Kickstarting Loyalty

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While listening to our favorite local public radio station this week, we heard a great interview with Kickstarter CEO and co-founder Yancey Strickler that got us thinking about the future of product innovation. For those of you unfamiliar with the website, Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform where industrious and creative individuals or groups can pitch their idea to the community of “backers” and ask for contribution pledges for their project in exchange for self-specified rewards. Over the past five years, Kickstarter has received over a billion dollars in pledges from over 5.7 million people, and we’ve already seen a handful of blockbuster hits rise from the Kickstarter community:

The Pebble E-Watch kick-started the iWatch craze back in 2012 with the $10 million it raised from an initial prototype.

The Pebble E-Watch kick-started the iWatch craze back in 2012 with the $10 million it raised from an initial prototype.

Last year, fans of Veronica Mars pledged over $5.5 Million to have the cult TV show made into a feature film by Warner Brothers.

Last year, fans of Veronica Mars pledged over $5.5 Million to have the cult TV show made into a feature film by Warner Brothers.

The entire 20 minute conversation can be found over on KCRW, but for today’s post we we’re most interested in Strickler’s passion for letting creators and their backers decide what deserves to be created and introduced into the world. We here at Bovitz also believe that companies, not just garage tinkerers and passion projects, should embrace this form of co-creation. Why spend millions on tooling, manufacturing, shipping, and distribution before finding out whether or not you’ve got a hit on your hands? This type of preselling and transparency can boost your bottom line and create a deeper connection with your consumers.

Engaging with your fans and consumers early on not only helps your brand iterate, pivot, and refine prior to launch, but it helps build highly desirable stories for your customers to tell their friends and family. This Presumer phenomenon is growing quickly, and the brands that know how to leverage pent up consumer demand for genuine stories and exclusivity beyond price can create loyal not just consumers, but co-owners.

Even McDonalds is mixing it up with consumers with its Build Your Own Burger test restaurants here in the US and its MyBurger burger building competition in the UK. Both projects highlight the chain’s desire to empower consumers and let them take greater ownership in the meal they’re eating.

In summary, any brand seeking to stay relevant should consider adopting at least some of following tactics:

  1. Bring the consumers into the fold earlier while developing projects
  2. Promote and evangelize your brand's development story along the way
  3. Relax the notion that your idea has to be “just right” before consumers see anything; prototypes are good thing