July 1, 2016

Early Adopters – What? Who? Why?

By mary

One of the exciting things that occurred during the last couple of weeks is we identified the traits of one of our early adopters. An early adopter is the person who will buy your product first.  Every product has those who will be first in line to try.  These are the folks who can help build your product, and those who can help your team center their efforts.

Our growth model for OnPar starts with paid acquisition and relies heavily on viral referrals.  Our early adopter target market is very social.  They talk about competition, sharing with their friends and working as a team to solve problems.  They’re very interested in working together, collaborating, sharing.  However, OnPar as it currently stands isn't desirable enough for them to actually recommend it or share it with a friend.  They would play it, but they wouldn’t then share it.

Now that we have seen who we believe to be our early adopter, we created a persona around that individual taking the qualities of the person who will buy it first and sculpting the image of a name individual around those.  This helps are team focus around someone who seems very real.  Our early adopter has taken the shape of a person named Scott.


It’s not that Scott himself is the early adopter, it’s the traits that he possesses that make him so.  His age group, the fact that he’s confident in the process of clinical reasoning, his willingness to use technology, his social behavior.  The fact that he’s a medical student or resident may be less important -- a nurse practitioner or physician assistant may also possess these traits that align with our identified early adopter.

The important attributes that make up the person -- the early adopter -- are their interests, their needs, that they have the problem you say you can solve, and their behaviors.  If your product can suit that whole combination, then that person will be willing to use it.

Scott is built upon the common attributes we found in customers who said they would pay.  He could be any age, any sex, any level of learner -- but we found attributes that they shared.  His picture, name and other specifics helps the team identify him.  We are able to create someone for whom we could build features and advance our product.  Personas keep everyone on the same page. A high level thing to help the team focus and concentrate.

This early adopter identification led us to center on the things they said are valuable enough for them to share it with their friends.  We started to work on OnPar's feedback.  This will encourage the  following step which will most likely be related around common social features like competing or comparing your score.

Early adopters are valuable for a few reasons.

  • First, and most importantly, the early adopter is the one who will validate that your product has value and will probably offer payment and their time.
  • They’re also very flexible.  They will learn with you, they will let the product be imperfect. They’re very forgiving.  If you go to market and have 10,000 users but not your early adopter, they may never come back. An early adopter will stay with you through the entire process and watch it grow and provide feedback. They’ll give you all kinds of insights they want.  
  • Lastly, identifying your early adopter lets you concentrate more instead of trying to design for everybody.  You can design for a very small group and learn from that iterating from there.  Alternatively, having a whole looming sense of competing needs from multiple groups can be overwhelming and distract you from moving forward.  Honing in on what one group needs -- that group where people said they would pay -- should be prioritized.  That’s the person who really needs your product.

Feature builds will focus around Scott.  We believe Scott is our early adopter and are conducting customer development with others like Scott to push forward with this. We’re showing them new features to see if they would start to share with their friends.  If we’re wrong, then we may find some of our other interested groups might be more fitting.  

Consider developing personas for your next development project - whether it be developing an event or a tool.  Mayo Clinic has personas that have been built on employee role types and the Center for Innovation has some which reflect a diverse patient population.  These have been very helpful for many projects or build your own.  Remember that these personas don't reflect all of your user types, but instead help you and your team focus your attentions on those early adopters.


Tags: Customer Development, Experiments, Testing


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