Many brands are venturing outside of their office and within their network to find early adopters that can take out some of the mass marketing legwork by driving word-of-mouth. For many companies, the ideal marketing campaign is self-sustaining — an organic ripple that migrates throughout target markets and accurately represents your brand.
If you’re looking to get your business off of the ground while building a valuable consumer base and smoothing out the kinks of your product, you should start marketing to early adopters. Yes, those early adopters. The pillars of modern marketing myth and Everett M. Rogers’ legend that purchase first and ask questions later, then tell all of their fearful friends about what they can expect in the ominously near future.
Early adopters may not be your first choice, but when targeted correctly, they can build buzz within exclusive inner circles and eventually entice mainstream customers to give your product a try. Read on to learn about the qualities that your marketing team can master to think like an early adopter.
Don’t sleep on the power of user insight.
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia realized early on that hosts would play a major role in his business strategy. He wanted visitors to feel welcome and have a memorable experience with each stay, but wasn’t reaching the audience or driving the revenue that he had anticipated. While visiting a core group of early Airbnb hosts, he was able to step into the shoes of his prospective customers. The friendly and generous hosts were great in person, but the home pictures displayed on the website didn’t capture the welcoming spirit that he encountered on his trip.
Gebbia decided that professional images of the housing options would give visitors a more realistic glimpse of what they could expect from their stay. After implementing this change, Airbnb doubled its humble revenue of $200 per week. Gebbia admits that early adopter observations helped his company grow from one spare air mattress to a network of over 600,000 hosts that work to create a curated customer experience. For some startups, actual experiences from early adopters can deliver insight that influences product strategy and positively alters the company’s trajectory.
Know when it’s time for a change.
When San Francisco startup Lumoid announced that it would rent out a limited batch of Apple Watches for a less expensive daily fee, Apple early adopters everywhere rejoiced. To build on that excitement, Lumoid furthered its existing “rent, try, buy” method and introduced a string of notoriously sought-after products to their lineup.
Talk about an innovative inception story. By appealing to a target market of aspiring early adopters, Lumoid early-adopted early adopters.
Since then, Lumoid opened up the possibility to explore other industries — ranging from photography to wearables — by understanding that the desire to adopt early and update often was a growing trend. Marketers should mimic useful patterns of early adopters to create an agile way to reach their consumers.
Discover new ways to grow.
A year after announcing the early adopter program on their website, Grove released a follow-up video showcasing testimonials from early adopters of The Grove Ecosystem. The at-home gardening system naturally appeals to a niche audience of environmentally conscious, health-savvy consumers, but this video was a subtle way to give a broader audience a sneak peek into the features and benefits of the product.
Who knew that oregano, tomatoes and a temperature-controlling app could be so endearing? Here’s the takeaway for marketers: Each early adopter campaign should bake social proof into it and empower customers to take the leap from brand awareness to brand preference.
Remember Innovative Marketing
Since early adopters are the first to ‘buy into’ your product or idea, they’re typically the best candidates to generate buzz. To find those early adopters, however, you must first learn to think like them.
Every market and product category contains these initiators who spread word-of-mouth, but it’s up to you to find, understand, and entice this important group. When you do that, your ideas migrate to the masses and the ‘diffusion of innovation’ reaches a successful endpoint.