The concept of crossing the chasm came from Geoffrey Moore who wrote a book “Cross the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream customers” in 1991. This marketing book depicts a Technology/Product Adoption Life Cycle as a way to help organizations understand how to attract different consumer types and behaviors when it comes to tech. Below is a diagram that illustrates the gap in adoption or the “chasm” that Geoffrey Moore highlighted in his book. I will address the different players in the life cycle, discuss the challenges and describe some simple exercises to better position your organization.
PART I: THE PLAYERS, WHO ARE THEY ?
Innovators, Techies (2.5%)
The trendsetters. These are a different type of people who will get up early in the morning to line up at the Apple store. They want to try the latest and greatest and will get their hands on this technology no matter what. These are people who attend the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) and make deals right then and there.
Early Adopters, Visionaries (13.5%)
Individuals who wait just a bit to get a better sense of the technology before making a quick and hasty decision. They wait to gather as much information before taking risks like the Innovators. These tend to be highly influential people who are thought leaders in their community for other prospective adopters. They tend of write reviews on products or educate others about current technology environment.
Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards (84%)
Once all the masses began adopting a technology, the Early Majority, or the Pragmatists, comes in and participates, perhaps a year after the tech is introduced once the whole product is completed, not just the beta or early versions. The Late Majority and Laggards are either skeptics traditionalists, lack access to new tech, older age. These audiences make up the most of the market and slowest to join, if ever.
PART II: WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?
The chasm is the gap between the early adopters and early majority which makes it very difficult market to capture and is often where technology products and companies fail to reach the mainstream audience early on.
Companies want to accelerate adoption in all segments. The desire between groups differs so much. The innovators and early adopters want to have competitive advantage and be on the cutting edge. They are willing to take risk even if the product isn’t at its best. The mainstream markets want to be fully satisfied with a full product and if they don’t like it then a company can lose them forever.
PART III: HOW TO CROSS THE CHASM? VALUE PROPOSITION AND ELEVATOR PITCH EXERCISES
Moore described many approaches in ways to cross the chasm. He laid out several chapters on his tips from: Target the point of attack, Assemble an Invasion Force, Define the Battle, Launch the Invasion. I will not be spending time laying this out, instead I will highlight some exercises that I find would be helpful for any organization to cross the chasm.
One point that I learned during graduate school is identifying the value proposition, a statement that clearly describes what separates you from other businesses. This may seem simple but businesses lack a understand of their business model and value prop. A simple exercise such as building out a value proposition canvas shown below will help you better understand your audience, competitive advantage, product and business needs. Some businesses want the entire pie of the market, but should really pick a niche market. This exercise will help to narrow down the scope and truly understand your products and customers.
Another exercise to help refine your positioning and elevator pitch is filling out a template:
These two exercises, the value proposition canvas and template, will help you re-think how you approach the market. It is not a one-time exercise. It should be revisited perhaps yearly to ensure your products and markets are staying in line with your value prop and if not, then either the marketing approach is wrong in targeting audience and/or how the tech is being introduced or the value proposition is wrong and needs to be re-worked to match your vision.