I was meeting with a top Motorola marketing executive last week, and he was telling me about the company’s “fan boys” and how important they were.

I call these customers early adopters, and here’s my best possible advice about them: avoid them. Don’t market to them. Because when you do, you master language, behaviors, techniques that work only for them. Habits are ingrained. Your channel — distributors, retailers — are trained. And all this to conquer approximately 5 percent of your total market.

The problem is that the language and marketing techniques that succeed with early adopters do not resonate with mainstream customers,  because care about completely different things. The mainstream wants marketing focused on lifestyle, life improvement, and customer stories. They don’t want tech specs.

I’ve seen this over and over again — once a company masters early adopters, the transition to mainstream customers is nearly impossible. It’s exceedingly difficult to completely change how you and your channels talk about and market. I’ve seen countless companies get boxed in to the early adopter market — the highly technical, message board enthusiasts — and move no further. Then, they simply fade away. You probably know companies like this too.

The solution: begin with the mainstream. Make them your early adopters. Avoid the techies. Because they’ll find you anyway.

Bonus Reading From My Blog: The Top 10 Problems With Microsoft’s New Tablet Announcement.

The Evangelist Marketing Minute is a weekly thinking launch point that is always short enough to read in about 60 seconds. It covers marketing, branding, positioning, language, and public relations. Your email address is never shared, with anybody, for any reason.

I help clients increase revenue and create customer evangelists and influencers through powerful marketing. My clients include Logitech, TiVo, Sony, and ZAGG. See my Web site for details about my work.

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