with Bryn Griffiths, Laurier Mandin and Andreas Schwabe on June 13, 2019
Bryn, Laurier, and Andreas discuss ideas from the classic book, “Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers” by Geoffrey A. Moore.
Until Moore’s book codified and revolutionized how marketers think and talk about product marketing, a “customer” was perceived as anyone who might potentially buy a product. But there are vastly different optimum buyer types at different times in a product marketing life cycle, and understanding them is pivotal to developing a successful launch strategy.
“The Chasm” is the yawning product marketing gap between Early Adopters and the Early Majority, whose buying choices are guided by entirely separate references. That means brands must think about their segmentation strategy as a phased approach to building momentum. How do you target the right early adopters to secure beachheads to the much larger Early Majority? That’s what we explore.
Bryn: Hey, I’m Bryn Griffiths. This is Product Knowledge, the podcast about creating and marketing products that improve people’s lives. Joining us from Graphos Product, is the president and principal Laurier Mandin, and Andreas Schwabe, director of media services.
Bryn: Today we’re going to talk about one of the most important things in launching a product, and that is crossing the chasm. All right, let’s get right at it guys. What is the proverbial chasm?
Laurier: Well, to understand what it is, you first have to understand the curve of customer types when an innovative product comes on to the market. Back in 1991, a guy named Geoffrey A. Moore published a revolutionary book on the subject. That’s where our episode title comes from, it’s called Crossing the Chasm. The book is a little long in the tooth now, but it introduced terms like disruptive innovation, and the five types of buyers. Which are the innovators, the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and the laggards.
Laurier: Every marketer and business student knows these terms, but most don’t know they came from this book. Geoffrey Moore showed them on a curve running from left to right, with a large bulge in the middle and different sized gaps between each type. And those gaps, especially the second gap that comes between the early adopters and the early majority: that is the chasm.
Andreas: And actually the big innovation in this thinking was that you have a customer, but different phases of customers. Because the first time people really had to think about customers in more than just a monolithic, “I have customers”, there are different customers at different points of your business. For a lot of businesses even now, that’s a new idea.
Bryn: How do you pinpoint somebody? Do you know where exactly they are on the scale?
Andreas: Oh, I can tell you personally, early adopter.
Laurier: And I’m an early adopter, a lot of the time. And very often if I’m doing a business purchase, I’m going to be more in the early majority. The difference is—we’ll start with the innovator. Let’s use solar panels as an example. Innovators are the people who would have put solar panels on their houses 30 years ago and even if the whole roof just gave them enough power to run a radio on a sunny day, then that would have been good enough. Because they want to be doing something cool and they want to be the first one to do it. They want to be able to tell people they’re doing it, and to learn.
Laurier: The early adopters are not quite that early. They’re the guys that maybe would have put solar panels on 10 years ago at a huge expense, for still not much return. That’s after that we get this really big gap called “the chasm”, and that’s between that buyer type and the next type, which is the early majority. The early majority is the ones that will install solar panels or solar shingles once the cost comes down enough and they’re sure it’s a reliable solution that’s going to give them enough power to run their house and their Tesla, and everything else they’ve got.
Laurier: What brands need to know though, is that those early majority buyers don’t reference the early adopters.
Andreas: The groups of buyers, those customers are totally discreet. So as an early adopter, I have virtually nothing to do with the values, interests and use for the product that an early majority person might take. I’m thinking about the product as something completely different. And I know for a fact, I mean you can read the book or you can just talk to me and I’ll say, “I love the dreaminess and the hope of a new product.” There’s this thing you can do. I remember getting the first Logitech Quick Cam. And actually it was a quick cam, it wasn’t even Logitech yet I don’t think. It was sort of a big, golf ball, it was black and white, it needed a serial port, another cable, and then power. It was really awkward, difficult to use, but I loved it. And everybody now has a webcam, they’ve got multiple cameras on their phones. That’s me, literally 1995. That’s way, way, way back there.
Andreas: I saw something to what this was going to be and I enjoyed that early experimentation part. And by the time it became common for everyone else, I’ve already moved on to something else. But that’s when the early majority takes over.
Bryn: I don’t want to take us off topic, but I fall into both those categories. Is that normal? I am an early adopter in so many ways, but I’m also an early majority kind of guy in a lot of ways too. Where sometimes I’ll wait, but I tend to be more adventurous and I’m an adopter first. Is that normal?
Laurier: It is normal and you know what’s going to be for marketers, the really important part, is it’s not necessarily that individual’s habits in general, it’s the habits when it comes to that specific type of product. Because Andreas might not be an early adopter when it comes to building materials for his house. He may not care too much about that. So if you’re marketing—
Andreas: There’s a variety of building materials for my house?
Laurier: Exactly. But if it’s electronics products, or things related to audio, then he is and he falls right into either the innovator or early adopter category.
Bryn: Then we get to the late majority.
Laurier: Yeah, we skipped right over the late majority, then the laggards. The late majority, those are the guys that are going go solar when almost their whole neighborhood is powering their homes and cars with it. And the laggards, they never will unless there’s no other option, so they’re the people who still have landlines in their houses today and no internet. Those guys are out there, but there’s no point in marketing anything new to them, because they’re not going to buy it.
Bryn: The big chasm is between the early adopters and the early majority then?
Laurier: That’s where the big chasm is, and the reason it’s so important, is in those early majority people, that’s usually 30% of your overall entire market, right there. So making that leap across the chasm is super important. Because you can’t take a product to having vast consumer appeal without at some point crossing the chasm.
Andreas: And again, the trick here is that you’re taking early adopters who have a completely different set of values and interests in your product, and I mean ultimately what they do is provide proof of concept. They show that this works, they’ll do the nasty beta testing. They’re the thin edge of the wedge. They want to find out, get that bleeding edge experience. Then the chasm is that gap, because not everybody, no one else, is like an early adopter. They have completely different interests in the product, a different way of thinking about it. So that’s the gap that you have to bridge, because ultimately you’ve got the early adopters who are just jazzed that the thing even exists. Now you’ve got to go to really what’s ultimately a more pragmatic consumer.
Laurier: Exactly, a much more pragmatic consumer. The early majority consumers are buying something they wanted to buy from a market leader, and that’s a really an important thing point that the book makes again and again. Is that these people are the pragmatists. These people who are the early majority, they’re early, but they want to make sure they’re buying a proven product from a market leader. So brands need to know when you’re introducing a product, that the only way that you can effectively move into that bigger 30%, is by proving yourself in a smaller niche market. And doing a really good job of selling and servicing, and becoming that market leader so that those pragmatic customers are going to actually buy it.
Bryn: Should I be seeking therapy if I’m between these two? Or is that pretty normal for some people? I guess it all depends on where your major interests lie.
Laurier: Well, as a radio guy you need therapy anyway. Not necessarily for that reason.
Bryn: Very, very true.
Andreas: For example, some people are really interested in cars. I drive a car.
Bryn: That says it all right there.
Andreas: The color, the features, I thought it was interesting that it had Bluetooth and I use it all the time. But all these more advanced features and traction control and whatever, and lane control. I’m driving, I’ve got somewhere to go. I’m not that interested. But if you’re going to talk microphones, or you’re going to talk a headphone distribution amp or some other gear, I am all in. I’m all nerdy. The only place I’m not a super early adopter is with software because it’s just too dangerous. But if you think about your own interests, some people are really early adopters in terms of even just cuisine. Just food trends and things like that. Everyone’s got their thing, and I think everybody has early adopter and they’re part of all these different phases. I think as much as anything, they’ve just got to find those products that are the things they get super excited about.
Bryn: I have to ask, there’s got to be a danger in here for somebody launching a product. Especially with guys like me, where I don’t know exactly where I stand. I’m about as much on the fence, I’m afraid to jump over the chasm and other times I’m obviously, clearly over it.
Laurier: There’s a big danger because the marketers have to take a risk. They have to first of all, risk all their investment in creating this product and betting that it’s the right product at the right time. Then they’ve got to go and develop and produce it, and build relationships to be able to sell it. And then still have the people to stand behind it to create those early wins. And while they’re doing that, be planning on the next attack. The next market that they’re going to be moving into, using the momentum from that early success, swinging into the second market and the other adjacent markets from there.
Andreas: I mean… Oh, go ahead.
Bryn: So how to mitigate that? Because obviously I guess that’s really where the puzzle lies, is it not? For anybody trying to market a product.
Laurier: Well, analyzing the available markets and developing what we call a market segmentation strategy, that’s one of the elements we cover in our innovative product, go to market roadmap. And we spend a lot of time with our clients looking at okay, who are the different markets? These different niche markets that we can target. Which ones are the easiest ones to access, the ones where we can get the early success, and they’re the right size. Because bigger isn’t always better. If you go after a niche market that’s too big, and too vast, and too widespread, and too logistically difficult to reach, then may not succeed in that market and create that early win that you really need to become a market leader in at least one sector, one niche. So that you can leverage that to get into the others.
Laurier: That’s your beachhead, to use the book reference—
Andreas: For a lot of businesses, that’s really uncomfortable. Because you have to be so focused, and being focused requires discipline. Because you can’t stray off the path. That’s often one of the biggest challenges for establishing that beachhead, is just staying on track.
Bryn: Before we move on, and I’m using myself as a guinea pig here, the chasm can be big for me. It’s either I don’t want to spend that kind of money on that product. And the other one for me is I also believe that you get what you pay for. For me it’s quality. So I guess I’m jumping back and forth over the chasm frequently. I must be a marketer’s nightmare.
Laurier: That depends on how well a marketer—
Bryn: Or challenge.
Laurier: It depends on how well that marketers decides which of these markets YOU are for the product. Because if you’re not feeling the love immediately, and you need to do more research, you need to see success in others using the product, then you aren’t an early adopter anymore. The early adopters are the ones that are willing to take the risk just to be able to show they’ve got the product.
Laurier: When the iPhone came out… I’ve always got to have an Apple example in here. When the iPhone came out, it was the early adopters who waited in line overnight and they were the ones that showed off their phones, because they managed to get one, to everyone. Eventually the product moved from that prestige item. If you saw one it was like, “That guy’s got an iPhone,” to they’re everywhere. Now every third grader has one and his grandma has one too. Which for Apple crossing that chasm was a totally different thing though, then it is for a small business starting up with one product that’s launching it. Where they’re risking everything on being able to cross that chasm.
Bryn: But not every product brand has the power of a Steve Jobs. We bring up Apple all the time here, and for good reason, they’re there. But that’s obviously where taking the product to a beachhead comes in. How do we want to attack this one?
Andreas: Well I mean, let’s break it down into the four main components of this. If you’re going to establish a beachhead, first you have to target the point of attack. Then you assemble your invasion force, then you define the battle. You set up how you’re going to do your attack, and then you launch. This is actually very much the same process. We’re going to go with the D Day theme a little bit. I mean I’ll let Laurier start. I mean target the plan of attack, that’s our focus point.
Laurier: Geoffrey Moore’s book uses the analogy of a D Day invasion with the beachhead at Normandy. Because that’s a really good example with the English Channel being even a reference point for the chasm. And the allies didn’t have the power to jump the English Channel and reclaim all of occupied Europe in one go. So the idea is you need to focus your resources on a niche you know can be taken, and you get established there and you move first onto that beachhead. And from there into those adjacent markets that you plan you’re going to be moving into next.
Laurier: As with the D Day invasion, it’s not always entirely as planned and you do some improvising, and there’s some surprises along the way. But by having that strategy right from the start, at least you’ve got a hope of taking over this large area. You don’t just throw everybody in, scattered all over the place. And that’s a mistake that brands make all the time. Is getting the product out there and just thinking, “Okay, we’re going straight into sales mode. We’re going to sell this thing hard all over the place.” If they do have huge successes by getting lucky, they often aren’t able to provide the support their customers need, and it creates another big risk for them.
Bryn: I saw the movie, Patton, recently. I guess since we’re continuing along in that theme, and he said that no good battle wasn’t planned well in advance. He said you have to know where you’re going to go, and you have to know what you’re going to do. Because if you half go into it, it’s costly. When you handed this book off to me, the Moore book, and I started reading it, that’s the one area that I was the most fascinated by. Because the analogy he used there with the Normandy invasion, it summed it up perfectly. It made perfect sense. Everything that he talked about made perfect sense, and it made it crystal clear for me.
Laurier: And it takes that into a physical, real battleground, right?
Laurier: Because the way that the marketing and product launches happen, it’s real and tangible. But it’s not so visible as far as the actual results happen more slowly and off camera a lot of the time. But it ends up being the bottom line impact that you see, and the what the heck happened there? So with an example like that, it gives us something real that we can anchor onto.
Andreas: Even as we go into the second thing, which is assemble an invasion force, this is one of the most terrifying parts of product development. Because especially in software and technology, there’s a concept called MVP, which is minimum viable product. So many companies are interested in a minimum viable product. We’ve got to get this out there and it’s just going to be the base, acceptable version. It’s the least people will accept for a dollar, but we need to get to market and start generating revenue.
Andreas: The problem is, your hardware probably isn’t exactly where it needs to be. The whole concept needs to be developed. You’ve got to think about customer support, service, manufacturing, packaging. Everything absolutely needs to be considered ahead of time, because literally your packaging is part of your invasion force. When you see Apple stuff on the wall, it’s a wall of beautiful. And that’s planned, that’s part of their invasion. There is that source of just overwhelming you with wow, look at all that. That all comes into it.
Andreas: So whether your systems require software, or you need hardware integration, software integration, installation, training, support, debugging, the whole thing. Your standards, procedures, policies even. What you call things, is really important. Are they clients, are they customers, are they guests? In a hotel it’s a guest, somewhere else it’s something else, but they’re all customers. We just have different names and categories for them.
Andreas: The assembly of the invasion force is really super critical. I mean that’s getting your two million guys ready to go to the beach. And making sure everything is in place the way it needs to be. That requires a fair bit of vision, and this is a massive planning stage. Because if you blow a section in here, it’s going to trickle down.
Laurier: What you said about the whole product is so important. That’s a really central theme to this book as well, the Crossing the Chasm theme. The theory is that you need to go in with a whole product that the consumers are going to feel is whole, and not feel especially when you’re getting to the pragmatists. They don’t want to buy something that’s half there, and they don’t want to be lacking on support. There can’t be anything missing when you’re moving into that market.
Laurier: And I’m a big fan, especially with software projects, of developing that minimum viable product. Because getting distracted by bloat, I’ve seen that fail enough times that I know that’s a bigger road to failure when it comes to software products. But when it’s a consumer product, when it’s a physical product, having something that’s entire, and even with software products to the extent that it has to function and achieve its purpose on its own. Even if you have strategic partnerships with other tools that are going to integrate with it, it has to work very well out of the box in order to get those pragmatists to buy it. To be satisfied, to give it good ratings, and to recommend it so that it’s going to grow.
Laurier: If you’re launching a product and you need to buy accessories or parts down the road in order to make it effective enough and successful enough, then you’re creating some weaknesses that will end up taking you down.
Andreas: And it’s interesting too, because right now we have two major phone manufacturers who have made some decisions about what constitutes a complete product. Both the iPhone and the Galaxy S10 don’t have a headphone jack or buttons. It’s a completely different world now. They’ve basically said, “This is not part of a complete product anymore.” And for someone like me who relies on audio and I want that analog connection, to me that is an incomplete product. And I’m not touching it.
Bryn: You know what’s interesting, this past February was about as cold as it ever gets here in western Canada. And so I had a lot of time to read, and I was watching on YouTube and it was Steve Jobs and he was talking about the transition from the old Apple to their new Apple. It was we used to just put a product out and people would go buy it. That was what we hoped. Then we came to the realization that we had to listen to what the customer wanted and then build it to the customer. They saw their sales zoom from that point. What they did it seems to me, I think what they did was they shortened the chasm a little bit. And it made it easier for people to buy.
Bryn: Now the one thing that I’ve always hated is having somebody push forward a product and I’m thinking, “I don’t know if I want that.” But clearly, they’ve made all the changes that they wanted, because they realize that that’s probably going to be the best way to attack this from a marketing standpoint. Am I wrong on that?
Laurier: It takes a certain amount of authority in the market to be able to make those changes. Because Apple was the first to take off the USB from its computers, before that the CD-ROM drive. They’re constantly removing things from the product, and it takes a giant to be able to do those kinds of things. Because if it’s a smaller company, now you’re shipping an incomplete product, and the customer base is not going to accept that. I’m kind of grateful sometimes, even though I resent having to buy all the adapters every time Apple comes out with a new device. But someone’s got to do it.
Laurier: It’s good that you mention that because that is not usually the place of an innovative new product that’s coming in out of nowhere. That just increases risk if you’re making your product incomplete. So unfortunately I would say no, you should have whatever those connectors are that your users are going to be looking for, and if there’s something that you think is better, make room for it. But don’t be the one that’s eliminating that connectivity when you’re coming in to a market that you’re not in yet.
Bryn: There’s also the fear of a competitor, let’s say beating you to a large scale adoption. Is that true? Is that right?
Laurier: That’s true and that’s one of the biggest fears. Anybody listening here who’s developing a product, you’re terrified that someone’s going to steal your idea and they’re going to beat you to market. So you got your NDAs and everything you’re doing is hush-hush and thinking about how you can move as fast as you can. And you’re going to avoid going into those niche markets because you’re going to want to target everyone. Brand owners worry about competitors seeing their idea and knocking it off, so they want to hit the whole market at once. And that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Laurier: Because what competitors are going to see is those gaps. They’re going to see what you’re doing wrong and that is the big opportunity for them. That’s what’s going to make them jump in and decide to crush you. But if your product is complete, your service is phenomenal, and even in a small niche, when you’re just starting out in a niche, the competitors aren’t going to try and beat you. Because your momentum is going to be too hard to beat, and you’ve addressed the problem too well.
Laurier: But if you decide you’re going to blanket and hit everybody, competitors will realize these guys are lacking in service, that’s an opportunity for us. We’ve just got to go in and do a copy of their product but with great service, and we’re going to own this market. By seeing that as the biggest potential mistake, and turning that on its head, that’s not something that’s in the book. But to me, from what I’ve seen and the way that I’ve seen companies fail, very often by just having that mentality that if we don’t go in hard, give it all we’ve got and try and hit everything at once, then we’re just going to get copied. Their demise is usually not because they got copied, it’s usually because they ran out of steam from not being focused enough.
Andreas: When we’re talking about competition, we can move to the third section, which is really defining the battle. And I’ll use a Pacific theater example, which is Genda. What was his name now, it starts with an M, but his last name was Genda. And he was tasked with really planning Pearl Harbor. And he was famous for just thinking of everything, like the seagulls are migrating that day so the planes need to go a little further… Everything was thought of.
Andreas: And that’s really what defining the battle is all about. I mean it’s like the political game. If you say politician X, that person is against whatever I like, then you’re defining them. And ultimately what you’re trying to do in defining the battle, is define how everyone has to fight the battle. Not just you, but everybody including your competition. Because it’s a challenge to them.
Bryn: This is aradio station analogy, when we launched a radio station here in early 2000s, every competitor in the market said we weren’t going to last more than six months. But our thought was, “Okay, this is our major competition, what are they doing?” Then we did exactly everything they didn’t do. And station’s still on the air, 17 years a couple weeks ago, by basically recognizing that they have some flaws, they have some weaknesses, and those are our strengths. So we built to that and the audience just came to us. I’m guessing in some ways that’s what we’ve been talking a little bit about here.
Laurier: That’s what we’re talking about, one of the things that we’re talking about trying to do. Because if you have an innovative product, then you’ve probably already looked around and seen that hole in the market, the gap that you can fill. But don’t create your own gaps and just flag an opportunity and show that you’re screwing it up by not addressing all the points. Not having that complete product, and not giving it the full support and focus that you need. Don’t get distracted by all the shiny stuff out there and lose track of your plan of that strategy that you have.
Bryn: If you shake keys, do both of you pay attention to the key shaking? If you see a shiny object, are you shiny object guys, or no? If you see something. Are you easily distracted, that’s basically what I’m trying to ask you.
Andreas: Yes and no. Depends on what we’re talking about.
Laurier: I think Andreas and I are similar that in both of us like to get our heads right into something, then we can be really hard to distract. When it comes to that type of thing.
Laurier: I think that’s a bigger problem sometimes, is that if my brain is in a certain space and somebody needs to talk to me, that I don’t want to extract from it. Because I know it took me a while to get that mental momentum.
Andreas: Well, and you get so deep into something that you’re then just playing with ideas, it’s really fun. But it’s a little bit nerdy and a little too focused sometimes. It’s not always the best thing to be too focused. Because you need to be aware of what else is going on around you.
Laurier: Well, I’ve got to say when it comes to product development, the shiny stuff you’re more easily distracted than usual. If you’re focused on a product and all you’re looking for is this going to succeed and what else is out there, what are we missing, then you start to see anything that’s not part of your product that could be. As a potential feature that you’re missing, a feature opportunity. So that shiny stuff is suddenly everywhere and that keeps entrepreneurs awake at night. Worrying that somebody else is going to come out with this killer feature that’s going to make all their hard work for nothing.
Andreas: I mean so much of this too is based on how companies communicate. What they say about their products, and that’s a huge part of launching the invasion kind of thing. Because as you’re defining the battle, you need to have your elevator pitch and all those ideas. I mean Bryn and I both worked at the (Edmonton) Oilers. It was the organization, everyone called it the organization. We never called it the team, it was just the organization. You went to the rink. We had ways of talking about everything, which were cultural, but they spilled over into absolutely everything we did, and everyone was empowered.
Andreas: So it just always seemed like, even though you had 20 different departments, it always sounded the same. So it seems like one organization, and there’s that word. Everybody needs to do that, every company needs to have a really clear grasp, not just on what they sell and what they do, but how they talk about it.
Bryn: Well, people bought into the brand. The organization. Before we go on too, there’s one other thing. I talk about how I’m back and forth over the chasm. I rely heavily also on people. If I’m on the safe side before I make the big jump, I heavily rely on the people on the other side to say, “Come on over.” To me, I’m going now more to consumer reviews than I’ve ever done before. Is that normal?
Laurier: That’s something that didn’t exist in 1991 when this book was written. And Andreas and I were talking about the Better Business Bureau and these other mechanisms that existed prior to that. But that is a really important part of getting that momentum. Is that if you’re on Amazon and you have two stars for your average review, then you’re doomed. You are not going to be able to cross the chasm, because these people who don’t know enough about your innovative new product, are all looking at it and assuming it’s terrible, and moving on.
Laurier: So that’s absolutely hugely important, and that’s part of the reason why that support for the customer for creating a seamless, whole product, and a great experience. People can go and listen to the podcast that we did on—
Bryn: Well, whatever it was.
Laurier: What did we call it? Our past episode on Obsession Branding.
Bryn: Oh, that’s right.
Laurier: In order to understand more about how that whole product experience works and how all of the things that you do tie together to create those perfect experiences for customers.
Andreas: We only have one section left to talk about. We’ve talked about targeting the point of attack, which is your specific niche. Assembling the invasion force, which is the whole product idea. And then defining the battle, which is your communications, validity of the product claims, and all that stuff. Now we’re into the launching invasion. And really, ultimately that’s just primarily distribution and pricing. You’re in the market, go.
Bryn: I’ve got to think that if you’re not priced right you’re never going to make it. Right? The price has got to be reasonable for somebody to make that jump.
Andreas: That’s a big part of validation. I wrote a blog post and one of the things I talk about was how during the 2006 playoff run of the Oilers, you have all these vendors who as we go deeper in the playoffs, they want to pitch products to sell during the playoffs. And some guy came and he had spray painted blue hats and just stuck with glue, paper printed logos on the top. And he wanted to sell them for $25.00. We had them in the store for $20.00 and they didn’t smell like paint and wouldn’t run all over you if you sweat a bit. He didn’t do any product validation work at all, and that was the failure in defining the battle. He had already lost because he didn’t know what the rules of the conflict where. He was already overpriced with an inferior product.
Andreas: When we talk about the distribution and pricing, that product validation, the price validation, and where you can sell it. Some places just are not interested in certain types of product. It’s harder to sell a kayak in Edmonton than it is in Vancouver.
Bryn: Imagine that.
Laurier: These buyer types come into play there too, because the innovators are willing to pay usually less than the early adopters because they’re expecting a less than perfect product. So they may want a special deal for buying something in beta stage, if it’s a software application, or something that’s untested. Then the early adopters may pay more than the early majority because they know they’re going to pay a premium to be the first ones to have this new thing in their hands. Then when you move into early majority, as hopefully your costs of producing the product are going to go down, because the early majority is going to want to have more value pricing. They’re looking at their business case for whatever they’re buying, or the usage case and deciding if it’s worth it for what they’re buying, more than those early adopters are going to.
Laurier: The early adopters might buy something and when the next big thing comes out they’re going to throw it away anyway, so they don’t care so much. And by the time you get into the late majority, that’s when people really expect value pricing. They expect it to be competitively priced because there are other competitors. They’re still willing to pay a premium a bit to buy from that market leader, just as the early majority are. The acceptable pricing level changes as you work through those different cycles.
Andreas: Think of your sales force as part of the invasion force, because those guys are the field commanders who when they meet resistance, oh I don’t like this product for that. If they’re quick on their feet, they can create another case. And if you have good communication channels, they’ll communicate that back to marketing and then you can actually build that into future development of the product and marketing. That feedback loop again, everything that’s set up in defining the battle. It always come back to the next stage, every stage is connected to the next. Even though the customers for those segments may not be.
Bryn: Then we have a launch to worry about. How tough is that? You hope you’ve done all your homework.
Laurier: Yeah, and the launch happens once in a really big way usually. But it’s kind of ongoing. As you’re crossing over and expanding into these different markets, you’re relaunching for each of these niche markets that you’re heading into. If you’re doing it right, and you’re taking it one niche at a time and then leveraging that one to get into the next one, it’s launch after launch. Those transitions sometimes create an opportunity to make things like price adjustments, to add features, to improve the product, to change up your support.
Laurier: The smart companies are always looking at that as being very dynamic and not just looking at where to go next, but what needs to be done to do even better as you’re entering the next phase.
Bryn: Can you think of anything that you bought and you jumped at because you thought this is going to be the hot thing, and yet it never turned out?
Laurier: As we were talking, I was trying to think of something. I bought some products that were junky and I didn’t do enough research into finding out why maybe their price is so low. And those are the bigger mistakes. When it’s something, a technology product that I’m buying that I really want and I’m going to wait in line for, or go out of my way to get, then usually I’ve done enough research that I’m usually more surprised at all the cool things it can do. As opposed to how much it can’t do that I was hoping it would.
Bryn: Okay, so jumping and crossing the chasm has been the topic today. Have we missed out on anything?
Laurier: Well, I think just to double back and remind listeners, that it’s so important if they want to cross the chasm, first of all they need to know it’s there. And to understand why it’s there, to understand there are differences between the psychologies of people who are going to grab the product right away, as quickly as they can, and the ones that are waiting. Understand why those customers are waiting and satisfy through that strategy, through having that market segmentation strategy completed. That’s a really important thing.
Laurier: Whether you hire a marketing agency like Graphos Product to do it for you, or you do it yourself by reading a lot of books and using your gut, it’s a very important thing. Just having listened to this, I think most of the people who are tuning in are going to go away with at least some better knowledge of what they need to know next. And what mistakes they shouldn’t make, I’m hoping.
Andreas: The thing about the chasm, is really understanding that you may have one market, but you don’t have one customer. You have different customers and the life of your product is attractive to different people at different times. And knowing when those are, and again, those early adopters have all the enthusiasm and energy. And they help you really develop and refine your product. But getting it into the hands of most people is the real trick. That’s where you really have to plan, take the lessons you’ve learned from the early adopters and then push them forward.
Laurier: Yeah. There’s so many things in this book. I mentioned before, it’s from 1991 and I’d never read it before, even being a marketer. Some of the big surprises to me were the terms that were in this book that today’s marketers, the inbound marketers think that were invented just for them. Like buyer personas. When we’re talking about the market segmentation, there’s a lot of discussion as well about the different buyer types and so much as being buyer personas. That’s always been really important.
Laurier: And it’s easier to target those and your inbound marketing tools can actually create lists and segment lists by those persona types. We have all these really great tools that we can use now to help us in marketing to not just know who these groups are, but to target them really effectively. That’s been really cool for me to go back at this old book from the 90s, the very early 90s, and to see that all this cool stuff came from back then.
Laurier: I’ve been talking about early adopters and innovators and early majority to my clients for many years now. But I don’t think I was even aware that this book defined all those things.
Bryn: Hey, that’s it for this episode of Product Knowledge Graphos. You can catch us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter @graphoscanada. You can also visit our blog at blog.graphos.ca. We’d love to hear from you too, subscribe, like or leave a review to the podcast, or share it with a friend or colleague. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bryn: Product Knowledge is the podcast about creating and marketing products that improve people’s lives. Thanks for listening, I’m Bryn Griffiths.