In case you missed the hullabaloo (and it happened quickly, so you might have), Reading Rainbow, that childhood favorite program from the 1980s, proved to be Kickstarter’s new darling recently when it raised more than its $1 million goal on the crowdfunding site … in less than 12 hours.
Following suit to a few other well-known Kickstarter campaigns like the Veronica Mars and Zach Braff’s movie project, Reading Rainbow leveraged the power of its fans to raise money for its cause. In this case, the cause is to provide access to books and Reading Rainbow programming to all American children. The cause itself is noteworthy, but the people who funded the project (myself included) would have donated, no matter what the aim.
Here’s what Reading Rainbow knows about marketing that you should, too.
1. Build Your Fan Base Long Before You Need Them
Okay, to be fair, the show’s producers way back in 1983 didn’t have a clue that they would be trying to raise $1 million from fans more than 30 years later. But still, the majority of people who funded the project, judging from the comments, were kids like me who grew up watching the show. So there was no education needed, no introduction necessary. Reading Rainbow pulled from its existing fan base rather than trying to create one out of thin air.
2. Use a Well-Known Spokesperson
I’ve never seen an episode of “Star Trek,” so to me, the host of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton, is the show. I have so many memories watching him explore the world and taking me on journeys through books. The second I saw him in a Facebook post, I was ready to get involved. And if you are a Trekkie, that only helps his case.
3. Get Fans Involved
The most successful Kickstarter campaigns I’ve seen keep fans and donors updated constantly. Whether that’s a sneak peek, behind-the-scenes video of a movie in production, or just a personal note from that celebrity spokesperson, it makes a difference to people who want to feel like part of something bigger. Burton showed his vulnerability once the project hit its goal of $1 million as he spoke to his audience with tears in his eyes. We were all touched.