Luring users off their bandwagon

When we're creating any disruptive innovation, there are always two markets out there. One is the hoard of "non-consumers" who are over or under served by the incumbent offering. They can be found in that "blue ocean" kind of uncontested market space where rivals fear to tread.

The others are on the bandwagon of the incumbent provider. They inhabit one of those "red ocean" kinds of contested market spaces where rivals bloody the waters with their aggressive pursuit of market penetration. These users are ganging up with retailers, advertisers, suppliers of accessories, service providers and journalists who cover that market space. Together they form a self-reinforcing equilibrium that is not easily disrupted.

One viable strategy steers clear of the incumbent bandwagon to avoid getting run over, attacked or drawn into a costly battle. This approach seeks a small niche of fanatics who are already disenfranchised from the bandwagon, sold on the disruptive innovation and poised to become its early adopters. These users welcome evangelists into their midsts, form communities in a heartbeat and chat up the innovation among themselves for free.

The other strategy attempts to lure active users of the incumbent offering off of their bandwagon. This is the generic challenge of product launches:
  • getting users of fountain pens to write letters, lists and diaries with one of those new skinny ball-point pens
  • convincing riders of horses to use a horseless carriage with a crank on the front to get around town
  • showing routine visitors to the telegraph office the advantages of a phone in their home
  • urging listeners seated around big, vacuum tube radios to stick a plug in their ear wander off with a portable transistor radio

How successful we will be at luring users off their bandwagon depends on our answers to questions like these:
  1. How big a difference does it make to the users in their own situations, from their own perspectives and applied to their own problems?
  2. How compatible is the innovation with what the users are already doing, invested in, familiar with and set-up to accomplish?
  3. How simple are the innovations to grasp, put to use, figure out what's wrong when it doesn't work and explain to others showing an interest in it?
  4. How possible is it try it before they buy it, take a test drive or get a feel for it before buying it on faith?
  5. How obvious are the results it produces and the benefits it provides to convince other skeptics and overcome their suspicions of scams?
  6. How much can it be customized, altered, fine tuned, given a different look or personalized by each user?
  7. How often does it require the user to spend more time, effort and money to replace, upgrade, renew or repair it?
  8. How accessible are other users, advisors, mentors and helpers to collaborate on troubleshooting breakdowns, sharing shortcuts or formulating workarounds
  9. How supportive is the selling process, user experience, exploration of alternatives and information provided for making purchases?
  10. How much buzz has already been generated by early adopters to spin a narrative of successful use, satisfied users and envious non-users?
The better our answers to these questions, the more viable our end game becomes where the innovation gets adopted. the higher we score on these criteria, The better our chances of luring the users of their current bandwagon.

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