Why Selecting the Right Early Adopters is Key for Startup Founders


If you can’t find early adopters, you can’t build a business.Trevor Owens, Lean Startup Machine CEO

Marketing has traditionally been concerned with demographics — quantifiable and measurable statistics of a given population — like gender, age, ethnicity, knowledge of languages, income, employment status, etc, but these broad categorizations make it difficult to target customers.

Do all mid-sized insurance companies’ marketing departments have the same needs?

In the last decade, marketing research has evolved towards psychographic targeting (activities, interests, opinions, attitudes, values, behaviours). Combined with demographic data, psychographics are a much more precise way to look at prospect profiles.

Early adopters are a sub-group of your target market. To be able to choose the appropriate people to engage with, you need to create an ideal customer profile.

Looking at the five to ten most influential early adopters on your prospect list (assuming you have one), what do you find they have in common?

  • Are more of them male or female?
  • What is their typical job title?
  • What is their common academic background?
  • What interest groups do they share?
  • What are some of the content they enjoy?
  • What are some of the goals they have in common?
  • What is their common approach to social media?
  • How often do they publish quality content?

This information is the basis for the creation of your ideal customer profile.

Looking back at your list, if you’re unable to find a lot of early adopters for your ideal customer profile in your target market, you might have to do one of two things:

  1. Revise your ideal customer profile. Make sure you’re not being too restrictive.
  2. Reconsider the target market. Was it segmented properly? Is it of sufficient size?

Early adopters have a significant role to play in the beginnings of your company. It’s essential to carefully select the voices your team listens to.

You may wish to start with a broad group of early adopters to get a full understanding of the opportunities and needs of your target market, but you’ll soon need to focus on the voices that matter most.

Early adopters are a necessary step on the way to convincing the pragmatist customers your company needs to sign on. Your early adopter customers should be companies that help you get references to sell to your ultimate target market.

Be sure to use the right kind of customer success stories for your case studies when you start selling to pragmatist customers. Landing just about any kind of customers is self-defeating.


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