What is a good way to entice early adopters to use my new product/service (other than offering a discount)?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Give Them Some Equity
A few sites, such as Rocket Club offer a tiny portion of equity in exchange for feedback for your latest platform or app. This usually engages early adopterseven more, as then they feel they have an actual stake in your company’s success.
2. Make Them Part of the Product Design Process
Our early adopters have the greatest impact on our product’s future. We take their feedback very seriously, and we employ an agile software development process so we try to turn around product updates very quickly. The customer feels like they’re getting something tailored to their needs while we’re improving our product for future customers.
3. Be Exclusive
Make your product or service exclusive. Discounts are great but most consumers want something special. Remember how many people wanted Gmail when it was “invite only” or when Facebook was only available for certain schools? Create a demand even if there isn’t one yet, and you can create some buzz around your business.
4. Build the Product They Want
Early adopters are often innovators themselves so you need to tap into their innovative thinking. Gathering feature requests and then building them quickly is a sure way to win over the hearts of early adopters. They’ll feel like they are part of the development process, and if they see that you’ve not only asked for their ideas but also made them a reality, your credibility goes way up.
5. Help Them in Ways Unrelated to Your Product
Having fewer customers can be an advantage over competitors with a larger market share because you have more time to go out of your way and help your customers accomplish their business goals. If they’re having an event, spread the word on social. If they need help coming up with product ideas, jump in on the brainstorming. The extra effort will pay off in loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
6. Participate in Local Events
Participate in a local event where you feature your product with tutorials on how to use it. Let the attendees give your product a trial run where they actually put it to use. If it exhibits clear benefits, you may not even need to offer a discount.
7. Create a Community
Building a community can take more time, but it’s the best way to recruit users. How do you interact with your email subscribers and social media followers? How often? You don’t have to spend all day in the networks, but if you share relevant information, they’ll know you, like you, trust you and promote you.
8. Gamify the Process
A gamification strategy such as leader boards works well to create engagement and a sense of community for early adopters. It gives people who thirst for bragging rights the ability to satisfy their need.