sA Summary of “Crossing the Chasm”
By Jonathan S. Linowes, Parker Hill Technology Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing the Chasm, Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customer (revised edition), HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1999 The high-tech marketing guru (and principle of The Chasm Group marketing consultants), Geoffrey Moore offers time tested insights into the problems and dangers facing growing software companies, and a blueprint for survival. This classic text (first published in 1991) is widely accepted as “the bible for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets.” For the benefit of the reader, while I do not presume to do justice to Moore's book, I attempt to summarize key points here: A market is defined as a set of actual or potential customers for a given set of products or services who have a common set of needs or wants, and who reference each other when making a buying decision The final point may be the least intuitive, but Moore says, "the notion that part of what defines a high-tech market is the tendency of its members to reference each other when making buying decisions-- is absolutely key to successful high-tech marketing." Many business plans are based on a traditional Technology Adoption Life Cycle, a smooth bell curve of high tech customers, progressing from Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and finally Laggards. In turn, this model becomes the foundation for a high-tech marketing model which says the way to develop a market is to work the curve from left to right, progressively winning each group of users, using each "captured" group as a reference for the next.
Moore demonstrates that in fact, there are cracks in the curve, between each phase of the cycle, representing a disassociation between any two groups; that is, "the difficulty any group will have in accepting a new product if it is presented the same way as it was to the group to its immediate left." The largest crack, so large it can be considered a chasm, is between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority. Many (most) high tech ventures fail trying to make it across this chasm.
Early Adopters are the rare breed of visionaries "who have the insight to match an emerging technology to a strategic opportunity,… driven by a 'dream'. The core dream is a business goal, not a technology goal, and it involves taking a quantum leap forward in how business is conducted in their industry or by their customers… Visionaries drive the high-tech industry because they see the potential for an 'orderof-magnitude' return on investment and willingly take high risks to pursue that goal. They will work with vendors who have little or not funding… As a buying group, visionaries are easy to sell but very hard to please… because they are buying a dream…They want to start out with a pilot project, which makes sense because they are 'going where no man has gone before' and you are going with them. This is followed by more project work, conducted in phases with milestones, and the like." "You can succeed with the visionaries, and you can thereby get a reputation for being a high flyer with a hot product, but that is not ultimately where the dollars are. Instead, those funds are in the hands of more prudent souls who do not want to be pioneers" The Early Majority are pragmatists… "they care about the company they are buying from, the quality of the product they are buying, the infrastructure of supporting products and system interfaces, and the reliability of the service they are going to get… Pragamatists tend to be 'vertically' oriented, meaning that they communicate more with others like themselves within their own industry than do technology 2
enthusiasts and early adopters… It is very difficult to break into a new industry selling to pragmatists. References and relationships are very important…Pragmatists won't buy from you until you are established, yet you can't get established...
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