Marketing and Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding, when a group of people collectively network and pool their money to support projects or ideas by an organization or other people, is not a new concept. Crowdfunding today requires a mix of social media, marketing, and internet savvy in order to persuade the public to donate to one project over the many thousands vying for attention and money. To date crowdfunding has raised over $1.5 billion dollars, and counting. It is this large capital gain, the ability to communicate directly with the public, and test new ideas that has helped crowdfunding to get the attention of major brands. Crowdfunding allows for another source brands to connect with consumers and further push their marketing messages further.

For a smaller companies and individuals crowdfunding is a more simplistic, than that of a large corporation. For example, in May of this year when actor, director, and writer Zach Braff sought to make a sequel to his 2004 movie Garden State, to avoid lower funding from movie studios and have more creative control, Braff turned to a Kickstarter campaign for help. Depending on the level of contribution fans could receive a wide range of benefits, everything from autographed memorabilia to attending the premiere. Through the use of social media, Braff and fellow producers worked to get the attention of fans and as a result netted $3.1 million dollars to make their movie.

Braff Kickstarter

For an individual, like Braff crowdfunding is a way in which they can gather a lot of support under a lending or reward/pre-purchase model of crowdfunding. However, this type of model where a consumer gets marketed to for a purchase of a good or service, can be problematic for a larger corporation, brand or company. Instead, big brands such as Coca-Cola, Honda, and Domino’s are using another model for crowdfunding- donation. For large brands this method of crowdfunding allows for the ability to show consumers that a brand stands behind a cause, helps to give back, and they could also possibly get participation from even noncustomer. One example of this is Honda’s work with Indiegogo, with their “Save the Drive-In” campaign which is helping to raise money to support the shrinking number of drive-in movie theaters that can’t afford to upgrade to digital equipment.

Honda Save the Drive In

Brands that do decide to participate in crowdfunding have several unique opportunities for their business through this medium. Crowdfunding can be used as a research tool to track who is donating to your cause, and if they are a not current customer, help to provide information on how to bring them on as one. Taken a step further, crowdfunding can also be used as a way to allow consumers to interact with experimental products or services, and gauge feedback. Crowdfunding is also a great way to positively push forth your brand’s message – when backing a cause, or innovation; it allows consumers to approach your brand in a different way than they would with traditional marketing techniques. Finally, crowd funding provides a marketing channel that allows for brands to reward their backers. Since many crowd funding projects offer some sort of reward for backing a project, it gives the chance to brands to have the ability to not only give back to their communities but also to those helping improve them.

Crowdfunding is a great way to reach out to current and prospective consumers on a different level. It is important that when a brand or company looks to use crowdfunding as a marketing tool, that research is done on regulations, how it will be supported internally, and that it is promoted through other marketing channels correctly. Crowdfunding must be treated as any other channel and that means using other types of media such as social media to promote it. Throwing up your brand on Kickstarter and expecting it to sell itself will not work; it takes time and a solid marketing plan for it to truly be a success.

Learning from 2013 Marketing Flops

As we look to the New Year, we are hoping for a new start. While 2013 saw many successful marketing campaigns – unfortunately sometimes, despite great efforts marketing messages just don’t work and a campaign goes from a win to a flop. However, even the most unsuccessful marketing campaigns can have some lessons to be learned from. I have outlined the top marketing flops of 2013, in hopes that you can learn from these terrible mistakes.

JC Penny’s Lesson: Know Thy Customer

When JC Penny changed their marketing strategy by trying to extend deals and offer promotions for a longer time it not only confused consumers but most just stopped shopping in the store all together. Under the leadership of Ron Johnson, JC Penny made marketing blunder after blunder by not paying attention to their core customers’ needs, and as a result JC Penny had its worst year in decades. The important lesson to take away from this is that marketers must really know their customer before suddenly changing a brand’s marketing message. In the case of JC Penny their customers has become accustomed to short sales and coupons, instead of supplementing this with maybe mobile or social media capabilities, they chose to change quickly and drastically, thus insulting their customer by showing them they really didn’t know them that well after all.

Go Daddy’s Lesson: Don’t Make Consumers Squirm

Consumers, don’t necessarily want to feel themselves blushing every time they see your marketing message, Go Daddy’s 2013 Super Bowl ad did just that. The ad was labeled as sexist, awful and gross within the first few hours of it being aired.

It was meant to start a conversation but it was all negative. In fact, the ad was so offensive that it caused Go Daddy to change their whole message, and they announced in October 2013 that they were done with “sexy” ads for good.

Marketers who want to push the envelope must make sure their messaging continues a conversation about their brand not just the content of the ad. In a marketing success, Volvo’s ad with Jean-Claude Van Damme, is different, causing a conversation, and showing the capabilities of Volvo’s vehicles all at the same time.

AT&T, and Home Depot’s Lesson: Think before You Tweet

Twitter is supposed to be a way to engage with consumers on an instantaneous and personal level. Everything is live in Twitter, so marketers must really be sure they think before tweeting messages to the masses. Two brands that learned this lesson in 2013 were Home Depot and AT&T. In the case of AT&T a tweet about 9-11, that was used as a platform to advertise a new phone did not go over well with consumers and the company was blasted on Twitter and forced to delete the tweet. For Home Depot, it was a racist tweet of a drum line, which had consumers and the NAACP fuming on Twitter. In Home Depot’s case, it was a PR firm that was in charge of their Twitter account that posted but it provides another important message for brands that they should be in close contact with 3rd party marketing sources that do such work for them.

J.P. Morgan’s Lesson: Know Your Brand’s Sentiment with the Public

Financial giant, J.P. Morgan thought it would be a good idea a few weeks ago to engage with consumers on Twitter through a Q&A session. What they did not take into consideration was the public sentiment of their brand on the internet and as soon as the Q&A session began, an angry public took over.  Soon tweets from the public became rolling, but they were far from light hearted – for example, “Can I have my house back? #AskJPM”. J.P. Morgan becoming overwhelmed with the situation, gave up, shut down the Q&A and cancelled any future sessions. When marketers decide to open up a live dialogue on such a large platform, they must be prepared to handle any response; furthermore it is important that there is awareness among those in the company of the public sentiment of your brand. If a brand is controversial they need to be aware of how they approach the public, otherwise they run the risk of alienating consumers even more.

Pinterest Users = Shoppers

People all over America have been “jamming out” over one of America’s oldest licensed brands – Ball Home Canning – Mason jars. The brand, owned by Jarden Home Brands, has a 96% brand awareness but has struggled in the past to get consumers to try their product. That was until two years ago when the Mason jar had renaissance, all thanks to social media and one key player – Pinterest. Within one year of establishing its presence on Pinterest, Ball’s fans approached over 4,000 and had boards dedicated to the many uses of the Mason jar including – chandeliers, terrariums and soap dispensers. What was the Pinterest activities result? According to a recent article in Ad Age a 20% increase in sales for 2012 and one of the best sales years on record.

Image via
Image via

While Pinterest does not have ecommerce capabilities yet – it remains a major social media sales driver. In a recent article on, Waiyfair, a home goods company active in Pinterest, found that those shoppers referred to their site were 10% more likely to make a purchase than those who were referred by Facebook or Twitter. Waiyfair did not include non-social users – those who browse but do not have an account or pin. On average it was found that those social/non-social users referred by Pinterest spent 70% more than those who were not.

So how do businesses use Pinterest to their advantage? The first step is to pin! Many successful brands on Pinterest don’t just pin their own items but create inspiration boards for customers allowing them to more fully engage in the Pinterest community. A great example of this is a recent marketing campaign by Kotex, in which they took 50 women that inspired them on Pinterest and created items on their Pinterest board. The women were then sent packages filled with their wish list or pinned items and Kotex branded products, when they received their packages the women then pinned images of the packages. As a result Kotex was able to get 2,284 interactions and 694,853 impressions due to the active users of Pinterest.

So get pinning, find your customers and building your brand!!

Trends for 2013

2013 represents a new year for not just individuals, but industries as well. In the print media industry, as we all know, things are constantly changing – so what will be the trends and changes for the industry in 2013? I give my top 5 picks in no particular order.

The Actual Practice of a Buzz Word

Cross Media Marketing – it is the buzzword that got thrown out a lot in the past couple of years in the print media industry. However, 2012 was the year when consumers really saw the applications of it come to them in full force: for example, the Chick-fil-A add campaign that blew up marketing blogs and Forbes Magazine. Chick-fil-A did this by sending out a direct mail piece to loyal customers using a PURL that drove these customers to Facebook that captured more information and received a special promotion. After that information was captured, customers could share the promotion with their Facebook friends and encourage new people to sign up. The results? Increased store activation or loyalty cards by 104% (Incubator, 2012).

From Chik-Fil-A
From Chik-Fil-A

With the success of this campaign in 2012, you can bet we will be seeing more of this in 2013.

Pantone Everything….

Pantone announced in December 2012 that Emerald green was to be the color of the year in 2013, but the presence of the company has expanded much further ( The popularity of the company and Pantone products really entered the market place in 2012. From the cellphone cases in Urban Outfitters to the new eye palettes just released by Sephora for 2013 – Pantone is turning into less of a color system and more of a marketing tool for larger chains. With the rise in customization in everything else, why wouldn’t someone want to have their own Pantone color just for them?


Get ready world, Pantone is no longer for print geeks, it’s for the mass market now.

Things Will Get Wider

EFI, one of the world’s leaders in wide format inkjet technology, during a showcase “highlighted the enormous potential growth opportunities in color digital printing for display graphics, predicted to grow by 20% year-on-year, and for digital label printing with 35% growth” for 2013 (Francis, par 3). As need for personalization grows even more in 2013 the use of wide format inkjet will increase. These printers allow for the single one stop shop digital system that includes finishing – an amazing addition for turnaround and those looking to get into wide format production (Francis, par 5).

From EFI
From EFI

Everyone Gets the Luxury Treatment

With the rise in digital magazines and open access to well designed publications online, one might think that the days of the printed book are over. That may only be half true. As digital publishing grows, really beautiful luxury printed books will rise. Luke O’Neill, author of the graphic design book, Computer Arts Collection, was quoted as saying “In 2013, I think there will be continued experimentation with print techniques and innovative finishes to really enhance the experience for the consumer who still likes to hold something in their hands” (Carney, par 13). Recent publications, like the graphic novel, Building Stories by Chris Ware offer just that experience to readers by incorporating multiple pieces of printed materials to make a unique story (check this book out it is AMAZING).

From Smithsonian
From Smithsonian

You Must Respond

In 2013 there is one thing everyone can count on – more digital devices. Whether it is iPhone version 55 or a new monitor, we are going to have more ways to look at cats online than ever before. That is why responsive design for media devices will become more important than ever (Qayyum, par 4). In combination with multi-touch campaigns, this trend will blend across multiple platforms.

From Creative Blog
From Creative Blog


• Carney, R. (n.d.). Design trend predictions for 2013 | Design | Creative Bloq. Creative Bloq | Your daily dose of design tips and inspiration | Creative Bloq. Retrieved January 18, 2013, from
• (2012). Chik-fil-A. Incubator, 3, 30.
• Francis, J. (n.d.). EFI showcases product roadmap at Connect. Print Week. Retrieved January 18, 2013, from
• Johnson, P. (n.d.). Chick-fil-A Introduces the Next Hot New Trend in Marketing – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Retrieved January 18, 2013, from
• Pantone. (n.d.). Pantone. Retrieved January 18, 2013, from
• Qayyum, A. (n.d.). Six Expected Web Design Trends in 2013. Free Online Resources For Developers, Designers and Photographers @Smashing Hub. Retrieved January 18, 2013, from
• Sephora. (n.d.). Pantone Universe + Sephora. Retrieved January 17, 2013, from

Why Superman Should Have Kept His Day Job

Superman quit his day job last October. In protest to the “state of modern journalism”, Clark Kent has decided to hang up his press pass at the Daily Planet (Huges par 1). I am all for career changes even of fictional characters – the man has been working there since the early 1950s, so why not a change? However, in his exit speech Mr. Kent did say something that continues to nag at me – he states, “Times are changing and print is a dying medium.”

As many in the print industry will tell you times are changing but print is certainly not a dying medium. In January 2012, a white paper by InfoTrends predicts a steady increase in the print industry into 2015, with the most growth to be seen in packaging (O’Malley par 3). Let’s also not forget the growing popularity and applications of textile print either – I encourage you to read my previous post, Revolutionary Textiles.

Superman at Barnes & NobleFor those who still are not convinced, take this real world example. When working at my job as a marketing strategist, almost every client meeting I had began with someone telling me – “ I want an all digital campaign” and ended with them ordering a printed piece. Looks like that print is still sticking around. Even the mighty Mr. Kent is having a hard time shedding himself of it – since as you can see from the image he is still sold in print, in Barnes and Nobles, at a newsstand. Kind of ironic isn’t it? I guess I should support his new ventures as an online blogger and download his latest comic to my iPad for half the price.

Hughes, Mark. “Superman quits The Daily Planet – over the state of journalism – Telegraph.” – Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

O’Malley, Donna. “Printing Industry Stabilizes Amidst Modest Economic Growth and Technological Advancements.” Welcome to InfoTrends Inc.. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.