Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
How safe is your high-tech business from the chasm?
Not that safe. To help you assess your current situation, Geoffrey A. Moore wrote Crossing the Chasm. First published at the beginning of the 90’s (now in its 3rd edition), it quickly became the Bible of high-tech entrepreneurship environments and business schools.
As a business graduate myself, I learned that the Technology Adoption Life Cycle is illustrated as a “bell curve” with no disruptions. Just the transition from one category of customers to the other.
HIGH-TECH BUSINESS / CROSSING THE CHASM
“Chasm crossing is not the end, but rather the beginning, of mainstream market development.”
Usually no drastic changes are made to the marketing strategy over the course of a product’s evolution until it’s assimilated by the market. Well, what I didn’t know is the different approach that a high-tech product should take in order to reach the same goal.
Geoffrey A. Moore put on paper what his high-tech peers already knew from experience: that between the early market and the mainstream market, a pause in development was happening. And that, ladies and gents, is the chasm. Side note, this threat only appears when we have disruptive innovations.
So… what does “crossing the chasm” entail?
The short answer can be found in this nugget:
“Crossing the chasm—performing the acts that allow the first shoots of that mainstream market to emerge.”
For the long answer, keep reading.
Crossing the Chasm offers real support for both novices and professionals. The author presents arguments as analogies and shows, among other things, the impact and gains of word-of-mouth in a niche market.
Geoffrey Moore, a former English professor, made a shift in his career when he moved across the country from Michigan to California. There, by working in training, sales, and marketing, he created the concept of “the chasm”.
Moore understands what it takes for high-tech innovators to overcome the chasm. After publishing the 1st edition of his highly-acclaimed book, he opened his own consulting agency, Chasm Group.
He realized that:
“The point of greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in making the transition from an early market.”
In its early days of publishing, the book was aimed at business-to-business market development. But, with some alterations, it can be applied to the business-to-consumer markets too.
When Crossing the Chasm first saw the light of day more than two decades ago, the B2B market was the norm for the IT industry. Nowadays, with the rapid expansion of the Internet, the B2C market is in the spotlight.
Moore’s book is split into 7 chapters and two parts.
The first part is about discovering the chasm by addressing the illusion and the enlightenment of the high-tech market.
The second section presents the actionable steps needed for your business to undertake, in order to get through the chasm. Also, at the end, you’ll discover two additions that will help you see the whole picture – in terms of the high-tech market development model and of the remarkable evolution in IT from the last decades.
The key concepts from Moore’s book refer to:
- The Niche Market. To cross the chasm, you need to target a specific niche market where you can dominate from the beginning;
- The WOM. The number-one source of information that buyers use as reference in the high-tech buying process is word-of-mouth;
- The Whole Product. The chasm model affirms that until the whole product is available, your company cannot have a claim to the mainstream market.
- The Positioning. The positioning is more about the mindset of the public than yours;
- The Market Strategy. Each time you make the transition from a category to the next of the Revised Technology Adoption Life Cycle, be sure that you’ve changed your market strategy in a way that fits the specific group of buyers.
As an engineering-oriented entrepreneur one part of the puzzle, when crossing the chasm, consists in managing the birth of the whole product and collaborating with the partners involved in making it happen.
The following list will reveal some tips on how to do it successfully:
- Start with the doughnut diagram while you define and communicate the whole product.
- The whole product needs only its basic requirements. Make sure of this by shredding any unnecessary features when you reexamine it.
- The whole product must be reviewed from each participant’s point of view.
- Take your time, when the whole product relationships are being developed. Get going from the preceding interactions of cooperation towards a more official connection.
- Work as close as possible from where the actual decisions affecting the customers are being made. In the case of sizable partners, work from the bottom up, whereas with the small ones, from the top down.
- Use the official relationships, only as communication initiators.
- Target your drive on establishing alliances at the district sales office level, when working with very large partners. Also, be careful on how you spend your time and effort with grand corporate personnel.
- On the last note, expect that your organization to be the most troublesome partner to handle.
The theories presented by Geoffrey A. Moore in Crossing the Chasm are backed by the IT professionals’ experiences had in the field and based on real case studies. For example, the Bowling Pin Strategy requires a primary focal point on securing crucial mass in one area and then expanding out from there. The Revised Technology Adoption Life Cycle represents a graphic description of the chasm, where the names of the groups are unchanged, but the distance between two of them is visibly larger, implying the need of a permanent revision of your marketing plan.
A piece of advice: do not make pre-chasm promises that you can’t keep after crossing the chasm.
If you want to find out more, spoil your brain with a copy of Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore. It goes without saying that the essence of its endeavor is to let you know that:
“The impact of the chasm extends beyond the marketing organization to every other aspect of the high-tech enterprise.”
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