Building your MVP team

Connecting with your readership is your number one best way to stay connected and aligned with your fans.  Sure, infrastructure and costs are important to manage properly, but if you don’t resonate with your consumers–if they don’t want, care, or need your project–you are done.

Enter the MVP Team.

Simply put, this is a collection of people directly from your consumer market.  They are people you hand pick, get to know, and come to trust as representative of those typically found in your consumer market.

What types of things would you tap your MVP team be used for?

  • Discussing existing series direction
  • New book concepts
  • Getting reactions to new marketing / identity and branding approaches (logos, slogans/tag lines, look-and-feel)
  • Review of new games, newsletters, etc.
  • How to improve your site
  • Pricing discussions
  • Market research (what they want to read about, when they read, formats to present your stories in–blog, ebook, printed, etc.)

What types of (free/near-free) communications methods should be leveraged from MVPs

  • Interviews (skype, gotomeeting)
  • Forum discussions (joomla, wordpress, etc.)
  • Surveys (surveymonkey)
  • In-person Focus groups (at conventions, other local events)
  • Virtual focus groups (google hangouts, gotomeeting)
  • Email (mailchimp)
  • Usability studies (

How do you put together your MVP team?

First you must know your market. What it the typical profile of someone from your consumer market. What are they looking for in a story? What type of action or detail do they like?  What size book matters to them?  How often do they purchase books?  What is their criteria to decide?  How much are they willing to pay?  Where do they prefer to purchase books?  What format do they prefer? It’s not enough to look at general book readers.  You need to look at the ones in your target market.

Next, research where can they be found online? What type of social media or community interaction takes place and where?

Where can they be found offline (hangouts, conferences, and other gathering places)?

You need to examine if there are sub groups within your consumer market (kids, teens, young adults, adults, elderly, etc.) and understand their unique needs and dwellings.

Determine to what extend you want to leverage your MVP team (see “What are MVPs tapped for” below)

Create a page on your site about being an MVP (with a list of active and emeritus members)

Create an enrollment form with specific questions

  • Name
  • Age
  • Where they live
  • How long they’ve been a fan of your books or series
  • What your series means to them
  • What you love the most about the series
  • One thing that you’ve always had an issue with
  • Why they want to participate
  • Best communicated with through: phone, email
  • Able to participate in individual interviews, focus groups, and or tests of new company concepts

Review the enrollment forms, and select those you feel understand your brand, would be good sounding boards, and fit the “voice” of the market you want to connect more effectively with.  Look for thoughtful responses with insight.

Based on your research here is a non-exhaustive list of techniques you can use to recruit them:

  • Recruit using the last page of your book
  • News release on your Web site
  • Survey from your Web site
  • Email your to registered readers from your site
  • Press article in trade site or journal about your recruitment for your MVP team
  • Fliers at appropriate conventions
  • Inserts in directions or other packaging with your products informing people about potential participation as MVPs
    • Send out a press release
    • Mention it at book signings
    • Drop off fliers at local books stores, coffee shops or other places your target dwells
  • Blog postings about opportunity
  • Posting on Facebook about opportunity
  • Posting on Twitter about opportunity

How do you cultivate your team once it’s together?

  1. Communicate with your MVPs. They want to know they’re a respected and stable entity for you. Without this they’ll feel their time isn’t worth the dedication since there isn’t any from you.
  2. These people want to be a part of your brand and series. They want to be kept up to date on what’s going on. They want to be able to tout they’re an MVP for you.
  3. Create a social media package (badges, etc.) that they can post to Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. to show they’re connected to you
  4. Send regular communications (news posts, email newsletters, etc.) telling them what’s going on, upcoming feedback opportunities, and how existing feedback has impacted your company/products (be as specific as you can)
  5. You want a healthy crop of MVPs, and will want to rotate them in and out so you don’t develop any organizational bias or skewed thinking from your MVPs.  Celebrate graduations into emeritus status (certificates signed by you)
  6. Ask your MVPs to spread the word about broader surveys, product launches, events, etc. Let them have exclusive information first
  7. Planned discounts and special deals should be extended to your MVPs first as appropriate and if possible
  8. Promote discussion amongst your MVPs. Provide a password protected forum for your MVPs to discuss issues and ideas
  9. Talk about your MVPs at trade shows, on your site, commercials, and other places.  It’s both a nod to those that participate and a sign to your consumers you’re listening to them.
  10. Contact them and ask them to meet you at book signings, conventions, and other social events close to them.