Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What does your product say about your customers?

All companies, whether you're a start-up or P&G, have to figure out how to attract customers.  It may be your first time looking for customers, or like P&G who has launched many successful products, you may be looking to launch something new, but the process is the same.

Most business owners see the appeal of their products and launch squarely at their target market.  This seems like a great plan, but if you have ever been a part of any organization, you know that there are different types of people in any group.  Some people want to be first, some are interested in the logistics, and others are just sticks in the mud.  

If you're P&G you may have the budget to blanket everyone in your target market with ads and promotions and ultimately bully them into at least trying your product.  But what if you can't afford to send out 100,000 mailers, run TV and radio ads, and set up demonstration booths at the grocery store?

Regardless of how popular your product or service could be, you have to start with a sub-section of your target market: Early Adopters.  These are the people who don't need a coupon, or to understand that your product is 50% better and 50% cheaper, nor do they need customer testimonials to reassure them that they are making the best choice.  They just get it.  Early adopters exist in every market from Blu-ray players to carpet cleaning to broad band cable internet.  

Early adopters don't buy your product for logical reasons, at least not logical in business terms.  Early adopters buy your products because of what owning your product or being affiliated with your company says about them.  

Someone who waits inline for 6 hours to buy the new iPhone a week ahead of the general population is a technophile that has to be ahead of the curve.  This same person told his friends about his iPhone, tweeted about it, and wrote a blog about how terrible the maps are.  After all, what's the point of being first if no one knows you were first?

Having the latest tech or being affiliated with a cutting edge company shows you are ahead of the curve.  Using the new "green" carpet cleaning service tells your neighbors that your are environmentally conscious.  Trying a new solution for boosting online sales shows your stockholders that you are committed to stay ahead of the competition.

Whatever your product is, if you are looking to gain advocates, you have to start with the early adopters by helping them define themselves.