Do marketing to jump the chasm

It’s the end of the month, your thriving financial reports are on your desk. You’ve had a history of great months of revenue, of increased sales, great success overall. You run through your numbers, with the same diligence as the past months, but come up with a decreased cash-flow, less units that are being sold. You might try to find the answers in your accounting books, on the Profit & Loss statements, or even try to understand the reasoning of your sales force. The reality is that you are facing the chasm.

The term chasm was coined by Geoffrey A. Moore in 1990. Despite being more than 20 years old, some of the concepts from the theory are still latent in the modern business theory. A critique to the book has been its focus on high-tech industries, such as pharmaceuticals, computers, mobile phones, etc. Nevertheless the theory can be easily applied to any market, since its objective is to achieve a sustained growth of the company.


The main idea behind “Crossing the Chasm” is to target your market and focus your efforts on niches. To achieve a better segmentation, Moore based its theory on ​Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Lifecycle. Rogers’ curve presents five different segments:

  • Innovators – constantly in search of new technologies.
  • Early adopters – search for new technologies hoping to solve their problems.
  • Early majority – waiting for technology to solve a problem or issue they have.
  • Late majority – they are not searching for a new technology, if it’s a proven solution, they’ll use it.
  • Laggards – they have to adopt the technology or the innovation because they are finding difficulties not using it.

Image credits to ​Idiology


To cross the chasm and take your startup to its growth stage, you can take into consideration these suggestions:

Marketing is essential

We usually leave the marketing department out of the loop of the business development. Moore’s focus on crossing the chasm is based on the ability of this department to reach out to customers and translate your product or services into a value proposition suited for your target market. For Moore, marketing is the group of people working directly with the customer, fitting the product and positioning the image of the brand in a relevant and useful context.

The marketing department ultimate goal is to position the product into the early majority segment – jumping over the chasm. For Moore: “Positioning is the pinnacle of marketing–but it’s also tricky. People hold an image of a product in their minds–and don’t like anyone else to manipulate that. So instead of trying to define it, find ways to make the product easier to buy.”

Understand where your customer buys

You need to create a relationship with your client to get over the chasm. Those Early Adopters and Innovators were willing to come to you and test your product. Now it’s your turn to go and look for them.

Direct sales is the preferred strategy for Moore, but this was pre-social media. I’m not saying that you should just disregard the one-on-one meetings. But if you are on a tight budget, you can reach some of those prospects with the correct automation tools. Once more, don’t just ignore going out there and meeting your clients, in this stage, your product needs to engage customers.

Don’t be afraid to adapt

Moore doesn’t urge you to change your product. To cross the chasm you need to adapt your message. A good tailored message, that

He provides a template to achieve this in two sentences:

For the (target customer),
who is dissatisfied with (current alternative in the market),

Our product is a (new product category)

that provides a (capability to solve target customer’s important problem).

Unlike (the product alternative),

we have assembled (key features that demonstrate you have the whole product, not just a piece of a puzzle).

You are not back to square one

The question that might arise from entering a new segment is: who do I know inside that target niche? You might already have contacts within your previous costumers, talk to them, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask them for a recommendation.

If you are uncertain that they can help, pinpoint the prospect that might have a larger benefit out of your product, that one customer that you can really help. Even if you have no strong contacts, it’s a good thing; you can start nurturing your network!


You are not ready to pitch yet

​Imagine yourself at a bar, hundreds of people around you, celebrating, talking, toasting, and having fun. Among the entire crowd, you see a potential investor. You are ready to deliver your pitch, you did the research, and you have the facts, what is your next move?


Pitch like a sir?

We’ve read it several times; we need to have our elevator pitch ready for when it comes in handy. Is better to be safe than sorry. But the problem doesn’t stand in the speech you prepare day in and day out. That is only the end of the road. If you are lucky enough to deliver the message, you’d better be ready to do it – and you are probably not aware of how wrong that could go, if you don’t understand what you say is only 30% of what you are really saying.


I’m pretty sure that you’ve come up with that stat: 70% of our communication is non verbal. You might be wondering: what should I do with that information? During a workshop, ​Merrel Geana showcased a three step process you can follow to make sure you can deliver you message appropriately: Observation-Interpretation-Evaluation.

The strategy that Geana proposes is stepping back ant taking a pause when we are sending or receiving our messages. By becoming more conscious of our communication, we need to set pause buttons to understand we are not letting our emotions overflow and ruin our message. That moment is where we observe our body sensation, our flow of thoughts and the way we are judging the situation.

The second step is to interpret. You can use a wide variety of non-verbal and facial cues, since most of us don’t have that training, you can interpret your own signs. The advice from Geana is to remember that we interpret according to our cultural background, to our norms. By understanding your body reactions, you can deliver a better message and be calmer.

Cal Lightman

We can’t all be experts at micro-expressions

Finally, you need to evaluate. This is the key to success. The following list is a set of questions that you can practice in order to know how your communication is being perceived and how you were transmitting your message:

·         How did I get to the evaluation?

·         Is there something that I a doubt?

·         Would I have made another observation, interpretation or evaluation at another time, or in another mood?

·         Can I come up with three other reasons why this happened?

·         What are the underlying thoughts and worldviews I have that made me come to this interpretation?

Imagine yourself at a bar, your speech ready, you have practice this thousand of times.  You know 70% of what you are going to say is non-verbal, you are conscious about it. Now go in, and get that deal done!