A buddy of mine (Scott) has built a nice software service for fishing guides. He is a Charter Fishing Captain himself and also a CPA – so he has a great story and reason for creating this business. Fishing guides use his service to manage their clients and trips – and also to keep track of trip revenue and guide expenses. It’s a great service – a simple app for a niche market developed by a guy who knows the business. It’s not a huge market but big enough for him to turn it into a nice business for himself and likely a few others. Since that’s the case – of course he has some competition…
Scott recently sent out an email blast to a list of fishing guides. One of the guides on the list (that received the email) responded and asked how the service was different from a competitor’s. Turns out this guy uses the competitor’s service and was curious. The guy seemed somewhat irritated that he received the email maybe because in his mind he had already found a solution or maybe he was just having a bad day. Who knows.
So Scott forwarded it to me and asked if I have any advice for a response. The other company that this guy uses was a competitor Scott was not real familiar with and I think he was caught off a guard a bit and was curious if I would share how I might respond in this situation. I’ve been advising Scott from time to time over the last year as he had been building the service – just because his business model is so similar to ours and he is a buddy.
My first comment was that clearly this guy is intrigued in some way since he has a solution already – but still took the time to respond and ask. Something made him respond – maybe he is not totally happy with the service he’s chosen or maybe it was actually someone who works for the competition. Either way – I told Scott it was an opportunity to tell his story. I suggested he just be honest, tell the guy exactly why he created it and what he hopes to do for his customers – and what it is already doing and even share some guide names if possible. Chances are this guy was not going to switch to Scott’s service – so getting into features and pricing was not likely going to matter. Maybe price would – but who wants to start a business with passion and come out of the gate competing only on price. Yuck.
What I thought would make a bigger impact on this guy was to hear about a passionate fishing guide who could not find the right solution to help him manage his clients and fishing trips – so he built one. Period. Leave it at that. Ignore the competition. Don’t mention them – just tell the story. I also told Scott to make sure he also let this guy know he is thrilled he has moved from paper based bookings to a web based service – no matter who he has chosen. He is fishing guide who clearly sees a solution like Scott’s as being valuable enough to buy. A solution that will help his business. That’s huge. This guy needs to talk about Scott’s business – customer or not. This guy needs to mention Scott’s service at the dock after a day on the water when he is talking to his guide buddies. So, rather than Scott responding with a typical response someone might get from a paranoid company that is worried about the competition – I told him to just be honest. Be honest, tell your really cool story and wish him well with his current solution. Share a link to learn more about features if that’s what he wants to know – but he has to hear the story. People love a great story, especially if it resonates with them – like this story will. If he doesn’t read it, fine – he is not low hanging fruit anyway. If he does read it, cool, he will remember the story and likely mention it to someone later this week on the water.
So Scott took my advice and did just that…he told his story, explained why he built it and how he expects it to help make the lives of fishing guides easier. He ignored the competition (which made him sound more confident in his service) and because he did and because he was honest and passionate – I bet he hears from this fishing guide again soon.
Tell your story – it is definitely the one thing the competition can’t build.