I’ve talked before about the ideas I’ve chosen to abandon, the things I’ve decided not to do. On the flip side, we all have that thing we can’t abandon, a secret plan that we keep to ourselves and usually never accomplish.
I want to share mine with you:
In 2008, I found myself sitting in line at the Apple Store waiting on line that wrapped around the block line to get my hands on the second iPhone. This line served not only as an experience for diehard Apple “fanboys” such as myself, but as a marketing event for the brand. My love for Apple combined with the love of others who were willing to bake in the sun while giving up a day of their life did what no advertisement or advocate event ever could. It showed the market that there was a voracious, paying customer for an exciting new product.
At the same time, I had been beating my head against a problem at work. Part of my role at our family business is leading our digital marketing efforts and I was forbidden from using a powerful tactic. Regardless of what we did, there was to be no free products given to influencers or brand advocates. I could run contests, but I couldn’t give products in exchange for coverage or review. Why? Because so much of our business had been built on reviews from paying customers and, regardless of the approach, there is a significant difference in the feedback you get from someone who reaches into their own pocket to pay for a product.
It was in that line, turning my problem around in my head while surrounded by people eagerly waiting to pay Apple for the privilege to both purchase and promote their product that an idea popped into my head for companies that don’t have customers lining up around the block on launch day.
The concept was simple: brands could offer advocates the opportunity to purchase products before they were ever brought to market. In return, the buyer promises to review the product in text, photo or video within 30 days, giving the brand feedback and the kinds of reviews from paying customers that would often not exist until the product was out on the market. While the idea is simple, the execution would not be, so the idea sat dormant.
I’ve never been able to let go of this and recently it evolved into something that, while still ambitious, seems almost doable. The concept is similar to my original idea, except instead of traditional products, it would focus on something I’m very passionate about: app developers, ebook authors and the creators of digital products. Consumers would be able purchase a beta copy (or ever-improving copies) of an app, ebook or digital product at a discounted rate while it is in development. They would also have the opportunity to get a final copy of the product at no additional charge if they would be willing to provide a pre-launch review that could be used to help launch the product. I’ve been calling it PaytaTester.
In the years since I initially had the idea, Kickstarter and other similar concepts have come into the picture, but they focus on initial product creation, not product testing and the product launch. They focus on the creators talking to the customers, not the other way around. They also take a lifetime to actually get you anything tangible.
The Next Step
The concept has been an obsession for far too long and one (if I’m being honest) that I haven’t done enough to turn into a reality. So why put it here? Simple, I either need to do something with it or move on. Sure, sharing this might encourage someone else to rip it off, but keeping the idea to myself has only ensured that no one, including myself would actually do anything about it. I’d much rather put it out there and make this the first of many steps needed to get off my ass and bring this to life.
So what do you think? Do you have your own project that has sat dormant for far too long? Come back tomorrow (you can subscribe for free by RSS or email), we’re going to discuss something I should have done a long time ago. Turning an idea into action.