The tech start-up that found its customer voice
Product: Watertight Marketing book and workbooks, Touchpoint Leak Assessment, Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant.
Client: Sheila Cahill, Co-founder, regpointofsale.com
“The Watertight Marketing approach really has given us clarity and a structured approach. As non marketers it all seemed like a scary process at first. We could easily have spent time and energy doing the wrong thing. The smaller you are, the less you can afford to do that.”
Reg is an iPad app and hardware package designed for independent retailers. It’s an intuitive and easy way to turn an iPad into a powerful and very user friendly point of sale system. With its ease of use and taking up minimal space, it’s been an early hit with style conscious cafés and barbers.
Although it replaces the traditional till, Reg is far more than a sleek looking upgrade. It enables business owners to keep track of their business from their iPad. As well as taking multiple payment types it tracks stock levels, emails customer receipts and takes up far less counter space.
The founders, Thomas Bibby and Sheila Cahill were Apple fans who initially provided their first iPad solution as a favour to a friend launching a new cafe. Investigating the options for cash registers, they felt the iPad had the potential to host an easy to use solution. Such was the interest (and admiring glances from other retailers) that in a very short time they were approached for more. Following a number of installations, the Reg app was launched in September 2014.
How Watertight Marketing helped
Like many small business owners with an idea that came about almost by accident, neither Thomas or Sheila has any previous marketing experience when they launched Reg. However, this didn’t put them off taking Reg to market as Sheila, armed with belief and enthusiasm, set about cold calling potential customers. But even with a receptive market it was slow progress.
Slightly cynical about the role of marketing, Sheila’s early experiences didn’t help change her perceptions. “I’d been going to networking meetings and you’d hear people say have a go at everything, no one knows what really works! I could see that was a recipe for disaster and, as a small business, we couldn’t take that risk. What I really needed was a structure.”
A chance conversation with family friend suggested a book called ‘Watertight Marketing’ and a chat with Accredited Consultant Peter Baynes. On reading the book, Sheila immediately identified with the way it was structured around the buyer. “I really liked the Watertight Marketing process, it gave me that framework I needed as a non-marketer and really helped me prioritise.”
Sheila has now been working with Peter since January 2016, supplementing the free workbooks with a little bit of consulting and the vault of video tutorials in the Whiteboard. It’s still early days but it has quickly given Reg the benefit of an external point of view and the ability to focus on the activities that really mattered.
So what actions did they take?
With identifying the priorities in mind, the first exercise was to do a Touchpoint Leak Assessment based around the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks – a diagnostic process that would identify the areas where they were potentially leaking profit and suggest a prioritised action plan for fixing them.
They also looked at the Foundation Leaks – issues that, as the names suggests, can really affect the foundations of a business. Surprisingly, for a business that was quickly acquiring a string of new clients, Reg were heading towards one of the most damaging mistakes a business can make.
Leak #14 – The wrong type of work
Having developed a successful product that was perfect for smaller businesses that only needed one till and very little support, Reg found themselves responding to requests for multi iPad networks. It was possible – but it was also far more complex and required additional support which was a real drain on their resources. The wrong kind of work is a classic issue in growing businesses – taking on work which is not quite the right fit, which then takes your full focus – at the expense of the work you’d really rather be doing. The long term risk is that you become known for work you really don’t want to do.
Taking the advice of Peter Baynes, Reg decided to focus on what they were best known for. They enjoyed a great reputation with the smaller business – and that became their focus. As Sheila explains “If it wasn’t for the guidance of Peter, who also had experience in EPOS systems, we would have been paralysed as a business. We really needed to be challenged to find the clarity and concentrate on what we did best – and I’m glad we were.”
- Related post: Should you be saying ‘no’ to new business?
Leak #1 – Forgotten Customers
One of the dangers of doing the wrong kind of work is that you lose touch with the customers who are the real backbone of your business as it grows. What’s more, they are your best advocates.
So Reg made it a priority to call in on existing customers for a progress update – and it was a very useful exercise, as Sheila recalls “we’d drop in on existing customers and we found they had ideas – but they weren’t sure how to let us know. Now we have a regular process for keeping in touch and the great benefit is we’ve been able to gather some great testimonials along the way – and that’s really helped with our messaging. We are now able to tell our story through our customers – the bars, cafes and barbers we want to talk to can see people exactly like them – already working with us.”
- Related post: How to make sure your customers don’t feel forgotten
Leak #13 – No emotional impact
Working on their messaging Reg realised that, as technical people they had concentrated too much on this. As Sheila explains “Our site might as well have said ‘We do Tech’ – it didn’t have the emotional connection that people need to identify with what matters to them – or what they might have been feeling. Peter suggested we focus on creating messages first, before we did anything else with our marketing. His advice was to set the tone and, now that we have, I think it resonates far better. Again, this has helped us prioritise and we have greater clarity of who our customers are – with clear messages developed for each type of customer.”
Looking back, Sheila reflects that the breakthrough for Reg wasn’t the discovery of a new and potentially bigger market – it was the realisation that they were actually best suited to working with similar customers to the ones they already had. This came as a huge relief. “We could have been pulled in all directions and in so doing, stretched ourselves and put our reputation and the business at risk. We realised that we should play to our strengths. We have a great product for the independent retailer and we can see many additional opportunities without taking on what would have been the wrong kind of work for us.”
Reg are feeling very confident. As Sheila explains… “as well as deepening our relationships with existing customers we are focussed on a new independent sector with great potential – and we have the clarity and messaging to really get this right. The book has been really helpful but we couldn’t have got this far without Peter’s guidance – we would have been overwhelmed. He’s really helped to prioritise the next steps to keep us moving.”
Peter Baynes, the Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant who guided Reg through this process, added “Working with Sheila and Thomas has been a delight. They are obviously passionate about helping small businesses just like them and so I saw my job to make sure they focus their energies on the right things to ensure continued success. Sheila has made a concerted effort to spend time working on the business and has used the Watertight Marketing workbooks and videos to great effect. It is so satisfying to see how my input and the Watertight methodology has helped change their thinking and their approach.”
© Watertight Marketing Ltd
This marketing case study was prepared by Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant – Ben Wheeler.