You might recognize the chart below as the Technology Adoption Lifecycle – and it’s just great.
The essential fact is that who you market to, over time, and how you market it, changes over time. I have many friends who are true “innovators” and I know a few people who are impostors. (They really don’t have a business problem to solve, but they would like to see a desired solution set be imposed on people, even if it doesn’t produce any value.) Innovators believe everything should be free, and rightfully so, since they’re working on improving the product. Many of my friends in this category behave more like actuarial industry insiders than anything else. There’s such a brutal rate of survival that’s involved here.
Early adopters are dreamers with moneybags. They want to push the technology to realize some sort of massive breakthrough. They’re good people with rational intentions. But they’re impossible to satisfy in the long run.
Then there’s the Chasm.
I affectionately refer to certain group behaviors as being ‘sheeple’. It applies in marketing. The overriding goal is to get a majority of some small herd to go your way. Once that critical majority is on board, you can move into other markets and gain a majority. Hot majority on majority action leads to getting into the Early Majority. It’s typically during the Early Majority that imitators catch on and start competing for market share (though, sometimes that does happen as one is crossing the Chasm), and the prices start to come down. The social technology around the product becomes better and more effecient, firms compete on price, inputs become commoditized, and finally the Late Majority comes on in. Laggards lag, and in general, we don’t talk much about them.
I only bring this up because I’m living through one chasms right now and in a few short months I’ll be entering another one. On my left are only a very small subset of innovators who can relate, in some small way, to what it’s like. On my right are wait-and-see pragmatists. There are so few people who have actually crossed the chasm successfully. Success is so vanishingly rare.
It’s the true test, isn’t?
At this point I’m happy for the opportunity and assuming success.