Veronica Mars was a TV show that aired on UPN in the mid-2000s. It ran three seasons before it was unceremoniously cancelled due to lagging ratings. The show had a very loyal cult following who wanted to see it go on. The producers had ideas for a movie. But there was no way the studio would ever agree to such a risky project, so that was pretty much the end of it. Until March of this year.
And then, completely out of the blue, there was a campaign on Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding website. And with it, a video of star Kristen Bell, creator Rob Thomas and several other cast members, asking for the fans’ help in making a Veronica Mars movie possible.
That’s what Kickstarter does. It connects content creators with fans who donate money to help them fund an artistic project. To shoot the Veronica Mars movie, Rob Thomas asked for $2 million—the largest Kickstarter film project in the site’s history. They raised that money in less than a day, then over the next month proceeded to shatter every other record the site had. When the campaign ended, they had more than $5.7 million from more than 91,000 donors.
There are plenty of other success stories of independent projects funded by Kickstarter. Musician Amanda Palmer raised more than $1 million for her solo album, after asking for only $100,000. Popular webcomic Cyanide and Happiness turned to their fans to help them raise money to produce a television show, rather than produce it through a network and give up creative control. And countless other artistic projects of all types and sizes that may never have seen the light of day on their own have been given an opportunity to shine, through fan support on Kickstarter.
So what does this have to do with content marketing? Creators have two major tools to promote their project: a short video to get people excited about it and social media to spread the word. Over the course of the project, they often provide updates for backers and potential backers to see, which often also come in the form of videos. It’s the epitome of content marketing. And Veronica Mars is proof that it works better than anyone could have ever dreamed. Provided the project creators know how to promote their brand properly. For every overwhelming Kickstarter success story, there are plenty of projects that didn’t have a compelling video, whose social media promotion didn’t reach far enough, and who ultimately couldn’t raise the funds they needed.
People are heralding that the success of Veronica Mars and other Kickstarter campaigns represents a revolution for independent artistic projects. That the future of film, music, television, books and more is in the hands of the fans, who fund the content they want to see, rather than the mainstream studios and publishers who only greenlight the things that they consider profitable. But it also means something else that a lot of people have overlooked. No project will ever get off the ground if it’s poorly promoted. So the future is in the hands of the fans, yes. But first, it’s in the hands of the content marketers, who know how to get the fans on their side.