One of the most revolutionary marketing tools to come to the surface recently is the beta launch. Essentially, a product is “pre-launched” as a beta version and, as a consequence, errors are to be anticipated and feedback is openly accepted. It is a great tactic, borne of the software industry (mentality), which carries with it no deadline. A product can remain in beta phase eternally. In fact, a beta launch could be just another way of involving the consumer and inviting constant feedback. Indeed, some products never make it out of the beta phase.
I believe there is something to be learned for all companies. Taking a page out of Google’s strategy, it is all about launch and iterate. Launch, learn & improve. In this vein, I would like to suggest that companies learn to adopt the beta myndset. What does this entail?
1/ A soft launch: no hard set specific date of launch. Any PR effort must be considered more of a behind-the-scenes scoop. Customers “buying” the product are considered ‘insiders’ whose opinion is invited. For software, this means allowing for automatic bug reports, etc.
2/ Attached to the launch package, there must be plenty of mechanisms to recuperate feedback.
3/ The company must be ready to incorporate the feedback. Improvements may be incremental.
4/ As the beta launch approach becomes systematic, successive new product initiatives should incorporate learnings: improving, for example, the way that feedback is captured.
5/ This is not just a philosophy that applies to software manufacturers or internet sites. All types of products and services can be launched and organized with a beta myndset. Google, the ultimate e-service company, launches oodles of beta products and, among its current list is actually a brick & mortar product: google gulp (pictured right), a low-carb novel drink designed to boost your internal software with a “patented Auto-Drink™ technology…”
A beta myndset is a whole new way of thinking for most companies, which are organized around production schedules and a certain inflexibility when it comes to customer feedback. I believe that it is an extremely attractive and alternative way of launching — clearly not for everyone.
What do you think of the beta myndset? Know of any companies that have adopted this as a strategy?