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Diffusion Gaps


Disciplines > Communication > Diffusion > Diffusion Gaps

Knowledge gaps | Motivation gaps | See also


The process of diffusion is characterized by a number of gaps. If these gaps are understood by marketers and others who want to speed the diffusion then they may be addressed to achieve these goals.

Knowledge gaps

The first set of gaps that may appear in diffusion is around what is known about the innovation.


The first gap is the space between not knowing and knowing that the innovation exist. This might start to be closed with a vague awareness, such as when we overhear others being excited about something but we do not know what that is, or the knowledge may arrive in a single piece, such as when a new idea is presented to us by a friend.

In sales and marketing 'Awareness' is an important first step in knowing that the product (or may be the problem that the product addresses) exists.


When you know that something exists, a subsequent question is what it is for. With a new innovation, this is not always clear and considerable education and explanation may be required.

In selling products and services, communicating the 'why' is very important, including the problems that will be solved and the real benefits that may be gained.


As well as 'why', the question 'how does it work' may be asked. The principles behind the innovation may be scientific, psychological, social or moral. Whilst it is not strictly necessary to know how something works, the need to explain makes knowing why important for persuasion.

In sales the detail of 'why' for things based on scientific principles is often not explained other than impressing that 'science' is involved. For social and moral reasons, the 'good' that is done may be emphasized.


A final step in knowledge about the innovation is in the question 'how do I use it?' Procedural knowledge tells people how to take an idea and create value with it.

In selling a product, education and service may be added to it to create a complete solution, thereby adding significant value.

Motivation gaps

Even is a person knows about an idea, it is another step to become motivated to adopt it.


One of the biggest influencers of adoption is what other people are saying and doing about the idea. This is particularly important for diffusion of ideas through a social population. Many of us look to social leaders and opinion-makers for the lead in adoption and fear standing out.

For marketers this makes social proof a particularly useful principle in showing that other people 'like you' are adopting the product.


To adopt something we also need to see the benefits to us if we take it on. We usually ask 'What's in it for me?' for any change or something new. If the answer is 'not enough' then we will be less motivated to adopt the idea.

In sales, features and benefits is a common concern and how these are presented is a key part of the selling process.


An underlying practicality in decision is in the cost that is incurred. Cost is not only financial, it can be in time taken, stress and social effects. Decisions are often a 'cost-benefit' balance, where we trade the positives and negatives about adoption.

In sales and marketing, pricing is something of a black art, and price wars are generally avoided if possible. In product development and service design, usability and experience is key.

See also



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