Every product is not adopted by the entire market at the
same time. We know from Classic Adoption Curve that the first set of customers
who adopt your product are called innovators and they comprise of 2.5 Percent
of the total market.
We also know that this group could be massive and could run
into millions of customers if your startup is producing a Twitter productivity
tool like “Tweepi” or “Hootsuite”. Here
is the link
to my previous post where you will get to know more about classic adoption
curve, and innovators segment of the market.
Now in this post I will list first three things that you
should do to bring first few customers to your startup. Remember there are
millions of them, so it’s worth taking a structured approach to it.
Customer Persona: Creating Customer Persona appears to be a very difficult and
exhaustive. However it’s best if you could start with answering three questions
mentioned below and keep expanding it over a course of several days or months.
are your innovator customers: If you are building a tool like “Hootsuite” to
enhance productivity of Twitter Users, then you may find your innovators on
Twitter, using hashtags like #Social, #SMM #SocialMediaMarketing, etc. These
are the people who use Twitter really heavy and will explore your new product.
Apart from these anyone with a massive following but isn’t a celebrity, will
most likely be part of your 2.5 Percent Customers. Different products will have
customers using several different keywords. The goal here is to find out who
are they and list a few keywords to find or identify them.
do they go for information: Everyone goes to a certain place for seeking
information?It could be Twitter,
Reddit, quora or any other speciality group like stackoverflow, github,
cognoise etc. You have to find such places, shortlist one or two of that list,
for you to get started. There are over 90 Social Media sites, don’t try to get
to all or many of them. Stick to one or two at a time.
c.Which tools they currently use: You might
find that there are several people who do not use any tool. These people are
your low hanging fruits. If you are building a twitter productivity tool. I can
tell you with great conviction that you might find several thousand people who
are not using any such tools. I myself was not using any such tool until a year
ago. At that time I already had over 10K twitter followers, and I was a massive
twitter user. In every sector you will find several such customers who are
still wild and playing very hard.
Content: You may choose to create blogs or Vlogs. The first Twitter
productivity tool I used was Tweepi and I learnt about Tweepi through a YouTube
Video. Whether you choose text, video, images or infographics, make sure you
measure how they are performing, and what kind of results they are bringing
I suggest you begin with
text blogs. After a couple of days if you want to edit some portion of your
blog or add more content to the blog, you could easily do it. It’s not easy to edit
and change the videos or images.
You could pick up your best
performing text blogs and convert them into Images. You could use heat map and
see which part of the text is being clicked, highlighted, copied etc and then
accordingly you could create images with appropriate captions in it. It will be
more resonating to your audience.
Infographics is all about
presenting statistics. Acquiring statistics, acquiring reproduction rights for
statistics produced by Marquee companies is expensive. So it’s better to not to
produce infographics until you have your own customer data, about how they are
doing, how quickly they moved from Level A to Level B using your tool.
Best performing videos,
images and infographics could be combined and turned into video. You could however
consider producing video tutorials on how to use the tool well in the beginning
and distribute it. Some amount of deep thinking has to be applied while
Content Distribution Plan: You may or may not have a massive network. Irrespective
of your network size, try to leverage others network and reach. Once you have
acquired the innovator, and early adopter segments of your market, you will
anyway find lot of people automatically writing, and speaking about you the way
I am doing in my post for “Tweepi”, “Hootsuite” etc.
In the very beginning phase of
your Go To Market journey, you will have to plan and get shout out from others.
Because at this time it will not happen naturally, hence you need to plan and
get many people to shout out for you. If needed you should
consider hiring a Social Media strategist or consultant to help you plan
content distribution strategy.
Remember your content won’t go viral, so don’t expect
miracles to happen. Plan and distribute your content as good as possible with
the limited budget you have.
Be prepared to do all of
these three steps again and again, even if it means bringing more funds and
more investment. While doing all of these things make sure you pick up the
learnings and improve.
It’s very rare that someone gets the formula right on
the very first attempt. Be prepared to fail, learn but don’t spend all the
money. Do it small, take small baby steps, measure, and improve take a little
bigger step, so on and so forth.
This journey is difficult
and that’s why there is so much fun, and great rewards too if you get it right.
If you don’t get it right, someone will get it right! Why not you?
All of this is as good and
as certain as driving a car. You push the right button you will get what you
want out of the car. Businesses and startups are also exactly the same. If you
do the right thing you will exactly get what you want. It’s that easy and simple,
so go for it!
Let’s understand it using a fictitious example. Let’s
assume your startup is building a product for Twitter users. Your product is
meant to increase the productivity of twitter users like other famous Twitter
Productivity tools as in “Tweepi”, “Hootsuite”, “Buffer”, or “Tweetjukebox”
The goal of your startup product is to help Twitter users
do more of what they love to do on twitter in less time with greater impact.
Twitter has over 400 Million users. This is your target market. The size of
your target market will increase as Twitter increases its user base.
Now as a startup you cannot and should not aim 400
Million users. Once your MVP is ready you should target “Innovators” segment of
the market. 2.5 Percent of 400 Million is about 10 Million Users. That is all
you should see and target.
10 Million is a massive number. Will all of them sign up?
What percentage of them will sign up? Will they pay? Answers to these questions
will help you decide your further course of action. You should find answers to
these questions from your user data and not by searching online.
Innovators are people who would want to see your product,
see how it fits in their existing product or strategy. If it is complementing
or adding value to them they will embrace it, and pay for it. If it is falling
short, then they will give you feedback, they will wait and see how you turn
around. This is the time and opportunity for you to turn around quick and
impress them, and inspire them to shout out for you. This is an easy and cost
efficient way of making inroads to the early adopters segment, riding on
innovators reach and trust.
Innovators figure out how to use your product to accomplish
their goals. Remember not every-one can solve puzzles. Expecting laggards to
find out how your product can help them solve their goals is a waste of time
and money so don’t target them right in the beginning. You spending time and
resources on educating laggards on how to solve their puzzles is not a wise
thing at this point of time when your resources are very limited.
Innovators don’t only look for solutions they also constantly
stumble on more problems than the rest others. Since they are so good at
measuring everything, they identify far more problems (opportunities) to
improve and hence they are constantly looking out for newer, easier and more
effective solutions, such people could easily look into your pitch and product.
Your startup idea or product can get a great deal of
traction, appreciation and adoption if you manage to get in front of innovators
(2.5 percent of the total market size). Now that your budget is limited and you
have limited time (if you take too long to get traction your staff will start
fleeing) your best bet is to target and focus on innovators segment of the
It’s a proven methodology built after studying several hundred
products and companies. It will work for you like it has worked for many other
startups. Many successful companies have tried this and it has given great
results. Facebook started with university students before becoming mainstream
product. Twitter targeted geeks and developers before reaching out to the rest
of its market segments.
Remember you may not find agency sales or channel sales
partners when you are targeting innovators. Channel sales partners generally
come into picture much later maybe when your product is reaching early majority
Remember sales team on the payroll may not be able to do a
good job when targeting innovators. Sales teams think and know that selling is
their work and not finding ways to improve the product. It’s only the core
group of entrepreneurs who own the product development have the ability and
power to engage and sell to innovators.
Remember that every startup has a very high chance of
failing at this stage of recruiting innovators. If partners, employees or
freelancers are failing at this stage do you know who is responsible for this
failure? It’s you who have positioned them to fail. Be very judicious about
everything you are doing and expecting to happen.
Since innovators are very limited and few, your planning
has to be very detailed and precise; otherwise you will end up wasting lot of
precious resources. Their limited number works out to your benefit because you don’t
need a huge support team or a response team to respond to them.
Now that you know how your product adoption will shape
up, you understand how your market is segmented, how it will respond and
behave, you are better equipped to plan and execute your customer
development/market development activities. I wish you make the most of the
opportunities out there in the market. I am closing this post with my best
wishes for you.