Welcome to the first edition of the Pulse Book Club where, every month, we’ll read a great business book so you don’t have to!
This month, we’re diving into Crossing the Chasm by Geofferey A. Moore, a Businessweek bestseller originally published in 1991.
Here are our four greatest insights insights from Crossing the Chasm
Moore explains the two types of innovative products as he introduces the book: disruptive innovations and sustaining innovations.
Innovations that improve or develop existing products and services to make them more efficient, effective, or affordable. For example, Ford creating a vehicle that can run 100 miles on every gallon of fuel would be considered a sustaining innovation, as the consumers habits and behaviors would all remain the same, but just on a more efficient scale.
Innovations that require the user to change their preexisting habits and behaviors around using the product or service, possibly resulting in a change in the infrastructure around the product itself. For example, an electric vehicle is a disruptive innovation as it requires a change in behavior from refueling your car at typical gas stations to charging your vehicle via an installed power source at home or in a specialized charging location.
The first few chapters of Chasm help identify why it is often much more difficult to sell and market disruptive products than sustaining ones.
Convincing people and organizations that they are going to have to disrupt their status quo often requires convincing decision-makers who operate with a risk-minimization mindset
Selling and marketing disruptive products well requires an understanding of the types of people that you will encounter during the marketing and sales journey.
Moore clearly establishes the five types of people on the Adoption Curve that you will run into as you sell and market a disruptive product or service.
The first two, innovators and early adopters, make up the early market
The last three make up the mainstream market.
People who love being a part of the development process. They are willing to put up with flaws in design and process because they enjoy giving feedback. Will always be willing to try something new, because they believe in the possibilities of what disruptive products can provide.
Visionaries who aren’t interested in novelty for its own sake, but recognize the practical and strategic advantages that early adoption to a new product or service can bring.
Favor evolution over revolution. People in the early majority are willing to adopt a new technology, product, or service when they see evidence of its effectiveness. They almost exclusively reference other people within the Early Majority segment when making these decisions.
Those in the late majority prefer the ‘tried and true’ solutions over adopting new solutions. However, they are willing to adopt new products when they fear they are being “left behind” with their old way of doing things.
These people will wholeheartedly resist change unless they are undeniably forced to adapt. These people aren’t worth selling or marketing to.
It is relatively simple to market and sell to innovators and early adopters. The problem with this, however, is that those two segments only represent 16% of the decision-making population.
Sure, your firm might have found a lot of good business with innovators and early adopters. You would quickly run into an issue, however, when the ways you sell, market, and communicate to enthusiasts and visionaries isn’t making any impact within the early and late majority, who represent over two-thirds of the population.
Making the leap from niche adoption of your offering to mainstream adoption is where the chasm exists. Moore explains throughout the book several strategies that firms can cross the difficult chasm into mainstream markets. Crossing the chasm into the mainstream market can transform your business.
Moore’s initial illustration about strategically crossing this chasm comes from the early days of Apple trying to make its way into the mainstream business desktop computer space.
Apple knew that trying to compete with Microsoft operating systems and IBM was going to be nearly impossible if they went after their entire market. Instead, they began to target a specific group of people who were already a perfect fit for their product: design professionals.
What quickly happened is that Apple became the market leading desktop computer for anyone who was responsible for art and design functions in their organizations. Their easy-to-use tools and interface created raving fans of their products within those designers and artists. Soon, the buzz that was generated from design professionals in an office spread throughout marketing departments and sales teams, eventually becoming a viable mainstream product for large segments of the desktop computer market.
When trying to cross the chasm, it’s important to strategically target specific segments of your larger market that you think your product or service will serve especially well.
Then, market and sell specifically to those people, until you become a market leader within that small, targeted segment of your market. Once you become a market leader with that small segment, you will have a foothold in the early majority, and your initial segment will help vouch for and promote your product to their colleagues within the rest of the early majority.
Thanks for checking out vol. 1 of the Pulse Book Club. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for books you’d like us to feature, feel free to give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.