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Pivoting from a banking service to the #1 choice tax app for freelancers and their accountants, achieving 10x partner sign up growth

  • Changing trajectory from a neo bank to a tax app
  • Gaining market share in a crowded space
  • Becoming the top-of mind solution for the target audience


Executing a product pivot in a noisy market

Back in 2021, Coconut came to a turning point in its business growth – pivoting its product from a neo-banking app to an app that helps freelancers and their accountants with their tax affairs. They were changing the way they served their market and that came with a new set of questions and positioning challenges:

  • How do you know what your audience really thinks and feels about the new offer?

  • How do you know how your audience behaves in this space?

  • How do you differentiate from competitors?

  • How do you compete with the status quo?

  • What do you say to your audience? How do you make them pay attention?

  • How do you become the product of choice?

To answer these questions, Coconut knew it needed to apply some strategic thinking to relearn its customers’ struggles, language and behaviours around tax. This would support a strong customer-focused approach to messaging and help Coconut stand out in a noisy market.



Start inside before you go outside

Here’s how we tackled the challenge together with the Coconut's founding team:

  • We spoke to the target audience and asked them the right questions.
    These honest, transparent and wide-ranging conversations were designed to uncover the specific language that freelancers use to describe their relationship with taxes and HMRC. Turns out, the sentiment was not the best – most freelancers felt overwhelmed and confused when it came to filing their reports. Then we repeated this exercise with their accountants to understand how Coconut could support them best.
  • We used the interviews to get to grips with freelancers’ current behaviours and frustrations so that Coconut could support them into better habits.
    Old-school Excel spreadsheets, shoe boxes full of receipts and over-reliance on memory are the norms for many self-employed professionals. Knowing these frustrations is crucial when framing a product as a new, behaviour-enhancing alternative.
  • We developed a new narrative and messaging framework.
    Branding is storytelling. So our final step was to craft a compelling narrative that would drive our audience to positive change – the change being to use Coconut! Following the tried-and-tested B2B Storyline framework, we focused on key narrative elements to ensure the messaging resonated with the target audience of freelancers and the self-employed. Here’s a short summary of the critical story elements we identified:

    • What is the biggest change that is happening in their world today?
      For freelancers, success is the biggest change maker. The stakes get higher as you get more successful – placing greater demands on time, work/life balance and organisational systems.
    • How does that change impact their professional lives for better or worse?
      Things go wrong with clients when you drop the ball, and that’s what freelancers dread the most. It’s their personal reputation on the line.
    • Who or what is the Villain that is causing all of these problems?
      We identified the dual villains of ever-increasing busyness and an attachment to the old ways of doing things, even though Excel spreadsheets and manual systems were doing more harm than good. When speaking to freelancers, it soon became clear that our villains were creating a sense of inertia. We knew that Coconut would need to create both an inspiring vision of the future and the sense of safety that comes from a clear process and simple steps.
    • What is the Promised Land that every freelancer is aspiring to get to?
      Simply, our freelancers aspired to spend less time worrying about money and tax and more time on serving clients.
    • What superpowers do they need to get there?
      To bring freelancers to the Promised Land, Coconut would give them a tax app that “just works,” with fast-and-easy set up, simple bookkeeping, automated bank feeds, fast digital invoicing, click-of-a-button tax preparation and more. The superpowers remove worry and give the audience the confidence to crack on with their business goals.



Remarkable business growth through powerful storytelling

Using the data collected from the in-depth interviews, Coconut was able to say the things that truly mattered to its audience. The result is a powerful story that focuses on their customers' struggles, needs and aspirations and frames the app as the ideal solution to the problem of filing freelancer taxes

Once Coconut had had its strategic fundamentals and story in place, G2M around it became so much easier.

  • Creating ads around the story
  • Updating the website, creating blog posts and other content
  • Building the sales assets for the team

Of course, Coconut has an incredible product that their customers love. But narrating the right story around it and building the solid marketing fundamentals has set Coconut up for remarkable success:

  • 10x growth from 10 to 100 Partner Practices, including two top 40 accounting firms
  • Accountant channel licences growing at 50% per month (Aug-Oct 2022)
  • B2B SaaS business model with profitable unit economics
  • Latest fundraising round oversubscribed by 210%

“From the outset, Lena brought strategic thinking to the positioning project. She had a number of well-defined points that we worked through diligently and quickly, which made it very clear what we needed to get done. That structure really enabled us to have a clearer view of where we needed to get to, and set the flywheels in motion to finalise all the aspects of our marketing strategy.”

Sam O’Connor, CEO & Co-Founder, Coconut

Sam O’Connor CEO & Co-Founder, Coconut