Categories: Business


Chances are you have a marketing plan for your Texas mobile app startup – and an exit strategy for when you hit it big. But going viral or topping the App Store charts isn’t just about haplessly throwing a bunch of advertising money around. Unless you want to burn through your bootstrapping funds or your VC funds, you’ll want to be strategic about who you try to reach, and in what order.

The Diffusion of Innovation Theory

EM Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory dates back to the 60s. You’re probably at least obliquely familiar with it. You’ve likely heard of the terms “Early Adopter”, “Late Adopter” and “Influencer” and have some idea of what they mean. All of those are part of Rogers’ theory about how ideas, products and innovations spread throughout the public consciousness.

The big idea is this: innovations don’t just land wholesale on the whole population. Some people are more liable to adopt the innovation than others. These individuals get the ball rolling, adopting and advocating for the innovation until the next group picks it up. A few “groups” later, and your innovation has spread through the entire applicable market.

What are those groups, exactly? There are five:

Innovators. 2.5% of the market. Risk-takers interested in ideas who’ll try something new just because. You’ll find your entrepreneurs and VCs here.

Early Adopters. 13.5% of the market. These are opinion leaders who embrace the idea of change. This is a good segment for tapping for “influencer” marketing.

Early Majority. 34% of the market. A little more skeptical than early adopters, this lot will try something new if they see evidence or benefits.

Late Majority. 34% of the market. They’ll try something after everyone else has. You’ll need proof of value and success stories to convince them.

Laggards. 16% of the market. The ones who still brag about using “dumb phones”. Traditional and conservative, they need stats and peer pressure before they’ll try something new.

When your product launches, it will roll through these five groups. Awareness and adoption flows from one group to the next, so plan a tiered marketing strategy that takes their different needs into account.

(Here’s where your sales funnel comes in.)

There's a lot to getting your Texas mobile app startup out there
There’s a lot to getting your Texas mobile app startup out there

What Makes an Innovation Spread?

Now that you have your five user groups, what are the critical factors in actually reaching them? They’re the following:

Innovation. The product itself. Its novelty and value is important here.

Adopters. The actual people spreading the word.

Channels. How you’ll share information about the innovation – ads, social media and so on.

Time. Success takes time, so research the trajectory other similar products.

Social Systems. All the different groups in society that exert influence. Think college, book clubs, sports team fans and so on.

All of these elements come together to influence whether a decision is made to adopt the innovation. Of course, adoption doesn’t have to be individual. It can also be undertaken as a group (for example through a vote), or even via authority (such as legislation).

How will your Texas mobile app startup "diffuse"?
How will your Texas mobile app startup “diffuse”?

Why Don’t All Innovations Get Adopted?

You can put a ton of money into marketing an idea, and it can still fail. Meanwhile, something trifling and silly can become the next hot thing. Why do some innovations “diffuse” (spread) better than others?

The theory explains a few different reasons. They include:

Relative Advantage. The innovation is better than what else is out there.

Compatibility. It’s consistent with the user’s needs. (Did you remember to validate your idea and get some user testing?)

Complexity. Is it easy to understand and use? (Marketing team: did you take this into account when communicating with the five groups?)

Triability. Can users test it, or do they have to buy it outright? (Trial accounts, freemium and in-app purchase business models, good job!)

Observability. Can you actually see the benefits it delivers?

There are a few other factors, of course, with a big one being cost and individual access to funds. Not to mention market expectations. A brilliant app that’s priced high might get traction, but you’ll probably expect to blow out the “time” portion of your adoption strategy.

Need help predicting the diffusion of innovation for your Texas mobile app startup?

If you’re planning a Texas mobile app startup, keep the above in mind when concepting and marketing your product. Need some help with your idea? Drop us a line!



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