Without customers, you won’t be in business for very long! Without customers, you have no sales! In order to have a sustainable business, your customers should be people who will buy your product/service multiple times, not just once. Your customers should also ideally be people who are using your product/service because it helps them to solve a problem that they have in their life. When you are first getting going, some of your first customers are those who are known as “early adopters”.
Who are they?
Early adopters are people and/or companies that use your product/service before anyone else does. Early adopters are by nature more innovative and more willing to take risks than the rest of your target market and the general population as a whole. This means that they are more willing to pay for product/service and provide feedback if it means that they will have the chance to be a part of something new and ground-breaking. After they have purchased and used the product/service (sometimes at a premium because they are the very first ones to try something new and innovative), they will provide you with insightful feedback on the product/service. This includes feedback on everything including price, deficiencies, annoyances, design, distribution channels, etc.
Early adopters are incredibly valuable to your business, as they will help you to fine tune things before you roll it out to the general public and to more of your targeted customer base. Listen to what they have to say. After all, they will be the ones who will be championing your business to those that they know who could benefit from your business (and vice-versa) because they believe in you and the product/service you are offering. By them doing this free advertising for you, it adds value to what you are offering, especially if it is being done by someone of note (in your community, your industry, nationally or internationally). We’ve all done this at least once in our lives, where if someone you know, like, trust and/or respect is saying that you should try or buy a product/service, you have bought or tried it.
For your business, having an early adopter is a win-win. You generate some revenue from them purchasing the item, receive invaluable feedback/mentoring and free advertising and the early adopter gets access to a new and innovative product/service before anyone else does & has the opportunity to see the suggestions/feedback they provided be put into said product/service.
Where do I find them?
First, you want to be certain of that you are getting the right early adopters for your product/service. As stated above, generally these are people who are actively looking for a solution to their problem, have already tried to come to a solution on their own, and have (or can get) the money/budget to spend on a solution. Do your research. Study their habits. Learn more about the problem they are having and their track record for finding a solution, then tailor your pitch to them based off of that. You also need to have a firm grasp of their spending behaviour too.
There are many places where you can find these early adopters. These include:
- Engaging with them through your business page on the social media sites they are on without outright selling your product/service;
- Speaking with them at networking events you know (or think) they will be at (see Networking- Not Just For Computers Anymore! for some helpful hints);
- Engaging with them in chat forums and establish yourself as an expert in your field;
- Attending/participating in trade shows that you know (or think) they will be at, or;
- Using any other connections you have made in order to gain a mutual introduction.
A few big things to remember is that you want to be genuine and not automatically begin pushing potential early adopters to try your product/service. You want to build a relationship with this person/company and establish your expertise, and that your product/service is the one that will help them to solve the problem they are having. You also want to make sure that you are tailoring your pitch to meet their individual needs and personality. If they need facts in order to persuade them, give them all the facts that you can and if they are more into stories, give them the background story about how you got the idea for this product/service.
This is someone who will be championing you and your product, you don’t want to drive them away because you are being too pushy about the product and not focused on building the relationship and proving that you have the solution they are looking for. People are more open to working with you and making a purchase from you if they feel that they have a relationship with you. This also comes into play when they are talking to other potential customers on your behalf, because then they can speak truly to the product/service and the person behind it.
I leave you now with two quotes on customers (early adopters) and the power they have by Seth Godin (world-renowned author on the topics of the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, and leadership) and Jeff Bezos (Founder and CEO of Amazon.com) that I think neatly summarize what we’ve just talked about: