Crossing The Chasm – by Geoffrey Moore

Crossing The Chasm – by Geoffrey Moore

‘Marketing and Selling disruptive products to mainstream customers’


If you want to build a new multi-million-dollar disruptive technology, your first step should be to read this book. Moore breaks down the market according to their psychographics into: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards. Many new technologies can appeal to innovators and even to early adopters, but the ‘chasm’, where all the dead bodies lie of crushed hopes and dreams, is when companies try to cross over to the early majority.

If you’re building a business, its something you need to understand.


Grab a copy here:

Become one of OUR innovators:


Here is a dot point summary of the book!


  • The greatest peril in the development of a high tech market lies in making the transition from a early market dominated by a few visionary customers, to a mainstream market dominated by a large block of customers who are predominately pragmatists
  • The gap between these two markets is often ignored and is called the chasm
  • Crossing the chasm must be the primary focus of any long term high tech marketing plan
  • A successful crossing is how high tech fortunes are made


  • Like a hermit crab that has outgrown its shell, the company crossing the chasm must scurry to find its new home


  • Every true high tech product starts out as a fad that generate a lot of enthusiasm from the early adopters
  • The key in crossing the chasm – performing the acts that allow the shoots of the mainstream market to emerge


Part 1 – discovering the chasm


Chapter 1 – high tech marketing illusion

This book was drafted in 1989.

Original research was the adoption of new strains of seed potatoes among American farmers.


Electric vehicle

  • GM released one in 1999 but the market yawned
  • Now 2013, this time Tesla is in the spotlight


Technological Adoption Life Cycle


Each group represents a psychographic profile

Innovators – pursue new technology products aggressively

  • Often make a purchase simply for exploring the new device’s properties
  • Winning them from the outset of a marketing campaign is important


Early adopters – Buy into new product concepts very early in the life cycle, but unlike innovators they are not technologists

Early majority – Driven by more of a sense of practicality. They know that many of these things pass as fads, so they wait and see what others do before they jump in themselves

Late majority – Are also pragmatists, they are not comfortable buying the new thing. As a result they wait to something has become an established standard

Laggards – These people simply don’t want anything to do with new technology


High tech marketing model

  • Way to develop a high tech market is to work the curve from left to right first focusing on the innovators, the growing market segment
  • Then moving to the early adopters, early majority, late majority then the laggards
  • The endorsement of innovators becomes an important tool for developing a credible pitch to the early adopters
  • Early adopters endorsement vital tool to pitch to the early majority and so on
  • High profit margin is in the middle to late stages and is where high tech fortunes are made


Illusion and Disillusion: Cracks in the bell curve

  • There is a gap between any two psychographic groups
  • This symbolizes the dissociation between the two groups – that is the difficulty any group will have in accepting the new product if it is presented in the same way as it was to the group to the immediate left


The first crack – between the innovators and early adopters

  • When a hot new technological product cannot be readily translated into a major new benefit
  • The enthusiasts love it for its architecture, but nobody else can figure it out to use it


The other crack – between the early and late majority

  • The product has been absorbed between the main stream


Discovering the chasm

  • The main crack is between the early adopters and the early majority
  • The early adopter is buying some kind of change event – looking to be the first to implement the change in the industry
  • The early majority want to buy some kind of productivity improvement. They want evolution not revolution
  • Because the early majority’s concern not to disrupt their organisations, good references are critical for buying decision
  • But the only suitable reference for the early majority, it turns out, is another member of the early majority


  • Many companies fail as their managers don’t recognise there is something fundamentally different between the sale of an early adopter to the sale of an early majority


High – tech marketing enlightenment

‘First there is a mountain. Then there is no mountain. Then there is’ – Zen proverb


  • First there is a market, made up of innovators and early adopters, it is an early market full of enthusiasm and vision
  • Then there is no market, the chasm period during which the early market is still trying to digest its ambitious projects and the mainstream market waits to see if anything good will come of them


First principles

A market is

  • A set of actual or potential customers
  • For a given set of products or services
  • Who have a common set of needs or wants and
  • Who reference each other when making a buying decision


  • No company can afford to pay for every marketing contact made. Every program must rely on some ongoing chain reaction effects, what is usually called word of mouth


Innovators – the technological enthusiasts

  • The first people who adopt any new technology are those who appreciate the technology for its own sake
  • In business technology enthusiasts are the gatekeepers for any new technology
  • They are the ones who have the interest to learn about it and the ones everyone else deems competent to do an early evaluation


What they want

  1. They want the truth , without any tricks
  2. Access to the most technically knowledgeable person to answer questions
  3. They want to be first to get the new stuff. They can work scrupulously with non disclosure to get feedback early


  • Enthusiasts are like kindling, they help start the fire. They need to be cherished for that
  • The way to cherish them is to let them in on the secret, to let them play with it, and implement improvements they suggest


Early adopters – the visionaries

  • Visionaries are the rare breed who have the insight to match the emerging technology to a strategic opportunity
  • The temperament to translate this insight into a high visibility high risk project, and the charisma to get the rest of their organisation to buy into that project
  • g Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix committed to outsourcing the computing for the entire business to Amazon
  • Ted McConnell and Proctor and Gamble committed to direct all digital advertising world wide via AudieneSciences ad spend management system
  • In every case these people take significant business risks with what at the time was unproven technology and/or unproven company in order to achieve breakthrough improvements in productivity and customer service


Visionaries are not looking for an improvement, they are looking for a fundamental breakthrough

  • The key difference to an enthusiast, a visionary focuses on value not from the systems technology, but rather from the strategic leap that the technology can enable
  • As a buying group, they are easy to sell but very hard to please. They are buying a dream, that to some degree, will always be a dream
  • They are always in a hurry, feeling that the window of opportunity is closing


Dynamics of early markets

  • Visionary executives consult with the technological enthusiast of their choice to verify that the vision is actually achievable
  • A big problem comes when overly ambitious expectations are met with undercapitalisation – or eyes are bigger than the stomach


Early majority – the pragmatists

  • Hard to categorise as they don’t have the visionaries penchant for drawing attention to themselves
  • The word risk is a negative one in their vocabulary – it does not connote opportunity or excitement but rather the chance to waste money and time
  • They will undertake risks when required but they first put in place safety nets
  • If pragmatists are hard to win over, they are loyal once won


  • Pragmatists tend to be vertically orientated, meaning they communicate more with others like themselves within their own industry, than do early adopters
  • This means it is very tough to break into a new industry selling to pragmatists
  • Want to buy from a proven market leader


  • To market to the pragmatists, you must be patient
  • You need to show up at the industry specific conferences and trade shows that you attend
  • You need to have earned a reputation for quality and service


Late majority – the conservatives

  • For every pragmatist there is a conservative
  • They are against discontinuous innovation
  • They believe far more in tradition than in progress
  • They email rather than text, still on blackberries, they neither tweet or post and their newspaper arrives at their door (and they are just fine with that, thank you very much)
  • Eventually they do succumb to the new paradigm to stay part of the rest of the world


  • Conservatives like to buy preassembled packages, with everything bundled, at a heavily discounted price
  • The last thing they want to hear is that the software they just bought doesn’t support the home network they just installed


  • Generally the conservative market is perceived as a burden rather than an opportunity



  • The key to making a smooth transition from the pragmatist to the conservative market segments is to maintain a strong relationship with the former, always giving them an open door to the new paradigm, whilst keeping the latter happy by adding value to the old infrastructure


Laggards – the sceptics

  • Make about 1/6th of the adoption life cycle
  • Do not participate in the high tech market place, except to block purchases
  • The primary function of marketing is to neutralise their influence
  • Rather than going straight to rebuttal, why not explore the merits in the sceptics argument?


  • Ultimately, the service the sceptic provide to high tech marketers is to continually point out the discrepancies between the sales claims and the delivered product
  • These discrepancies create opportunities for the customer to fail


Why the chasm?

  • The floor in the model is it implies a continuous smooth transition


  • Visionaries have little self awareness about the impact of their disruptiveness
  • From a pragmatists point of view, visionaries are the people who come in and soak up all the budget on their pet projects
  • If the project fails, visionaries always seem to be a step ahead of the disaster, getting out of town while they can, leaving the pragmatists to clean up the mess
  • Visionaries, successful or not do not stick around long. They leapfrogging up the corporate ladder and across corporations


  • Pragmatists on the other hand are committed long term
  • All in all, it is easy to see why pragmatists don’t reference visionaries in their buying decisions, hence the chasm


Part 2 – crossing the chasm

  • The chasm is a bad place to be
  • At the start, in the early markets there are big orders and big promises
  • The trend is now reversed in the chasm and you are accelerating into negative cash flow
  • You must get into the mainstream market soon, establishing long term relationships with pragmatist buyers, for only through these can you control your destiny


Looking a the allied invasion of Normabndy on D-Day June, 6 1944

Fighting your way into mainstream

  • This is not a time to focus on being nice. The perils of the chasm make it life or death
  • We are going to cross the chasm as fast as possible focusing on one point of attack (D-Day)
  • Once we force the competitor out of our targeted niche markets (secure the beachhead)
  • We will then move to take over adjacent market segments (districts of France)
  • On the way to total market domination (liberation of Western Europe)


Concentrate an overwhelmingly superior force on a highly focused target


Most companies fail because – once confronted with the immensity of opportunity, represented by a mainstream market, they lose their focus chasing every opportunity that presents itselves but finding themselves unable to deliver to any true pragmatist buyer


How to start a fire

  • Trying to cross a chasm without taking a niche market approach is like trying to light a fire without kindling
  • Sooner or later the paper will all be used up and the log won’t be burning


  • Word of mouth is the number one source of information that buyers reference, both at the beginning and the end
  • The segment targeting company can expect word of mouth leverage early in its crossing the chasm marketing effort, whereas the sales driven company will get it much later if at all


Taking the pin

  • Niche marketing needs to be highly leveraged
  • The size of the first pin is not the issue, but the economic value of the problem it fixes is
  • The more serious the problem, the faster the target niche will pull you out of the chasm
  • Once out your opportunities expand into other niches
  • The bowling pin model allows you both to focus on the immediate market, keeping the burn rate down and the market effort targeted, while still keeping in view the larger win


Keys to consider when targeting a beachhead segment

  • Big enough to matter
  • Small enough to win
  • Good fit with your crown jewels


Ch4 – target the point of attack

  • Fundamental principle of crossing the chasm is to target the specific niche market as point of your attack, focus all your resources on achieving a dominant leadership position in that segment as quickly as possible


High risk low data decision

  • Make the decision on informed intuition rather than analytical reason


  • When faced with decisions in the chasm, it is usually best to make them quickly. Get into the new flow and plan to course correct going forward. When you do pick, go hard in the direction chosen regardless of doubts
  • The good news is that you do not have to pick the optimal beachhead to be successful, what you must do is win the beachhead you have picked


Ch5 – assemble the invasion force

I have always found you get more in this world with a kind word and a gun than you do with just a kind word” – Willie Sutton

  • If you are commiting an act of aggression, you better have the force to back it up


Rule 1 – leverage point of disruption (make sure that you  have a target market segment by a problem that gives it a truly compelling reason to buy)

Rule 2 – Big enough to matter, small enough to lead

Rule 3 – Surround your disruptive core product with a whole product that solves the customers problem from end to end


Ch6 – Define the battle

  • To take the beachhead, we need to understand who or what the competition is
  • What their relationship to our target customer consists of and how we can best position ourselves to drive them out of the target market segment
  • Any force can beat another force, if it can define the battle


  • Unfortunately, where there is no competition, there is no market
  • We need to rethink the significance of competition as it relates to the chasm


  • Pragmatic buyers do not like to buy until there is both established competition and an established leader, for that is a signal that the market has matured sufficiently to support a reasonable whole product
  • They loath to buy if they are unable to compare


Creating the competition

  • Is the single most important marketing communication decision made
  • It begins positioning your product within a buying category that has already some established credibility with the pragmatist buyers
  • That category should be populated with other reasonable buing choices
  • Within this universe, your goal is to position your product as the indisputable correct buying choice


Celebrate market centric attributes and not product centric


4 Positioning Strategies

  1. Name it and frame it – potential customers cannot buy what they cannot name or look at what category it is under
  2. Who for and what for
  3. Competition and differentiation
  4. Financials and futures – customers cannot be completely secure buying it until they know it is from a vendor with staying power


The positioning process

  1. The claim (position statement)
  • Can you explain it in the time it takes to be in an elevator?
  • Whatever your claim is, it needs to be able to be transmitted by word of mouth
  • Otherwise marketing communications all over the map, if not simple
  • R&D will be all over the map


  • Focus it into a two sentence formula and then manage every piece of company communication to ensure that it always stays within the bounds set by that formula
  • Reinforce the second sentence, which indentifies competition and how you are differentiated from it


  • We want to occupy a segment in peoples brains


  • Demonstrate the validity of your claim through the quality of your whole product solution and the quality of your partner and allies


Ch7 – Launch the invasion


Customer oriented distribution

Who is buying?

  1. Enterprise executives, making big ticket purchasing decision
  2. End users – making low cost purchasing decisions
  3. Department heads medium cost
  4. Engineers making decisions to be sold to companies customers


  • The pricing goal should be:
  • Set the pricing at the market leader price point, reinforcing claims of market leadership, and build a disproportionally high reward for the channel into the price margin
  • The reward will be phased out as the product becomes established in the mainstream


Leaving the chasm behind (conclusion)

  • Revenue development looks more like a stair case than a hockey stick


  • At the start, the pioneers are the ones who do great deeds, but post chasm no more need to be done
  • Their brilliance fuels the early market, and without them there would be no such thing as high tech
  • However, they are unlikely to corporate with the comprimises needed




Related Posts :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *