How do you get your first early adopters ?

You have the idea, you have the business plan, maybe you already have the MVP and now… what? You might want to get your first early adopters. Innovations are not adopted by all individuals at the same time. Instead, they tend to adopt in a time sequence and practically speaking, it’s very useful for you to be able to identify which category certain individuals belong to.

Depending on the life cycle of your company, the early adopters, also called the lighthouse customers, can have different definitions. From an entrepreneurial perspective, we refer to the 13,5% percent of people that will adopt new ideas just before the average member of a social system.

Usually, the early adopters are the customers who provide considerable and candid feedback to help the entrepreneur refine its future product releases, as well as different other aspects of the business: the associated means of distribution, service, and support.

The minimum viable product you build defines the main channel that you will probably use to find your early adopters. You can sketch out your MVP on paper, design wire-frames or screenshots, or create a landing page.

In other words, develop a very basic version of your product. (This is not V1 or a beta prototype; it’s just an aspect of your product). What can you build and release in a few days?

You could build:

A landing page

Buffer is a simple app that lets you schedule your social media posts. When starting out, the founder didn’t want to get stuck building something no one wanted to use. So he began with a simple test.

Buffer’s first minimum viable product was just a simple landing page. It explained what Buffer was and how it would work, encouraged people to sign up and offered plans and a pricing button for people to click on if they were interested. When they did, however, they were shown a short message explaining they weren’t quite ready yet and that people should sign up for updates. But instead of leaving potential customers hanging, Joel used the email addresses received from the signup form to start conversations with interested users, gaining valuable insight into what they wanted.

Next, they tested the hypothesis that people would want to pay for this by adding the prices table in between the landing page and the signup form. When someone clicked on the pricing plans button, they were shown the plans to see whether they would be interested in paying for something like Buffer. This showed Joel how many of the visitors to the site could potentially become paying customers. This zero-risk MVP helped Buffer identify the market and shape their product features for upcoming development.

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The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” (2007) is a self-help book by Timothy Ferriss, an American writer, educational activist, and entrepreneur. The book has spent more than four years on The New York Times Best Seller List, has been translated into 35 languages and has sold more than 1,350,000 copies worldwide.

In 2006, Timothy Ferriss and his publisher were searching for a title for his book about productivity, outsourcing, and mini-retirements. Ferriss used AdWords to test several titles and subtitles and admitted that the winners (The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich) were not his first choices. Yet in hindsight, it’s hard to imagine Broadband and White Sand generating the same buzz.


To answer the question of whether customers would want to use and pay for their file-sync solution, Houston and his team had to “get out of the building” and put their proposed user experience in front of real users for feedback. But instead of digging into servers and building a high-availability, low-latency, always-on network before they had the slightest idea that people would use it, the team tried something much simpler.

They made an explainer video and shared it with their network to gauge people’s reactions. The 4-minute video showed Dropbox’s intended functionality and increased signups from 5,000 people to 75,000 overnight — all of this without a real product. Just the experience of seeing a video about the product was enough to sell the idea.

Dropbox’s explainer video provided a brilliantly simple experience by walking potential customers through what the product is and clearly demonstrated how it would help them, eventually leading to why they would want to pay you for it.

In conclusion, try as much as you can to come up with marketing strategies based on target audiences and make sure that your market’s going to be bang on. In the end, the fact of the matter is that marketing is a bit of an experiment or a hypothesis. You’re trying to figure out what will work. That’s why tracking digital marketing, and keeping a really close eye on the metrics are super important because they’ll tell you if it’s working, or not.

To keep part of that process is A/B testing. You try two different versions of a marketing tactic in a particular channel. It could be that on your website, for example, you try one headline that highlights certain benefits, or features, and then, you try a different headline that highlights a different set of benefits. Then, you track what works better. That’s a great way of figuring out, “Okay, this is more effective marketing than that.” But we will learn more about marketing tools and tactics in the 3rd meeting.

Until then, revise your idea, define the problem that you’re trying to solve and for whom. And of course, be sure you found the right hustler for your team!

Sources of inspiration:

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