Branding and marketing have always been about affinity – for a company, a product or service. People like to align with companies who stand for the ethics or attitudes they value in themselves. Those brands that present authentic and relevant experiences directly to people who are interested have a competitive advantage in today’s information saturated landscape. Large corporations and small companies both understand the marketing power of their brands as their employees and customers do more and more to influence their brand development and corporate personality.
The fact is, we are each an intrinsic part of where we work and where we choose to do business. We shape a brand and it shapes us. As marketing has become more fluid and focused on online strategies, many industries have been changed forever. Retail, banking, higher education, music, marketing – the traditional businesses have been forced to find ways to be more mobile, more 24/7 and more creative in finding their customers.
Let your audience decide the value
So it’s no surprise that this change has spilled over into investing and fundraising. People and companies are having success crowdsourcing or crowdfunding their products, services and more on sites like Kickstarter.com and Patreon.com (supporter of the arts). This is a classic affinity model for early adopters, people who want to see their favorite small business or micro business do well, or people who want to be a part of innovation or art in action. It’s both exciting and fulfilling.
It makes sense that the people and businesses that have success crowdfunding their ideas are the ones who understand who their audience is and what they want. They are authentic and offer something of value or a unique experience for the contribution of a few dollars. The best ones offer a better quality experience or product than what’s available on the market. See this Forbes article on 7 tips for crowdfunding success: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amadoudiallo/2014/01/24/crowdfunding-secrets-7-tips-for-kickstarter-success/
Having a personal impact
In a personal example of why crowdfunding works, Danette tells us about her experience trying to find a solar charger to take on a camping trip. She did her research and tried several on the market that left her without power. Then she found one that appears to have solved the problems of the others:
“…reading my weekly news magazine, I saw the answer. In the section titled “Innovation of the week” was a story about a new portable solar charger being developed and crowdsourced by a startup company. I went to Kickstarter to learn more. I watched the company’s 2.5 minute video and learned how their product addressed all the issues I was having with other chargers I tried. I also read through dozens of posts by the products creators about how things were coming together with the prototype. I immediately decided to support the company, with the promise of receiving my solar charger if they raised the necessary funds to go to production. If they don’t, I’m out nothing.”
This illustrates the best way to have success on Kickstarter or other crowdfunding sites. They solved a real problem, did their homework and showed it to the investors, they had a compelling pitch and have the opportunity to learn something from their audience once the product is delivered.
Crowdfunding seems to be particularly good for non-traditional businesses, start ups or people in careers that might present challenges in receiving traditional loans or funding (like music and the arts). And like other brand marketing, you have to do something better than what’s being done, present your product or yourself in an authentic way and make people feel good about their decision to support you. A win-win situation compels success. To quote Danette, “That is powerful marketing. And there’s nothing traditional about it.”