Growth April 2, 2019

[ASK IH] Asking for advice on marketing and development strategy


Hello IHers,
I have a question for you. Imagine, you are developing a product and it's gonna be huge and you know it. Anyway, you would like to take a shot and start from the MVP. But the problem is MVP is not able to solve the user's problem. It's like if you start creating Photoshop and your first version can only draw with one pen of one color. No brushes, no layers, no typography etc. But you still can draw so it can be considered as "MVP" but practically, a user can not do anything useful with it.
But it's probably not bad. At least you will able to know if users are interested in such a tool. The problem is how to present it.
I would like to use "early promotion" strategy what means I'm going to publish posts, questions, answers, use my email list and other stuff to tell potential customers about this upcoming product.
But it's the problem.
The MVP is very far from being a fully functional product but I still need to tell about it. I still want people to try at least what it has. But I have no idea how to present it. Back to the Photoshop example. What would I say?
Try my only pen tool to draw doodles? You will able to edit photos in the future but for now, only one pen with one color is available?
And people will ask me - why should I try your product, what makes it better than competitors? And the true answer is "Nothing. Actually, it's even worse."
The same about the landing page. When the product is ready it will have main 5 features that will give users 5 main benefits. And only when most of them are implemented the product is better than competitors. But now... only one feature is ready. So, should I mention future features? Should I open access to it? Or close and wait until all features are done?
Was somebody in the same situation? How you solved this problem?


  1. 2

    This is a wonderful question.

    If your product isn't able to solve a problem, it's not an MVP yet. This is why many Indie Hackers say that you should pick a small, easy-to-solve problem that can be built in around a month.

    That being said, there are obviously success stories of people who spent multiple months to release their product. One thing that many of these successful folk have in common is that they talked to potential customers during development.

    This means doing phone calls or one-on-one emails, sharing visual mockups or showcasing example code, sending out future feature lists, etc. You'll also want to ask the uncomfortable questions such as:

    • "Is this something you'd buy?"
    • "If not, what would make you pay for it?"
    • "How much would you pay?"

    Bonus points if you can get them to put down an early bird deposit – that's a pretty good sign that your time and effort will be worthwhile. This exercise also helps you find out where to reach your target market!

    "Why should I try your product, what makes it better than competitors?"

    Don't overthink this too much – few people will actually ask that, and most will be happy to help you if you're earnestly looking for feedback. :) Of course, you can always be truthful in response to those who do:

    "My product is still in development, and I want to use it to help companies like yours. If there's a feature you could use that isn't offered elsewhere, let me know."

    Regardless, you'll want to find some way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Find an important feature that the competition doesn't offer, and build it. Those are the things that will make this easier.

    Good luck!

    1. 1

      Thanks for your response!

      This is why many Indie Hackers say that you should pick a small, easy-to-solve problem that can be built in around a month.
      Well, in my situation it's not the case. If it would be about a "small, easy-to-solve" problem, I would probably wouldn't ask the question because the answer is pretty obvious.
      But here I have a big product that I implement part-by-part. I would like to provide the benefits from the first lines of code but unfortunately, it's not so clear if users would have them on very early stages.

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