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Field Guide To Market Penetration

August 6, 2013

One of the problems with marketing a new idea or product is that it often takes vast amounts of time to get through the diffusion curve of any given audience. It can take years, or even decades to properly communicate brand attributes throughout an audience.

Another problem is in the complexity and subtlety across industries. While we might be more innovative in one category (say fashionable footwear and accessories) opting to stay highly informed and actively contributing to the latest trends. We are likely to be more like laggards in other categories (perhaps breakfast cereal) and completely oblivious to even the biggest competitive advancements.

slugger field

During a recent evening supporting my favorite Minor League Baseball Team, I got to bear witness to a powerful sales agent and observe the complete cycle of market penetration in under 60 seconds – several times in a row. I’m not talking about the skilled vendors walking the aisles creatively touting the contents of their bucket. Nor am I referring to the marketing team throwing plush toys to the kids and sling-shotting T-shirts.

The organist has one of the most difficult sales jobs in the world. Without saying a word, or anyone even seeing him/her, gets the crowd chanting, clapping, stomping, standing, waving, singing, or otherwise cheering for the home team. When the crowd hears a particular series of escalating notes, they are supposed to respond together with “CHARGE!”

(visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW3N82SwiMg if you need an audio reminder of the cheer)

The first time the call is played, only a few enthusiastic fans respond – since they are paying close attention, we can assume them to be the Innovators. The call of the organ goes out again, the response is a bit louder as the Early Adopters join. As they start nudging their neighbors to join, the call goes out again with an even louder response. On the next call, the Late Majority figures out exactly what/when/how to say it, and joins – even if only to remain within the safety of the crowd. As the opposing pitcher takes the mound, one last call is issued from the organ. The Laggards finally respond – perhaps fearing they might be removed from the stadium if they don’t comply.

There is no 1-1 sales conversation, no value statement, no price concession, or exciting promotion. Aside from the organist, and scoreboard operator, the idea of each cheer naturally diffuses throughout the crowd. We don’t know exactly who they are, or where they will be sitting, but Innovators and Early Adopters are always happy to ‘sell the idea’ and encourage their fellow fans to cheer.

Start with a simple request that is easy to comply, share, and spread. Introduce it at the proper time. Repeat the request enthusiastically.

What message do you want to communicate? In order to get everyone involved, you need to start with the Innovators and Early Adopters. How can you locate, enroll, and involve them?

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