Do you have an innovative, breakthrough B2B product? Are you wondering why every sale seems to be a slugfest when you have the best thing since sliced bread?
In 1994, I was given Geoffrey Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by one of my staff who had attended a vendor seminar in Mountain View, CA. When I got around to reading it, I was in near shock. I had just spent the past three years learning the hard way how to market to early adopters. I considered those techniques to be my personal secrets. And here was everything spelled out in black and white in a book published in 1991.
I was working for a small computer animation software company in a relatively young market. We had a breakthrough product but our market was divided: A few prospects couldn’t wait to get their hands on our software, while most just scratched their heads and couldn’t be bothered.
By carefully listening to our customers I discovered that many of them knew of each other. Through more listening and research, I developed a profile for this type of customer. A very simple dimension of the profile was years of experience. The market was growing and the longer an individual was in that business, the more likely they knew the opinion-makers. Picture a pyramid growing.
By Year Three we had developed tailored marketing messages and collateral to appeal to this audience. The messages and collateral just made ordinary prospects scratch their heads even more. We even modified our largest Trade Show booth from an open demo kiosk plan to one where we had three separate private demo rooms for invited guests.
More importantly, I recognized that our sales were being invisibly supported by something Moore had pointed out. He defines a market as:
a set of actual or potential customers
for a given set of products or services
who have a common set of needs or wants, and
who reference each other when making a buying decision.
Moore goes on to say:
Getting the last part – the notion that part of what defines a high-tech market is the tendency of its members to reference each other when making buying decisions – is absolutely key to successful high-tech marketing.
Your product or service may appeal to a wide range of businesses but unless those businesses can reference each other you don’t have a market. Marketing to the computer animation software market at large was a waste of time. By marketing to a smaller group of prospects we increased annual sales 10X in less than three years.
The key to marketing technology to nascent markets is a deep knowledge of customer requirements and an understanding of how early adopters acquire, assimilate and share information on their buying decisions.
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About Fred Yee
Fred Yee is the founder and CEO of ActiveConversion, a company that makes online marketing work for industrial companies. Fred was voted as one of the 40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management in 2017, and his work with ActiveConversion has helped hundreds of businesses succeed online. ActiveConversion is Fred’s third successful company, and he continues to explore the possibilities of technology in industrial sales and marketing.