Crowdsourcing: Brand Strength in Numbers

A few years ago I read a book called Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Since then, I’ve probably read it three or four times. It’s really good. In 2008, a director from Nashville even reached out to Donald Miller about the possibility of turning this book into a movie. In fact, Miller wrote another book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years based on the process of writing a screenplay of his book.

Unfortunately, after a year of fundraising, Miller posted to his blog that the film would be put on hold indefinitely. Despite a strong screenplay and cast, the financial support just wasn’t there.

Following his announcement, two fans began a project to save the movie. They launched a page on Kickstarter, a crowdsourcing website, and initiated a grassroots campaign to raise the $125,000 necessary to get the film back up a running. Within a week and a half, the goal had been exceeded.

When the Kickstarter project expired after 30 days, 4,495 supporters of the movie had raised $345,992, making “SAVE Blue Like Jazz! (the movie)” Kickstarter’s most funded project. (Many others have since surpassed it.)

I’ve been pretty intrigued by the crowdsourcing concept. I’ve come up with several reasons to start a crowdsourcing project for myself, including buying a million dollar building and starting a coffee shop. But that’s beside the point.

At its most basic level, crowdsourcing refers to companies calling on the larger community to help solve a problem. This problem can be financial, as it was for Donald Miller’s movie, or it can be creative, like Doritos and Pepsi asking brand fans to submit commercials to air at the Super Bowl, or it can be anywhere in between.

The reason that I’m so intrigued with crowdsourcing is that if you’re successful, you have instant support. When people are inspired by your project and are financially or emotionally invested in its success or failure, they’ll be significantly more likely to see the movie, buy the product, visit the venue, etc., and they’re also more likely to share it with others.

This idea even extends beyond raising money for a startup. For some organizations, a strong support base grows from recruiting and engaging volunteers. For other companies it can simply be motivating employees and customers by communicating a greater vision. Instilling your dream into others – volunteers, customers or employees – is one of the most effective and most neglected ways to grow long-term support. The best part? It’s never too late.

Share your vision. Inspire your consumers. Grow your brand.

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