Before you take a new product to market, you need to test it with potential buyers. Companies in many industries conduct beta tests using early adopters; they are just as important in the accounting industry.
An early adopter (a.k.a. guinea pig) is an early tester of a potential offering. In exchange for preferential pricing (often starting at free and increasing from there), your early adopter provides feedback on the offering. You’ll ask them to tell you what they liked, what they didn’t and what they would like to see different. This will allow you to refine your offering until you get it to a stage when you know others will buy it.You’ll also want to ask for feedback on who would buy this service, where would you find those buyers and what price would they pay, among others. Feedback on how to sell your offering will help shape your strategy and even messaging.
Finding Early Adopters
Some people, by nature, like to be on the early end of the adoption curve. You’ll want to find those who enjoy being trendsetters. Other early adopters include people who are looking to test something at a lower price point in case it doesn’t work. Don’t rule them out if there is a true desire for the solution you are looking to provide.
When you approach an early adopter, you need to spell out what you’re looking for and what they will get. At this stage you don’t have flashy marketing materials. Your offering may not even have a name yet, or it could change based on feedback received. You don’t make significant marketing investments until you know you have a viable offering that you can sell at a profitable price point.
You do want to be crystal clear that the person is an early adopter and that you will be asking for feedback at the end of the service and, perhaps, throughout delivery. The early adopter will have early access to something completely new, and you will get the feedback you need to take the offering to market. It’s imperative that the early adopter be candid with his or her thoughts whether they are good, bad or somewhere in-between.
When looking for early adopters, mix up the types of people you target. Consider different size companies. Or businesses from different industries (if it’s a service you’re testing). Or entities with different levels of sophistication in management. This will help you figure out specifically where you will have the best fit in the marketplace.
Not every new idea will work. Be open to that concept. Your service may help manufacturers, but contractors may not see value. Or maybe no one finds value in it at all. It could be a case of the early adopter liking it, but only being willing to pay a fraction of the time/cost you have into it. In the end, before you waste a ton of time and resources trying to market and sell it, this could be the best feedback you receive.
Getting Early Adopter Feedback
As part of the feedback process, you need to ask your early adopters questions. The person rolling out the service should be the one who sits down and conducts the interview, preferably face-to-face. However, if you can include your marketer in those discussions, you may have a better outcome, as she or he is hearing directly from a buyer without an accountant serving as the middle-man.
Questions should be very specific to the offering, but here are some samples for inspiration:
- What did you think of our findings report? How did it differ from what you expected to see?
- How could we have better explained our process to you?
- Was there a specific area you wanted us to address that we didn’t?
- Did the project take too little or too much time? Why do you think so?
- What type of business owner do you think could most benefit from this service?
- Now that you have been through the process, what do you say a service like this is worth? Do you think companies would be willing to make that sort of investment?
- Are you a part of any group or association that you think should hear about this service?
- What advice do you have for me as I take this to market?
Use the feedback received from one early adopter and retool the offering before presenting it to another. Then do it again. Depending on the feedback received, you may need to work with five or more early adopters to get it right. The process may seem lengthy, but it’s the best way to take something to market and get it right the first time.
Need help developing and launching a new service? Contact us. We can guide you through the process.