We all agree on the fact that we have to find and identify early adopters when we want to successfully bring a new product or service to the market. But the truth is that early adopters can't be found. Early adopters are initially interested customers that we either found online or offline, but they still need to be “educated” before we can really call them early adopters.
Unfortunately the education part isn’t done by most of the founders out there. This is pretty bad as every "non-educated" interested customer is lost early adopter potential, which we could have monetized some day.
So the question arises why so many founders still leave out the “educate” part, if it’s so crucial for every startup’s success? Well, because no one ever told us to do so. Universities, schools, books, blogs and consultants tell us that we need to find our early adopters. But they usually don’t tell us how to find them and that we still need to “educate” them, before we can call them early adopters.
That’s actually the reason why we are having such a hard time finding our early adopters. They don't wear signs on their heads saying "Hey I am an early adopter, I will buy your product". We can't go to a certain place and start our early adopter shopping.
Running around and asking people on the streets just won’t do it. Although it’s impossible, we'd all love to go for an early adopter shopping tour and start selling our new products like crazy. Unfortunately this will never happen, because early adopters for new products don’t exist, yet!
Instead, we need to educate them, create them and craft them ourselves, which is a hell lot of work. So if we have to educate interested customers first, how can we do that? Well, we need a process that will help us to do so. A process I'd like to call "the early adopter education process”, where the most important element is interaction. To put it in a bigger context:
“The early adopter education process” is a process that I came up with after a university professor told me about an empirical study. The study says that a customer usually needs five interactions with a new product before even considering buying a product from a startup. This could be a Facebook ad, a TV ad, a tweet, a blog post, seeing someone using the product, a presentation and so on.
So here is what this means for us founders: It means that we need to start working on our startup by making a lot of online and offline marketing upfront, create a buzz about our idea, interact with the interested group of people over and over again, gain their trust, get them super excited about the product launch, monitor the number of interactions with each and every interested customer and then send over a sales pitch.
The people willing to pay money for your idea are your only true early adopters.
This approach will not only help us to filter out our early adopters before we even start building our products, but it will also lead to a lot more trust, a higher conversion rate and higher revenues. Another great thing about it: we can now start building our products together with our early adopters…
If finding interested customers and educating them into becoming early adopters is one of the most important things when building a new company why do so few people talk about it? Well, because no one ever tried to spread the word about it, or maybe no one is doing it. So if you believe that this is helpful for other people as well then feel free to start spreading the word!
[Related: I stopped giving a shit a long time ago]