Crossing the Chasm
By Geoffrey A. Moore.
This book is about how to market high-tech, disruptive products to mainstream customers. The concept is that early on you’re selling your product to the lunatic fringe or early adopters/visionaries, who want something new and exciting that’ll get them ahead and don’t care if it doesn’t work perfectly. In fact that’s kind of a plus, it’s a sign that they’re truly ahead of the curve. But eventually you want to sell your product to regular people, pragmatists and conservatives, and they want it to work perfectly every time and for everyone else to be using it also. They want the opposite of what the early people want. So how do you cross the chasm?
The book was good, strong at the beginning with a bit of a lull and then a good mid-section that got meaty with advice, real world examples, and details that warranted a whole book and not just an article. His theory for how to cross the chasm is to pick a small market segment to dominate, then branch out into others. You need to dominate a market to demonstrate that you’re a mainstream solution and not some crazy concept.
A market segment is a group of people with a particular need that all reference each other. To dominate it you need to provide a whole product solution, which generally requires partners, and indicate two competitors: the old guard solution that you’re disrupting and another solution comparable to yours that isn’t right for this particular application. This is important for the market to accept your product as mainstream, even if it’s not yet.
Although the book was written specifically for high-tech, disruptive products, a lot of it was more broadly information (how to define a market segment, why whole product solutions are important) and could probably be applied to other kinds of products.
There was also a little point towards the end about how being an early employee at a start-up never provides good financial compensation, which is the second time of late I’ve read that. So that was a fun personal touch.