Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Della Hudson, business owner and mentor and coach to accountants, has been using Watertight to great success for many years. We talked to her about her experience of using and applying Watertight Thinking to two businesses. ​Interview by Rachael Wheatley, Watertight Business Thinking.


Rachael Wheatley: Thank you for joining me Della. Let’s kick off with the question: how did Watertight change your approach to marketing?

Della Hudson: Before Watertight, I really didn’t have a clue. I was just doing random stuff, hopefully some of the right stuff, but completely disorganised. Watertight gave me a methodology to follow to make the best use of my time and money.

Rachael Wheatley: What influence did it have on you personally?

Della Hudson: I like clear thinking. And it’s very clear thinking.

Rachael Wheatley: Once you read the book and started to use it, and understood the tools and the methodology, what resonated most?

Della Hudson: The thing I particularly like about Watertight is that the marketing journey carries on all the way through to looking after your existing clients. And I think that’s often overlooked as a small business. We don’t have a separate marketing department, so it’s making sure that it’s integral to everything that we do and all staff are on-board with it.

Rachael Wheatley: Can you share how you’ve applied the thinking or frameworks to your business?

Della Hudson: I use them all the time. I was going to say whenever I think of marketing, but also at times when I’m not particularly thinking of marketing. I’ve got the leaks up on my wall and I’ve got the activity planner. Every so often, I’ll go and update it and find out where I’ve got the gaps. I love the Touchpoint Leaks® that you just redo again and again, and turn your reds into ambers and your ambers into greens. It’s not promising overnight success. It’s just picking on the three worst and making a small difference. I wore out my first copy of Watertight. It’s a book that I often recommend to clients or even give them copies. It’s just so useful.

Rachael Wheatley: So what challenges or problems do you think Watertight helps to solve?

Della Hudson: It’s that clear framework for doing things. It takes you through from awareness all the way to customer retention, and everything in between. Making sure that you haven’t missed something along the way. I think quite often, we end up doing an awful lot on awareness, which is the hardest to measure, of course. I’m awful for not putting calls to action on my marketing content to support people along that journey. Watertight takes you through, step by step, where you should be putting the next step for your cats to get closer to your home so you can steal them. (To find out more about this analogy, watch this video)

Rachael Wheatley: What comes up regularly when we chat to people about Watertight is the clarity and the idea of laying a path to purchase and guiding customers through that.

Della Hudson: Yes, absolutely. Seeing it as a journey makes it so easy. I think so many marketing books promise overnight success or they appear to. And they are geared at much bigger businesses than mine. I know Watertight does apply to much bigger companies as well but it’s really good to apply it to a small business.

Rachael Wheatley: What do you think it’s enabled or equipped you to do that you might not have done otherwise?

Della Hudson: It helped me to put some decent, manageable marketing actions at every single step. But it also allowed me to easily outsource the actions to somebody who was able to sit on it day to day or week by week. Marketing is a whole company thing but there are certain bits that need a marketing person. Knowing about Watertight made it easy to brief and pass over to somebody else; if you’re clear on what you want in the first place, and why, an external supplier can then get on and deliver to that brief.

Rachael Wheatley: In a way it does talk to the same thing, because although they’re not in-house, they’re still part of the extended marketing team. And what you’re talking about is that you can brief them properly, because you have a really clear idea of what you want and some level of understanding of marketing. So that they can do their best work.

Della Hudson: Yes, and then there is sometimes an element of letting them make the decisions or recommendations as the experts. But I need to be clear on what I want, first. I feel although I don’t give as full a brief as a bigger business might, we have the conversation, and it is a two way conversation. Then when they come back with the questions, I’m clear on my answers.

Rachael Wheatley: It’s interesting. We’ve always maintained that even if a business owner or MD were working with an in-house marketing team, you still need to know enough about marketing to be able to manage that, effectively.  If you just delegate and say, off you go, do whatever you want, it’s not going to be connected with what you want the business to achieve.

Della Hudson: When we had some work done on the visual brand, I was quite clear on what I needed it to represent. So they were able to go away and come up fairly quickly with what I wanted. And it took one iteration. Prior to that, it could have been 99 iterations and I would still not be happy.

Rachael Wheatley: How have you extended Watertight thinking to your wider team in the business?

Della Hudson: It’s making sure that everybody knows every step so all our procedures have some of that customer care built into them. So we don’t have a separate marketing process as such, other than obvious things like the weekly top tips we send out; all our procedures include looking after people and what we need to do to provide the best service.

Rachael Wheatley: So at a high level, all staff have understood some of the key concepts like the journey, and where and how they support that.

Della Hudson: Yes, we’re trying to get them first to hear about us, then to come in and we look after them, and hopefully in doing that they’re happy to pay what we charge them! But it’s all about looking after them first.

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