My big brand training taught me the “test, test, test, test, launch big” school of market research. I’m a big believer in the power of market research when done well. But I’ve also experienced the purgatory of over-testing. Over-testing limits our ability to move quickly and delays getting our ideas into the real world.
I find inspiration in the philosophy of Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress:
“Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there. That means every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public it‘s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world … By shipping early and often you have the unique competitive advantage of hearing from real people what they think of your work, which in best case helps you anticipate market direction, and in worst case gives you a few people rooting for you that you can email when your team pivots to a new idea. Nothing can recreate the crucible of real usage.”
Internet companies commonly remain in Beta for extended periods of time, which allows them to adapt and evolve in the market. Yet, more frequently I see non-Internet companies doing the same thing. The aptly named BetaBrand launches a new clothing product every week. A Startup Store recently launched in New York as an ever-changing retail space that will completely change products and physical design every 4-6 weeks.
Rachel Shechtman, founder of A Startup Store, said: “We’re in beta because I don’t think it’s fair that digital companies are the only ones who get to be in beta.”
It’s not just an opportunity for startup companies either. I was struck by this recent quote from Marc Pritchard, global marketing officer at P&G: “I want P&G to adopt a ‘do-learn’ approach to brand-building. This means doing and learning simultaneously, rather than learning, learning, learning some more and then doing”
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)