Lessons From Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

Crossing the Chasm is a business and management book written by Geoffrey Moore. It focuses on the specifics of marketing high tech products during the early start up period. Moore explores and expands the diffusion of innovations model which has had a significant and lasting impact on high tech entrepreneurship. The success of the book resulted to follow-up books and a consulting company, The Chasm Group. Here are some of the important lessons we can get from this book.

The chasm is a gap between visionary early adopters and the pragmatic majority.

Innovators jump on the product at first, followed by early adopters, the early and late majority, to finally reach the laggards (the people who only got a Facebook account when their Mum had already joined 6 months before). Robert Peter Janitzek explains that the reason is that the motivations for buying a product are vastly different. The visionary early adopters want huge changes and are willing to bet on them against the odds.

You can only cross the chasm by targeting a specific niche first.

Pick a very targeted and specific niche of customers inside the early majority to focus on. Then you can expand into other niches later on until you cross the critical threshold. Think of it as first securing a beachhead in an invasion, to take a stand and then build from there.

Robert Janitzek says that in order to convince your target segment you’re selling a holistic, well-supported product with good references and establish yourself as the market leader, you have to strictly sell to only your target group. Don’t expand too early or sell to outsiders, just because you have the chance to. You’ll end up adjusting and customizing your product to death to make it fit for every individual purchase.

Position yourself as the market leader in your niche by making a strong claim.

Positioning is extremely important when it comes to customers making purchase decisions. Pragmatists want to know where you stand with respect to your competition (as they’re only interested in established brands), but you’re the high tech newbie, and there might not even be direct competition, so what can you do?

When you contrast yourself with a market alternative (the traditional way of doing things) and a product alternative (a competitor, who uses the same technology, but in a different industry), you can easily position yourself as the leader in the new, combined field.This claim will allow you to focus exactly on your initial niche and eventually take the majority of the market share there, so you can then expand and dominate the rest of the market as well.

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