Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Leveraging Early Adopters for New Product or Service

The Power of Your First Customers
By Maliha Haider
May 16, 2024

As a small business owner, launching a new business product or service, you’ll face plenty of challenges – especially when you’re introducing something entirely novel without existing competition. It takes considerable time and resources to build a superior offering from the ground up. But one critical piece that can help fuel your initial growth is securing those first few customers.

While acquiring any customers is difficult at first, those pioneers provide value far beyond just revenue. Here are three key reasons why cultivating strong relationships with your early adopters is so vital:

Word-of-Mouth Multiplier

Your first customers may not have other options, which makes them more likely to try your new solution. But even better, if they have a positive experience, they’ll naturally discuss it with their friends, colleagues and networks. This is how hugely successful startups like Etsy and Uber gained traction – through organic sharing from satisfied early users. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals during your bootstrapped days.

Insightful User Feedback

There’s a reason these initial users were drawn to an unproven product – they likely weren’t fully satisfied with existing alternatives. Rather than just taking their money, work closely with these early adopters to understand their pain points, goals and perspectives. Support them, listen to their needs, and help them get maximum value from your offering. Why? They’ll reciprocate by providing invaluable feedback on what’s working well, areas for improvement, and ideas for new features. This kind of user research would normally require paying for focus groups and consultants.

Free Product Support & Training

Some SMEs creatively employ their first customers for tasks you’d traditionally hire staff for, like product support and training.  Your earliest fans are usually enthusiastic evangelists who happily wear multiple hats to contribute to your success.

The investment to nurture your first customers is well worth the effort. Not only do they provide critical early revenue, but their word-of-mouth reach, user insights, and hands-on assistance can push your start-up forward faster with limited resources. If you play your cards right, it’s like getting free marketing, R&D, and customer service all rolled into one. Embrace the power of your pioneering patrons.

To learn more about how to grow your business with our Help to Grow Management Programme: