Let's explore the different customer types, how to market to them, and most importantly, how to make the leap when Crossing The Chasm.
When it comes to new technologies, there are different kinds of consumers.
Typically they are put into 5 different categories based on their propensity to adopt that new technology. It starts with innovators who like to be on the cutting edge, and ending with laggards who never show up to the party.
Traditionally, companies in the B2B space have assumed that there is a simple progression from one stage to the next, and that all you need to do to make the jump between stages is refer to your success in the prior stage.
However, Geoffrey Moore found that there's an enormous gap between the second and the third stage. It's a chasm that most companies never cross because they don't understand it.
There are 5 distinct categories of customers to think about as you are launching a technology product.
The Traditional Approach & Why It Doesn't Work
The traditional approach is to focus first on the Innovators, grow that market, then move on to the Early Majority, and so on. When you move from one group to the next, you use the previous group as a reference point for the group you are currently pursuing.
As an example, you'd use testimonials from Innovators to target the Early Adopters, and then testimonials from the Early Adopters to target the Early Majority, and so on.
However, there are two problems with this approach.
The D-Day Analogy
Geoffrey Moore give us an analogy from the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day.
The long-term goal of the Allied forces was to take control of a mainstream market (Europe);
It was currently being controlled by an entrenched competitor (the Axis powers);
In order to defeat them, we must assemble an invasion force of other products (the Allies);
The immediate goal is to transition from an early market base (England);
To a strategic target market segment in the mainstream (the beaches at Normandy);
Between us and the goal is the chasm (The English Channel);
We must cross the chasm as fast as we can and focus exclusively on the point of attack (D-Day);
We'll force our competitor out of our targeted niche markets (securing the beachhead);
Then take over additional market segments (districts of France);
Then finally, head toward overall market domination (the liberation of Europe).
There are four distinct phases you need to work through in order to launch a strategy like this: you need to (a) target your attack, (b) assemble an invasion force, (c) define the battle, and (d) launch the invasion.
There's a lot to think about when launching a new technology product. The most important thing to think about is a strategy to go from the Early Adopters to the Early Majority, which requires you to think differently than almost everybody else in the market.