Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“I Have Seen the Future and It’s Square.” Also Comes with Its Own Missionaries.

Square is the simplest way to accept credit cards. It’s easy to use and comes with a free credit card reader for your phone or iPad. Sign up is quick. When you swipe cards with Square there is just one fee: 2.75%. No complicated contracts, monthly fees, or merchant account.

Fifty words – and a straight-to-the-point picture – make the USP behind Square brand mobile payments as clear as day. Yet because I don’t work with credit card payments I wasn’t immediately aware of the power of this idea that comes from the company headed by Jack Dorsey, who was also the founder of Twitter.

It sure has power, along with key appeal points that have created a dedicated band of missionaries for the new system: convenience and cost containment.

I looked Square in the face at a lavender festival in Blanco, TX. I wanted to purchase some panoramic photography greeting cards from Revealing Light Photography’s Bill Brockmeier, working from one of the many small artists’ booths there. Nice cards. I asked if he took the American Express card; that’s when Brockmeier pulled the Square card reader out of its pouch and attached it to his iPhone.

Transacting – my AMEX, his reader and iPhone, photographing me holding the cards for the receipt, my signing the iPhone screen – took about four minutes. Another 25 minutes passed in the presentation of the whole micro-retailer concept between Brockmeier and me.

Brockmeier is a convert to Square benefits – one of its righteous missionaries for maximum convenience and lower transaction processing fees; much lower than could be obtained with any merchant bank-card program. There’s complete transparency, too: the cost-per-transaction rate is a major selling point featured on the Square website: 2.75% per swipe. You better believe that the app itself is free.

Square has been featured in so many “Best of” lists and write-ups that the only excuse I can make for not having been aware of it sooner is that I’m not a retailer.

It is precisely this small-retail enabling power that is such a game-changer, in my opinion. Its concise, benefit-driven narrative makes it easy for people like Brockmeier to proselytize for new believers. Founder Dorsey has already been credited for fine-shaping Square’s go-to-market story: “Everything we do here is design,” he’s noted as saying in a TechCrunch piece. “It is about the importance of telling good stories through your products and editing them down to their core narrative.”

A good story makes for a good brand; plus makes for easier fund-raising: Square has just finished raising $100 million in new financing. VCs believe in it, too.

PS: The difference between WOM and mission work is probably passion. Thanks and a tip of the marketing mob-cap to Bill Brockmeier for the passionate marketing missionary experience.


SoTex Bill said...

Hello Richard! Your article here captures our transaction/conversation in Blanco quite well. I think you're right— I AM a Square missionary, though I hadn't really thought about it that way before.

Also, you mentioned: "...the only excuse I can make for not having been aware of it sooner is that I’m not a retailer." Just to clarify this point, SquareUp actually makes their technology and service available to private parties. This is one of the amazing benefits that The Square now makes possible: never before was a private person able to receive payments by credit card, and now they can. If you go to, you will see that you can either click on setting up a business account, OR a personal account. Makes a simple way of dividing up a restaurant bill among a half-dozen friends, or easily taking a credit card payment for that used guitar you are selling through craigslist...

But there I go being a "righteous missionary" again! Too bad I can't get a piece of this action (financially), as I would now be a rich man.

Bill Brockmeier

CRose said...

O. M. G.! This is huge! Thanks for posting this! (and now off to cancel my merchant account with all its fees and hassles and to sign up for this...)