The (Eventual) Influence of the Early Adopter (Doctor + Brand)
A general surgeon and I started FEED after a failing biotech venture caused us to consider what we would like to do next. As fate would have it, our first client was our previous employer.
During our tenure at this biotech company, we were engaged to help grow the sales of a particular product that was relatively new to the market and involved the mindset shift of physicians changing their standard surgical technique. Not an easy challenge.
About this time period, I had read Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore and learned about the challenge to market and sell disruptive products in a mainstream market. This book went on to be named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 10 Marketing books of all time.
Tom Fishburne illustrates the chasm this way –
Armed with the knowledge received from this book, my partner and I began to identify the early adopters and the top 20% of physicians purchasing 80% of the products. Most people start with finding new customers or growing the revenue of poorly performing accounts. We focused on the early adopters and increasing their already successful business using our product.
By focusing on the early adopters, we grew sales by 87% quarter over quarter and reduced quarterly marketing expenditures by more than 55%.
Each of these practices were early adopters. They took a calculated chance on purchasing new technology for a procedure that previously returned little to no additional revenue, and they were the first in their area to do so.
Why did they take the risk and purchase this new technology?
Perhaps it was because the technology was not a significant capital expenditure. Perhaps they saw the emerging trend of the procedure. It doesn’t really matter, other than understanding they are unique.
Three years later, the technology we helped to position with these early adopters and consumers is seen as trusted and becoming standard operating procedure.
Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm explains the benefit of reaching early adopters this way –
Unfortunately, however, pragmatist customers rarely adopt any new technology en masse. Usually these innovations are taken up first by a single niche, one that has such pressing problems it goes ahead of the herd. The rest of the herd is delighted by this eventuality because it gets a free look at how well the technology plays out without having to take any immediate risk. The niche wins—presuming the beachhead strategy is conducted correctly—by getting a state-of-the-art fix for its heretofore unsolvable problem. And the vendor wins because it gets certified by at least one segment of pragmatists that its offering is legitimately mainstream.
Are doctors who think of themselves as a brand considered early adopters?
We think so and are rapidly building a growing specialty agency.
Howard Luks, MD is a brand. He uses his popular blog and social media for good – never promotional, always patient educational. He will dislike thinking of himself of a brand, but he is. So are you. We all are a brand.
Steve Mora, MD is an emerging brand. A tragic accident at an early age could have left him crippled and paralyzed with fear, but he overcame his circumstances and today he is one of the founding partners and orthopedic surgeons at RESTORE Orthopedics and Spine Center.
Each of these physicians are early adopters. Others will come after them, but they have the courage to go before others.
How much time do we spend trying to convince the majority of doctors they are a brand and need our services?
We can tactfully determine in just a few moments if a doctor we speak with wants a brand or a cheaper new website.
Our business model is simple: develop strategies for physicians and dentists to find us, quickly determine if we are a fit for one another, implement creative strategies that position them as first in the mindset of their ideal patients, respond rapidly to their requests, and ask them to share their experience with us to other doctors in their circle of influence.
Early adopters raise the standard of excellence for folks like us.
It can take a long time for organizations to grow from early adopters to the middle majority of their market. The wait can be worth it for all of us.