ryan hanley logo

Book Notes: Crossing the Chasm

These book notes represent passages from Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore which hold significant meaning and possibly expanded research for me personally.

Some passages may speak to you, others will not.

Get the book here.

Completed this book September 2018.

The Beginning


“To be specific, the point of 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 customer who are predominantly pragmatists in orientation.”


“Every truly innovative high-tech product starts out as a fad–something with no known market value or purpose but with ‘great properties’ that generate a lot of enthusiasm within an “in crowd” of early adopters. That’s the early market. Then comes a period during which the rest of the world watches to see if anything can be made of this; that is the chasm.”


“…change-sensitive products are called discontinuous or disruptive innovations. The contrasting term, continuous or sustaining innovations, refers to the normal upgrading of products that does not require us to change behavior.”

NOTE: While we’ve glamorized DISRUPTION, often what may be needed more for growth is “continuous or sustaining innovation.”


“In all these cases, the innovation demands significant change by not only the consumer but also the infrastructure of supporting businesses that provide complementary products and services to round out the complete offer.”


“The early majority share some of the early adopter’s ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality.”

NOTE: The early majority, (in theory over one-third of any marketplace), values practical, useful solutions, over “new” and “cool” solutions.


“You need to take advantage of your day int he sun before the next day renders you obsolete. From this notion come the idea of a window of opportunity.”


“If you can get there first, “catch the curve,” and ride it up through the early majority segment, thereby establishing the de facto standard, you can get rich very quickly and “own” a highly profitable market for a very long time to come.”


“…the key to getting beyond the enthusiasts and winning over a visionary is to show that the new technology enables some strategic leap forward, something never before possible, which has an intrinsic value and appeal to the non-technologist. This benefit is typically symbolized by a single, compelling flagship application, something that showcases the power and value of the new product.”


“…we bemoan that the product has become a commodity when in fact it is the experience of the product that has been commoditized.”

NOTE: It’s easy to say the industry or product has been commoditized and tough to admit it’s really YOU.


“…the early majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. They are looking to minimize the discontinuity with the old ways. They want evolution, not revolution.”

NOTE: The 🔑 is productivity.


“…a visionary focuses on value not from a system’s technology per se but rather from the strategic leap forward such technology can enable.”

NOTE: Sell the future state. Sell the customer’s ability to leap forward and what the world looks like from that position, not the technology itself.


“…reframe our tactics in the context of a ‘bowling pin’ strategy, where one targets a given segment not just because one can ‘knock it over’ but because, in so doing, it will help knock over the next target segment.”

NOTE: Who is your “head pin” customer?


“The importance of the product itself, its unique functionality, when compared to the importance of the ancillary services to the customer, is at its highest with the technology enthusiast and at its lowest with the conservative.”


“The idea that the value of the system will be discovered rather than known at the time of installation implies, in turn that product flexibility and adaptability, as well as ongoing account service, should be critical components of any buyer’s evaluation checklist.”

NOTE: this is true till our product matures and a true ROI can be calculated.


“Visionaries fail to acknowledge the importance of existing product infrastructure.”

NOTE: The visionary leader understands this and surrounds themselves with people who can adapt the vision to real-world infrastructure.


“To enter the mainstream market is an act of aggression.”


“Cross the chasm by targeting a very specific niche market where you can dominate from the outset, drive your competitors out of that market niche and then use it as a base for broader operations.”

NOTE: This is known as the D-Day Strategy.


“Trying to cross the chasm without taking a niche market approach is like trying to light a fire without kindling.”


“We do not have, nor are we willing to adopt, any discipline that would ever require us to stop pursuing any sale at any time for any reason.”

NOTE: The 🔑is sales discipline. The generalist dies inside the chasm.


“The size of the first pin is not the issue, but the economic value of the problem it fixes is.”

NOTE: In reference to choosing the first pin to strike in the “bowling pin” strategy. Focus on economic value creation, not necessary the largest potential target.


Target a beachhead segment that is:

  • Big enough to matter,
  • Small enough to win, and a
  • Good fit with your crown jewels (core product).

PAGE 108

In deciding where to cross the chasm, “…informed intuition, rather than analytical reason, is the most trustworthy decision-making tool to use.”

NOTE: Educated gut decisions.

PAGE 110

“The place where most crossing-the-chasm marketing segmentation efforts get into trouble is at the beginning, when they focus on a target market or target segment instead of on a target customer.”

NOTE: In order to cross the chasm we must be hyper-focused making categorical segmentation inadequate.

PAGE 119

The Market Development Strategy Checklist

  • Target customer
  • Compelling reason to buy
  • Whole product
  • Partners and allies
  • Distribution
  • Pricing
  • Competition
  • Positioning
  • Next target customer (bowling pin strategy)

NOTE: Answer each bullet point for each potential beachhead. Score each potential market strategy. Choose beachhead and attack.

PAGE 124

“The good news in this is that you do not have to pick the optimal beachhead to be successful. What you must do is win the beachhead you have picked.”

PAGE 125

Crossing the chasm rule of thumb: Big enough to matter, small enough to lead, good fit with your crown jewels.

PAGE 129

“Marketing is warfare–not wordfare.”

NOTE: Love this quote.

PAGE 131

PAGE 134

“Real techies don’t need whole products.”

PAGE 135

“Pragmatists evaluate and buy whole products.”

PAGE 153

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.”

NOTE: Love this quote. Major 🔑.

PAGE 155

“…nature abhors a vacuum.”

PAGE 163

“The fundamental rule of engagement is that any force can defeat any other force–if it can define the battle.”

PAGE 164

“…with developing an early market, competition has not come from competitive products so much as alternative modes of operation.”

PAGE 165

“The competition takes place at the level of corporate agenda, not at the level of competing products.”

NOTE: More important for product marketing to fit corporate agenda then differentiate from “competitors.”

“Pragmatists are loath to buy until they can compare. Competition, therefore, becomes a fundamental condition for purchase.”

NOTE: The answer to, “Who is your competition?” Cannot be, “No one.”

PAGE 169

“You develop an early market by demonstrating a strong technology advantage and converting it to product credibility, and you develop a mainstream market by demonstrating a market leadership advantage and converting it to company credibility.”

PAGE 187

“The goal of positioning is to create and occupy a space inside the target customer’ head.”

PAGE 189

“Pragmatists are more interested in the market’s response to a product than in the product itself.”

PAGE 214

“The post-chasm enterprise is bound by the commitments made by the pre-chasm enterprise.”


Get your copy of Crossing the Chasm right here.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

Unlock your Peak Performance in Business and Life.

Ever wondered how the most successful leaders and entrepreneurs win year after year?

It’s not luck; it’s personal development.

Subscribe to Finding Peak for weekly insights in how we find our own peak performance...

Latest Posts

more exclusive content

Follow on the Socials

© 2023 Ryan Hanley. All rights reserved.