Anytime an organization introduces a new product into the market, there is a standard rate of adoption that occurs among customers. This was developed in 1962 by Everett Rogers in his book Diffusion of Innovations. That rate is typically plotted along what's called the adoption diffusion curve, which depicts the rate at which customers embrace the new product over time. The curve is smaller at the ends, with your early and late adopters at either side, with a big chunk in the middle--which depicts when the product has entered the mainstream and most of your customers have embraced it. It looks like the well-understood bell-shaped curve.
The question that organizations face when introducing new products, therefore, is how they can accelerate the adoption rate so that they get to the fat part of the adoption curve.
There are several proven ways to do this.
One of the challenges that organizations face with new products is that customers don't know about them or understand what benefits they might bring. That's why coupling a new product with a marketing and awareness campaign is so critical. Whether it's built around a word-of-mouth or digital marketing, the goal is to get customers aware of the product so that you can increase the odds that they will be willing to try it. It's simple: If they don't know about it, they can't buy it.
2. Reduce Risk.
Whenever a customer makes the decision to embrace a new product, especially if it means replacing an existing one, there will be risk involved. That level of perceived risk will greatly influence how quickly a customer will adopt a new product. If they must place something, the customer needs to believe the new product is worth it, therefore we need to reduce the risk or increase the perceived gain available. As I've written about before, this is where the strategy of offering something that's twice as good or half the price can come into play, that makes the risk worth the gain. Another risk-reduction strategy might be offering money-backed guarantees to customers as a way for them to feel more comfortable making the switch. The goal should be to find every way possible to identify and eliminate every risk factor your customer might be worried about, and increase their gain.
3. Observable Benefit.
If you've ever turned on your TV late at night after having trouble sleeping, you've probably come across some of those infomercials that air at that time. They often feature some product that's put to some zany test, like knives that cut tissue paper and tomatoes equally well, or boats repaired with some magic goop. The point of these commercials is to demonstrate "observable benefit." In other words, they clearly show you how this new product will benefit you. While this might be trickier if your product is more conceptual like software, there is real value in helping your customers see the direct benefits of using your new product. It is powerful to make those benefits clearly observable.
For instance, we have a client whose businesses help fundraisers raise more money. To help increase his adoption rate, they offer customers the opportunity to upload their donor base for free so that they can analyze the list and determine how much more money they could raise with his system. That then creates an observable win and a strong promise to get someone to adopt the product over the long run.
4. Offer a Free Trial.
A fourth strategy for increasing the adoption rate for your new product is to make things as simple as possible for your customers, by giving them the ability to trial your product for free. Giving someone a 30-day free trial is a very powerful way to get them using your product quickly and then, hopefully, continue using that product after the trial ends. Trial is a critical element to accelerating adoption, so you want to make it easy and cheap to get as much trial as possible for your marketing dollars. Remember that trials lead to sales, which lead to repeat sales and referrals.
So when you're ready to launch a new product into the market, don't use a "build it and they will come" approach. Look for ways to use these four strategies to increase the rate at which your new and existing customers flock to it as fast as possible. That's when the real wins happen and where the money is.