Are We There Yet? Launching Agile Marketing Cross The Chasm

Are We There Yet? Launching Agile Marketing Cross The Chasm

Author: Andrea Fryrear / Source: Marketing Insider Group In Marketing Strategy In April of 2016, Scott Brinker argued that Agile marketin

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Are We There Yet? Launching Agile Marketing Cross The Chasm

In Marketing Strategy

In April of 2016, Scott Brinker argued that Agile marketing is “crossing the chasm from early adopters to more mainstream organizations.”

Just a few days later, Jim Ewel agreed that “Agile Marketing is starting to go mainstream,” but he wasn’t prepared to declare the chasm cleared.

Then, in October, the Agile Marketing Facebook group opened a lengthy discussion about whether or not the time had come to start our own association or nonprofit to promote the adoption of Agile marketing.

The problem that emerged is that a foundation needs vendor support, and, as Frank Days pointed out, we’re still a little thin on the vendor front. During their interviews, he and Roland Smart have found “that many vendors don’t have a critical mass of marketing users to get excited about [agile marketing] (yet).”

It seems that we need more self-identified Agile marketers to entice more vendors to support the movement monetarily.

With that background in mind, this post is going to be a bit of a departure from my usual “how-to” help for those of you already on your Agile marketing journey. Instead, I want to start a discussion about how to get over that pesky chasm so we can get on with the business of changing the marketing world for the better, one Agile team at a time.

What’s The Chasm Again?

The concept originated in “Crossing the Chasm,” a 1991 book by Geoffrey Moore written to help high-tech B2B marketers reach a mass market more effectively. Everett Rogers had originally mapped the path of technology adoption like so:

technology adoption curve

But Moore had observed that this model was misleading. He argued that a gap exists between each group, and that between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority it’s not so much a “gap” as a “chasm”:

crossing the chasm with technology

In his introduction to the most recent 3rd edition of Crossing the Chasm, Moore summarizes the situation:

The greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in making the transition from an early market dominated by a few visionary customers to a mainstream market dominated by a large block of customers who are predominantly pragmatists in orientation. The gap between these two markets, all too frequently ignored, is in fact so significant as to warrant being called a chasm, and crossing this chasm must be the primary focus of any long-term high-tech marketing plan.

The problem of The Chasm plagues technology that is discontinuous or disruptive, meaning that it requires a change in current behavior. Innovations that are continuous or sustaining don’t have to worry about it, because they’re on the normal upgrade path and don’t force any changes in behavior.

Moore’s theory is typically applied to companies that make B2B tech, but he acknowledges that the idea has applications in B2C marketing and other areas too.

So we may need to make some adjustments when applying the concept to Agile marketing, but it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

How Technology Crosses the Chasm

In the world of innovative, B2B technology, marketing teams propel their product across the chasm by understanding that the folks in the Early Majority are psychographically distinct from Early Adopters.

You can use Innovators as case studies for Early Adopters, and they’ll be eager to follow the Innovators into new territory. They are, in fact, looking for a change agent. Early Adopters “expect a radical discontinuity” and are “prepared to champion this cause against entrenched resistance.”

They see risk as an opportunity to get ahead.

The Early Majority, on the other hand, don’t want to hear about the Early Adopters using new technology. To them, Early Adopters are foolhardy, taking on risk unnecessarily.

cartoon of the chasm

Members of the Early Majority are looking to “minimize discontinuity with the old ways.” It’s evolution, not revolution, that will convince them to make a change.

Therefore, marketers can’t use the tactics that got them into the Early Adopters to convince the Early Majority, and that’s why so many new tech companies fail at this point. Instead, according to Moore, they need to model the next phase of their marketing on the storming of the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

Basically they need to target…

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