When startups develop their marketing communications, they must tailor their message to reach early adopters—both technology enthusiasts and visionaries.
Note that the complexity of the marketing communication topic makes it too broad to cover in one article. This article is one of a series of six that covers the field of marketing communication. The full list of the titles in this series includes:
What is marketing communication (MarCom)?—outlines the basic marketing communication concepts and provides the foundation for rest of the series
Positioning—discusses the ins and outs and importance of claiming the most attractive position in your customer’s mind
Marketing message—provides the framework for planning your marketing message throughout the Technology Adoption Life Cycle (TALC)
Market communication for technology startups: Achieving market leadership by word-of-mouth marketing—describes the process and methods of developing word-of-mouth marketing in the marketplace
Market communication across the Chasm and in the Bowling Alley—explains the tactics that will help you cross the Chasm
In the Early Market, your target customer is drawn from two different market segments: technology enthusiasts and visionaries. Each segment has its own way of learning about new technologies, and your communication has to take that into consideration. Looking at the image below, this means that you have to plan separate cycles for each of your target customers.
For start-ups with limited resources, most communication efforts in the Early Market have the character of “evangelism,” in that you are trying to convert skeptics to become supporters almost exclusively through your own powers of persuasion supplemented by some evidence of your technology. This is a very demanding process, so it is important to make sure you employ the right evidence and message, and use the appropriate media to reach your target audience.
The objective of Early Market communication is two-fold, and involves reaching both technology enthusiasts and visionaries. To start, the first part of your objective lies in demonstrating that you have a strong underlying technology with promising advantages over the status quo. In this pursuit, your audience will be technology enthusiasts who review innovative technologies. These are key opinion leaders (KOLs)―industry insiders (such as analysts, bloggers, super-users, trade journalists and technology columnists) whose thoughts about a new technology product influence the technology-driven segments of the market.
In terms of messaging, you will need to display thought leadership. Simply put, this means you will have to frame a “crisis” and then show how your product proves superior to existing technologies in resolving the situation. The chart below offers suggestions of the type of evidence and media that your key message should embrace to appeal to technology enthusiasts.
The second part of your objective is to focus on visionaries or “Earlyvangelists” who care more about innovative products than the underlying technology. For this audience, your message should convey how your product can deliver a potential advantage within their own strategy. The visionary’s main interest lies in the innovativeness of the product itself―so at this stage, issues about the market and the company will have little resonance. Therefore your communication should use the kind of product evidence suggested in the list below to support your messages about your product’s superiority and exciting potential. Keep in mind that different media engage visionaries than technology enthusiasts―a list of suggested media channels is provided below.
Wiefels, P. (2002). The Chasm Companion. New York: Harper