How to Pivot or Iterate an MVP Based on Customer Feedback

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pivot or iterate an mvp

How do you know if your product will deliver value to the end users and achieve success before you launch it? The key lies in building an effective minimum viable product (MVP), followed by gathering customer feedback. Combining these two aspects can help validate your product’s market potential.

MVP stands for minimum viable product. A basic version or prototype close to the real product or idea is built to test the product’s market potential by having a select few target audiences use it and gather their feedback to improve the product before its launch.

This iterative cycle of building, testing, and adapting your MVP based on customer feedback helps you achieve product-market fit – satisfying the needs of your target segment through continuous refinement.

Pivoting and Iterating are two indispensable strategies for ensuring a product that your target customer will adore. Before we delve into the how-to’s of pivoting and iterating your focused MVP, let’s first understand the subject matter, reasoning, and timing (as in when to implement these strategies).

What is Pivot and Iteration?

While both strategies aim to achieve product-market fit, one is slightly different than the other. Each has its unique approach in response to customer feedback and market dynamics (linked to user needs and behaviors).

·        Iteration is the process of making small changes to your product or idea. Making incremental changes to your product based on user feedback and data. It is where you fine-tune – each tweak improves the user experience, bringing you closer to that foolproof product.

·        Pivoting, on the other hand, is about course correction. This process involves making fundamental changes to your product’s direction, core features, or even target segment. In some cases, pivoting means abandoning it entirely and creating a new one, leading to changes in your business model, value proposition, or entire customer segment.

Should You Pivot or Iterate?

Building an MVP was a smart decision you made to anticipate potential risks at an early stage. However, the key question is knowing when to pivot or iterate. Primarily, it all boils down to the users – their feedback determines your next step in the MVP refinement cycle. Deciding whether to pivot or iterate your MVP can be a crucial juncture in your product development process.

But how do you choose the right path?

Reasons to Pivot

·        Fundamental Mismatch: The product concept doesn’t meet your target audience’s needs. Feedback reveals core features are irrelevant to user needs.

·        Competition Shift: The market dramatically changes, making your current product obsolete or facing fierce competition from more innovative solutions.

·        Technological Advancements: New technologies surface, offering better ways to solve the problem your product or business idea addresses.

·        Unexpected Opportunities: You discover a niche market with a distinct set of needs, presenting a chance to turn toward a more focused and potentially lucrative direction.

Reasons to Iterate

·        Room for Improvement: The core concept is valued but users find specific areas fall short of their expectations, suggesting improvements in features, design, or even bug fixes.

·        Market Validation: Early traction and positive user response indicate you’re on the right track but require fine-tuning to enrich value and appeal.

·        Learning and Optimization: Constantly gathering data and user feedback, identifying areas for incremental improvements in user experience, functionality, and performance.

·        Customer Loyalty: Iterative improvements based on user feedback demonstrate responsiveness and value, which further build trust and loyalty.

If your product shows traction or validation, Iterate – it’s a problem-solver. And if your product metrics are not performing well or if they don’t address a real problem, Pivot – a strategic shift in your product’s direction becomes vital.

All things considered, the choice between pivoting and iterating depends on the specific framework of your focused MVP, customer feedback, and market dynamics.

5 Steps to Pivot or Iterate Your MVP Based on Customer Feedback

Launching an early product doesn’t guarantee success. That’s why testing its appeal with your target audience is crucial. Whether you have a burgeoning business idea, a product, or simply a concept in need of validation, refining the minimum viable product (MVP) is your key.

Then again, the real question lies in how you refine it. Do you pivot to a completely new direction or iterate on what you have? It requires a systematic approach to ensure your product’s desirability and profitability. So here are the 5 key steps on how to Pivot or Iterate your MVP.

1. Evaluate Customer Feedback

Assuming you’ve all the customer feedback gathered. Evaluate and analyze their insights, which would serve as the reason for iteration or pivot. Assess how users interact with your MVP and understand their behavior. Identify pain points, preferences, and features that resonate positively.

Key types of feedback to evaluate:

Pain Points: Accompanied by frustration or confusion, exposing core functionality issues or misalignment with needs, potentially signaling a pivot.

Feature Requests: Insights into unmet needs and desired functionalities, suggesting minor changes (iteration) or opportunities for new directions (pivots).

Usage Data: Low engagement or unexpected usage patterns might hint at the need for iteration or even a fundamental refocus.  

Net Promoter Score (NPS): Customer loyalty and advocacy – low scores call for deeper investigation and potential pivots, and high scores for further iterations.

Keep in mind that your goal is to attain product-market fit or validate that your product holds noteworthy business potential. All that needs to be done is precisely aligning your MVP with your audience’s needs and expectations.

2. Define Your Goal

Analyzing customer feedback will reveal the right path forward: pivoting to a new direction or iterating on the existing product. Once the path is chosen, it’s time to set strategic goals and develop an action plan (to either pivot or iterate) to tackle the identified problems.

For example:

Pivot Goals

If opting for a pivot, clearly define the new direction, market segment, and update the value proposition. Ensure alignment with market trends and customer needs.

Iteration Goals

Specify the improvements needed—whether in features, design, or functionality. Set goals that address user concerns and optimize overall user experience.

3. Communicate Changes

Validate your ideas with the users first. If their feedback confirms the proposed adjustments address their needs, proceed with implementation. Actively communicate the identified changes to your team, investors, and stakeholders. Because alignment and transparency are crucial for a successful transition and maintaining everyone’s confidence in the product’s trajectory.

Pivot Communication

Communicate the changes transparently to your user base and to all the parties involved. Clearly express the reasons behind the pivot and highlight the added value they can expect.

Iteration Communication

Keep users informed about upcoming improvements. Share the rationale behind improvements to promote a sense of involvement.

4. Execute Changes

Implement the changes according to your chosen action plan—whether it’s pivot or iteration. Collaborate with your development team, designers, and other stakeholders to ensure a seamless execution of the proposed changes.

Pivot Execution

Implement the pivot systematically, making the necessary adjustments to your product or business model. Test and gather feedback at each step while embracing a lean startup approach here.

Iteration

Implement iterative changes. Gather continuous feedback, analyze results, and refine your approach regularly – agility is key here.

5. Monitor and Analyze

Once the changes are made, closely monitor the product’s performance and user response to the new changes. In this case, utilize analytics tools to track key metrics to gauge performance.

Pivot Metrics

Establish KPIs aligned with the pivot goals established earlier (in the 2nd step). Now track metrics such as user engagement, and customer satisfaction. Check if the major changes are meeting users’ needs.

Iteration Metrics

Track the impact of iterative changes on user experience, feature usage, and overall satisfaction. Adjust based on evolving insights.

More importantly, monitoring and analysis are not endpoints, but integral steps of the product development cycle. Iterate again as needed. In other words, regularly collect user feedback and be prepared to iterate again based on changing user needs and market dynamics.

Real-World Pivot and Iterate Examples

Truth be told, these two verbs: Pivot and iterate hold immense worth, as can be seen from industry giants that now boast valuations exceeding a billion dollars. With constant market shifts and evaluating user feedback, these business models made waves across the globe.

Although there are far too many real-life examples of businesses who achieve successes across the globe, here are the top ones among them.

Top 3 Inspiring Examples of Pivot

Instagram

Started as a check-in app, previously called Burbn, but people loved sharing photos more. Following the market potential, Instagram listened, and pivoted. Now, it’s the world’s largest photo-sharing platform, demonstrating that sometimes, the best ideas lie hidden in plain sight.

Twitter/X

First emerged as Odeo as a podcasting platform, but Apple took over that space. So, Twitter (Now known as X) decided to pivot, switching to short messages or microblogging. From celebrity updates to breaking news, the platform is now a real-time discussion hub.

Amazon

Began as an online bookstore, but they saw a chance to sell everything. So, Amazon pivoted to an e-commerce platform offering a wide range of products. Now they’re a one-stop shop for books, toys, groceries, and more.

Top 3 Inspiring Examples of Iteration

Duolingo

They started with gamified lessons but diligently incorporated user feedback. Today, they boast podcasts, stories, and personalized learning paths, making language learning accessible and engaging for millions worldwide.

Slack

Before it became the go-to collaboration platform for teams, Slack was merely an internal communication tool. Their success story is all about constantly iterating. Slack added channels, integrations, and file sharing, transforming the way teams work together across time zones and continents.

Canva

Canva’s rise reveals the power of iterating beyond core offerings. They listened to their users and expanded to include video editing, presentations, and even social media graphics. Now, Canva is a user-friendly and easy-to-use platform helping masses, regardless of their expertise, to create stunning visuals.

Moreover, these businesses remind us adaptability and responsiveness are two crucial factors to keep up with the ever-evolving business dynamics. Listening to user feedback, identifying new opportunities, and boldly pivoting and iterating can unlock unforeseen potential.

Conclusion

While a staggering 90% of startups face failure, the primary reason is that they fail to meet the needs of their target audience or adapt to market changes. With the help of MVP combined with pivot and iteration strategies, startups and entrepreneurs can validate their product or idea potential for market success.

During the MVP improvement process, it is crucial to maintain a customer-centric mindset and remain agile throughout. It is important to note that success is not achieved with a single pivot or iteration but rather through a willingness to constantly learn, adapt, and refine MVP based on invaluable user feedback.

And for the ulimate goal in this strategic journey is to deliver a product that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of end users.

Have a product idea and curious about its market potential? SMB Services can help! We specialize in building, launching, and scaling ideas with tailor-made MVP solutions. Our client’s success is our top priority.

Consult us today and let’s turn your vision into reality!

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