Cancellation insurance

I’m going to be late for my boat. I’ve been waiting for this bus for about an hour; there should have been 2 to have gone by us by now.

Still, the view out over the Agean sea is amazing, and how much can you expect of the Santorini bus system anyhow?

As I sit in the hot Greek summer sunshine my mind wanders to startups, and tries to tie this experience back to my own work on Seneca.io (smart SaaS board reporting).

As I see it there are a number of issues here: 1. I’ve expected too much from the service 2. I’ve over invested. I could have walked to Fira twice by now. Each minute more I wait I raise the chances that I’ll miss my boat 3. A few taxi’s have passed by aleady - but they’re expensive for the distance I need to cover to the port.

Lessons for startup marketeers

Right now my mind is tieing this all back to marketing. Remember: You are not your feature set.

I read this great quote the other week, which goes:

“People don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” Dr. Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School

I need to get to the port so I can catch my ferry back to Athens. Obviously the bus is the cheapest way to reasonably do this (walking is almost impossible given the cliffs).

A bus will cost me about 4EUR, which is a reasonably good deal. A taxi, on the other hand, is 5x as expensive, and will cost me 20EUR.

It’s tempting to think of that 20EUR as me paying to hire a driver, his car and petrol, to drive me the ~10km distance to the port. But to me the customer, right now, standing in a hot bus shelter for the bus that never comes, that’s selling it short.

That 20EUR is really my cancellation insurance. It’s a 16EUR premium over the bus - which may never come - to get me to the port, so I can catch my pre-paid 50EUR ferry back to Athens, so I can check into my hotel, and catch tomorrows £100 flight back to London. And instead of sweating it out in a hot bus stop, I can sit under an umbrella with a cold Mythos beer, relaxed and browsing HN.

And that’s money well spent.

So remember: you’re selling the hole, not the drill.