The Beta Myndset – Launch & Iterate

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Beta Mindset...with a Why!

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.

Virtual world getting real

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?