Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for December 2010

This is the age of overnight successes. But not all products (software / other) follow this pattern, most of them go through a lifecycle, which may be short or long depending on various factors. For every ‘instant hit’, there are 99 other products reaching the maturity / success slowly or losing out somewhere in between the journey.

Typically, there are five segments of people who use a product, in various stages of its lifecycle. They are:

  • Innovators (Those who jump and buy any new gadget, even if its slightly(?) buggy. They want to be in the front seat of this journey, always, and wouldn’t mind disappointments / failures.)
  • Early Adopters (Same as Innovators, But a bit cautious in their approach, want to think and analyze a bit before buying something)
  • Early Majority (Let someone else use the product and recommend it, I can wait till it is accepted widely!)
  • Late Majority (Oh, Is it a super hit product? Then I must buy it!)
  • Laggards (Duh!)

Obviously, a product developer / marketer can’t reach-out to all these segments at the same time. It will be picked by Innovators first, Slowly it will be spread to Early Adopters (mostly via word of mouth / other forms of social advertisements), If the product is really good, it will reach the Early Majority and that’s when we can call it a success!

Unfortunately, Most of the products don’t cross this gap between Early Adopters and Early Majority. They vanish somewhere in between – Mainly because these two groups have totally different kinds of needs. If you follow the same strategy to attract both of them, it is not going to work.

(Image Courtesy:

Marketing Guru & Technology Consultant Dr. Geoffrey Moore calls this gap (between Early Adopters and Early Majority) as “Chasm”. He argues that product companies should use different techniques to cross this Chasm, if they want to get into the Majority zone and make money. His book “Crossing The Chasm” explains various techniques that may be used / combined / adopted based on the product / market / other factors.

(Image Courtesy:

Interestingly, even software deployment projects go through this cycle in terms of user adoption / change management. There are innovators who accept the new changes eagerly, early adopters who follow and it takes considerable time / effort / strategy to cross the chasm between Early Adopters and reach out the Early Majority, then only the implementation reaches a successful milestone and starts getting the ROI. This chasm-crossing is a phase worth investing our time and energy in!



N. Chokkan …

31 12 2010


When we talk to people, we naturally want our message to stick. We want them to remember what we are saying, and change their behavior / take actions accordingly.

But this is not always easy. Many times our Emails / Telephone conversations / Face to face talks fail to make the impact we desire. How to ensure people listen to us and act?

The trick is to turn the tables, instead of focusing on “our” side of the story, our words / tone / body language everything should suggest “their” side of the story. Then people will listen automatically.

For example, consider these two statements “I want you to be more careful when writing this document” Vs “If you are more careful, you can avoid rework at a later stage”. Both convey almost the same meaning, but the second statement sticks better because it talks about the listener, not the speaker!

There are three areas which are essential in any communication – Heart, Head and Wallet.

  • Heart – Emotional – I like this idea!
  • Head – Intelligence – But, is it going to work for me? Do I really need it? How am I going to do it?
  • Wallet – Benefits – How much (time / money / effort) it would cost? What am I going to get in return? Are the benefits real?

If you want a simpler example, consider this statement which I read in a discussion forum:

Who will win 2011 Cricket Worldcup?

My heart says India, My head says Australia, But finally it will be the bookies’ wallets that will decide the winner!



N. Chokkan …

24 12 2010

Got this story from an in-flight magazine. Looks like a forwarded mail joke, But unlike other forwarded stuff, this one makes sense, and has a valid lesson for everyone.

Once upon a time, there was a philosophy teacher. He conducted a test to all his students, and it had only one question “Prove that the chair in front of you is invisible!”

(Image Courtesy:

His students were super-intelligent. They used all the theory they learnt throughout the year and wrote fantastic answers to prove that the chair is indeed invisible. But the top marks went to a student who wrote just two words as his answer: “What Chair?”

Lesson? Don’t Complicate Simple Things!



N. Chokkan …

17 12 2010

What is the difference between Innovation and Invention?

According to US Patent laws, “Invention is a new, useful process, machine, improvement etc., that did not exist previously”. On the other hand, Innovation is defined as “Something new or different introduced”.

This means, all Inventions have to be innovations, But all Innovations needn’t be Inventions.

Confusing? I was looking for a good example and found it in Gutenberg’s First Printing Press.


(Image Courtesy:

Before Johann Gutenberg invented world’s first printing machine, manuscripts were handwritten to make multiple copies of the same book. Creating a new copy of a book may take few days, weeks, or even months. This was a very costly affair and it meant, you could only make limited copies of a book and knowledge sharing / spreading was restricted.

Gutenberg changed all these by introducing a mechanism to make multiple copies of the same book in a very short time / cost. His invention changed the world by creating a knowledge revolution.

(Image Courtesy:

But when we dig further, we find that Gutenberg’s invention was really an innovation – He combined two existing machines to arrive at a new one. “Coin Punch + Wine Press = Printing Press” seems to be his formula.

In those days, Coin punches were used to make fine impressions on a piece of metal. Wine presses were used to squeeze out juice from the grapes, to make wine.

Gutenberg saw these two (unrelated) machines and thought ‘What if I add few coin punches in a wine press and make them print something on a paper, instead of a metal?’. He worked on a prototype, went through many iterations and finally printing press was born.

Two seemingly unrelated things, but their combination created a wonder machine which became the prime reason for increasing world’s knowledge manifolds!



N. Chokkan …

10 12 2010

Recently, an online store from India launched an interesting campaign – During a 48 hours period (weekend), they will pick the ‘top spender’ and give them some fancy electronic gadget. Means, if you spent more than everybody else, you get the gadget free!

I thought this was a good, fun way to improve sales over the weekend. But after 12 hours or so, they did something which brought down the whole campaign effectiveness – They sent an SMS to all their members saying “Mr. XYZ is the top spender now with Rs 15,000/- worth purchases. Buy more than Mr. XYZ to win this contest.’

Will this SMS make more people buy more from them? I seriously doubt it!

The moment you disclose that somebody has bought items worth Rs 15,000 already, I am motivated to join the race if and only if I can spend at least Rs 15,001. Otherwise, I may drop out from your contest – Means, I may buy an item worth Rs 100/- or Rs 14999/- if I really need it, but not for the sake of this contest, because I know I can’t win anyway. By sending this SMS, they might have attracted some people who wanted to spend more than Rs 15000 to win the contest, But I strongly feel they would have driven away some potential (small) customers.

As writer Chris Anderson points out, concentrating on our long tail (selling less of more) is much more effective than trying to please the short head (big customers who buy more from us).



N. Chokkan …

03 12 2010


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 60 other followers

Big Adda