In the world of technology, there’s an idea that there is a chasm that every product must cross in order to be successful. This is the gap between having a small group of early adopters and having mass market acceptance.  The customers at each end of the gap demand different things of your product and you need to shift your marketing strategy as you move across the gap.  This is much better explained in the book Crossing the Chasm.

This theory makes sense when you’re looking at the product from a macro level, at the whole market.  But there’s a different type of adoption curve when you look at a micro level – at one user.   At this level products that are truly revolutionary have what I call the ‘Religious Adoption Curve’.  Either you get it or you don’t, and once you’ve seen the light, there’s no turning back.  Let me explain using TiVo as an example.

When I first heard about TiVo years ago, it sounded interesting, but I didn’t really see the value.  Look at the core features:

  • Record any show – So?  My VCR does that.
  • Pause live TV – Sure, that might come in handy, but I can usually wait for the commercial to go to the bathroom
  • Suggests new shows for you – That’s just creepy.  Besides, I watch enough TV

But one day a friend gave me a TiVo he though was broken.  He figured I could get a few bucks for it on eBay.  Curious, I hooked it up to my TV.  Not only did it work, it had a lifetime membership.  So I dug in and started playing.  And then I saw the light.

It wasn’t just a way to record shows.  It was a totally new way to experience television.  Each feature on its own may not sound like much, but the way they all came together in a beautifully simple product was a symphony.  I was a convert, and never went back to regular TV.

So what I’m trying to figure out is if you’re working at TiVo during this early stage, how do you get more people to become believers?  For me, it took actually installing one.  Obviously you can’t just give them away.  But the way to get people to have that religious awakening is to get it into their hands.  How do you tell people (without sounding crazy) that this product fundamentally changes everything you know about TV?

The product I work with is much the same way.  Once you really get it, you’re a customer for life.  So the struggle is getting more people to get their hands in there and really understand the technology.  Spread the gospel and hope they see the light.