2 Tips Marketers Could Learn From the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Campaign

3 years ago

I was enjoying the snarky, sometimes angry blog post by Awesomely Luvvie about the potato salad Kickstarter campaign (now at $44,000), and I, too, am frustrated. I'm considering doing a campaign next year for the annual Loving Day event I host. So when I see random, non-sensical causes like these, I get a bit miffed. 

I've been thinking about the success of the Reading Rainbow campaign and the failure of the NerdHQ one. There are specific reasons why RR was such a huge success.

1) Capitalizing on a sentimental brand.

Whenever I think about crowdfunding, I think about Eli Regalado. He's essentially a guru in this area, and he had this genius thing to say about the Reading Rainbow campaign.

"Reading Rainbow had an established brand. Large companies can learn a lot from that example." (@Eli_Regalado)  (This is my first blogher post, so embedding Tweets is new for me. )

Not only is RR an established brand, it's one that triggers a powerful, emotional response from people. I, along with millions of other people, grew up watching LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow and his other acting endeavors.

Even though his acting career is not in the spotlight any more, his cause has been ingrained in our memories from childhood. There was no way I couldn't give. 

While Zachary Levi is an established actor in his own right, and the NerdHQ event he was promoting will raise money for a very worthy charity, the dollars weren't going directly to the people in need. The campaign was just to support the event itself. 

2) Perks, baby, perks. 

Marketers know that besides tugging at customers' heartstrings, you always have to remember one thing: people want something out of their donation. 

The Reading Rainbow campaign had so many incredible perks: from swag and copies of the show to meeting LeVar and his acting pals in person. It was tough to keep up in the updates. 

Zach's campaign offered no incentives - at least not at first. All of the price points would basically get you a thank-you and that's about it. And you could only attend the free event if you could get up to Cali.

I think when the organizers realized this strategy wasn't working, they started to include some giveaway perks. But by then it was too late. 

Thankfully, since NerdHQ was an IndieGoGo campaign, they got to keep the money they earned!

These tips seem so simple, but here we are, talking about the most successful Kickstarter campaign in history that capitalized on these marketing tactics. 

But this potato salad thing is an anomaly. Really, when you think about it, potato salad is an anomaly of a side...it has mustard or mayonnaise, hard-to-make-out veggies and potatoes. Is it a starch? Is it a vegetable? It's certainly not what I think of when I imagine salad. Is it somewhere in between?

Let me know your thoughts on these two well-known campaigns and whether or not you consider potato salad a vegetable.

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