There are so many companies shouting about how they use the internet to communicate their marketing message directly to the consumer. However, when you ask about concrete improvements, boosted sales or increases in revenue, there are fewer willing to make the same noise.
It’s often the case that the same barriers that exist in the traditional marketing channels, such as a lack of budget or the struggle to compete with established names, are just as present in new media. This is compounded by the biggest difficulties faced by the champions of new media channels – how to translate a good presence on social media into something of clear value that a CFO can understand.
Crowd funding is one online arena where things are easier to quantify; investors are really buying into the product and are far more likely to become useful online advocates. STK Accessories CEO Jay Pau (pictured) certainly sees the potential of crowd funding using the Kickstarter platform to promote his latest product, the Tabbi, a travel stand for mobile devices.
The direct consumer interaction was one of the major aspects of crowd funding that most attracted Pau to use the website: ‘We wanted to engage with the consumer slightly differently, compared with the standard sales and marketing approach. We took our own product and marketed directly to the consumer through the crowd funding platform Kickstarter. The product is called Tabbi and it is a stand for tablet devices. Tabbi is designed for those using tablet devices when travelling. I developed the idea when I was travelling on a plane and had no place to put my tablet. We wanted to develop something that could mount to any surface – ours uses a gel and a stand. The product is totally universal and can be used with any handset, tablet or phablet.
‘It’s nice to engage directly with the consumer; it gives direct insight into what they think. In fact, customer suggestions are one of the major benefits from the platform. It provides the opportunity to build the relationship directly with the consumer.’
For many young entrepreneurs, Kickstarter represents an opportunity to connect directly with the customer because they don’t have access to the traditional distribution channels. Pau believes that there is a similar benefit for those developing products who have access to these routes too: ‘Kickstarter provides a good platform to deal with the customer outside of the traditional distribution routes. Many products get held up at the distribution stage; this direct relationship bypasses this kind of issue. Every investor on the platform gets a discount on the product.
‘The major benefit of Kickstarter is that you can get young entrepreneurs directly in front of the consumer. It’s a very, very useful way to engage because it has a tangible result at the end of the process. Tabbi is a product that is being developed outside STK; it has its own brand and identity. The product will continued to be developed and we are hoping to have the next version in early 2016.’
A more personal approach
Another benefit of the crowd funding platform is that it allows products to be given a much more personal brand identity. For a category such as accessories, where differentiation is even harder to strive for, this can be incredibly beneficial. Tabbi is being marketed with Pau at the centre of the Kickstarter campaign, with videos showing how Pau developed the concept.
‘The idea for the product came to me from a personal usage case; the Kickstarter campaign has videos alongside it which demonstrate how the idea came to me. The campaign shows the connection between the personality and the product very clearly. The use of video helps us connect with a wide audience in an accessible manner.’
Many would assume that a campaign through Kickstarter would be much cheaper than traditional methods, but that is not the case says Pau: ‘This is the first time we have used Kickstarter instead of a traditional marketing campaign. I don’t think that it’s necessarily about it being cheaper it’s about following a different route to the consumer – there are a number of costs to this method as well.’