From Product-Focus to Market-Focus: Waving Goodbye to the Chasm

This is the 4th article in a series on Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. To jump to the first article in the series click here!

From Product-Focus to Market-Focus_

Product to Market — A Shift in Focus

One of the most important things to realize about navigating the shift from the early market to the mainstream market is that your product itself is no longer the focus.


That’s right. You’re product is now secondary. Instead,  everything that surrounds your product–the whole product solution–is primary.

According to Moore, you used to be selling a ‘cool product’:

  • That was easy to use
  • Had elegant architecture
  • Was available at a great price
  • And possessed unique functionality

Now, however, you’re selling a whole product solution:

  • Has a solid user experience
  • Complies with standards
  • Price reflects its whole product price
  • Has situational value
  • And is fit for the purpose

As Moore himself writes, “To sum up, it is the market-centric value system— supplemented (but not superseded) by the product-centric one— that must be the basis for the value profile of the target customers when crossing the chasm.”

In other words, you don’t suddenly ditch the ‘cool product’ you began with. Rather, you retain it while shifting the majority of your energy to the communication of your whole product solution to the pragmatists.

Two Competitors: The Market-Competitor and the Product-Competitor

At this point, you’ve made the decision to switch to a market-focused approach from one that was more product-focused. Your cool product is still there, but its taken a backseat to more pressing problems that pragmatist buyers want to see addressed.

With this switch to a market-focused approach, however, you also need to begin the task of positioning. Moore suggests highlighting two separate competitors, your market-competitor and your product-competitor.

Your market-competitor will be the veteran company in your market segment, the company you’re trying to push aside with your disruptive product. The product-competitor, on the other hand, is your fellow disruptor who’s either beat you to market or is hot on your heels.

Ask yourself, what sets both our product and our whole product solution a part from these two competitors? Answering this question is extremely important to creating a unique selling position.

In the next article we’ll go more focus on Moore’s ideas related to positioning. Did you miss the first articles in the series? Check out the introduction here.

Curiosity — If You Have It, You Have a Chance

This is the fourth article in our series on Claude Hopkins’ advertising class Scientific Advertising. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first article in this series, check it out here.

Curiosity — Accessing the Mainframe

Hopkins begins his chapter on psychology by making the simple claim that anyone interested in advertising must also take an interest in psychology.

Things haven’t changed much in terms of base human psychology over the past millennia, so spending a bit of time learning about human behaviour can pay massive dividends throughout your future advertising campaigns.


So what do you need to learn?

First, that curiosity is one of the most effective triggers for developing attraction to your product. Curiosity puts the customer’s brain into overdrive–what is this, what’s it about, how does it do that, I’ve never seen that before, etc.

Tapping into this innate drive for the mind to ratchet up its thoughts when encountering novelty is why advertising departments go through great lengths to develop novel commercials and thought-provoking advertisements.

When our brains are locked into this heightened state of thought creation, we’re more open to receiving new ideas and emotions–we’ve moved closer to a clean slate, a more suggestive state.

Curiosity also relates directly to our previous article on headlines. If you’r headline isn’t creating some sense of curiosity in the reader, then they’re very unlikely to pursue your advertisement any further.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my ad making my customers curious about?
  • Can I develop this curiosity further?
  • What things will inhibit my customers from really getting engaged with my product?
  • How can my call to action(s) leverage this curiosity for future ventures?

These are just few of the questions that one can focus on when thinking about curiosity and how it really drives customers to learn and explore.

A few more questions to keep in mind…

What was the last piece of technology that you were really excited about? What kind of things did you want to know about it? Did you want just purely text-based information or did you want access to videos as well? And how can you provide these avenues for customer engagement without eradicating their curiosity?

In other words, how can you maintain curiosity right up to the moment they purchase the product and even beyond?

The Psychology of Ownership

Hopkins also recognized that a personal attachment to a product increases one’s desire for it. If an object becomes something that one not only wants, but feels to be a part of one’s very being, then chances are a purchase is going to be made.

Hopkins uses the example of a company selling books that decides to offer their customers free engravings of their name:

“When a man knows that something belongs to them – something with his name on – he will make an effort to get it, even though the thing is a trifle.”

It doesn’t take much to see this principle at work in modern advertising: customized coke cans, engraved iPhones, calendars bearing children’s names.

The stronger the level of personal identification with a product, the stronger the urge to buy. And what’s more personal than seeing your own name on a product? Hopkins knew this, and advertising campaigns to this day continue to leverage this knowledge.

Referencing those people who are excluded from using a product can be effective as well. Exclusivity can be just as powerful as personalization. By stating that a certain group gets preferred treatment–Hopkins uses the examples of veterans, executives, or club members–one once again develops an attachment to it. As Hopkins explains, “Those who are entitled to any seeming advantage will go a long way not to lose that advantage.”

For your next advertising venture, think about how you can create a sense of exclusivity–or even use the very idea of exclusivity as a foil for your product, i.e. what was once only available to a select few is now available to everyone. One pertinent example of this can be found in advertisements for high-end cooking supplies–“X, until recently, was only available at high-end restaurants, and now you can achieve the same technique at home at a fraction of the cost.”

Hopkins closes his chapter on psychology by appealing once again for the reader to adopt a scientific viewpoint towards customer psychology:

“There are endless phases to psychology. Some people know them by instinct. Many of them are taught by experience. But we learn most of them from others. When we see one winning method we note it down for use when occasion offers.”

Be curious about the advertisements you see online. How are they different from what you’ve seen previously, and how are they the same? Being able to not only ask these questions, but to answer them as well, is key to developing the kind of scientific advertising favoured by Hopkins.

The next article in this series will take up Hopkins’ ideas about ad specificity. If you haven’t had a chance to start at the beginning of this series, you can click here for an introduction.


Claude Hopkins on The Secret Power of Headlines

This is the third article in our ongoing series on Claude Hopkins’ seminal work, Scientific Advertising. You can start the beginning of this series here, or you can skip to the second instalment.

The Secret Power of Headlines

The writing after your headline convinces your prospective customer to buy. But it’s the headline, and only the headline, that make this a possibility.

A salesperson has the benefit of swapping tactics to re-engage a client. Your copy doesn’t. What’s there is there, and Hopkins, once again, realized this over a hundred years ago. He knew that an advertisement’s headline was the first essential component to making a successful sale.

But that doesn’t mean you can throw up any catchy headline.

Your headline must align with the content that will be presented in the body of the copy.

Your headline makes a promise, explicitly or implicitly, and the body of your copy must fulfill this promise. If it doesn’t, your potential customer will simply go elsewhere.

Hopkins himself spent hours refining his headlines. And he wouldn’t write just one:

“The writer of this chapter spends far more time on headlines than on writing. He often spends hours on a single headline. Often scores of headlines are discarded before the right one is selected. For the entire return from an ad depends on attracting the right sort of readers. The best of salesmanship has no chance whatever unless we get a hearing.”

Your headline is your chance at a hearing. Make sure you’re getting one.

Without attracting an initial spark of attention from the reader, the majority of your copy may as well not exist! So spend time on your headlines, rewrite them, compare them, see what appeals to you, and, as Hopkins would suggest, see what appeals to your readers!

Headlines are not universal

If you’re committed to writing great headlines, you’ll soon realize that whom your headline is talking to is just as important as what it’s saying.

This isn’t new advice, even for Hopkins’ time. But it’s so crucial that repeating it will be of great benefit.

You may have a headline that’s pulling in a massive amount of views and generating leads, but this doesn’t mean that you should stick with it for every venture. If your headlines only appear within a single channel and your audience is fairly stable as well, then sure, stick with what’s tried and true. But if you’re expanding your product’s reach then make sure you’re doing the adequate research to understand your new audience.

“You are presenting an ad to millions. Among them is a percentage, small or large, whom you hope to interest. Go after that percentage and try to strike the chord that responds.”

You must not only select the instrument, but you must also play the right chord, and play it perfectly. With anything less, you’re settling.

Hopkins’ advice on headlines was powerful and succinct — qualities that your future headlines should possess as well.

The next article in this series addresses Hopkins’ views on customer psychology and how a clear understanding of this topic can pay massive dividends. Missed the first two articles on this series? Check them out here and here.



Don’t Take it Personally: The Scientific Method and Your Ad

This is Copyious’ second article on Claud Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising. Click here to check out the first article in this series.

Advertising Meets the Scientific Method

Hopkins was ruthless in his dedication to being as scientific as possible about an ad’s merits. And the world of mail-order advertising was, for Hopkins, the perfect laboratory to carry out his experiments.

“The severest test of an advertising man is in selling goods by mail. But that is a school from which he must graduate before he can hope for success. There cost and result are immediately apparent. False theories melt away like snowflakes in the sun. The advertising is profitable or it is not, clearly on the face of returns. Figures which do not lie tell one at once the merits of an ad.”

Is your ad a snowflake melting in the sun or is it a continual source of value for you and your company?

Determining whatever the case may be is a crucial step towards clarifying what qualifies as successful advertising and what does not.

Hopkins was just as suspicious about pictures as we he was of words. Pictures, just like any writing in print, must continually justify themselves. Extraneous doodads or random pieces of clip art are not only distracting your reader, wasting their time, and muddling your message, but also costing you leads and sales.

“[Pictures] are salesmen in themselves. They earn space they occupy.”

Every element of your ad must be working in tandem to lead your customer towards the inevitable conclusion to buy. The more elements working together, the better chance you have of convincing the customer that your product does, in fact, contain value.

One reasonable question you might have at this point is the extent to which the total amount of information matters. If content sells, then is there a point where too much content is a bad thing?

In Hopkins’ day and age, advertising was conducted mainly through local papers or through mail-order copy. Ads took up material space in the world instead of living as little 1s and 0s within some datacenter.

If space isn’t a constraint any more, then what has replaced it?


The point of writing precise copy is not to write precise copy, but to sell.

Hopkins counsels his contemporaries to use whatever space they’re given in the most efficient manner possible–nothing superfluous, noting unearned. Drawing on his example, I recommend you do the same.

Make every word count.

With a click of a button your reader can blast off to a more promising product. If your product is complex and technical, explain it as clearly as possible, but don’t hold back from giving them information on the nuts and bolts if there is an audience for that kind of information.

Give them whatever information is required to make a sale. And only through repeated testing, trail and error, can you determine what is truly effective and what is not.

Don’t take it personally

Hopkins doesn’t mince his words when he talks about the waste of the advertising world. For him, if you’re going to indulge in frivolities, at least be honest enough to admit to yourself what you’re doing.

“We cannot often follow all the principles of mail order advertising, though we know we should. The advertiser forces a compromise. Perhaps pride in our ads has an influence. But every departure from those principles adds to our selling cost. Therefore it is always a question of what we are willing to pay for our frivolities. We can at least know what we pay.”

In other words, if you don’t want to be scientific and exacting with your ad, then at least know what this deviation is costing you.

Is your ego getting in the way of your copy’s selling power?

It may be pleasant to write flashy sentences loaded with fantastical metaphors, but if your copy isn’t generating sales then what’s the point? 

The next article in this series will focus on the specifics of your copy and how it can be scientifically improved. Curious about the first article in this series? Click here to read our introduction to Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising.

Scientific Advertising: The Great-Grandfather of A/B Testing

This is the first article in an ongoing series on Claude Hopkin’s 1923 classic Scientific Advertising. Here you will find an introduction to the crucial ideas contained in Hopkins’ seminal work.

A/B Testing From Way Back When

A/B testing has been on the lips of marketers and copywriting professionals for years–but is this business practice actually that new?

Not a chance.A Single Beachhead, Really_ (4)

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture vendors back in ancient Greece testing out different ways of arranging their vegetable stands.

Being aware of (and tracking) why some marketing configurations work and why some don’t just makes sense. And yet so many marketing campaigns pay only lip-service to this crucial practice.

Enter Claude Hopkins’ 1923 classic Scientific Advertising. In this masterwork, Hopkins goes to great lengths to disabuse the reader of their dream that by tapping into the eccentric genius of a marketing team one can produce consistently profitable results.

You will get results, of course, and sometimes they will be good and sometimes they will be bad. And then you’ll change your strategy, and you’ll wind up with more results. And more results, and so on and so on.

Do you see the problem?

Without a rigorous method for understanding why one piece of copy succeeds and why one fails, you’re results will continue to be erratic while also wasting precious resources.

Hopkins assails this debilitating myth that an advertisement is somehow fundamentally different than a salesperson. Your ad, just likes a salesperson, costs money and generates money. If you spend hour after hour developing a sales script, seeing what works and what doesn’t, why wouldn’t you do the same for your ad?

Criteria must be developed for understanding why one piece of copy barely makes a ripple in the pond and another generates wave after wave of leads.

Here’s Hopkins himself:

“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.

It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong.”

David Ogilvy, one of the great masters of 20th century advertising, states bluntly that Hopkins’ book changed his life. “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times.”

Hopkins was right — and you can be as well

Despite nearly a century passing since Scientific Advertising was first published, its arguments and their applicability to online advertising remain unsurpassed.

A/B testing is the latest incarnation of Hopkins’ dream to see the scientific method replace the ad-hoc, willy-nilly style of advertising that is the perennial disease of advertising departments.

B2B copywriting relies on providing potential clients with the information they need to  quickly grasp the potential value of your product. Their time, like yours, is a valuable resource. And like you, they’re inundated with reams of flabby content and products that make promises that are never fulfilled.

Hopkins realized this over 100 years ago. Writing powerful copy that targets mainstream business requires direct, informative and engaging prose.

“Ads are not written to entertain. When they do, those entertainment seekers are little likely to be the people whom you want. That is one of the greatest advertising faults. Ad writers abandon their parts. They forget they are salesmen and try to be performers. Instead of sales, they seek applause.”

Are you seeking applause or are you actually trying to guide your potential customer towards a sale? Every line of copy in an email or on a landing page must be moving the customer towards a state where the only thing left to do is to buy.

The best part about Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising is that it’s free, and a quick read. There’s no excuse not read, and read again as Ogilvy suggets, the essential advertising truths contained in this canonical work.

Click here to read the next article in this series that takes a look at the relationship between copywriters’ egos and their writing.



Researching Your Beachhead: Crossing the Chasm with Informative Intuition

In the previous article on Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, we looked at why it’s necessary to secure what Moore calls a beachhead. This article will focus on just how one begins to achieve this goal.

Step 3: Choose Your Beachhead Wisely!

Now that you’ve finally accepted that you’re in the dangerous territory of the chasm, and you’ve also resisted the urge to madly fling your sales team in every direction, you can breathe. And think.

It’s time to get back to basics.

Right now you have a product that you could potentially market to a whole slew of customers, but by focusing on those that are 1) in the most pain and 2) within a tightly-bounded market, you can massively increase your company’s chances of crossing the dreaded chasm.

Sure, sure, you say, I’ve heard all of this before. But how do I actually go about identifying my market segment? 

This is where your skin might start to crawl. If your product is truly disruptive then you face a massive problem:

Hint: it’s the chasm again.

Your problem is that it’s extremely difficult to acquire customer data when no customers in the mainstream market have been exposed to your novel product. In other words, you’re flying blind.

Or, at least, that’s how it can feel. Moore refers to this moment of recognition as one of paralyzing anxiety. Why? Because you must make a fundamental decision about your company’s future and this decision is both high-risk and without the support of hard data.

It’s time to take another leap.

Step 4: Begin to Trust Informed Intuition

At this point, many executives may begin to make strange faces and then proceed to burst out in laughter.

Intuition? Really?

No. read carefully: informed intuition.

What’s the difference? Straight-up intuition is just a hunch. Informed intuition, on the other hand, requires you to mobilize the total creative and analytical power of your team to create user case scenarios. These scenarios will help you discover the underlying strata that link together various market segments. You can now rapidly begin crossing off potential landing sites until you arrive at a shortened list of ideal beachheads.

Reverting to pure analytical reason at this point is tempting. But avoid it at all costs

Instead, put analytical reason to work in the service of informed intuition. You need to get creative in this crucial period. Constantly referring to old data that your product is fundamentally meant to invalidate is going to leave you trapped at sea rather securing a specific beachhead. Don’t do this!

Rather, it’s time to get to work creating mockups of potential customer profiles.

Keep reading to learn how.

Step 5: Developing Your Cache of Intuitive Data

First, brainstorm a list of 50 different character types who your team could imagine using your product. And then follow these customers through use case scenarios, documenting their journey from their exposure to the initial problem that prompts them to seek out your product all the way to the resolution of that problem–be honest, many of these resolutions may not turn out in your favour.

But if you have a solid product, then a handful of more promising leads should begin to coalesce.

How do you determine which leads are worth pursuing? Moore recommends ranking each scenario on these 9 categories:

  1. Target Customer: does a single economic buyer actually exist for our product?
  2. Compelling reason to buy: are there enough reasons / enough pain present for the customer to buy?
  3. Whole Product: can a whole product solution be created in the next three months that can satisfy this target customer?
  4. Competition: have you been beat to the punch?

These four categories raise what Moore refers to as showstopper issues–problems that should make you think twice and then again about pursuing these targets.

In fact, if any of these showstopper issues are not resolved, you’re better off doing more research rather than committing to the wrong beachhead. Yes, you’re window of opportunity is shrinking, but spending half of it pursuing the wrong target is an even more significant waste of time and resources.

The next five categories are not showstopper issues, but are still important to factor in when selecting an ideal beachhead.

  1. Distribution: is there already a sales channel in place to deliver our product?
  2. Pricing: is the price you’re offering consistent with what the buyer can afford?
  3. Partners and Allies: do you have any partners or allies already operating there?
  4. Positioning: what is your current reputation within that market segment?
  5. Next target customer: if your successful, how does this win set you up for another?

Now, assemble your team and have everyone rate each scenario that you created based on these 9 criteria. Remember: the first four issues are key–if one of these seems weak, investigate further and determine if it’s truly a showstopper issue before proceeding.

Encountering disagreement?

Perfect. These are the types of conversations you want to be having now instead of three months, six months, or a year from now. Hash it out, discuss, and learn. It’s only through this process that you’ll come to understand all of your product’s nuances and which clients are your best bets.

The beachhead is now in sight. In the next article we’ll take up Moore’s chapter on preparing the invasion force.

A Single Beachhead, Really?: Finding Your Niche Market and Preparing to Cross the Chasm

Read the first article that introduces Geoffrey A. Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm here.

Step 1: Accept the Chasm

In the previous article, I discussed how the worst thing you can do when you find yourself in the chasm is to pretend like it doesn’t exist.A Single Beachhead, Really_ (3)

You may be telling yourself that you’re wise enough to make the right call at the right time.

But there are forces working against you:

  • Dwindling resources
  • Residual demands from clients
  • Aggressive investors
  • New competitors
  • Dwindling leads

Claustrophobic yet?

All of these factors are pushing you to act now, innovate now, expand now and suddenly you feel like potential sales are slipping right through your fingers as time ticks away.

You begin to tell yourself that you need to sell to everyone at every moment possible.

And suddenly, as Moore points out, you wake up to discover that you’ve become a sales-driven company rather than a market-driven company. This is disastrous. 


To take Moore’s metaphor, it’s akin to trying to take back WW2 Europe by foolishly sending platoons to every beach on the continent. You lose every single time you meet resistance, and even if you do manage a victory no one is there to help you secure it.

You have zero momentum, a product trying to do too many things at once, and ultimately a company whose efforts are spread far too thin.

You’re in the chasm, and you’re falling.

But, if you accept your situation, there’s hope.

Step 2: Attend Invasion School 

So, you’ve decided to accept that you’re in the chasm and now you’re asking, what next?

Your goal now is to identify a tightly bounded market, that is, a market where most of the players are known, communicate with one another, share news sources (trade journals etc.), and face similar problems.

In other words, you’re looking for a beachhead, a niche market.

Why? Because:

  1. Your solutions are easily transferrable across customers, saving you valuable time and resources.
  2. Word of mouth between clients spreads quickly allowing you to generate momentum to cross the chasm.
  3. A niche market gives your company the focus and direction it needs to act as a cohesive whole instead of being a shambolic mess where good leads go to die.
  4. You’re facing off against a relatively set number of competitors, which allows research on your competition to go the extra mile.
  5. You’re gaining the crucial respect and foothold in the mainstream market that allows you to enact a bowling pin effect.
  6. And finally, you’re forced to create a whole product solution for your niche market, which is exactly what the early majority, the pragmatists, are looking for.

As mentioned in the first article, the pragmatists that you’re trying to appeal to when crossing the chasm only trust the opinions and decisions of other pragmatists.

Without securing a beachhead, all you can do is point to your success with early adopters, a group of people that pragmatists actively distance themselves from.

You may have the greatest product in the world, but if you can’t get pragmatists to recommend your product to other pragmatists, then you’re in for a rough ride.

Once again, you must secure a single beachhead.

One reason alone makes it worth it to restrict your vision to a small, tightly-bounded market:

What a mainstream market accepts, it keeps.

You can’t afford to rest on your laurels, but time and time again the mainstream market is willing to give breaks to the market leader that it’d never extend to a new entrant.


Because they’re now invested in your success. They want you to succeed. Every new sale that you receive increases and fortifies the marketing ecosystem coalescing around your product. More documentation, more seminars, more employees familiar with your products–the list goes on.

So the next time someone demands action nowask yourself this:

Will this action help me to secure a beachhead?

If the answer is no and you’re still tempted to go enact their idea…

Start from the top and read again.

Don’t let yourself be another company with a fantastic product that flounders just when the greatest source of revenue is within reach (the person in the back screaming about Microsoft, I’ll leave to Moore: “great causes make bad law”).

Of course, much more goes into securing a beachhead than this. But now, with the goal in mind, you can begin to develop a cohesive and focused invasion strategy.

This will be the topic of the next article in this series on Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers.