Once I happened to deliver a speech in Innovationscafé by Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship with the topic being "The path to Traction – Why are flipflops the wrong shoes for conquering Mount Everest". After my presentation, I was unexpectedly approached by Ulinka Wagner who was listening to my talk and thought of a couple more marketing tools. No doubt, there are many interesting opportunities for businesses but what she had in mind was perfectly relevant. So, I took a delight in meeting Ulinka personally and having a talk about charity and crowdfunding for marketing opportunities, especially within go to market. This is the second part of my interview with Ulinka Wagner. You can find the first part about charity as a marketing instrument right here
Marketing through Crowdfunding
Ulinka, how did you find out about crowdfunding and its connection to marketing?
Last year, the Süddeutsche Zeitungall of a sudden published a call to launch a crowdfunding competition. My friend and I got engaged in this initiative and developed a concept for art in public space. We set out for an exciting journey in this new topic, we met various fantastic people in the crowdfunding field; it seemed like we have accidentally opened some door. I started recognizing and appreciating all the crowdfunding campaigns all around me. I asked myself why I didn’tuse to notice them before; but all in all, I guess it was because of my job which engulfed me entirely.
Crowdfunding concept provides people with the unique opportunity to implement private projects and helps actually making people’s dreams come true. Of course, it also means a full-time job, as it requires a mountain of work.
What crowdfunding-related experiences and lessons would you like to summarize?
What really failed at some point was our timing. As a rule, in order to make some unfamiliar people believe in a project and, moreover, persuade some them to donate money for it one requires more touchpoints, minimum two. And also, we should remember about the period of roughly two weeks that it takes people to think the project over before making a decision to donate.What a project-author really needs is a comprehensible and transparent idea, something that would assume a problem-solving format or stimulate emotions. And there has to be a story around this idea, —the story of the project-author‘sarduous path. This story should have a driving force to draw a community around the person behind this project and to make the feeling like the community members can be a part of the entire story, sharing every bit of resistance and success on the way to the funding goal.
The key point here is that the so-called crowd has to be virtually electrified with the idea as if it was their own project. We have enjoyed success with our presentation “explanation”video and landed the fourth place. It was amidst rather a challenging period of the financing stage that involved lots of communication work in social media. What was really important above everything is to build this personal communication appeal to every single person who seemed willing to donate and every other one who was not really willing. We have to admit that the possibility of crowdfunding actually poses a sort of competition to classic NGOs. Anyone can go online and reach out to people: Come on, donate to my dream! (It actually took me a good deal of time to get used to this very form of appeal, but at the end of the day, after a few crowdfunding campaigns it gets easier). Yet, it is only one of many things to learn on the way.
To what extent is crowdfunding relevant to established companies? To startups?
Crowdfunding can present a point of interest to many companies. For example, when they intend to launch a new product on the market crowdfunding can serve as a market research instrument. Another angle opens when a company or a brand wants to build a more innovative image and approach customers in an experimental playful mode. Besides, they do not necessarily have to cast away their initial brand essence. If we speak about creating a film for project presentation, then it is a positive content with an emotional and cheerful mood that proves the best. When it comes to traditional companies, I can see a marvellous opportunity here as well. Owners can motivate their employees to venture into new terrains, perhaps even to come up with their own spin-offs, which can blow a new powerful fresh breeze into the sails of the company’srigid entrenched policies.
Are both actions target products/branding/company or they rather target new customers?
I‘drather engage crowdfunding as a customer growth tool. But surely it has an undeniably positive and innovative effect on the image of your brand.
Dear Ulinka, thank you for this awesome interview and your vivid insights into crowdfunding.