Searching for an alternative funding model

Earlier this year, Make Works approached us to see how they can improve awareness of how people can support the Make Works platform. 

Make Works is a factory finding resource where you can discover incredible makers, manufacturers, material suppliers and workshops. They create beautiful videos and a platform for manufacturers to showcase their work. It opens up the often hidden ways to work these manufacturers, which is especially useful for small makers.

We went off to investigate a bunch of different options for Make Works, and discovered Patreon. A crowdfunding platform with a twist; the idea is that people who really care about your project being out there in the world become a Patron, and support it in small amounts each month. 

Fi at Make Works loved Patreon's open approach so we reached out to them to start building their campaign. We worked with Patreon and Make Works to create a campaign page that would ignite their community's passion and make it as easy as possible to support Make Works. 

Make Works have written a great article about why they are looking at these alternative funding models, and how this applies to other not for profit organisations who don't quite fit that traditional VC funding model.

A TREASURE HUNT AROUND SOHO WITH CONSCIOUS ME AND INSTAGRAMERS LONDON

Conscious Me asked us to create an event to get people thinking about conscious businesses in London. Our aim was to get people sharing the conscious organisations they support and their website too. We organised a photo walk with Instagramers London and 11 Conscious organisations in the Soho area that impact the world in a positive way.

We collaborated with businesses to arrange something fun to do at each location, ensuring snacks and drinks were provided. Despite the rainy forecasts over 50 inspired instagrammers and bloggers came along to take part. You can take a look at #consciouslondon to see all the amazing instagrams that were shared but here are some of our favourite snaps and moments from the day.

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What an awesome day, a huge thanks to all the Conscious places we visited and to everyone that helped share photos to promote conscious consumerism.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCE

We think a huge part of your brand’s success is found in understanding your audience and creating a community around your product, service or business. In order to do that and create brilliant content that keeps them engaged it’s important to ask a few questions about your audience; who are they? where are they? what do they like?

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Illustration by Giovanna Milanezi

A good starting point is to write down everything you already know about your customers. Speak with everyone in the business from customer service, to PR, to the managing director and even better speak to your existing audience, find out everything you can. At Paved With Gold we build upon this with further research to develop personas for their different audience types. Each new project is informed by a Discovery Phase, where we analyse what competitors are doing and find influencers that can reach our clients target audience.

Build personas
We work with our clients to build personas for their target audiences. This helps us understand who our clients should be trying to connect with and how.

  1. Basic demographic information. Age, sex, gender, occupation, income etc.
  2. Where they are. Geographically in the real world but also where they spend time online.
  3. What they enjoy. Hobbies and interests but also what content they engage with most.
  4. Who they hang out with. Find communities or conversations to be part of.
  5. Who they trust. Celebrity, customer and blogger endorsements or in-depth reviews.

We find this information through several different methods, knowledge already acquired, surveying existing customers and surveys with potential users. Creating personas is useful to get everyone on the same page and thinking about audiences in the same way. It’s a fun process too, taking this information and creating stories around daily lives of the different personas, it really helps to make them real.

Take a look at your competitors
Looking at content from competitors or similar products gives us an understanding of what our audiences will respond to and engage with most. We can learn what content our target audiences likes, shares and talks about. We can sometimes even learn from their mistakes and see what content was least liked.

Another key part of our process is to find how to differentiate our clients brand to build their own following. Something that worked well for a competitor might not work for our client and so we look at positioning our content messaging differently.

Create "frenemies", just because they are competitors doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends. You might have lots in common, but when it comes down to it your core beliefs or aims are different. You can learn a lot by sharing with your competitors especially if you’re operating in a new space. They might have tried out something that really didn’t work, or something that did, their might also be opportunities for partnerships. Pairing up can make penetration into new markets and areas a lot easier.

Identify key influencers

We work with a lot of startups and young companies that are just launching or still in the early stages of developing their products. Many people don’t yet know about them so it’s important to find the right influencers to talk to. Our aim here is not only to get influencers to share our product with their audience but to also build relationships with them. We then use this relationship to collaborate on content, special edition products and ongoing campaigns. It’s not just a link we want from them, we want it to create long lasting evangelists.

It’s this strategic research and analysis from the beginning that helps inform everything moving forwards, from the language used in copywriting, to the overall feel of content, to how we go out and connect with influencers. Over time analysing what works and what doesn’t, and backing up next steps with the numbers. Our aim being to really get to know our target audiences so we can understand the best ways to engage with them and build a long-lasting growing community.

THE RISE OF EDUTECH: HOW STARTUPS ARE FILLING TECHNOLOGY GAPS IN THE CURRICULUM

The Drum asked us to write about EduTech projects that we've been working on at Paved With Gold. Read on to learn about how Richard got stuck under a TV as a child!

"Richard Ling, Product Marketing Strategist at Paved With Gold, explores why a growing number of parents want their children to understand creative technology more deeply. 

The key to getting my next fix of Enduro Racer was my older sister, but one day she wasn’t there. My parents were clueless as to how to set it up on our ZX Spectrum and told me to wait. Of course, when left alone I tried to plug it in myself, ultimately leading to me screaming for help under a broken television. If only they understood technology.

Parents today aren’t scared of technology. What they’re scared of is their children being stuck in front of a screen. With coding being made compulsory in the curriculum last year, parents understand the importance of their children learning about programming.

There have been a few projects that have spotted the trend and gone beyond teaching children just programming and focused more on play that is more active, creative and even emotive. Projects like Hackaball, the computer you can throw, a ball and app children can use to program their own games.

Having worked on the project and gathering feedback from parents, it was interesting to see that they were really drawn to how it encouraged their kids be more active and play in a more creative way. Learning about programming was more of a bonus. This is how we led our pitch on Kickstarter and Hackaball raised over $240,000.

Our team are also working with Technology Will Save Us – they make DIY gadget kits that help kids get hands-on with technology. More than just coding, it’s about getting kids making and inventing, and understanding how technology works. They encourage kids (and parents) to get a bit mucky with tech, soldering, hacking and understanding new things all the time. Bigger organisations are taking notice as Tech Will Save Us helped develop the BBC micro:bit alongside ARM, Samsung and Barclays.

There’s another recent project that didn’t quite reach its Kickstarter goal but saw enough demand that the team are going into production anyway. Avakai is a traditional wooden figurine that houses clever technology. The “21st century play companion” somewhat shows things going full circle; parents wanting technology for their kids that’s not about code and circuit boards but about feeling and traditional craftsmanship.

Parents are always looking for things that support or go beyond the school curriculum. What’s interesting is that this gap is being filled not by corporate toy companies but instead passionate startups with a maker mentality. Part of the attraction is that all of their ‘go get it’ stories become baked into the product offering as they bring their ideas to life. These projects and their stories are inspiring the next generation of makers.

It will be exciting to see what will come next, but even more exciting to imagine what the children of today will create in the future. Then there will be a day when kids are no longer stuck in front of the television (or under it)."