Ah, the early adopter. Their the people who grab on to things first, they start trends and they are influencers in their respective communities.

Whether you’re a startup, a movement or a personality, you need these early adopters. Marketing to early adopters can be slippery though, what they grab on to is almost entirely motivationally based. Toss out your traditional “Three P’s” of marketing if you want to capture this crowd, you’re going to need to think through what makes them tick.

Whether you’re building a product or starting a movement, keep your early adopters in mind. Strategies of early adopter marketing require a deep understanding of their motiviations.

Early Adopters Value Intellectual Stimulation

It doesn’t matter what your target market is, a certain segment of them are early adopters and early adopters like to be challenged and stimulated.  Puzzles and quizzes are intriguing to these people, but they get bored easily, so make sure the content matches the intelligence level.

Don’t mistake this to assume that every puzzle or quiz is intriguing to early adopters. They aren’t necessarily the “Buzzfeed” quiz takers. They like to learn and be challenged but they aren’t interested in dumbed down versions of anything. By the time something has caught mass adoption, early adopters have either “been there/done that” or are already deeply engaged in using the product.

Early Adopters Have High “FOMO.”

Because they value their role as early adopters, they never want to be “out of the loop” or miss something that’s particularly cool.

Tap into that “Fear of Missing Out” during the earliest stages. Give them ways to be cool to their community by letting them be the gateway to a broader audience and you’ll be tapping into their desires to be seen as an early adopter.

Google generally does this really well when it launches products. It does an initial invitation to known early adopters and gets everyone else clamoring to be part of it in the first phase and SEEN as an early adopter. Google definitely has marketing to early adopters down.

Early Adopters Are Attracted to Art, Emotion and Adventure

Perhaps more than any other target market, early adopters are pulled in by emotion, art and adventure.

This is one reason why Apple’s early emphasis on design caught on with early adopters, they loved the elegance of the product and interface, the art of the experience.

Remember, art, emotion and adventure can happen online and offline. This is a place where you can really get creative and have some fun. It’s also easy to identify these people based on where they go because events like TED and TEDX inherently draw early adopter personality types.

Because of this constant searching early adopters have, curiosity is a primary trigger for action. Tripping the curiosity trigger requires some thought because early adopters aren’t generally suckers for the usual mass-marketing techniques; they’re a little more sophisticated than that. You’re going to really have to think of something that genuinely makes them curious.

The “Why” Seriously Matters

Early adopters are very observant they generally see through tactics and need a reason to be inspired.  Your marketing message to early adopters needs to be centered around something inspiring.

Instead of focusing on product features, tap into the deep intellectual and emotional reservoir of early adopters and give some insight to them about why this product or movement matters. You’ll likely need to do some message testing here, but it will be worth it once you hit on the “why” that matters most.

Don’t Confuse Early Adopters for Extroverts

It’s easy to lump the two together, but research shows that messaging that targets extroverts actually repels early adopters. Early adopters like intrigue and creativity, they aren’t particularly attracted to social attention in a public way. This doesn’t mean they aren’t on social media, it just means that their triggers are different. They like to have their role as early adopters confirmed, but they also like to be the messenger of that delivery.

Tech PR needs to be reinvented. Telling a great tech story today differs from what it used to be.

For the past 15 years, tech has been leading much of the conversation, so with a few press releases and a TED Talk, an upcoming and coming CEO could set the agenda. Zuck set the “let’s make an interconnected world” agenda. Steve Jobs set the “intuitive design” conversation. And while there is plenty more innovation headed our way – tech itself is no longer the story.

Emerging tech companies need to connect to the conversations their community is having or going to have in an enormous way. Why?

Today’s reporters need stories that capture the moment, not navel-gaze into the future. 90% of tech writers are curious about backend technology, but won’t write about it. Most outlets only have one tech reporter, that poor person receives over 500 pitches per day and an uncomfortable number of them are still using buzz words like “innovative”, “disruptive”, and the worst of them all, “unique.” These words now cause journalists to glaze over because they’re so overused and increasingly unbelievable. The question comes down to “WHY?”

 

So if Tech Itself is No Longer the Story…What Is?

Technology companies need to tell stories about how they’re connecting to the stories consumers are watching. Great tech stories often start with core values and it isn’t just consumers who want to know more about how you’re solving the world’s actual problems, it’s investors too – 88% of institutional investors are evaluating ESG (environmental, social, governance) with the same scrutiny they give operations and finance.

Let’s look at what people are searching for on Google:

How to Tell a Tech Story today

Look how emerging tech doesn’t even register compared to climate change and racism. There are far more reporters covering these emerging trends than the tech itself. Tying your tech story into the zeitgeist, that’s where tech companies become indelible.

Here at Avaans, we write a lot about purpose, what it is and why it’s important to fast-growing companies. Even though we are a boutique firm, we have guiding principles as well.

That’s because not only does a clear purpose give the company and the brand extra internal fortitude, but it allows consumers to connect with your storytelling on a deeper level.

Regardless of stage of growth, having purpose is the path to longevity and a connected customer base. It’s also a great launching pad for purpose-driven PR.

Digging deep to find these stories may take some time and candor about corporate culture – but these are the stories that stick. These are the stories that create memorable brands. You can’t start telling this story too early.

 

What Makes a Great Tech Story Today?

Every story needs to be:
Relevant
Inevitable
Believable
Simple

As you look at these components, you may think about how your technology fits into these buckets; resist that urge for a moment.

The first two are the lowest hanging fruit, the last two can take years. Take, for example, Salesforce. When they wanted to grow, they made a simple but audacious claim: the end of software. Establishing relevance and the inevitability of tomorrow’s cloud-based world were the simple parts. Notice how they made that claim about the user, the client, not themselves, and it was simple. The stories about how this changes business and the world are immeasurable. But, Caryn Marooney who worked with Salesforce during those early days says “it still took us years to establish true believability,”.

Set your expectations accordingly. Expect to get two to three of those messages across in the early stages. As you grow, as you show more credibility, and as trust between your company and the media increases, “Believeable” will come. Trust isn’t something manufactured in a boardroom, trust is earned.

Today, Salesforce continues to tell stories relevant to their customers and the media that aren’t about technology. Salesforce recently claimed that the “Salesforce economy will create 9.3 million jobs and $1.6 trillion in new business revenues.” The white paper is chock full of bite-sized data that an entire story can be built around the new economy, what this means in today’s labor shortage, the threads are endless and the study gives legs to talking points that can last a year.

 

The Case for Tech Storytelling Over Trade Shows

Let’s be clear – we’re big fans of tech tradeshows and conferences. Many a product has gotten media from its standout strategies at CES for example. But the coverage around CES, like any tradeshow, is diluted and noisy. Reporters at conferences are looking for clickable headlines: they want big dollars, ticker symbols, known brands.  At tech trade shows you need to stand out with remarkable, word-of-mouth activations, to give extra lift to your story – or you’ll probably share the story with 1 or 2 competitors. Sure, a trade show can give you a lift, and it can be an excellent place to connect with the media – but you simply can not rely on a trade show to do all the heavy lifting. We so often see companies make a trade show their launch or the key message for an inordinate amount of time. The fact is, trade shows give a temporary boost, but great tech storytelling goes on for decades. 

Here’s more good news: the more simple your key message, the longer your tech storytelling will last. Counter-intuitively, simple messages last longer and provide more room for interpretation.

 

A colleague of mine once asked “Why does everyone want to go viral (with their content), I want to go cancer with my content, I want it to last a long time and fight to stay,” Tech storytelling is the same, tapping into current media trends and the mindset of the customer. Core values, Purpose, a solid mission, and knowing your next 3 steps will ensure your tech story starts out great. 

If you’re looking for a tech PR agency that goes the distance with you to find the great tech stories of today and tomorrow, then drop us a note, we’d love to dig deep with you too.

 

The consumer tech PR trends to watch for 2022 are exciting and combine other macro trends impacting emerging brands’ PR this year. This year, for the first time in two years, consumer tech companies gathered to show off their latest innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Perhaps it was the pent-up demand, perhaps it was the changes to our lives since the pandemic started, perhaps it was just that technology is ramping up faster than ever before, but the consumer tech PR trends to watch for 2022 are exciting.

Consumer Robots for Real

Robots, once the domain of government-grade applications only are becoming a reality in our homes. Consumer robots for everything from home tasks and chores like pool cleaning and vacuuming, STEM education for kids, to emotional support pets that are easily cared for, consumer robots are finally here.

While the Jetson age doesn’t look quite the way we thought it would, in some ways it’s better because many of these consumer robots are utilizing AI to do their jobs more efficiently.  This combination of robots and AI means robots will better integrate into our daily lives. But the physical world isn’t the only place where we will interact with robots.

Consumers will start interacting with robots more frequently as drones or uncrewed vehicles make their way onto our sidewalks for delivery of everything from food to medical prescriptions. Robots will soon be delivering food in restaurants and even mixing your drink at the bar.

While journalists are deeply familiar with some robots, AI-driven demonstrations are sure to catch the eye of media outlets throughout 2022.

The Metaverse

No consumer tech trends piece would be complete without mention of the Metaverse. While the depth of the cultural catalyst of the metaverse is yet to be written, we know the future will include a digital and virtual world that’s more interactive than the social media world we know no.

But what’s new, is the way robots will bridge the gap between our physical world and our digital world, for example, what Euisun Chung of Hyundai Motor Group is calling “metamobility” where robots will perform tasks for people who aren’t physically there.

Naturally, the expansion of the metaverse will be dependent on processing power and affordable hardware, but if CES 2022 is any indication, it won’t be long before those two items catch up to the idea of the Metaverse.

With the new .metaverse domain name, major consumer brands like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and P&G are already staking out their metaverse presence.

Some estimates have the metaverse marketplace growing to $800 trillion. While that seems pretty extreme, between physical products and blockchain technologies and non-fungible tokens, the metaverse could indeed be an entirely new consumer tech economy.

Consumer Tech Trends Turn to Mental Health

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-fifth of adults are experiencing high levels of psychological distress. From emotional support wearables to digital therapeutics, tech is turning to home health and mental health for the latest innovations. Some wearables are predicting stress, others are helping address stress and anxiety. From soothing sounds to induce deep relaxation to mobile games that reduce stress, wearables are becoming more communicative, predictive, and meditative.

Also new is the connectivity to our medical professionals along with reducing costs for delivery of healthcare that democratizes access.

Anyone who has suffered from chronic sleeplessness can attest to sleep’s importance on mental health. Smart mattresses to the rescue. From self-adjusting mattresses that prevent snoring to self-regulating temperature mattresses, tech has taken over your sleep cycle, and given consumers a new way to improve mental and physical help.

Consumer Tech and Purpose-Driven Initiatives

Consumer tech PR will increasingly include stories about social, cultural, or environmental impact.

“Technology-driven by purpose will change the world,” says Deborah Wahl, Global CMO for GM. Indeed, purpose-driven initiatives are as critical to consumer tech brands as they are to any other consumer product.

Indeed, one of the biggest consumer technology trends is how cars will adapt to the environmental demands of the future.

Sustainability and tech are inextricably connected. From solar-powered batteries for cars and homes, to the reduction of single-use plastics, saving the world is on the mind of consumers, and technologists alike. Consumer technology products, a huge contributor to plastic waste, will soon be comprised of more recycled ocean-bound plastics.

Additional innovations will save water and electricity through newly developed systems that will be increasingly popular. Innovations that save water by cleaning, disinfecting, and drying drinking glasses in 10 seconds with .6 ounces of water will empower consumers to take better control of their water usage.

[3 minutes]

Some have said that the fastest growing sector in cannabis is cannabis technology. While cannabis technology companies often serve very specific regulatory needs and enter the marketplace in a tech-mature world (as opposed to those during the initial dot-com era), cannabis tech companies with hyper-growth ambitions can learn from the tech company failures of the past.

Think Ahead, But Not Too Far

Many emerging industry companies have gone bust because they were simply too progressive. From the dot-com era, WebVan and Kozmo were two delivery companies with considerable capital that both went bust, only to see companies like Amazon eventually optimize the services they both introduced. Not every first mover gets first-mover advantage. There’s a lot to be said for meeting the customer or client where they’re at.

But moving people ahead is completely possible. Cannabis tech companies can think through the future of their business by planning past a regulatory world and creating brand loyalty well before any necessary pivots.

Setting an agenda to change the narrative and create demand is a long-term play, but consumers DO change behaviors and in the wake of COVID, there is still an opportunity to maximize the massive mind-shift happening. Cannabis itself is an outstanding example of changing the narrative. In fact, changing the narrative is an excellent competitive strategy and a way to differentiate yourself.

How Cannabis Tech Can Prepare for Bigger and Better Funded

As cannabis becomes a bigger part of the economy in more states, there will be more entrances into the marketplace.

Cannabis tech only has to look at what happened to the CBD space after the Farm Act passed to see a more recent cannabis example of this. From a tech perspective, a good example of this is the Pebble Smart Watch, which raised $10.3 million on Kickstarter (the most successful Kickstarter ever at the time). But of course, they struggled to compete with competitors like Apple Watch.

B2B cannabis tech companies are vulnerable to this as Silicon Valley continues to double down on cannabis tech from companies and founders with no experience in cannabis, but more funding. Dutchie is an example of this. Dutchie’s model is less cannabis and more tech as they model their services to something more akin to GrubHub. Silicon Valley likes companies that reinvent proven scale models.

Cannabis tech companies, whether they serve B2B or B2C should leverage both advertising and PR, together to secure market share AND trust simultaneously. Align your cannabis advertising and PR campaigns and messaging. Don’t isolate your advertising data from PR. Together they can be stronger. Branding dominance and brand value is the way to secure marketplace valuation; had Pebble done that, they would have stood a better chance of survival or at the very least gotten closer to the original offer of $740 million (which they got in 2015), as opposed to the sell to Fitbit for less than $40 million in 2016.

Cannabis technology companies should also be prepared to tell stories that aren’t technology-oriented. Whether those be founder stories, or purpose, there is also more to talk about, so prepare yourself and get those corporate stories in place.

Watch Consumer Tech Trends

Media consumption on the biggest social media platforms may well have peaked already. 2021 was the first year Facebook reported a decline in users. So what’s happening to those consumers? They certainly haven’t left the internet, they’ve simply shifted platforms.

Consumer communication with a cannabis niche or cannabis advertising platforms can learn so many lessons from the failures of social media platforms, in particular Facebook. These platforms need to evaluable the trust equation and invest in it immediately. Whether the customer is B2B or B2C, there is a broader techlash going on.

Leveraging the trust of third-party media outlets is imperative now. And unlike plant-touching brands, cannabis tech companies have a wide-open playing field about the media outlets who will write about them. We always say that “trust is an inside out job,” and that means PR can only clean up so much if you’re abusing trust; if you’re the Theanos of cannabis tech, PR won’t be your biggest spend.

 

Cannabis tech is sure to be a competitive and thriving sector with massive ups and downs, but those who reach hyper-growth will have taken a page out of the successes and failures of past Silicon Valley darlings.

Google once again updated its Product Review Update for 2022. Google’s Product Review Update and consumer PR are closely tied. Yet, for many CMOs and PR people, this update falls below the radar, but it has big implications for consumer products, consumer tech and household goods PR, SEO, and marketing, so it’s important to pay attention. Last year, we covered Google’s views on product reviews too, so if you read last year’s piece, some of this may sound familiar.

[5 minute read]

The April 2021 Google PRU provided these guidelines for reviews and consumer PR:

  • Express expert knowledge about products where appropriate? 
  • Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what’s provided by the manufacturer?
  • Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance?
  • Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors?
  • Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances?
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it?
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision?
  • Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas? For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas.
  • Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says?

 

What Will Google’s Product Review Changes Mean for 2022?

No doubt, Google’s PRU and consumer PR play in the same sandbox. Savvy editors will look at their product coverage with fresh eyes because this can be a huge impact to large publications with lots of reviews content. Today’s editors are more than content strategists, they’re expected to incorporate SEO considerations into their coverage as well. In the April 2021 Google Product Review Update (PRU), Google announced it would reward in-depth review articles that showed extensive knowledge of the product and context on its usefulness.

This year, it also strongly suggested that it will favor coverage that includes the writer’s own experience with the product – this could be a photos, videos, or other evidence to reinforce the product review expertise and authenticity. Google ALSO wants reviews to provide multiple sales links so the consumer can purchase at the merchant of their choice. This is reasonably good news for DTC products since they will now have a higher likelihood that they will include their URL alongside other purchasing options.

 

Earned Media: Help Journalists and Influencers Be Product Experts

The more you can do to make a journalist or influencer an expert, the better your earned media will be and the happier editors will be to include your products. For CPG companies or consumer tech companies, this means product samples should include in-depth tips that highlight product features and use cases so the reviewer can get to work quickly by experiencing the product. It’s tempting to just throw a product into a shipment the same way you do with consumers – but keep in mind, your customers have already researched your product. Developing B-roll for the product is key also, this allows your reviewer to create high-quality product video quickly. Your customers probably already KNOW the features and comparisons, but a journalist or influencer may not. We’re recommending that companies with a PR sample program get really smart about their PR sample kits. Media kits should also include several links, including major sites with affiliate programs, like Amazon. Take advantage of Google’s Product Review Update for your consumer PR.

 

Paid Coverage: Don’t Lean Too Heavily on Thin Affiliate Content

In April 2021, Google warned that thinly reviewed affiliate links would have even less authority than before – site reviews have proven. Yes, links matter, but if the entire site’s SEO depends on low-quality links, then their content and the site will not receive the much-coveted Google authority. For CPG or consumer tech or household goods brands, this is really important, because historically, your SEO and PR team would work together for affiliate links and product placement. But affiliate links will continue to be relevant for media outlets looking to diversify their revenue streams, so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re providing journalists with an affiliate link too.

Owned Media & Paid Media: Comparison Charts for the Win

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the more you can provide content as to how your product compares, the more likely your product is to be included. This is especially important for consumer product companies who are up against major household names. And if your product is well-suited to a particular niche, this is the time to exploit that. Remember, providing the context saves huge time for the journalists and makes it much easier for them to create multiple product reviews for your product.

On your website, consider these tips for your product pages too. You can’t be too helpful for Google.

Paid Media: Incorporate Branded Content Accordingly

For both your earned and owned media, keep these updates in mind to ensure your content stays fresh in the eyes of Google. Whether that’s a press release or a blog post or sponsored content, do yourself a favor and incorporate both 2021 PRU updates. And think ahead. What Google is trying to do is ensure search results match intent (informational vs. buying, for example), match the searcher’s desires. Take the high road on content – make it useful, contextual, and keep your buyer’s customer journey in mind. If your content is for those on the early side of the buying decision, then make sure your content answers common questions for early-stage buyers, if your content is for those who are ready to buy, be sure to incorporate those keywords as well. If you think ahead and remember your customer’s intent matters a lot to Google, your content can pay dividends for years to come. Regardless of who is creating the content, be sure you include keywords and the overall strategy of the document to the writer. A decade ago, SEO content could be reasonably low-quality content, so long as it was jammed with keywords. Since then, Google has been signaling its desire for high-quality content, and it’s been doubling down on that every year – product pages and product reviews are no exception. Now isn’t the time to take a shortcut.

 

2022 will be a big year for a lot of consumer products as the supply chain (hopefully) loosens up, so stay attuned to Google and make sure your SEO and PR are coordinating intentions and content. Contact us today to incorporate these important digital considerations into your PR.

[4 minute read time] Today’s CMOs are constantly scanning the news and social networks for the latest trends and cultural shifts. For emerging brands, cultural trends and shifts couldn’t be more important. But even the savviest of CMOs needs to put these separate trends into a broader cultural context in order to put them to use. Enter TrendHunter, their annual Trend Report is a must-read for PR firms, CMO’s, Product Managers, and Innovators. Guess who else watches these massive cultural trends? The media.

As a PR firm that specializes in emerging brands and emerging industries, we’re extremely fortunate to be working with brands already leading the charge on many of the trends and cultural shifts that the latest TrendHunter report documents in its 200+ pages. A few cultural trends caught our eye and thought they were worth digging into on a deeper level for our community of CMOs and media.

3 Massive Cultural Trends for Emerging Brands

Magic Mushrooms

Over the last 6 years, we’ve noticed an increasing demand for mushroom-based functional foods. The wonders of the mushroom knows no bounds. Nowhere is this more true than in the expansion of psychedelic mushrooms. As researchers fast track the science behind therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, global businesses in Brazil, The British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands, benefiting from legal loopholes are launching brands and experiences that include psilocybin (the compound that creates psychedelic mushrooms). In the US, like cannabis-based THC, psilocybin remains federally illegal, but the local movement to decriminalize the psychoactive ingredient in mushrooms has already begun in Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz (as of this writing). Emerging businesses and innovators see psilocybin following the same path of cannabis, but moving considerably faster towards legalization.

Audio Only

Most marketing executives could not ignore the break-through app of 2020: Clubhouse. Clubhouse may or may not have peaked already, and everyone’s listening to see what’s next. Interestingly, the pandemic surge on ClubHouse came just as marketers were wondering whether podcasts, famously popular with commuters and gym rats would remain relevant. But podcasts survived, and some would say even thrived. Apps like Calm, which uses sound to ease tension also surged during the pandemic. Music lovers know the secret to these apps: listening to sounds has a measurable effect on mood and dopamine regulation. Could it be true? Audio-only meetings are more memorable than video meetings? Twitter is betting on it with it’s pandemic feature: ‘Spaces.’ Emerging from the pandemic, sound will be part of every experiential memory and brands will be looking to research to determine how their sound logos impact people’s moods much the way the we investigate how color impacts mood for graphic logos. We’re launching the ability to LISTEN to our blog posts starting with this very post.

 

Inclusion

Brands Celebrate Inclusivity

Gillette Skinclusive Line

Inclusion is no longer a buzzword, it is now part of our day-to-day awareness.  This year, Gillette Venus’ Skinclusive line launch with a summer line, “My Skin, My Way” on video game Animal Crossing. But inclusive skin is in, and so it differently-abled bodies with this launch. In-game inclusivity is mirroring our greater awareness of how our differences can be beautiful. We’re seeing inclusion happening in apps like Chapters: Interactive Stories, where users can create an avatar that reflects their ethnicity as well. Expect to see this in-game inclusivity mirror: gender inclusion and political points of view as well.

Brand Purpose

Bonus round: brand purpose. From sustainability to social good, TrendHunters covered the trend we’ve been seeing for several years: brand purpose. The best brands in the world are already ahead of the game on this, but it’s also trickling down to emerging industries and smaller brands and that’s because tomorrow’s most influential buyers care very much about where their products come from and what the social, political, and environmental costs of the brand are.

 

All of these trends have massive PR, product, and marketing implications. More and more, our clients are bringing us in at the beginning stages of ideation, to ensure not only do campaigns hit newsworthy notes, they also keep them out of hot water, which is a moving target these days. But our team, hand-picked for emotional intelligence, are here to help you see emerging trends all around.

 

Thanks for joining us today!