Crowdfunding is not marketing

By Francis Morancrowdfunding1

The first time I heard a company suggest that they were going to do a crowdfunding campaign not to raise money but to raise awareness, I thought it was one of the stupidest things I had heard in a long time. Since then I’ve heard it often enough to confirm that stupidity is one of the most contagious phenomena out there. And just because a lot of people think it’s a good idea doesn’t make it so.

Viewing crowdfunding as a substitute for marketing, or even as an effective marketing channel, ranks right up there with “We’ll do a viral video” in its betrayal of a complete lack of understanding of how marketing works.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 12.51.57 PMNow, don’t get me wrong. Some crowdfunding campaigns have generated enormous attention for their sponsors. A Kickstarter campaign that broke all records was the Gangnam-calibre equivalent of a viral video for Waterloo entrepreneur Eric Migicovsky and his Pebble watch. (Although, as I recently tweeted, crowdfunding advocates — and people who think crowdfunding = marketing — really need to stop citing Pebble as an example. Nobody was more surprised than Migicovsky when his campaign, with its original target of just $100,000, ended up reeling in more than $10-million.) His fame has grown to the point that he is literally the poster child for wearable computers.

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What can your business learn from the Toy Testing Council?

By Leo Valiquettecttc_logo-001

If you are not familiar with it, the Canadian Toy Testing Council is a 55-year-old non-profit that enlists the volunteer aid of families to subject toys to the most rigorous testing possible – at the hands of kids.

The council’s philosophy is to evaluate each toy from a child’s perspective and gain their input. Each toy is evaluated based on its design, function, safety, durability, battery consumption and play value.

My wife and her sisters were toy testers for many years. We were given toys based on the kids’ genders and ages, they would play with the toy for several weeks and the parents would submit written evaluations.

Each year, these efforts by the various testing families are distilled into a report, just in time for the holiday shopping season, with the council’s recommendations for the best toys.

This process falls into the category of exploratory qualitative research, something for which a client of ours, Macadamian, is a tireless proponent.

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November roundup: What does it take to bring technology to market?

By Daylin Mantyka 2013-calendar-november

Last month’s contents were newsworthy and informative. Leading the pack was Francis Moran’s post on angel investors and crowdfunding, followed by Maurice Smith’s post on the definition of “Digital Media.”  As always, we had some great contributions from our guest bloggers on presentation skills, leadership, government policy makers and entrepreneurs, among others.

In case you missed any of it, here is a handy recap of our posts, as ranked by the enthusiasm of our readers:

November 14: Angel investors can’t sit on crowdfunding sidelines, by Francis Moran

November 13: ‘Digital media’ evades easy definition, and so proper measurement, by Maurice Smith

November 11: Join Startup Canada for an entrepreneurial invasion of Parliament Hill, by Francis Moran

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Government policy makers need to be at tech events

By Denzil Doyle techtuesdayottawa

One of the best networking opportunities in the Ottawa area is something that is known as Tech Tuesday and is sponsored by Terry Matthews. It is held on the first Tuesday of every month at the Marshes golf club and is open to the public. I have never seen a mission statement for the event but the people who attend range from entrepreneurs looking for money, to recent college grads looking for jobs. The focus is very much on information technology and how it can create wealth for Canadians.

There is no charge for attendance except for drinks at the bar. However, organizations like accounting and legal firms tend to serve some finger food for those who might feel the pangs of hunger before the event winds down.(It starts at 5:30 pm and ends about two or three hours later, depending on whether or not there is a formal presentation of some kind.)

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What’s in a name?

By Leo Valiquettehello-my-name-is1

A company name that is a mashup of the founders’ initials. A company name drawn from the item the first business plan was sketched upon, or where the founder was enjoying a cocktail when they struck upon the idea. Even names arbitrarily plucked out of thin air without any intention of there being any kind of profound or clever meaning.

I’ve seen it all with over 13 years as a business journalist and marketing and PR consultant. A company’s name is not the company’s brand, but the two do enjoy a symbiotic relationship. A name is a point of reference, an introduction, which may or may not make a direct reference to what the company does.

But a name alone does not sell products, win customers or grow market share. These things are accomplished through the hustle of the team members, how they treat their customers, how they research the market to understand to whom, and in what form, their product or service delivers value, and how they execute on that intelligence.

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