New business? Meet your first customers in the flesh
New business? Meet your first customers in the flesh
You’re a new business, you need new customers. You need new customers to keep the wolf from the door. You need new customers to get their feedback and you need new customers so that they can tell their friends. The problem is people who have never used you before and don’t know anyone who has, are very unlikely to start. However once a few people do the effect snowballs until (hopefully) your business has all the customers it needs to survive and grow. The classic model for this is called the Diffusion of Innovation. At the beginning you get the Innovators, willing to take a risk on you, or anyone else for that matter. Then you have the Early Adopters, they’re willing to risk their time, money and effort on something new as well, but not just because it’s new. You’ve made it when you reach the Early and the Late Majority; they’re the people that form 70% of the market. Finally you have the Laggards; they’re the ones who have just started buying their grandchildren Tamagotchi’s. Of course these people aren’t always the same; the people who will try the new coffee shop on day one are (ironically) not always the same people who will queue all night for the new iPhone.
So how do you attract these crucial early demographics? The innovators will always be there. They seek out new things specifically because they’re new and they want to find them. The early adopters though are more difficult. They are 10-15% of the market but they won’t be convinced to try it just because it’s new. Once they do though, they’ll provide you with valuable, candid feedback and tell their wide network all about you. They’re your gateway to the early majority who will follow their lead and listen to their opinion. So how do you appeal to Early Adopters if they’re different for every product? You can start with what you know about them. Early Adopters tend to be younger, forward thinking and have more disposable income than other sections of the market. Most of all, what defines them as Early Adopters is that they will make choices based on their own experience rather than those of other people. This provides you with the perfect opportunity, rather than waiting for people to find you, go out and bring your product to people directly. Early Adopters will be more convinced by trying the product themselves than they will be by hearing about someone else who tried it.
Access Point venues can provide an ideal location for this. First of all you have the option to use demographics and targeting to find a location with as many people as possible in your Early Adopters category i.e. younger and with more disposable income. Then, depending on your product you could choose to look at either a Retail Merchandising Unit in a shopping centre (RMU) or a promotional stand. Both have different costs and benefits and will work better for different types of products.
RMUs offer you the chance to dip your toe in the market. If you are a new bakery, a nail bar or you’re selling any physical product, from E-Cigarettes to champagne to children’s toys, you can use an RMU as a ‘pop-up shop’. Choose a centre with the right demographics and a site near a shop where you expect your Early Adopters to already go and you’ll be well on the way to finding those crucial first customers. One of the key benefits of RMUs is that they will not have the high overheads of a permanent location or tie yourself into a lease while your business is finding its feet. It gives you the chance to work out the kinks in your offering to customers, find the best location you can and build up a client base before you commit all your resources.
Promotional space on the other hand tends to be better used by companies offering an offsite service or a product which takes longer than a trip to the shops to organise. Think accountants, an online delivery service or tutoring. People aren’t necessarily going to buy into these things on the spot, even the coveted early adopters, but they will have questions to ask. They will want to hold something in their hands, see how you work and make a connection with your business. Promotional spaces are ideal for making an impression on people, putting a face to the company and again getting crucial early feedback from customers. Find out first hand and on the spot what people like and don’t like about your product, use it to make changes to how it works or emphasise certain aspects in future marketing.
Make the most of it!
Both RMUs and promotional space have an additional opportunity for making the most of your first customers. Early Adopters tend to have a large network of people, ones who will respect their opinion and be encouraged by them to take the leap themselves. This has never been as important as now, when the world is more connected than ever before. Make the most of this by encouraging people to share their experience on social media. One of the best ways to do this is to make your RMU or promotional space as eye-catching and interactive as possible. Starting a German Bakery? Make sure your RMU looks like a ginger bread house and let people decorate their own cakes. If you’re offering gardening services make sure you’re surrounded by pots of flowers and set up a patio table and deck chairs to take customers details. Not only will these help you attract attention at the venue but they’ll make it much more likely for anyone sampling your product to post it to Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
If you’re looking for ways of attracting customers as a new business you have all sorts of options availble to you. But consider the value of not just being able to target your customers but of speaking to them face to face, explaining your business and getting their feedback. It can do more than just make you sales; it can guide the direction your business takes, create advocates and most of all it can be a springboard for mass awareness.
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