The Adoption Curve

Adoption CurveFacility contractors try to differentiate themselves to customers by presenting new programs in proposals. It doesn’t end there. Contractors also try to change their own companies for better, faster, cheaper.

Proposing something new for customers or employees to adopt is called, surprisingly, the Adoption Curve.

That’s not its formal name. It’s really called the Technology Adoption Life Cycle . Which first began by tracking how farmers bought hybrid seed corn. Not very high-tech. But six years later the model was flushed out by Everett Rogers in his book, Diffusions of Innovation.

Wikipedia sums it all up with:

“Rogers stated that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%), based on a bell curve. Each adopter’s willingness and ability to adopt an innovation would depend on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption.

Some of the characteristics of each category of adopter include:

  1. Innovators – venturesome, educated, multiple info sources, greater propensity to take risk
  2. Early adopters – social leaders, popular, educated
  3. Early majority – deliberate, many informal social contacts
  4. Late majority – skeptical, traditional, lower socio-economic status
  5. Laggards -neighbours and friends are main info sources, fear of debt

Rogers also proposed a five stage model for the diffusion of innovation:

  1. Knowledge – learning about the existence and function of the innovation
  2. Persuasion – becoming convinced of the value of the innovation
  3. Decision – committing to the adoption of the innovation
  4. Implementation – putting it to use
  5. Confirmation- the ultimate acceptance (or rejection) of the innovation”

The Adoption Curve looks like this:

Diffusion of Innovation

Adoption for Customers & Employees

Swap “service program” with “innovation” and we’re talking about facility contractors. Whether to get customers to adopt (select) contractors, or get employees to do something differently.

It’s the Adoption Curve, and it can be used as a guide for selling and marketing change – both inside and out.

It also shows us the relative population of any group, whether it’s customers’ decision-making teams, or our own employees. Those percentages provide a rough ballpark.

How To Increase Adoption (Incomplete Version)

Of course this is a short list. It’s a little more complicated and you’ll have to flesh out your own specifics. Read Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, although its for technology products, it can help.

Here’s a short take for facility services:

1) Identify your key customers (for a proposal it’s the decision making team, for employees it’s your key leaders)

2) Decide (guess) if they are innovator, early adopter, early majority, etc.

3) Identify where they get their info from. For example, innovators get info from blogs, white papers, and articles – the early majority rely heavily on references.

4) Create your messaging to appeal to their type:

  • Innovator: “there are no proof points yet, speak to first-on-the-block, industry-changing, visionary aspects”
  • Early Adopters: “point to innovators who have adopted, bring up risk-reward, & inevitability of coming change”
  • Early Majority: “seek beachheads by pointing to reputable early adopters, speak to dangers of non-action”
  • Late Majority: “point to proven track record, provide guarantees against failure”
  • Laggards: “do you really want these?”

5) Get your adopter-specific message to your adopters in the manner they like (steps 3 & 4 above).

What are you doing to help your customers & employees adopt your changes?

Chris Arlen
President, Service Performance

Technorati: change, proposals, buying

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