Kickstarter Mythology Needs Some Retail Reality


Kickstarter mythology has outgrown reality.

(But let me be very clear. I’m NOT talking about Kickstarter art, music, and movie projects. It was designed for these and they seem to be running pretty well overall.)

I’m talking about Kickstarter campaigns that raise money by Directly Selling new Products that have never been built – and taking orders for lots of them. In the computer business we used to call this selling vaporware and investing in businesses dedicated to vaporware led to the dotcom crash. Segway and Google Glass were both massive vaporware disasters.

Now, by selling vaporware with Kickstarter, we’re seeing amazing train wrecks among the most highly successful money raising campaigns. These train wrecks are all made possible by the mythologies that drive Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites. (Incidentally, a comment below points out this is a far more dramatic version of the direct mail practice of “dry testing”. There is already FTC guidance on dry testing.)

The Mythology of Kickstarter for Inventors. Inventor mythology starts with a belief that it’s enough to come up with a good idea and some money to build it. And Kickstarter appears to “unshackle” inventors so this can happen.
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Where There’s New Media Smoke, There’s Usually a Smoke Machine

I modified a JFK attributed quote for this title. But also thought another modification explains a lot about one of the biggest hassles in modern marketing:

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually deep pockets writing a check.

Marketers today are pummeled with smoke — especially about new media, brand love, and about big data. And there’s a reason the smoke is so thick… There’s a set of big companies, venture startups, and VCs that think they can make big money by selling these ideas. And that opens their checkbooks wide.

But just because the checkbook is open doesn’t mean they’re selling anything important. All it means is that a pile of VENDORS stand to make big money if they can only convince you that what they have is important. (Most often they’re the ONLY ones making money through the idea.)
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Social Media Research: Tunnel Vision on Steroids

Social media research is one more “fad” that’s sweeping the world. (I even read in Media Post recently that someone at Intel loves it. More on that in a minute.)

Sadly, these fads come so rapid these days that marketers, designers, and engineers everywhere dash from ill-considered fad to ill-considered fad – never learning the fundamental weaknesses undermining their work. Read more of this post

Award Show Skepticism: An “Effie” for Old Spice?

I wasn’t entirely shocked to see that the Old Spice social media video campaign had won an Effie – a lot of people in the ad business seem to have decided this campaign was the grand epiphany of social media effectiveness. Except, I’d done some reading about the effectiveness of the campaign and found its results entirely unclear. Read more of this post

There Is No “ROI vs Brand” Dilemma When You Know Your “Profit Horizon”.

Far too many “smart” (aka self-conciously cool) agencies these days proudly seek talent from anywhere EXCEPT business backgrounds. They believe, they say, that these fundamental skills for understanding arcane concepts like “profit” get in the way of true creativity. (More on this mis-direction in a future post about an ad biz culture I call “creative correctness”.)

But this outright avoidance of business skills in the agency business has led us to the endless (and frankly silly) discussion about deciding between “ROI” and “brand”.

Bunkum. There’s no contradiction between these two – not when you think like a business. The needs of your business must be met – and that means creating advertising which brands AND delivers ROI. Read more of this post

iPad 14 – Electronic Magazines Prove (once again) That Content Trumps Bells & Whistles

Here’s an important tech axiom: Developers have far more interest in applying application bells and whistles than people have in using them.

I learned this lesson on my first project out of college. In that project I designed a network of Apple 2’s to display wire wrap harness instructions for avionics assembly at General Dynamics. (Back then I was a software engineer with a couple of degrees in mathematics.) Read more of this post

Read Headlines about New Media Research with Skepticism

Just saw a headline telling me there’s this great study showing change in TV viewing habits! Wow. They did a great job alerting the media! (Here’s the article about the study.)

We need to be more skeptical about articles reporting research – especially about media change. Let’s start with whether the company sponsoring the research has skin in the game. Read more of this post