But What If We Make A Mistake?

In my ECHO Marketing Seminars earlier this year, I was asked several times if the Kindle launch at Amazon.com was an example of how hyper-growth can be worse than not growing at all. While it is a good example of how we can sometimes be a victim of our own marketing success, and I still passionately advocate deliberate, healthy growth over explosive, hyper-growth, I think the marketplace is better off if we fail while daring greatly rather than timidly waiting for everything to be perfect before we launch. If we handle the inevitable hiccups promptly and with a genuine customer focus, it may even be possible for our brands to emerge even stronger.

I’m tempted to suggest that Amazon’s handling of this situation will become a part of such branding folklore that gets told around the campfire, but I really think that their handling of the situation is so good, future sales of the product will eclipse any breakdowns in delivery that may have afflicted the original launch, and the stock outs will be pretty much forgotten. I commend the ownership of this situation Amazon founder and president Jeff Bezos has taken, and the lesson is a good one for all of us.  They stumbled, they admitted it, and they marched on!

This appeared on their homepage today:

Dear Customers, Ever since we launched our wireless reading device Kindle last November, we've been unable to keep it in stock, and we've had to work hard to increase manufacturing capacity. Today, we're excited to announce that Kindle is in stock and ready for immediate shipment. We've also been adding selection. Since launch, we've added 25,000 additional books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers that you can download wirelessly to your Kindle, bringing the total to more than 115,000. To learn more about the device and what you can read on it, visit Kindle's product page. You'll see that more than 2,000 customers have reviewed Kindle - I encourage you to take a look at what customers have to say. For those of you who are interested, I invite you to read Amazon's just-released annual letter to shareholders. I don't normally link to a shareholder letter from the Amazon home page, but this letter is all about Kindle. If you're curious, it will give you some insight into how we think about the business and our long-term vision for Kindle. It's a short letter, and I hope you find it worthwhile. Happy reading, Jeff Bezos Founder & CEO