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Q: Marketing beta versions ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Marketing beta versions
Category: Business and Money > Advertising and Marketing
Asked by: swisscheese-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 09 Feb 2003 11:39 PST
Expires: 11 Mar 2003 11:39 PST
Question ID: 159108
We have a beta version of a web site up and need customers to test
before the full launch. But we don't want to advertise as it seems
doing so would reduce the newsworthiness of the real launch. If we do
a press release for the beta site it seems we would be less likely to
get coverage on the main launch (since editors like new concepts and
the concept is new only once) and, also, we would have too may beta
testers. How do we get out of this chicken-egg problem?

Clarification of Question by swisscheese-ga on 09 Feb 2003 12:00 PST
Our site is - we make custom parts online.
Subject: Re: Marketing beta versions
Answered By: ragingacademic-ga on 10 Feb 2003 11:47 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear swisscheese,

Thanks for your question.  First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research – please
don’t hesitate to ask me for a clarification.

The problem you present is as follows: you have a beta version of a
web site up and need customers to test before the full launch, but you
don't want to advertise as it seems doing so would reduce the
newsworthiness of the real launch.

First off, I took a look at your site and it seems that you are on to
a pretty interesting concept – I think you’ll find that various
inventors are vying for something like this, where they can basically
have prototypes manufactured to spec and delivered to them within
days.  It’s a really great concept.  I don’t know how much competition
exists in this space, if any, but it looks good.

As to your problem – I really don’t think you have one.  What you
should do immediately is to start working on the major search engines
to get good placement in relevant searches; you should hire a search
engine strategist to do this.  You should start working on this now
(if you had not already done so anyway…) because on some of the
engines it can take months to get listed and acknowledged.  Customers
will trickle in, allowing you to test your site in a controlled
fashion before they come in droves.

Your company is very small.  When you think about reducing
newsworthiness, your benchmark should be something like GE announcing
a new technology etc.  A company like GE would want to make sure it is
in control of information in anticipation of the release of a new
product.  But nobody knows about your company, and, frankly, nobody
cares – this is something that was very difficult for me, as a budding
entrepreneur, to understand once…

Consider that there are literally hundreds of thousands of press
releases put out every single day.  Contrary to common belief, you
don’t get press from press releases – unless you are already very
interesting anyway (e.g.
Bill Gates, Microsoft – stuff that is newsworthy and people care
about…).  You get press by cultivating media contacts, analyst
relationships etc. – then, when you have something interesting to
release to them, they’ll write about it.  Maybe…

The challenge then becomes to ensure they write what you want them to
– but I digress…

A great way to get at some beta testers would be to leverage Google’s
adwords select program –

You could try other similar venues such as Overture –

…but Google has the greatest traffic and the widest reach.

You could also try advertising regionally, say in your local paper,
offering some kind of coupon for example to encourage trial.  You
could also simply hire freelance remote testers – I assume you’ve
already hammered at your system locally, but you want to see if it
“really” works as well as to receive some independent unbiased

In any event, you should not worry about “using up” the
news-worthiness of your launch – au contraire, you may succeed in
generating some buzz!

I hope this response adequately addresses your request.  Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this


Request for Answer Clarification by swisscheese-ga on 10 Feb 2003 13:14 PST
Hi ragingacademic - Thanks for your reply. We have done much of what
you discuss already. I know we are no Microsoft but that is why an
industry publication would write about us at most once. It would be
better to use that one hit on the final release, IMO. But that makes
it hard to expose beta. -- swisscheese

Clarification of Answer by ragingacademic-ga on 10 Feb 2003 14:09 PST
Dear swisscheese -

Thanks for your request for clarification.

I absolutely agree that the industry mags would be interested in
covering you - you have a very unique value proposition, and if
everything executes properly, and you get some paying customers that
can be quoted, it'll be relatively easy to get you press.

But the niche industry magazines typically employ mostly freelancers,
and freelance writers do not scour the press release pages looking for
these stories; sometimes, you almost have to force feed them.  On the
other hand, your venture is so innovative you may have a chance at the
Fortunes and BusinessWeeks - but they won't write about you before you
have some real substance.

This is why I don't think you're wasting anything by beginning to do
some spot publicity to generate initial traffic.  btw, you could even
use this forum (e.g. Answers) to recruit testers - you could pay them,
say, $25 for their time to run through the application, design
something small and send it through.  There are quite a few
researchers who have some good user interface, usability and marketing
backgrounds, so you're likely to get good feedback.

You could also use one of the other forums I had directed you to as a
response to your other question.

Let me know how else I can help!

swisscheese-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Marketing beta versions
From: martinjay-ga on 09 Feb 2003 14:44 PST
Figure out how many Beta Testers you want, select customers
that you want to use it, keep calling them, tell them it is a 
pre-launch secret and go till you get enough.
Not sure this is what you are after, maybe too obvious.

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