Not to sound bigoted, but let's just face the facts: some customers are more valuable than others. There, I said it! More specifically, customers who can be classified as "early adopters", especially in the realm of digital technology, are major players in the success or failure of a modern business or product.
Early adopters are so important because they're often also your influences. They run blogs, Youtube channels, and everything they say has triple or quadruple-digit retweets on twitter. Get on the good side of an early adopter, and they can bring with them hundreds or thousands of average users. In some writings on the adoption curve and life cycle of new products in our day and age, early adopters are touted as those who can guide a new business across the "chasm". The chasm is the period of uncertainty where it is uncertain whether a product will make the jump from something a few people try out, to a technology that is adopted and integrated by the majority.
So, how can you help your products and businesses be as attractive to early adopters as possible? How can you best leverage that attention?
1) Find a genuine need.
Depending on where you're at, this might be advice coming too late, but the first step to getting your product into the hands of eager early adopters is to make sure you're filling a genuine need. People have "cool" ideas all the time, but that doesn't mean they're ideas that will come to be known as "needed". Sometimes, however, your big idea can simply be an improvement of another system, like Facebook usurping Myspace. However the barrier to entry with these ideas is higher because your product has to be so good it entices people to drop something they've grown accustom to.
2) Have a proper incentive system.
Don't just offer to give people free products, give something above and beyond that. For example, you might take a note from the gaming industry. These companies often offer their early adopters exclusive titles for their profiles or unique character looks called "skins" that won't be available ever again after the initial testing or adopting period. Think about what rewards could be relevant to your audience in the same way. Maybe you're launching a mobile ecommerce platform and you offer "veteran seller" badges or other marks of credibility to those who sign up and start using your site within the first 3 months, etc.
3) Communication will make or break you.
The world we market in today is one of two-way communication. Social media. You know, that kind of thing. You should be regularly contacting and interacting with your potential early adopter audiences through the channels that they use most. Beyond recruitment, this also expands to post-adoption feedback and support. Early adopters will likely be using these channels to either get in touch with you directly or to broadcast their opinions about your product or service. Either way, you should be monitoring social and traditional channels all the time to respond in a timely, appropriate way.