Pebbles and CATCH-22's
What does it mean when a cool idea for a watch earns $11M on Kickstarter? Certainly one clear and loud implication is crowdfunding is ready for prime time, but there are more sweeping and profound implications. Why would anyone make anything without testing and creating a digital market long before materials are purchased to make something material.
Pebble's brilliant Kickstarter campaign proves the man, machine, mountain parable. Match the right man (or product) to the right mountain and supply him (or her) with the right tools and the mountain will be climbed. Make the Pebble pitch to Walmart and it is a nonstarter.
Pebble Smartwatch 2013 video from Pebble Technology on Vimeo.
This "match the hatch" of product to market and marketplace has never been more important. You have one chance to make a first impression so matching your idea to favorable audience is critical. There is a CATCH-22 hidden in our new distribution model. You can't know what is right until you test and testing steals "first impression".
Our Story of Cancer Foundation just DIDN'T sell its first product on eBay. We probably did ten things wrong listing my Specialized SL2 since we didn't make our first sale. Ebay is a trust system. The more you sell the more trust you develop. We started with a BIG and expensive thing when we should have learned and built our reputation on smaller, less expensive things. Worth another go, but not with the Specialized.
Kickstarter turned the eBay model on is head. They said, "We have an exclusive number of things like distributorships, celebrity endorsements and watches, get them if you can". The right question is how can we sell on eBay in the Pebble watch way? How can we create the perceived exclusivity that creates a competitive market in our favor?
Exclusivity is an important currency online. Important and often overlooked since the web seems to have everything in abundance. What makes a digital good exclusive? The story you tell. Woot.com takes commodity rumbas and makes them special with the stories they tell, the voice they tell those stories in and the perceived exclusivity of great deals with deadlines.
Stories are important, but so are other e-commerce tools such as deadline, exclusivity, legitimacy (realized via testimonials) and TRUST as distilled from many interactions with your online brand. What do you do if you don't have any of those things? Find something you can give away FREE and then over deliver on that promise.
Pebble Watch is both exception and new ecommerce rule. Chances of your hitting an idea so dead solid perfect are about that of being hit by lightening, but you can and should emulate basic "new ecommerce" lessons such as:
* Stories Matter.
* Deadlines Matter.
* Exclusivity (real or perceived) matters.
* TRUST matters most.
Trust Is A CATCH-22
Trust is one of those strange things. The more you chase after it the less you get. Your EARN trust you don't get it instantly or for FREE. Trust can come from a scaled network like Kickstarter or from your LinkedIn profile, a video or "like me" friends who comment, share impressions on social media or write about your efforts (as my amazing friend Phil Buckley did recently).
The Story of Cancer Foundation isn't trusted on eBay yet, so my bad for starting with a BIG EXPENSIVE THING. Trust requires TIME, TESTING and some TROUBLE. People want to know what you do when something doesn't go your way. When you blew that shipment or forgot to do something are you concerned fixing your systems?
Will you trust me because my friend Phil said nice things? Maybe, but you are likely to want more validation. The best validation we provide is what we do online every day. Phil pointed out in the comments that I'm known for creating a lot of content (not so much this week sine I'm sick as a dog lol).
Presence creates trust. Presence is also a chit, a promise. When I can't keep my normal schedule that can be the equivalent of a broken promise. Once a social identity is established be careful with how you change it. Over communicate why change is happening and where you are going or trust can be lost.
Social presence creates trust. Social presence over time creates expectations and trust. Be careful with both and if you know how to sell on ebay please let us know :). Thanks, Marty