quicker. These Minimum Viable Concepts (MVCs) aren’t meant to be final, proposed solutions. They’re not fully fleshed out, beautiful campaigns with spec work.  These are high-level, single-execution creative examples with maybe a line or two of copy and include the underlying audiencetargeting, and strategy in a compact brief.  They’re meant to visually and strategically frame a potential solution to the original client request. In the end, we use these MVCs to inform what will become our final, fully developed concept.  Developing a MVC is a way of reflecting the project brief back to the client in a way that gets their heads moving in a different direction.

I often tell my team, “We need to give them something to react to; something to see, experience and feel.” It’s only when the client sees their solution manifest that they start to see potential problems or shortcomings with their original “problem statement.” These can be problems with the targeting, audience definition, timeframe, or any number of political, opinion, or strategic direction issues.

This “MVC” step allows us to see the client’s reaction, gauge their comfort with an idea, and hone in on what they actually need to solve their marketing challenge.

We’re seeing more clients wanting to be part of the creative process rather than the traditional model of getting a brief and working for four to six weeks developing full concepts, models, messaging and wireframes. They don’t want to be presented to or razzle-dazzled; they want to see how the idea evolves over time. Rather than dig at all the details to get to full fidelity right out of the gate, our process is flexible enough and nimble enough to allow for this natural reaction, discovery, and redirection. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have a well-defined scope of work; this is more about refining the problem, solution relationship in way that allows our teams to get to the best full concept rather than spinning our wheels on full- fidelity builds.

Ultimately, we find clients are happier, more engaged with the process, and more receptive to strategic solutions when they understand how and why we arrived at a proposed solution. Developing a MVC allows us to get to the right solution faster, more efficiently, and with fewer cycles.

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