Looking for early adopters? Don’t hold your breath!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ”

– Agatha Christie

Willing to put up with a buggy product? Join the club!

As a customer…

Have you ever got scre*ed by a company?

In a big way?

If so, don’t despair; you’re not alone!

Even though in this day and age people, in general, have become much more sophisticated buyers than they used to be, from time to time, they still end up not getting their money’s worth.

And needless to say, most disgruntled customers don’t keep their feelings secret…

But what if I told you that there is a group of people that are not only willing to put up with a buggy, half-baked product but also are happy pay for it?

I know; Shocker!

So, who are these mysterious individuals?

Behold: The Early Adopters…

According to Steve Blank, These are the people that… see the finished product 18 months from now even if you didn’t show it to them. You know you’re in front of an early adopter when they stop you in the middle of your presentation and run in the whiteboard and draw your diagram even better than you are.”

Yep, this rare breed of people buy into your vision early on, even if the product is still incomplete because:

a) They love the idea of being in an elite group that tries new things before anyone else has

b) They have the ability to see the market potential (and capitalise on it) way earlier than the general public – hence for them it’s an area of opportunity to stay ahead of the curve

So, why are they considered by me many “startup experts” as crucial for getting a new product off the ground?

Three reasons:

Reason #1: Are willing to take a punt on unproven products

Whether new entrepreneurs like to hear it or not, unless a new product is battle-tested in the market (with real, oxygen-breathing… people) you don’t know with certainty whether that thing works as expected or not.

But the thing is, for most people, unless there is a proof (through consumer reviews, testimonials, word of mouth, etc.) that a product does the job, they will simply NOT be willing to park their hard-earned cash.

However, that results in a chicken and egg situation because unless a couple of ‘brave souls’ give the product a chance, a business will be unable to get that much needed market validation.

And according to many that’s where early adopters come in the equation!

Yeah, as mentioned earlier, the conventional wisdom suggests that because this type of customers (due to the afore listed reasons) have a high-propensity to take risks, they can act as a springboard for getting the ball rolling.

Reason #2: Help debug and re-design the product

Other than being the business guinea pig, they serve another valuable purpose…

…which is to help the business debug and re-design their product!

“Redesign.” You did read that correctly!

In the opinion of many experts, early adopters not only will happily pay for an untested product, but also go above and beyond the customer role (which is to buy and consume the end-product) by providing candid and valuable feedback on how to refine it and make it workable.

But wait, there’s more…

Reason #3: Do the marketing for you

Yep, don’t have a marketing budget?

No worries, the early adopters are here to save the situation!

How?

By transforming to early evangelists and sharing the love with everyone they know.

According to our friend Spike Morelli “the most important thing of all [about early adopters, is that], if you make them happy, some of them will become your early evangelist, the ones that will talk to every single friend, Facebook friend, and any living soul really, about your product.”

Sounds awesome, right?

So, what do you think; time to start the hunt for finding them?

You guessed it – HELL NO!

That’s correct, with the startup BS talk out of the way let’s get real.

Early Adopters = Hope Marketing

There, I said it.

Why?

For the simple reason that unless you have a disruptive, radically new product with the potential to knock the competition out of the park (yeah, that good) expecting some kind strangers to selflessly take a punt, debug, redesign, and market your thing is, simply put, DELUSIONAL.

Everett Rogers himself (the person who originated the diffusion of innovations theory and introduced the term early adopter) said: “these visionaries are not looking for an improvement they are looking for a fundamental breakthrough…visionaries drive the high-tech industry because they see the potential for an “order-of-magnitude” return on investment and willingly take high risks to pursue that goal.”

Yes, a fundamental breakthrough! And unless I am missing something that happens once in a blue moon.

But most importantly, for most new entrepreneurs, that is not even relevant since the desire to play ‘the visionary’ game is NOT even on the agenda because they get that this roadmap 9.9 out of 10 times will make them no money and act as a stumbling block for getting the much awaited economical and personal freedom they crave for.

So, don’t call me a hater, but I am afraid the early adopter concept, for the majority of new startuppers, not only does not help, but in fact severely undermines their efforts.

Conclusion

And one last thing…

In case you are wondering, if for most entrepreneurs early adopters cannot be an option, who should take a punt on us and play the early user role (for solving the chicken and egg conundrum described earlier) the answer is very simple:

No one!

What?

Yes, my friends, nobody should take a punt on us – as entrepreneurs it’s our job to de-risk the proposition before going public and that can only happen by ditching hope marketing and having a robust alpha and beta-testing in place instead.

***

Ok guys, that’s all from me for today.

If you enjoyed today’s post, check out my kindle book, The Aspiring Entrepreneur Entry Strategy: A practical step-by-step guide for finding a validated, winning business idea that stays true to who you are, that is currently available at Amazon.

I hope to see you soon.

Best,

Andreas

“The big secret in life is there is no secret. Whatever your goal. You can get there if you’re willing to work” – O. Winfrey

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