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.
  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…”

    Virtual world getting real

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?

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