Your Content MVP fails…. eh?

About a month ago, I had a very interesting discussion with Rajan from Intuit about why content is a product and how the lean startup rules should be applied to it.

Let’s get the definitions out of the way.

A minium viable product (MVP) in its simplest form, is the least number of iterations you’ve done on your product before presenting it to someone who you hope will pay for it.

Sure there are lots of loose words here – but I’ll come around to them in a minute. Keywords here are features and pay.

Lets take software first – we’ll talk about content later.

If your software has 2 features, you would obviously want to make sure that the 2 features actually¬†work before you put the MVP out. You cannot expect a person who may buy your software (prospect) to ‘imagine’ what those features will work like. Naturally paying for it gets chucked out of the window.

If it doesn’t do its job – the feature is useless.

Content behaves exactly the same way. In this case the ‘feature’ correlates to ‘objective’.

WHAT is expected from the content piece? WHAT emotions need to be provoked by it? WHAT memories need to be generated in the user’s mind?

You get my drift don’t you?

If content doesn’t do its job – its design, look and feel is useless. The buyer (could be your mother receiving your call or your university of choice receiving your SOP) cannot ‘imagine’ what the infographic will look like. What the VIDEO will turn out like. And what the Brochure design will look like in print.

All they see – is the MVP. So the features better work.

Applying the lean startup rules to content isn’t impossible. It can still be done. However the build-measure-learn loop should now be applied to learning from each content piece. Not the activity of building the content.

So each blog post that you’re writing – can give you the report card that provides you with the right dataset for taking actions towards the next iteration. A better product or a better blog post.

Eric Ries’ and Steve Blank’s concepts around the Lean startup are fundamentals. But just like you’re applying them to your product and its features, think about applying them to your content and its objectives too.

3 tips to ensure your content is MVP ready:

1. Know thy emotion. If you’re presenting to your CEO – know what emotions you are trying to evoke in her – that’s always a good starting point.

I can’t help you if you’ve got a sucky CEO.

2. It’s wrong if it feels wrong. You’ll know when your content piece is doing its job. And when not. The slightest of doubts means its not ready. Don’t put it out. The content’s features aren’t working.

However diagnosing the problem is like fixing a bug. Helps when the herd doesn’t try to solve it.

3. Put in a premise. Before you demo your software, you present a ‘premise’ first. Do that with your content too. Setting the premise will allow your audience to tune-in. Much easier to etch messages when their minds are free.

What have been your most successful content pieces (features)? How do you know that (validated feedback)?