Last week, my first Kickstarter project ended successfully. I was funded 115% of my goal, which means I raised $694 and my goal was $600. Not bad.
The idea here was twofold:
- First, I wanted to raise a few bucks to print a batch of custom t-shirts, but without taking on a personal risk. As noted, mission accomplished.
- Second, I wanted to have the experience of running a Kickstarter project. All too often, people talk about stuff without really knowing how it works. I’d heard a lot of about crowdfunding, how it relates to marketing, and figured it might make sense to know how it actually worked. Again, mission accomplished.
Setting It Up
As I mentioned in my first Kickstarter post, the setup process took longer than expected. I wanted to be running a few days earlier, but my project was initially rejected. It took me a day or so to appeal and get approved. Plus, there are the financial requirements, which took some time with the bank and Amazon.com.
Once I got started, the Kickstarter contributions surged. Within the first 48 hours, I’d almost completed my funding. Between several friends and a couple of generous benefactors, I was almost ready to retire to a beach in Miami.
Almost. Read more
A few hours ago, I launched my first Kickstarter campaign and peered into the inevitable future of commercial creativity.
First off, for those of you not familiar, Kickstarter is a “crowdfunding” platform. If you have something you want to make, you can create a project and people can contribute money to help you reach your goals. In return, they earn “rewards,” which vary from practical to unusual.
My Kickstarter campaign is fairly straightforward. I’d like to print T-shirts, but I can’t afford the initial outlay of cash to the printer. Ordinarily, I’d have to pay the printer before the actual shirts are sold. If I don’t sell enough shirts, I can lose money.
So how does Kickstarter help me? In this case, I get people to pledge financial support (everything from $1 to $100). In exchange, they get items of value, including my “Girls Like Comics Too” shirt. Since I am also an occasional author, I’ll sign copies of my work, including comic books and books I’ve published.
Part of the fun is creating these Kickstarter rewards. You want to incentivize people to support you, so you end up giving away a lot of value-added stuff to get backers. In my case, the value of the stuff is up to 50% higher than the investment people are making. It’s a crazy little system, but it seems to work.
There are Kickstarter campaigns for lots of special interests, including comics, movies, music, photography, fashion, technology, and more. Read more
This was a busy year for me in terms of presentations and appearances. Content marketing has become a hot topic, so these days I’m out there talking about some of the how-to elements of getting started.
A few people have mentioned that I need to keep track of these speaking appearances better, so I created this post to document 2013.
February 7-8, 2013
The year kicked off with the Intelligent Content Conference 2013 in San Francisco. This event is one of the most technically advanced events, so the speakers are encouraged to talk about the how-to aspects of creating intelligent content. One of the organizers is Ann Rockley, who is an industry thought leader on XML-driven content. The other organizer is Scott Abel, the Content Wrangler, who is deeply involved with the technical details behind content management across multiple channels.
Anyway, I spoke at the ICC 2013 and delivered a presentation called “Channel-Agnostic Content Strategy for Happy Marketers.” It’s a deep dive into how content needs to be developed and managed to flow across multiple platforms. We had slightly tighter time slots, so the idea was to get into your story fast. It was a good approach that stripped out the fluff and forced you to get into the specifics of content formatting.
This is the deck I presented:
In a few days, I’ll be presenting at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, one of the premiere events in marketing and content strategy. If you work in content, content marketing, content strategy, analytics, or social media, this is the must-attend event of the year.
Joe Pulizzi and the conference planners have created and shared some clever materials, including a series of posters featuring different speakers. Of course, we love to see our names, so everyone on the poster is sharing it on their social channels. My poster in the series has a disco theme and includes Jeff Rohrs, Sarah Skerik, and Tim Washer.
I talk to my clients a lot about social and viral assets. This is an excellent real-time example of how to create content assets that travel through sharing and endorsement.
They’ve also created a SlideShare presentation that included quotes from many of the speakers. And, of course, the views and likes for this thing are impressive as hell.
The original PowerPoint asset was posted August 14, 2013 on SlideShare. As of this writing, it’s already at 34,819 views. Remember, this is a deck leading up to a business conference. This isn’t some goofy pop culture thing from MTV or People magazine, so you don’t usually see view rates like this on business content.
If you haven’t yet seen it, there’s a terrific infographic featuring the popular Marvel Comics superhero Wolverine. Much of the world became familiar with the Wolverine character through his portrayal by Hugh Jackman in the X-Men movies.
But Wolverine was a fan favorite, ever since his introduction in Incredible Hulk #181 (1974). The character exploded in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to be an A-list character in the comics and on the silver screen.
I discovered an infographic on Gizmodo.com and was impressed with the way the designer managed to incorporate the right amount of design, text, and layout to this rather complex character.
This was no average fan. This was a pro designer at work and this infographic was quickly going viral. At the bottom of the infographic was a cleverly placed URL that drove you to a website where you can buy costumes.
Yep, you guessed it, there are even costumes of Wolverine. This was a fantastic example of visual content marketing in action. They knew who the audience was, what would draw them in, and how to get them to their target website.
Two of the architects behind this content marketing campaign were Kate Willeart and Mark Bietz. They sat down for a brief email interview to discuss their content strategy tactic from a marketing perspective. (Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series. Check out Part 2.)
BUDDY: To get started, can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
KATE: My name is Kate Willaert, and I’m a graphic designer for Fun.com (and its sister sites HalloweenCostumes.com and T-Shirts.com). My job includes web design, creating t-shirt designs, and designing marketing materials such as infographics.
MARK: I’m Mark Bietz, VP of Marketing for Fun.com and I lead the marketing strategy here.
Just for context, there’s this great infographic that painstakingly details the costumes of the Marvel superhero character Wolverine. At the bottom is a URL for HalloweenCostumes.com. Can you describe how this project came about?
KATE: The Wolverine piece is actually the third in a series of superhero costume infographics I’ve designed, which previously included Iron Man and Superman. The inspiration came from an infographic I saw comparing the cost of Batman and Iron Man’s estates — their suits, their houses, their cars, etc. You get to the bottom of this infographic and see that it’s by an insurance company. I thought that was really clever. Read more
Next week, I’m honored to be moderating a panel at Health 2.0 Matchpoint | East. As with my last conference, I thought it would be interesting to interview one of the convention planners.
Actually, they interviewed me first, and that Q&A is on the Health 2.0 website: Buddy Scalera of Ogilvy CommonHealth on Consumer Engagement
This next interview is quite interesting, at least from my perspective. Usually I am working closely with professional marketers and technology innovators in pharmaceutical marketing.
This particular interview is with Joy Bhosai, who comes to health technology from the healthcare side. Joy graduated Yale University with a degree of Master of Public Health (MPH). If that’s not enough, she went on to get her MD from UCSF. Not too shabby.
Joy is one of the people trying to drive innovation and new thinking in healthcare. Let’s hear what she has to say about health technology, healthcare innovations, and thought leadership.
BUDDY SCALERA: First, tell me who you are and what role you play at Health 2.0.
JOY BHOSAI: Joy Bhosai and I’m Health 2.0′s Matchpoint Director. Matchpoint is a program where we work with industry leaders to identify and select innovator companies to meet with. The Matchpoint program was established to help our sponsors separate signal from noise when evaluating health tech startups. We can identify companies with a lot of promise for partnerships, since we work to understand how emerging technologies meet the needs of our sponsors– who range from health providers such as Kaiser to payors like UnitedHealth.
Okay, so we’re going to be meeting at this Matchpoint | East event. This is new to me. Can you explain what people will be doing there?
Matchpoint | East consists of both meetings and workshops. Health tech companies go through an application process for which our team and our sponsors select participants to attend. Traditionally, over 500+ apply and 10-15 companies get select to meet with their sponsoring host. Each company selected is given 15 minutes to meet with their respective host sponsor. These lead to high yield, effective meetings for both parties. In between the meetings, we also have workshops that are led by leading health tech experts for everyone to attend. Read more
Every once in a while, you gotta turn things upside down, right? Right. Let’s do it.
Next week, I’ll be speaking at the PR News Content Marketing Bookcamp. They posted a description of my panel and even ran a nice interview with me. I’m pretty excited to be meeting Ben Shields of ESPN, since we’ll be sharing a stage together for our panel. Good stuff.
But…I wanted to do something a little different. This time, I turn the tables and interview the convention organizer. In the hot seat is Steve Goldstein, who is the editorial director, events, for PR News. Let’s see what he has to say about the upcoming event…
BUDDY SCALERA: First off, hello. We’ve never actually met in person, but I am going to be speaking at one of your upcoming conferences. Can you tell me a little about the upcoming event?
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: What we’re doing is gathering thought leaders in content marketing from brands and from PR agencies to show PR professionals how they can help their brands and clients amp up their content strategy and, not incidentally, create content that’s shareable. Read more
Despite being a relatively young industry, content strategy and marketing owes a great deal to certain pioneers who helped shape essential concepts. Their names pop up in blog posts, at conferences, and on bookshelves because they are the true thought leaders of this evolving discipline.
Instead of becoming a fond footnote of the content strategy industry, pioneer Ann Rockley has continued to evolve with fresh, relevant insights. Her book “Managing Enterprise Content,” is, quite frankly, required reading for everyone who wants to work in content strategy.
After several years of hearing about Ann Rockley, I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Intelligent Content Conference 2013 in San Francisco. (I spoke at the conference and delivered a scintillating presentation called “Channel Agnostic Content Strategy for Happy Marketers.”) Later, Ann and I exchanged a few emails, and she was kind enough to grant me an email interview.
Fair warning. You will probably have to read this interview once, then read Ann’s book, then read this interview again to get the full impact. Ann’s very smart. I was just trying to keep up. Read more
Every once in a while, you read a business book and it becomes obvious that what you’ve been doing is…wrong. You know at that moment that you need to start doing things differently.
I had that feeling the first time I read “Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back” by Rohit Bhargava. At the time, Rohit was a co-worker at Ogilvy and I was reading the book as a professional courtesy. I mean, sure, he was a smart guy, super nice, and seemed to understand marketing, but I wasn’t expecting much. Most marketing books are bland and theoretical. Short on insight and long on catchphrases.
But Rohit’s book was different. It was clear that Rohit had taken great pains to write a book that went beyond basic theories social media and marketing. It was an insightful, actionable book that is as relevant today as when it was published in 2008.
In his second book, Rohit tackles a range of marketing topics. The umbrella concept of “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action” (2012) is “likeability,” but that’s just part of the story. He shares case studies and anecdotes that reveal why believability and trust are so powerful for brands. Read more
In the online world, it’s rare that we’re willing to pay for anything. We almost never want to pay for content, which is understandable considering how long we’ve been getting it for free.
But as of today, I am ready to pay for a premium version of YouTube. Yup, I am prepared, PayPal in hand, to give Google my money for something they provide for free.
Anything to stop the pre-roll. Or at least require only premium-level pre-roll that is relevant to my tastes. This is worth paying for.
Freemium Upgrade to Premium
So you’re familiar with the concept of “freemium” right? Sure you are. That’s where you can get most of the features for free, but to get the “extra special awesome bonus stuff,” you have to pay.
For example, I’m an avid photographer, so I pay for Flickr Pro. Even though Flickr is free, I pay $25 a year for the upgrade. It’s not much money and I feel like I get some good value from it.
I’m also using the free version of Evernote more frequently, so I am considering an upgrade there. Maybe Dropbox too. Both provide good free services, but the extra stuff on the premium may make it worth the few bucks.
To be honest, I use YouTube way more than any of these other services. Google invests bazillions of dollars running YouTube and charges us nothing for it. A few moments of our attention (for a paid advertisement) is all they ask. Seems fair, right? Read more