Minimum Lovable Products

December Event Review: “Minimum Lovable Products” with Glen Lipka, Head of Magic (PM/UX) at Engagio

By Vinesh Thakur

At the December 7th session of SVPMA, Glen Lipka, Head of Magic (PM/UX) at Engagio talked about what it means to make a product “Lovable.”  Glen has had the opportunity to build a product from scratch multiple times, and his insight about the little things a Product Manager can do to make their product lovable is particularly interesting.

What is a Lovable product?

Glen started the discussion by differentiating between a viable product and a lovable product.  A viable product is a basic minimum sellable product.  It has features corresponding to market requirements and is pretty black and white when it comes to the solution it proposes.  A Lovable product goes beyond the basic functionality and gives its users something extra.  It has color, personality, and it tells a story to its users.

Why make a product Lovable?

A lovable product will speak for itself.  It will stand apart from the crowd.  The demand for such a product will be higher than its minimal viable counterpart and if your customers love the product, they will market it for you.

In addition, lovable products attract the best talent.  When a potential employee comes in and sees the commitment that is characteristic of a lovable product, it is more likely they will take the job.  After they take the job, this commitment will translate into productivity.

When a new product comes into being, it might not be fully functional.  At this stage, a Lovable product will give its users what a minimum viable product won’t.  It could be a new color scheme, graphics or just an interactive loading screen.  Any feature that differentiates your product from the competition can add to the product’s “Lovability.”

How to make a product Lovable?

A lot of companies today are focused on making “Likeable” products.  Glen encourages product teams to polarize their audience so that there are no more people that merely “Like” the product.  They either Love it or they don’t.  This would ultimately be advantageous for the product because it will be the people that “Love” the product, rather than those that “Like” it, who end up buying the product.  Moreover, customers that don’t love your product will give you valuable input that can be used to evolve the product’s “Lovability.”

Glen transformed the Engagio Playmaker from zero to mLP(Lovable) using techniques that involved a lot of thought and little extra resources.  When Glen finalized the underwater theme that seemed to resonate with the company, he took it a step further and got a whale mascot designed for the company.  Next, every employee at the company got a customizable coffee mug with the company mascot on it.  Everything from meeting room names to office designs painted a picture that reinforced the underwater theme to insiders and outsiders alike.

In addition to a consistent theme, Product Managers can use a lot of tools to bake the love in their product.  The key is to differentiate your product by making it stand apart from the competition.  Giving your product a good name and adding in Easter eggs for power users are some ways in which you can get your customers to love your product.

The journey of making a product lovable starts as early as identifying the use case and the market for the product.  Involving people early is key.  Everyone in the team should feel connected to the product and the decisions that leaders take.  As the Love spreads from inside the company to the customers, it will provide a favorable position for the product to succeed in the marketplace.

Vinesh Thakur currently works as a Software Engineer at Cisco Systems.  He has previously held engineering positions at Juniper Networks and Citrix Systems in routing and security domains.  With almost 5 years of experience working as a software developer, Vinesh has worked on several different products across the development lifecycle.  He plans to use his ingenuity to develop innovative products as a future product manager, taking ideas from concept to successful launches.