In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore writes about the critical role that early adopters have in a product’s lifecycle as it gains market acceptance. Early adopters are on the front edge of the bell shaped curve showing the acceleration of adoption that a product goes through as it launches in an early market and picks up momentum in mainstream markets.
Every new company is defined in part by the organizations that step up as early adopters of products and services, and Boardable is no exception. In our first year our “visionaries” helped us see new uses of our platform we didn’t yet see, gave us ideas for future features, and inspired language for how we talk about what we do.
When we launched Boardable, we believed the number one pain point we were solving was managing the chaos of communications with volunteer groups. As we talked with our first customers, we found that what they valued wasn’t always on our radar. One customer looked at Boardable as a quasi-project management tool. Another saw our platform as a way to escalate decision making by using online voting between board meetings. Still others gave us future product ideas by sharing their biggest pain points, such as quick on-ramping of new board officers.
All of this insight helped us broaden how we view the product as it is now, as well as what is most important to add to our product roadmap for the future.
Early adopters play a key role in areas far beyond technology. Imagine how developing your own group of “early adopters” can help your nonprofit build new services or experiences. Some ideas:
When adding a new digital giving campaign, ask some past donors if they will be an early adopter and give feedback prior to your public launch. Use this “beta” period to test out different platforms, communications, and ways of expressing gratitude. Ask them to provide insight on the donor experience so that you can launch your new campaign with your best foot forward.
When designing a new volunteer rewards program, ask an initial volunteer group to be part of a focus group to get feedback on the volunteer experience.
Let’s imagine you have designed a new service or program. In the first month or even year, setting up follow up surveys or interviews can help you get input from the first people you’ve served, but also provide specific quotes and impact examples for reporting back to your grant program officers or donors.
Ask for advice, earn an advocate.
If learning new insights about your nonprofit aren’t enough to tip the balance to open your organization up to early adopters, think about this: if you ask for advice, you might just earn an advocate. Another point made in the book Crossing the Chasm is how early adopters often also function as your biggest advocates, and we’ve definitely found this to be true. By partnering so closely with our early adopters, we’re building relationships and a product they believe in too.
How might early adopters help your organization? Feel free to share experiences you’ve had with early adopters in our comments below.