Fan Funded: The Most Exciting Thing in Marketing Today

There’s a type of marketing being done today that is changing the way companies are built, and not nearly enough people are talking about it.

Exploding Kittens ... Pretty much the game the Internet was destined to produce.
Exploding Kittens … Pretty much the game the Internet was destined to produce.

Exploding Kittens is a game launched by Elan Lee, Shane Small and Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, a Web comic with a huge online following.

It launched with $8.8 million dollars in funding and over 200,000 active customers.

Oh, and they did more than enough of that in less than a month. The project launched in January 2015, and it had 100,000 backers and over $3 million in backing before the end of that month. Yes, that was enough to launch the company. Also a record.

Think about that: Starting your company with an existing customer base of over 200,000 people, not to mention all the email addresses and leads you can collect during that process.

In an old life I used to cover the table top gaming business. I am certain that $8.8 million made Exploding Kittens one of the largest game companies by revenue in the world.

Now Exploding Kittens had some very powerful tools at its disposal. The Oatmeal Web comic is an online institution with over 3 million Facebook followers, 523,000 Twitter followers and Inman is a wizard at making content go viral. He did the art for the game, and promoted it to his enormous following of fans, personally vouching for it (and by all accounts it’s a great game, so this only increases his credibility).

The lesson there is that just because you’re using a cutting edge viral marketing strategy doesn’t mean you should do it on a shoestring budget. Lee and Small went out and partnered with a celebrity, and it paid off big time (for that celebrity as well, I think). When I said your marketing should have the motto “Characters Welcome,” this is exactly what I meant.

But OK, these projects all had huge launches. But does it last?

Let me tell you about this “bullshit” Cards Against Humanity pulled.

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

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