Crossing the Chasm: 23 Years Old and Still Going Strong

Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore, is held in high regard at Zer0 to 5ive. In fact, it’s required reading for the account teams and some even refer to it as the “Company bible.” Moore’s book focuses on the specifics of marketing disruptive high-tech products during the early start up period, giving organizations a roadmap on how their products can successfully “cross the chasm” into the mainstream market.

One of the most vital aspects of Crossing the Chasm is positioning. Moore states that positioning is the most discussed, yet least understood, component of high-tech marketing. To simplify positioning for his readers, Moore provides the following 4 principles:

1. Positioning, first and foremost is a verb, not a noun
It is best understood as an attribute associated with a company or product, and not as marketing contortions that people go through to set up that association.

2. Positioning is the single largest influence on the buying decision.
It serves as a buyer’s shorthand, shaping not only their financial choice, but even the way they evaluate alternatives leading up to that choice.

3. Positioning exists in people’s heads, not in your words
You must frame a position in words that are likely to actually exist in people’s heads, and not words that come straight out of hot advertising copy.

4. People are highly conservative about entertaining changes in positioning
In general, the most effective positioning strategies are ones that demand the least amount of change.

Once a company has established its positioning, the organization must effective relay it in an “elevator speech” – a short summary used to quickly define an organization or product and its value proposition. The name “elevator speech” reflects the idea that this statement should be delivered in the amount of time one elevator ride takes. So how do you combine all that you would want a potential buyer to know in 30 seconds? Moore provides an equation, which Zer0 to 5ive uses for every client messaging engagement:

For (target customers)
Who are dissatisfied with (the current market alternative)
Our product is a (new product category)
That provides (key problem-solving capability)
Unlike (the product alternative)
We have assembled (key whole product features for specific application)

While it may look simple, it’s merely the first step in the positioning exercise. It does provide a strong foundation so that, when you’re honing the elevator pitch or supporting messages, you always have a touchstone with the essence of the problem the company or product is solving and the benefits they it provides.

Zer0 to 5ive highly recommends Crossing the Chasm for anyone engaged in high-tech marketing. And while it may be 23 years since its first publishing, Moore has released an updated version in 2014 to help today’s emerging technologies cross the chasm and achieve widespread success.

Post by Sarah Manix
Zer0 to 5ive Strategist