Ever since Geoffrey Moore wrote his “Crossing the Chasm” seminal book, the Technology Adoption Life Cycle has become a model for understanding market acceptance of new technology products.
This model says that technology markets are made up of user groups that reference each other. They have distinct psychographic profiles, and respond in separate ways to new technology. As your market develops over time, you should capture one group as a reference before moving on to market to the next segment.
This transition is not smooth or linear, however. The reason is that members of each segment have distinct goals, attitudes and behaviors. That’s why, as a market moves through its stages, Moore says that marketers should adjust their communications program several times – and in ways that may appear counterintuitive:
Different Strokes for Different Folks
1/ The Innovators: these technology enthusiasts love to get their hands on the latest and greatest innovation. They are also the first to grasp the potential of a new product. Winning these “techies” first is important, because when they back your product, they will reassure other people in the marketplace.
Best Practice: Moore recommends that we “seed” prototypes to selected innovators to gain their support. Since these “techies” tend to reject consumer-oriented advertising as marketing hype, content should focus on technology and features only — such as product reviews, benchmarks, and demos.
2/ The Visionaries: these executives run business units, and they have profit and loss responsibility. Some of them are quite ambitious, and they buy into new product concepts early. Their objective? To deploy a novel infrastructure that will give them a dramatic competitive advantage in time-to-market, business performance, or customer service.
Best Practice: business visionaries tend to love the limelight, and they will provide highly visible references to analysts, journalists and prospective customers. To capitalize on such public support calls for a multi-pronged communication approach – ranging from trade ads, to press announcements that drive buzz, participation in vertical tech show and conferences, and social media sites to share thought leadership.
3/ The Pragmatists: Now’s the time to “cross the chasm” into the mainstream market. This is where the bulk of IT infrastructure purchases come from. These Pragmatists are IT decision-makers. As the guardians of their companies’ IT infrastructure, they value order and stability. They buy well-tested products that are backed by many industry references. And they buy from the market leader only.
The Pragmatist believes that the market leader offers the best value – including the largest installed base and third-party ecosystem, a de facto standard and, ultimately, lower cost of ownership.
Best Practice: The goal here is to build credibility as the market leader. Marketing communication fundamentals should include a solid website, participation in official conferences and trade shows, articles in trade magazines, client case studies, evaluation guides and ROI calculators.
4/ The Conservatives: This last group is pessimistic about the value of technology investments. Its members wait a long time before buying a technology – until it has become a commodity. What’s more, they are very price-sensitive. They represent up to one-third of the total available customers, however.
Conservatives like to buy fully integrated packages at a heavily discounted price. They also value vendors who can provide whole product solutions that meet their specific business needs.
Best Practice: our job now consists in deepening penetration of our installed base through the sale of product updates and niche-oriented features. Marketing, as a result, needs to switch from a product orientation to an end-user and service orientation.
This calls for offer mechanisms — including email or direct mail campaigns — that are directed straight at the end-user. Content needs to address niche-based value propositions and to be benefit-oriented. It can come in various formats – including case studies, videos and trade publications that communicate functional and demonstrable benefits.
Marcom can play a big role throughout the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. And during that process focusing on the persona of the successive market segment members will help us get the right message, offers, and creative.