While the technology of additive manufacturing (3d printing) is at the foundation of the 3rd industrial revolution, other social, political, economic, and technical changes are fueling this disruption in more surprising ways.
Kickstarter (@kickstarter), launched only four years ago, serves as a crowd-funding site where those looking to start a project can find those willing to fund it. Unlike micro-loans or micro-investments, where the relationship is one of financial stakeholder, the backers of Kickstarter projects receive the final product and/or some form of thank you like a postcard or tee shirt for their support.
The traditional manufacturing model is build, retail/market, sell/fund, and finally deliver. Kickstarter reorders the process to be more like a service transaction – market, fund, build, deliver. You don’t “buy” a completed album; you back the production of it with the promise to receive a copy once it is completed.
While the reorder eliminates the need to guess what demand will be since orders precede the build, the greater impact is the relationship between the backers and the “starter”. The service model lengthens and tightens the relationship, requiring strong communications, regular updates, and trust. This increased intimacy makes all involved members of a community for (at least) the duration of the project. How is your experience marketing doing when measured against these criteria?
Kickstarter is possibly the ultimate in “people to people” marketing – the backing is truly of the person(s) behind the project. This “person-alization” of the project brings a new dynamic to the buying decision. Emotions such as sympathy, pride, exclusivity, charity, and association are deepened, and deeper, than anything a faceless company might achieve even with the most effective social media campaign.
Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) raised over $1,000,000 from 25,000 backer (ranging from $1 to $10,000 each) for an album, book, and gallery tour. Her project video (each project has one) reflects the “person-alization” aspect of the project, and the number of backers with their 850+ comments shows the extent of the community formed. [Warning: there are a few words within the video and comments that some might take offense with.]
Unfortunately, Kickstarter is starting to see failed projects of significant size – either where the “starter” was fraudulent from the beginning, or not able to complete the project despite using some/all of the backing.
One example, ZionEyez, succeeded in scamming $344,000 from over 2,100 backers. Others, such as Solid Watch, run months behind, upsetting the backer community. Different emotions come to the surface at these times. [Full disclosure: I am a backer of the Solid Watch project.]
While backing projects can be risky, Kickstarter represents a unique way to market, build community, measure demand, and source funds. Imagine asking a bank for a loan to produce an album on spec, it’s unlikely they would back the project. Ask the Kickstarter community to pre order DVDs, or support the project with a few dollars in exchange for tee shirts signed with thank you messages from the band, and you not only raise the funds needed, but build a following at the same time. “Friends and Family” funding on a global scale.
Many projects are related to the arts including albums from bands, plays from actors, books from writers and animators. But some of the most funded become actual commercial successes including video games and technology. The top 10 projects have collected close to $25 million together and results in companies/product such as:
TikTok + Lunatik iPod Nano Strap From Minimal (@ScottWilsonID): “TikTok and LunaTik simply transform the iPod Nano into the world’s coolest multi-touch watches.” [Full disclosure: I am a backer of this project.]
E-Pebble from Pebble Technology: “Pebble is the first watch built for the 21st century. It’s infinitely customizable, with beautiful downloadable watch faces and useful internet-connected apps.” [Full disclosure: I am a backer of this project.]
Is there room for a change in the development model of your marketing experience? Have, or can, you put a “face” to your marketing making it more “person-alized”? Some companies use mascots or celebrities – what do/can you use? Can you reorder the production process, or gauge interest on trial elements using lessons from this reordering of the order?
Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.
UPDATE: Thanks to
@jessicakausen for contributing an article from @Forbes asking “Is The Crowdfunding Bubble about to Burst?” Talks about topics such as the backlash towards kickstarter projects on a site called KickstarterSucks, which highlights projects “deemed ridiculous” by its two founders; and other possibly misguided uses of the format.