Crossing the Chasm

Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers
by Geoffrey A. Moore
ISBN: 100060517123

Crossing the Chasm has become something of bible in high-tech marketing. In this book (a revised version with updated — but still not entirely current — examples) Moore identifies the main problem with previous technology adoption life cycle thinking: the smooth slope of the bell curve doesn’t reflect reality.

The chasm model represents a pattern in market development that is based on the tendency of pragmatic people to adopt new technology when they see other people like them doing the same. This causes them to hang together as a group, and the group’s initial reaction, like teenagers at a junior high dance, is to hesitate and watch. This is the chasm effect.

Moore doesn’t argue with the elements reflected by the curve — he too starts with the few innovators, builds with the early adopters, skyrockets with the early majority, comes back down with the late majority, and then tapers off with the laggards. He simply points out there is no easy transition between these groups, and in fact there is a giant gap between the early adopters and the early majority — or as he casts it, between the visionaries and the pragmatists. Each group is needed — without innovators willing to try anything, the early adopters wouldn’t have anything new to play with. Without early adopters willing to take risks by betting heavily on making disruptive, visionary leaps technology would not move forward.

And in getting the pragmatic middle to move forward, there is real money to be made.

Moore thinks through the steps needed to bridge the gap between the early adopters and the lucrative majority market. In other words, the title is a literal description of the book’s contents. It is this straightforward approach that probably accounts for the book’s wider appeal (it has been selling enough to appeal to an audience interested in high tech, beyond marketing folk) and readability.

If you are are a marketer working for a technology company, you’ve probably already read this book. (If not, time to go play catch-up.) If you are interested in the life cycle of technology products, bringing tech products to market, or being able to understand “the whole product” and “value proposition” in conversation, you’ll want to read this book. Because you don’t have to be in a role that is traditionally thought of as marketing to get, as Moore points out, that “the goal should not be making products easier to sell, but to make a product easier to buy.”

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