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notes on notes on “crossing the chasam”

Tue Jul 3, 2018

546 Words

The following is not about scholarly communication, but is a post about one tool from the world of product development, how to think about marketing your product or service so that you can cross the chasm. Academic researchers are simultaneously the most innovative and conservative of users.

There is so much pain in the process of academic research that there is a constant re-invention and invention of tools and proceeds, but at the same time there is also a huge time pressure, so for any new tool, technique or service to get wide spread traction is really hard in the academic market place.

Below I pull out some thoughts from reading three blog posts that review crossing the chasm.

Rethinking ‘Crossing The Chasm’ – ReadWrite This is an old article from 2007 — it references Second Life! Given that it’s from then it neglects the problem of the “big four” - amazon, apple, google, facebook, and their ability to suck the air out of a new market by just buying up all of the attention around a new idea or innovation through cloning or acquisition.

Nonetheless they key points this blog makes about crossing the chasm are: * go for viral spread * iterate to create products of desire * note that this blog claims that VC’s care, but startups don’t. The VC is trying to manage the risk. * What works for the mainstream will often be too simple for early adopters


This is better in terms of describing strategies to get early majority customers to adopt your product. I very much like trying to identify the segment of the market with most pain.

You want to understand who you can serve, where their money is and how big the opportunity it. In a way this is an outward facing way to do strategy.

The author also mentions the “whole product” strategy, which sounds a bit like using design thinking rather than feature thinking.

I also like the idea of using a “compare and contrast” model to allow your market to quickly understand what you are offering.

A template that you can use to do this is

*For ____*
*Who are dissatisfied with ____*
*Our product is a ____*
*That provides ____*
*Unlike ____*
*We can provide ____* 

In “Good to great” Jim Collins talks about three framing questions for creating a strategy, they are almost inside out in their approach, you should ask:

  • what can be the best at the world at?
  • what drives your economic engine?
  • what are you deeply passionate about?

Finally The Enduring Relevance of “Crossing the Chasm” mainly focuses on some use cases of how to create a differentiated message around your product.

He extended the model by adding the following refinements

  • For (targeted roles) in (targeted organisations)
  • Who are seeking to (targeted issues)
  • But are struggling with (typical constraints)
  • (Solution name) is a (category)
  • That (compelling reason to act)
  • Unlike (key alternative options)
  • We (our unique differentiators)

I think these refinements are really good, and in fact you could take information generated in a lean canvas lean canvas to create this value proposition. The next time I run a lean product canvas I’m going to try to see if I can formulate the value proposition in this way.

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