Understanding Your Early Adopter


Let's continue our breakdown of principles outlined by Geoffrey A. Moore's book, Crossing the Chasm, and take a closer look at your early adopter:

In order to break into mainstream markets, you must first begin with your early adopter. These are some of your earliest customers, and they can be instrumental in helping you define the boundaries of your product and business. More often than not, these early customers have a very specific problem that needs to be solved. They purchase your product because they believe your offer is the best option they have to solve it, in whatever state it’s currently in. In fact, they’re even willing to help you fix whatever ails your product in the hopes of making it a perfect solution for their current predicament. As a result, they’re absolutely essential to your efforts of niche market domination.

To learn more about Crossing the Chasm, read our  full breakdown . 

To learn more about Crossing the Chasm, read our full breakdown

Here’s how they can help you acquire firm footing in early markets before attempting to cross the chasm



  • Are customers willing to work with you even if you’re just starting out. Why? Because they currently have a problem and are willing to take a chance on a potential solution.
  • More importantly, they are driven by a specific “dream.” Perhaps it’s to be healthier, less stressed, more successful, more organized…whatever it is they feel they are currently lacking. It’s in pursuit of this dream that they are able to become “visionaries” for the future of your product. 
  • Yes, this is an inherently selfish motivation, but it makes these customers willing to try unfinished, untested, and uncertain products or ideas, as well as provide detailed feedback. This feedback instructs you on how to make their “dream” a reality through your product. And by listening closely, you'll become better able to conquer this early market and eventually “cross the chasm.” 
  • Keep in mind: early adopters like to be first, and they want to be heard. In a perfect world, they also want to profit off of this early investment in your product, either by way of ROI or increased benefits as a user.
  • This is a way to build a “whole” product, capable of “crossing the chasm” to the mainstream markets; however, know that selling to an early adopter is very different from selling to a customer in the early majority
The point of greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in making the transition from an early market.
— Geoffrey A. Moore

In short, you want to seek your early adopters to acquire knowledge. This knowledge will enable you to make informed decisions moving forward, rather than merely relying on your untested assumptions and theories. 

Once you’ve identified your early adopter, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How will my product make their lives better?
  2. What does the before and after look like?
  3. What’s their general lifestyle and how will my product fit into it?
  4. How will my product affect their routine?
  5. In what ways do they communicate with their network?
  6. Where do they seek out information or knowledge? What websites? What network of people?
  7. What’s their online culture or lifestyle? How do they use the internet?
  8. What else have they purchased that’s related to the problem I'm working to solve?
Chasm crossing is not the end, but rather the beginning, of mainstream market development.
— Geoffrey A. Moore

In Conclusion: By focusing on finding and collaborating with your early adopter, you can prepare to “capture” other niche markets in pursuit of mass market success. To learn more about your customer and how your product can fit into their lives, grab your free copy of The Brand Swatch.