Why Did Tan Kin Lian Lose So Badly? Because He Failed to Cross the Chasm Correctly.

what have I gotten myself into...

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore is a marketing book that espouses the need for a product or company to first find traction with early adopters before attempting to sell their services to the mainstream market a.k.a cross the chasm. Failure to do so will inevitably result in disastrous consequences. For many entrepreneurs and marketing people, this book is a bible.

Now what does Tan Kin Lian’s poor showing at the PE2011 have to do with this tech-oriented marketing book? Very simple: he failed to find a core base of users on which to launch his campaign on. These core base of users would be analogous to the early adopters that a company must first seek to convince before he attempts to cross the chasm and enter the mainstream audience.

Which was why he mentioned his two lowest points were when Tan Jee Say announced his candidacy and was later granted the Certificate of Eligibility to contest. With Tan Jee Say in the running, he grabbed what would be Tan Kin Lian’s core base of opposition supporters in one fell swoop. While on the other side, Tan Cheng Bock and Tony Tan were craving up the pro-PAP supporters into the so called PAP Grassroots a.k.a heartlanders and PAP Elites a.k.a erm… Elites. That left Tan Kin Lian with scraps.

So when Tan Kin Lian did his After Action Review and found that among other things, his inappropriate campaign logo of ‘Hi-5’ or mis-reporting in the mainstream media which were the chief culprits to blame for his downfall, I’m sitting behind my desk thinking: this guy still doesn’t get it. So here’s my personal message to Mr Tan Kin Lian:

Dear Sir,

Firstly, I applaud you for persisting with your beliefs and not pulling out due to populist pressure. It takes a man of courage to have done what you did. As a wannabe entrepreneur, I respect your rags-to-riches journey in being a self taught programmer and eventually succeeding in the corporate world.

But I shall not sugar coat my words any longer. The reason why you lost so badly was very simple: you did not communicate a clear set of ideals and vision to a clearly defined group of people or in business speak, target audience. To put it very bluntly, you stood for nothing for no one

As someone who has risen to the very top of the corporate world, I would have thought this to be plainly evident.

If you had gathered more support during your involvement of the Lehman Brother’s Minibonds saga, that could have been a possible launch pad. But even then, you failed to gather enough rapport from the people.

The reasons you cite as contributing factors to your poor showing were merely poorly implemented tactics which by itself should not drown a candidate. The overall strategy was flawed. Even the most brilliantly executed campaign would not have saved you from a flawed campaign strategy. 

So Mr Tan Kin Lian, as you are eating your mooncakes and sipping tea under the moonlight, do you still think mis-reporting was the main cause of your downfall?

Yours Sincerely,

A Wannabe Hacker.

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