Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can be great tools for launching a new business or a new product. While their main purpose – fundraising – has obvious uses for small businesses, you can also use them as a marketing tool.
By properly positioning your crowdfunding campaign as an interesting business tactic, a way for customers to shape future products, or a means to show interest in your new business or service, you can create a publicity campaign to run parallel to your fundraising campaign.
The team behind Pebble’s smartwatches provided an excellent example of this strategy. Their first fundraising campaign became the most funded campaign on Kickstarter at the time. And three years later, they blew that record out of the water, quickly raising millions of dollars.
But in those three years since their first Kickstarter, Pebble had grown into a large company, their smartwatches carried at major retailers like Target and Best Buy. So, many questioned, why would an already successful company go back to Kickstarter for the launch of their Pebble Time watch?
Well, as Wired reports, “The crowdfunding service has become a place where companies that are already widely embraced go to market themselves and drum up excitement for new products.”
Even Kickstarter’s CEO recognized that “the Pebble Time project [showed] that the real power and utility of our platform is not in money, it’s in community and distribution.”
Other companies have found similar success by creatively launching their Kickstarters as both fundraising and profile-raising campaigns. The workout apparel company IAMMAI partnered with Charity Miles to create a branding partnership and increase the reach of their campaign.
Entrepreneur Ryan Grepper struggled to fund his Coolest Cooler until he pitched personalized press releases to niche blogs, and used each post to show he was gaining traction as he pitched to bigger and bigger outlets. Grepper and the Coolest Cooler became one of the most funded campaigns of all time and even landed a segment on the Today Show.
You can also turn your funders into part of your publicity team. If you are launching a product or service where your backers can serve as beta testers, their feedback can easily be turned into promotional content and a social media conversation.
Encourage your funders and testers to share their thoughts on social media with a hashtag that you can search through to monitor for feedback. Not only do you get real-time insight into how your product is performing you also have positive reviews you can retweet or share on your own social media platforms.
Having your backers sharing that feedback on social media also introduces their followers and networks to your product, building a broader audience for your announcements and releases.
While Kickstarter is known as a funding incubator for new businesses, there are many ways that existing small businesses can tap into the power of crowds – for funding and more. If you would like more information on this topic, please contact us at www.BuddinghAssociates.com.
David S. Buddingh is founder and partner in Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact him at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.