In my last post I described ‘Lean Start Up’ – a process that became popular in Silicon Valley and the business sector and now is gaining traction in the nonprofit sector. One of the key elements of lean start up is creating a ‘minimally viable product’ to use to test a new idea with customers. But how do you create a ‘minimally viable product’ for the types of programs and services that associations and nonprofits typically create? They are rarely concrete products that can easily be prototyped.
There are ways to test your program and service ideas with your target audiences. They range from storyboards to explainer videos to creating a concierge version of your service. Answer the question – what is the simplest and least expensive way to test your idea? Ideally it enables you to test your idea by observing behavior.
Storyboards are essentially a ‘graphic novel’ or comic strip version of your idea. On one project I was facilitating, we used this technique to test our ideas with customers. We first had team members sketch out their idea – stick figures were just fine. This step helped team members push themselves to build out what sometimes was somewhat of a vague generic concept to delineating the concrete aspects of the program or service. We then had a professional illustrator clean up our crude sketches for testing with members.
Another possibility is to create a short video that explains and illustrates your idea. Dropbox used this method to test the viability of its service. They looked at how many people watched the video and more importantly how often people forwarded the video to test enthusiasm for the idea.
Simple Web Pages
Create a marketing page describing your idea. Perhaps it says it is ‘coming soon.’ Include a way to sign up and get more information. See how many people opt in.
Another alternative is to create a concierge version of your service. This is especially helpful when its full version would include automation. You build the basic marketing pages and for anyone who signs up staff process the item manually behind the scenes. Your goal is to see how many people enroll and the interest before you spend money on developing a complicated back end.
Learn more about storyboarding with this free resource.
Want to talk about how you might apply this to your situation? Get in touch for a free coaching session.
My passion is helping nonprofit organizations and associations have a greater mission impact.