Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Why early adopters won't help you sell more
In every new market – with new products in new categories that solve a new or previously-unsolved problem – there’s a group of early adopters. These are the customers that already get it, that are predisposed to try something new, and are the quickest to buy.
The early adopters are passionate about what you’re doing, they give you a lot of feedback, and they’re vocal about what they want to see you do next with the product.
Problem is, early adopters don’t necessarily reflect the rest of the market. They might make up the bulk of your earliest customers, but it’s dangerous to build your long-term product strategy, marketing plan and messaging framework based on their direct feedback.
The next group of customers – the post-early adopters, those that won’t dive in right away but will slowly warm to what you’re selling as the market matures, as they see others using it, and as their understanding of the product and solution evolves – are going to think about you in a different way. They’re going to think about the problem a different way, think about the outcome they’re seeking in a different way.
The product you’re selling may or may not need to evolve significantly to reach this new and much larger audience. But the way you approach them, the way you resonate with their current situation and describe a positive future that your solution can bridge to, that needs to be different.
Many companies build their product strategy and marketing plans based on feedback from their early adopters. They take feedback and priorities from that early audience as indicators of what the broader market thinks. That’s dangerous thinking. Unless you understand both the early adopters and the broader market – and especially understand how they act, think and buy differently – tapping into that broader sales and growth opportunity will be far harder than it needs to be.
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