Book Reviews

High Tech

Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley's Cutting Edge

Author: Geoffrey A. Moore
Publisher Harper Business
Publication Date: August 1996

Reviewer:Joel Klebanoff
Joel Klebanoff, is a copywriter and marketing communications consultant specializing in the information technology industry. He is president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc.

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This book is a sequel to Moore's "Crossing the Chasm". The earlier book focused on how to make the leap from the enthusiastic earlier adopter market segment to the significantly larger and more profitable mainstream market. Inside the Tornado moves the discussion forward to examine how to win the whirlwind battle for market dominance once a product category enters the mainstream.

While a sequel, Inside the Tornado also stands alone. Its first chapter, and elsewhere when necesary, summarize some of the major concepts covered in the previous book. So, if you are responsible for marketing a product that already competes in the mainstream, you can safely skip Crossing the Chasm and you'll have no difficulty understanding the Inside the Tornado.

The tornado in the title refers to the "vortex of market demand" and competitive ferment that occurs when a hot new technology is adopted en masse by the broader market. Moore describes strategies for harnessing the available forces to establish market leadership in this large and dynamic market. Niche, price, product, distribution, and alliance strategies are all part of the plan.

Both Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado are written in an easy-to-read style. However, for some people's taste, the latter book might stretch a little too far to find analogies to illustrate the concepts. In addition to the tornado itself, there are references to "The Land of Oz", "bowling alleys", "main street", "monkeys", "chimpanzees", and "gorillas". However, even if analogies and "cuteness" are not your favorite style for non-fiction books, grimace through them and read on because they describe useful theories and practices that are worth pursuing.

To neither keep you in too much suspense nor give away too much of Moore's book:

The Land of Oz refers to both the market in the tornado and the blissful (or, as the book says, not so blissful) state reached by companies that successfully navigate through the tornado into the mainstream market.

The bowling alley is a niche strategy, whereby each niche is a bowling pin. The objective is to use each pin to help pick off its neighbors.

Main street is fairly obvious. It's the mainstream market.

Monkeys, chimps and gorillas categorize market competitors based on size and competitive style. The book describes how gorillas -- the market dominators -- get to be gorillas and suggests strategies for each of the primates to follow.

Inside the Tornado makes extensive use of real life and hypothetical examples in a number of product categories to illustrate and prove its points.

If you are responsible for marketing in a high tech company and you are either serving the mainstream market or plan to, you should consider putting this book on your bookshelf.