Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm was initially published in 1991 to a small audience of Silicon Valley marketers. Since its publication, the book on bringing innovation to market has become mandatory reading for startups and marketing departments all over the world.
The core theory behind Crossing the Chasm is that customers in any given market belong to one of five groups: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards, and that the way you sell to these groups of customers should reflect the stage of adoption of your technology.
A lot of technology startups fail to address the needs of these different groups and, as a result, are never able to cross the chasm between the Early and Mainstream markets to reach critical mass or widespread adoption.
In the book, Moore covers at length the importance of finding a beachhead customer — a first customer segment — to get a foot in the market. This concept is of the utmost importance for startups as they try to move from Early Adopters to the Early Majority, but also when they try to find their initial customers.
The number one reason for startup failure is lack of focus. Crossing the Chasm is the best reminder a founder can get of the importance of selecting a target market, focusing the business and aligning all efforts on a single customer target. It deserves a reading… and a re-reading.
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