Pitch The Benefits, Not The Features

Photo: DieselDemon via Flickr

Kickstarting your marketing: The big news today is that four NYU students raised over $100k for a project to challenge Facebook (fuelled by geek rage about Facebook’s new privacy changes) on Kickstarter with a project called Diaspora. To me the big take away isn’t this particular project, but rather the potential for Kickstarter and group fundraising services like it.

Four years before Kickstarter launched in 2009, Fundable launched a service that does pretty much the same thing. Fundable’s now shut down and latecomer Kickstarter’s thriving. A quick look at the top couple hundred pixels of both service’s homepages offers a great case study in good and bad design. Pitching the benefits vs. pitching the features. Marketing 101 that’s so easy to forget.

Fundable’s message is “Group Pledges” (why do I want to make a pledge?) and “You pay only if everyone else wants to too” (who cares?). That’s just details of how the service works. But why should I use it?

fundable screentshot

Kickstarter just tells me it has “a new way” to fund ideas and endeavours without resorting to to cheesy marketing speak like “Get money for your ideas!”. It’s intriguing. Raising money is the most painful part of the creative process, at least for creative people, so a new way is all you need to say.

Most notably, Kickstarter makes no mention of how their “new way” works on their homepage. They could have used the same line as Fundable: “You pay only if everyone else wants to too”. But that’s just a feature.

First you need to be seduced by an endeavour.

But Fundable makes no mention of even abstract projects to get involved in. Their search box simply says “search” (search for what?). Kickstarter’s menu (“discover projects”, “starting a project”) and large copy (“Ideas & endeavours”) is all about the causes.

kickstarter screenshot

Now it’s important not to overlook all the other things that might have caused one business to succeed where another failed. If you google “Fundable” you’ll see they made a number of execution missteps. Fundable also didn’t have the advantage of launching in a time when high quality video creation is so easy and sharing is so powerful over platforms such as Twitter and, well, Facebook.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see a venture that’s executed well and in Kickstarter’s case its competency certainly extends to its design. First thing I’m going to do is review all of the design and copy that’s on our network of products and make sure we’re not bogged down in feature speak. I suggest you do the same for yours. The benefits are tremendous.

Gregory Galant is founder and CEO of Sawhorse Media, which makes cool sites like MuckRack and organizes the Shorty Awards. He also created and hosts Venture Voice, a podcast for and about entrepreneurs. This post was originally published on his blog, and is reprinted with permission.

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