I'm curious, do you think customers should be told that the service they are using is the very first version and they should expect updates (eg. we're going by MVP philosophy)? Where do you draw the line? Is it safe to still charge for someone using a minimum viable product (it still does the job and although it's very simplistic and minimal, it is a value add... or so I like to think).
The reason I ask is because this service I'm thinking about won't be bloated for launch with a ton of functionality... it'll be very simple, but it'll do the job.
Thoughts? Curious on the opinions of others.
Users/customers don't care about the term/concept of "minimum viable product". What they care about is that you have something that can help them and that there is value in it.
Don't make a big deal out of it, but don't hide the fact that it is version 1, or 0.0. Talk instead about what it does and why it is useful for them.
Then ask them what they would like to see in the upcoming versions.
Writing software is all about people.
People have a problem and you write software to deliver a solution. Like Tim said, show them how you can solve their problem and it's likely they will listen.
Be honest, up front and impress on them why they should use your product.
I like the strategy of charging your customers earlier rather than later for a service that you plan to offer them. A strategy that I see being employed really well is longer beta period trials for the service after which the billing cycle will begin.
Getting feedback from your users about the product along with what it is going to cost them will help you in developing a roadmap that matches the expectations of the users along with your financial goals.
As Tim said users don't care about whether your product is a MVP. It all comes down to are the features in your MVP bring enough value your beta users.
I would want to know if you and your company are going to be around. Showing an interest in users by asking for feedback and making continuous improvements would be strong signs that the startup is making an effort. If you try and fool everyone, you're going to lose customers and run the risk of going out of business. Don't make people regret buying your product.
Yes, you should tell them.
Focus on the genuine value which they'll receive from Release 1 - and not on what they might get one day from Release X....
Make sure you give them multiple ways in which to provide feedback to you about things they'd like to see in new releases. Ask them to help you quantify the prospective value to them so that you can better determine which functions to add when. Use your blog to give them a view of when they might expect to see which new features.
Open and healthy dialogue with clients who are actually using your products is a wonderful thing.