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When it first launched publicly in late November, ChatGPT was a novelty app going viral on social media. Now, just a few months later, ChatGPT is officially the fastest-growing app in history, with more than 100 million users as of January. For context, it took TikTok nine months to reach that same figure and Instagram more than two years. Microsoft and Google are integrating generative AI into their platforms and promising to transform the way we search for information. ChatGPT is here to stay.
The skyrocketed trajectory of ChatGPT is as much a product of its unique launch strategy as its cutting-edge generative AI technology. ChatGPT wasn’t rolled out to corporate partners, aggressively priced or dependent on a massive marketing strategy and sales team. Rather than investing in these conventional strategies, ChatGPT invested in their customers first – and this tactic has undoubtedly paid off. Business leaders can look to ChatGPT’s first few months as a blueprint for what a revolutionary and lucrative launch model can and should look like.
1. Consider the WOW factor
ChatGPT’s rapid growth is largely because of just how fast the app was able to wow its users by producing amazing results instantly. Consumers tried and loved it, putting the platform in the center of the AI conversation and creating thousands of glowing testimonials – the kind many companies pay big to get.
What started as an AI ripple became a tech world tsunami, showing that the best publicity is ultimately a great product. ChatGPT’s value and transformative capacity were immediately apparent from the first query. In general, companies spend time and finances in demos to select stakeholders, slowly setting people up for amazement. ChatGPT flipped this on its head and came out with the objective to wow the public from the beginning, piquing their interest and leaving them wanting to know more.
2. Make room for consumer feedback – and don’t be afraid to iterate
For OpenAI, we the people, are the testers. By launching the platform for free, developers got a ton of extremely valuable feedback and testing directly from users themselves. In a statement to CNN, the company spoke to the profound benefit of this strategy, saying, “The preview for ChatGPT allowed us to learn from real-world use, and we’ve made important improvements and updates based on feedback.” Rather than investing in beta testers, focus groups and other costly strategies before going to market, OpenAI created a fast and efficient feedback and iteration loop by the sheer number of users they had from day one. They were also never hesitant to learn from this feedback and integrate it into their development strategy to improve the product.
Businesses can look to this as a model. This strategy has the added benefit of ensuring that when a business is ready to move from a loss-leading launch to a profitable model, it can be sure that its product has been adapted to meet consumer needs.
3. Play the long game: A short-term loss-leading strategy leads to major gains
OpenAI decided to invest a few cents per query in ChatGPT from the start. But in doing this, they saved themselves from spending tens of thousands — or more — on a comprehensive marketing, PR and sales campaign. In actual marketing and promotion, they essentially just published a press release on their website and let the internet do the rest. And now that ChatGPT has made such a worldwide splash, OpenAI is valued at $29 billion — more than double what it was in 2021. In monetizing their platform, they are more than making up for any short-term spending they invested in their launch.
For instance, ChatGPT has just launched a Plus option for a $20 subscription fee. Microsoft has already invested $10 billion in OpenAI and is integrating it into Bing to revolutionize its search platform. Google declared a “code red” internally and scrambled to develop a ChatGPT-style search engine of their own. And the economy is following suit: today, AI stock investments are booming, demonstrating how even business leaders outside of the tech sector are rapidly warming up to the benefits that AI presents to our society and accepting the fact that this technology is the future.
Business leaders can see this as a reminder that a bit of patience and confidence in your truly amazing product can go a long way. ChatGPT’s success has been lightning-fast, but even still, it took them a few months to be so profitable. They established a good reputation and now the return on investment is following.
Cutting-edge technology like AI has far-reaching potential beyond just economic gains: These platforms will revolutionize how we work and live. Bill Gates said that this technology will “change our world.”
If more business leaders truly want to follow suit, they need to develop amazing platforms — and rethink the old ways of doing things. ChatGPT gave us a glimpse into the kind of future that is possible. Leaders need to look to their launch as an example and apply similar strategies to ensure they, too, succeed.