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众筹成为品牌营销的新形态

众筹是2013年最热门的话题之一,这股热潮并非空穴来风。

在一个协同经济体中,众筹帮助世界上成千上万的人来实现他们的梦想--有想从投资者那里获得作品赞助的艺术家,有寻求课堂资料的教师,再到努力获得新项目启动资金的企业家。投资和顾客信任为梦想插上了翅膀。

众筹行业报告早已预计整个市场规模会从2012年的27亿美元增长到2013年的51亿美元。像飞利浦、达美乐、现代汽车和华纳兄弟这样的大品牌也运作众筹项目,这再次强调了众筹领域的强大。

福布斯杂志的一篇文章把众筹分成了两类:以捐赠为基础的(众筹的起源)和最近新兴的以投资为基础的众筹。后一种的集资方式已经为各种规模的公司企业带来了巨大的改变。随着经济体之间协作的加强,以投资为基础的众筹还会一直发展下去。

已经有很多教你如何进行众筹项目的文章,但是这次我想把重点放在众筹项目能够为创业者、企业、品牌带来哪些市场营销上的好处。

在众多成功的众筹集资案例中,即将被搬上银幕的Veronica Mars就是其中之一。这部电影以2007年被取消的同名电视系列剧为基础。电影的制片人通过粉丝和支持者寻求资金。他们从91585人那里募集到了570万美金(最初的募集目标只有200万美金)。这是91585个在电影开拍之前就已经参与其中的品牌代言人啊!他们可以通过自己的社交平台或者口口相传的方式来分享关于电影的信息,让接受品牌信息的人群更广。而且,至少这些人会在电影拍出来之后花钱去观看。

以前,公司只有在产品或者服务准备推向市场之际才会与顾客进行沟通。众筹已经完全改变了这种理论:企业、艺术家、创业者还有品牌可以在产品成型之前就直接向受众推销。而且众筹是一种"拉动"而不是"推动"的策略,它确保消费者的兴趣和参与度,同时给予创业者对自身产品或服务需求的信心。

为你的策略预先制定计划

考虑众筹的公司和创业者应该在产品和服务推出之前充分考虑如何解决市场营销、消费者忠诚度和众筹参与策略等问题。如果你有91585个人参与到你的项目中,你要如何和他们沟通?你拥有什么样的数据获取和管理系统来和这些人保持持续的交流,你又如何回报他们对你项目的忠诚?

这就要仰仗社交媒体和数码科技了。社交平台的广泛接受度让许多公司都选择了Facebook,WordPress,Twitter,Pinterest,LinkedIn,Instagram和Google+,而不是传统的客户关系管理、市场调研和数据管理系统。

尽管大公司可以继续依靠传统的市场调研和产品开发,众筹对于预算有限的中小型企业来说是一个很好的选择。社交媒体平台对培养品牌的支持者也至关重要,他们能够为产品或服务的发展提供持续的支持和帮助。

众筹对营销的另一好处就是项目的灵活性。众筹项目可以根据投资群体的反应实时进行适应性调整和改变。例如,如果比起Facebook来说人们更加喜欢用Twitter,那么你就知道你的核心客户在哪儿。相应地,你可以花时间和预算建立一个相关内容的日程表。

众筹也是一个有力的市场调研工具,能够帮助创业者锁定准确的市场需求量。如果人们连一块钱都不愿意出,那么创业者确实需要质疑产品或服务的品质,究竟能不能卖得出去?这样能够省下几千块的市场营销(以及产品推广)费用。相反地,如果产品或者服务有很强的市场需求,能够带来战略投资者或者并购的机会。最终的结果总是一样的,更低的市场营销费用、更少的风险。

众筹集资如此成功的一个重要原因就是我们喜欢那些和自己有相似想法的人,并且形成群体。过去,市场推销员会努力找到这些群体并且依据人口特征或者心理特征给他们分门别类。现在社交媒体和数码科技让人们能够以更加直接的交流方式更加容易地接触到这些群体。众筹在为企业筹集必要资金的同时就提供了这样的交流平台。

正如VeronicaMars的制片人RobThomas所言,无论穷富,每个人都应该尝试一下众筹集资。

给任何考虑众筹的人的几点提示:

  • 为你的众筹项目做好调查和准备
  • 要有吸引人的内容,彰显出你的品牌和产品的性格。
  • 不断向筹资运动的参与者和支持者提供更新信息,让强劲的势头持续下去。
  • 想办法寻求公司品牌的投资或是投资公司品牌的机会。
  • 当你寻求公司赞助的时候,想象一下你是为他们提供与成千上万的人联系的机会而不只是为自己寻找投资。

Crowdfunding was one of the most talked about topics in 2013, and with good reason.

In a collaborative economy, crowdfunding has helped hundreds of thousands around the world realise their vision – from artists looking for investors to bankroll their next work, teachers seeking materials for classrooms to entrepreneurs trying to secure startup capital for a new venture. Dreams have been given wings by way of funding and customer confidence.

The Crowdfunding Industry Report had projected the market to grow from $2.7 billion in 2012 to $5.1 billion in 2013. The fact that big brands such as Philip’s, Dominos, Hyundai and Warner Brothers have run crowdfunding campaigns is further reiteration of the strength of this space.

A Forbes article breaks down crowdfunding into two types: donation based (the birth of crowdfunding) and the more recent one of investment crowdfunding. It is the latter model that has been changing the shape of businesses of all sizes. And, in an economy that is getting more collaborative every day, investment crowdfunding will be the way forward.

Much has been written on how to crowdfund a campaign, but I’d like to focus on the marketing benefits of a crowdfunding campaign to entrepreneurs, businesses and brands at large.

Amongst the many crowdfunding success stories is the soon to be made movie Veronica Mars, based on the popular TV series of the same name that was cancelled in 2007. The producers of the film went to fans and supporters to get funding. They raised $5.7 million (against a target of $2 million) from 91,585 people. That’s 91,585 brand ambassadors who have engaged with the film before it has been produced! It is that many people who might have shared information via their digital platforms and word-of-mouth; extending the brand beyond its initial target. And, at least, that many people who will pay to watch the movie when it comes out.

Traditionally, businesses have engaged with customers after the product or service is ready to market. Crowdfunding has turned this theory on its head by giving businesses, artists, entrepreneurs and brands the ability to market directly to customers well before it launches. And, as crowdfunding is a pull strategy rather than push, it ensures an avid interest and engagement from customers – giving entrepreneurs sales confidence in their product or service.

Pre-plan your strategy

Businesses and entrepreneurs considering crowdfunding should be prepared to tackle marketing, customer loyalty and engagement strategies well in advance of product or service launch. If you have 91,585 people engaging with your brand, how will you communicate with them? What data capture and management systems do you have in place to consistently communicate with people engaging with your brand and how are you rewarding their loyalty?

Herein lies the beauty of social media and digital technologies. The wide acceptance of social media platforms has translated to a substantial number of businesses choosing Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+ over CRM, market research and data management systems.

While large companies will continue to spend on traditional market research and product development, crowdfunding is a good alternative for small to medium sized businesses with budget constraints. Social media platforms are also pivotal in creating brand advocates who can assist in ongoing product/service development.

The other marketing benefit of crowdfunding is campaign flexibility. Crowdfunded campaigns can be adapted, scaled and changed almost real time depending on the feedback from funding public. For example, if people engage more on Twitter than Facebook, you know that’s where your core target audience lies. Accordingly, you can allocate time and budgets into building a relevant content calendar.

Crowdfunding also acts as a strong market research tool by giving entrepreneurs the ability to accurately assess demand. If people are not interested in paying even $1 towards funding, entrepreneurs need to question the validity of the product or service and its ability to sell. That’s thousands of dollars of marketing (and product development) dollars saved right there. Alternatively, if the product or service has strong demand, it creates conversation starters for strategy partnerships and acquisition opportunities. The end results are always the same – lower market research costs and in turn, mitigation of risks.

One of the main reasons crowdfunding has become so successful is because we as humans like to associate with like minded people and form communities. In the past, marketers and sales people would try to identify these communities and categorise them demographically or pyschographically. Now, social media and digital technologies enable quicker access to these communities through a more direct channel of communication. Crowdfunding provides a pathway to do so while generating much needed funds for the business.

As Rob Thomas, producer of Veronica Mars said, everyone should give crowdfunding a shot, regardless of their personal wealth.

Quick tips for anyone considering crowdfunding:

  • Research and prepare for your campaign.
  • Have engaging content that shows your brand or product’s personality.
  • Engage participants and supporters throughout the campaign with updates to keep the momentum going.
  • Create perks that corporate brands can invest in and/or become sponsors of.
  • When it comes to corporate sponsorship, think of it more as you giving the brand an opportunity to connect with thousands of people instead of you seeking funding alone.

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