How this startup locked in loyal customers

Influencer marketing to localise, customer targeting and brand positioning help this Aussie startup, Quad Lock, to build to $100m company

Rob Ward
Rob Ward

While many direct-to-consumer startups were out raising millions of dollars to recruit customers and build their brands, Rob Ward and Chris Peters were finding that solving a real customer problem gave them all the momentum they needed to build a global business.

Ward and Peters are the brains behind Quad Lock, a Melbourne-born company that developed an innovative method for securely attaching mobile devices bicycles, motorbikes and people.

The two got started in 2012 with a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their first product, which featured a low-profile twist-locking mechanism to attach an iPhone to a bicycle. That campaign gained 600 backers and was enough to demonstrate the latent need for a device that could let people securely mount or attach mobile devices when undertaking activities such as cycling and running.

Ward said the company’s initial strategy was to reach out to those people who were most likely to be early adopters based on their active lifestyles.

“We couldn’t afford to go out and build big brand campaigns or above-the-line campaigns, so part of the strategy was to just talk to the people who wanted to listen,” Ward told CMO. “We would work out who that perfect customer was, and then work out what most resonated with them, and tell them more and more about those key factors.

“We used the fact that we were solving a real problem to build the brand, so everything we did was around solving the problem. And we did that over and over again, in more creative ways. You could call it direct response marketing, and as we got better and better at it, we were building the brand while doing things that converted customers at mass and was profitable.”

It was this strategy that also enabled Quad Lock to quickly gain a foothold in multiple international markets.

“As we opened up in a country, the cost of acquisition was always super low at the start, but then, as we were there for a while, the cost of customer acquisition would start to rise,” Ward said. “So, we would open up more and more territories.”

Credit: Quadlock

Having established a beachhead in the cycling community, Quad Lock quickly expanded into other active lifestyle categories, such as running and motorbiking. Each new group of early adopters added to the total pool of customers, which created a ready market for additional products which also used the twist-lock system, such as desktop stands and chargers – effectively ‘locking in’ a loyal customer base.

“Once they get involved in the brand, they realise we do other mounts, and tripod adaptors, and all these other products,” Ward said. “We have ‘stickiness’ which is built into what we do.”

Influencer and brand marketing approach

Another strategy contributing to Quad Lock’s success has been its use of influencer marketing within each new market, which Ward said has helped it achieve a ‘local’ feel. Influencers include Kenyan/British road racing cyclist and  4-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome, Australian off-road and enduro motorcycle racing world champion, Toby Price, and British actor and motorcycling enthusiast, Charley Boorman. 

“A lot of those influencers were early adopters that found the product,” Ward said.

He said the company also made the conscious decision to not be viewed as a consumer electronics brand, as so many smartphone accessory makers have been. Ward said this has been critical for building recognition within each of its customer communities – especially as it has expanded its distribution through physical retailers, such as 99 Bikes.

“What we are is a cycling brand, or a motorcycling brand, or a running brand, and what we do is talk to the customer through their passion category,” Ward said. “You know you are buying one of the best things that made for your specific activity. Our new tag line is ‘every day, every adventure’, and we lean on everyday adventure, because that is really what sets us apart.”

The result is Quad lock is much more now they just a digital brand and has become active within the broader communities it sells to.

“We don’t just want to be a brand on Instagram trying to sell to all the motorcyclists, we want to be at all the motorcycle shows,” Ward said. “We want to be talking with the customers and supporting their heroes and showing up.”

Today, Quad Lock is a $100 million annual revenue business with customers in more than 100 countries. But Ward said the company is only scratching the surface of its long-term potential.

“We’re in a room blowing up a balloon, but the room keeps getting bigger,” he said. “The smartphone is just getting more and more important and becoming a tool more than just a phone, and we are expanding our product offering.

“We want to be where our customers are, and we have a whole lot more strategy we are rolling out around that.”

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