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Surviving and prospering across the life cycle of your innovation – Crossing the Chasm

Surviving and prospering across the life cycle of your innovation – Crossing the Chasm

70% of the products will never be commercial successes. To be a true success, the companies have to cross the gulf between the early adopters and the mass market by adapting their marketing actions.

Based on the best-seller « Crossing the Chasm » by Geoffrey A. Moore, Product Managers recommend you best practices to implement for success. Advices as relevant for B2B as for B2C, in any circumstances.

Typical segmentation of customers in the High-Tech sector

At different stages of the marketing of a product correspond different client profiles. The typical segmentation is based on:

  • The Innovators : they are the first buyers of your technology. They maybe booked it before its official release.
  • The Early Adopters will acquire your technology to widen the gap between them and their competitors and become even better.
  • The Majority represents the mass market. This these buyers that will bring significant sales volumes. Your offer will become a cash cow for the company. We distinguish :
    • Early majority
    • Late majority
  • The Laggards will finally close the sales

But the truth is… Less than 50% of the industrial products, which were successfully developed on a technological point of view, become commercial successes. Why are there some products that remain blocked at the doors of the mass market?

Taking into account the different customer segments

crossing the chasm

According to the famous Moore’s curve « The revised technology adoption life cycle », the chasm that separates the early market, composed of the early adopters, and of the mainstream market originates in the differences between the segments:

• The atypical behavior of the early adopters

Their goal is to overtake their competitors.
They are constantly looking for innovation in order to keep their leading position.
They don’t hesitate to take risks, including financial risks; they are in a hurry.
They function on project mode; they don’t wait for the standards.
They frequent the technological conference and specialized trade shows.
They become the spokesperson of the innovative solution.
They are better reactive to direct sales.

• The pragmatic behavior of the early majority

They are looking for technologies that might bring them a clear improvement
They are prudent including on the financial aspects and they are looking for the best value for money
They are hard to convince but very loyal. They principally invest in the long-term.
They need references to be reassured: customer testimonials, specialized magazines…
They buy to renowned or referenced suppliers (retailer/integrator).
They are better reactive to indirect sales.

Adapting your marketing to the mass market
To conclude, crossing the chasm requires an evolution of the corporate culture.

1. Industrialization of the developments and of the support. The era of the friendly team of developers that intervene at any moment, including on the client’s solution, to improve its functionalities or performances is done!
The product marketing has to be strengthened: the product is packaged, documented and the after-sales service is ready for action.

2. Implementation of the distribution channels. A partnership strategy has to be implemented: the first rank partners, the only authorized dealers and the others… Partners can also mean distributors already in contact with some targeted key accounts, integrators in other cases, or in addition of the distributors. For that the marketing has to be ready: documentation, extranet to ensure the demands and the product information, training… all of this on an international level.

3. Looking after its communication. This is the moment when the product marketing come into play.
Customer testimonials (remember, this is the most important to convince!), leaflets, updated information on the website, displays, training of the sales force etc… An action plan to attend to targeted conferences and professional trade shows will complete the business action plan.

The whole of these best practices has to be implemented BEFORE launching the offer on the mass market. All the companies that implemented marketing best practices to launch on the mass market don’t succeed. But all the ones that succeeded did it…

Catherine Kokoreff

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