We are working on a service that endeavors essentially to provide an advertising forum for a certain class of goods and services whose providers we consider our key customers.
There are others working on similar ideas. However, we have certain marketing tactics that we believe will give us a significant competitive advantage if we are the first to utilise them.
Several of these essential tactics will be easier to develop with the cooperation of customers.
We are in the process of scheduling conversations with some of these customers who we are friendly with and it is occurring to us that in revealing key tactics, we take the risk that our secrets are revealed before we can place them in effect.
Although our initial contacts are friendly (though not close friends) they may also have been approached by our competitors or could be in the future. Given that we will not ask them to sign an NDA, how do we have a conversation with them but also keep these key aspects of our business plan under wraps?
We are taking any suggestions as these conversations are imminent.
You need to establish a core group of customers that you have built a strong relationship with and you trust. Until you are to that point your best bet is to keep the conversation focused on them. Talk to them about their problems and how they're dealing with those now. Find out what they like and don't like about their current situation. Be sure to understand how much of a pain they have and if it's big enough to pay for a solution. This way you can build the relationship and then come back to them when you are ready to show your solution. Many times asking an indirect question will get the best results. You can learn how they would react to your idea without having to tell them all about it.