Chasm Strategy: Point of Attack – Determing Your Target Customer (Part 4: Chasm Strategy)

November 4th, 2011 No Comments

The following is the forth part of a series of posts about high tech marketing strategy based on Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore.

Moore opens with a quote from Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you probably aren’t going to get there.”

The fundamental principle to cross the chasm is to pick a specific niche market and focus all your resources on achieving the dominant position in that segment.

It sounds simple but most organizations fail.


According to Moore, it’s a high risk, low data decision.

Businesses love data. MBA-types love data. Engineers and computer programmers, left-brain thinkers, love data even more.

But we don’t have the data to make the right decision (an aside: this is why I think social scientists make great marketers: we are used to taking scientific approaches to imperfect data sets and make decisions based on imperfect data, but still more data driven than journalists or English majors).

According to Moore, you’re about to make “what may be the most important marketing decision with little or no useful hard information.” Since your target is discontinuous, past experience doesn’t provide us accurate positions as we’re changing the data points.

What now?

According to Moore, use “informed intuition rather than analytical reason.”

Informed intuition involves making conclusions based on data fragments, a few high-quality images, taken to be archetypes of a more complex reality. In other words, take memorable images and make conclusions.

Moore calls this “data characterizations” but many of us know this today as “personas.”  Personas, first developed in the early 1990s, provide:

  • a better understanding of customers
  • shorter design cycles
  • improved product qualityAccording to Wikipedia, “personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.”

    According to Moore, characterizations “represent characteristic market behaviors.”

    We’re not talking about target markets, but rather target customers. How do we develop this? With the Market Development Strategy Checklist.

    According to Moore, capture scenarios. This is not a formal survey – that takes too long. They’re imperfect and they incorporate our prejudices (one reason why a diverse team is important and there’s significant value in having people from different background on your team. When you’re doing global marketing, if you have people from your target country on your team, all the better).

    The checklist “consists of a set of issues around which go-to-market plans are built,” namely:

    • Target customer
    • Compelling reason to buy
    • Whole product
    • Partners and allies
    • Distribution
    • Pricing
    • Competition
    • Positioning
    • Next target customer

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