Sometimes, competitors hand you a gift.
Years ago, one of our competitors in the photo software business used an antiquated hardware ‘dongle’ to prove to the software that you had the right to use it.
We knew their users *hated* the dongle. It plugged into the printer port, which caused printer problems. It kept the business owner from using the software from home, or it required a return trip to the office to get the dongle if you went home without it. Worse, you had to return home to get it if you forgot to take it to the office in the morning after doing a little work at home. In some way, it was a subtle reminder that they didn’t trust their paying customers and/or weren’t willing or able to find a better way to manage licenses.
We decided it was time to make an issue of it at the next trade show, so we came up with an irresistible, advance notice competitive upgrade offer to users of the dongle-controlled software who would be attending that show.
There was only one catch: You had to give us the dongle.
We wanted the dongle for several reasons:
- We didn’t want them using both programs.
- We didn’t want them giving the dongle away. We wanted it off the market. Forever.
- We wanted to get people talking (we did something almost every year to stir the pot).
We decided to use the dongles in our booth, but not to run their software.
Sitting on top of an eye-level pedestal at the front of our booth…was a fishbowl half-full of dongles.