Why not let Internet junkies do your marketing for you?
Brickfish, a San Diego company, lets you do that by tapping into the creative energies of Internet users — getting them to work for free, essentially, to generate marketing ideas for you.
The music band Incubus tried it out. Take a look at the 150 marketing ideas generated (or see samples at left) when the band asked for ideas on an album cover. It offered the winning designer a signed lithograph and a CD catalog.
Customers like Incubus pay Brickfish anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 per campaign, depending on the number of ideas that users submit, and the number of times the ideas are viewed, reviewed or voted on. However, the users who generate content, they get paid $0. Unless, of course, they win, and get the prize.
Ah, the wonders of user generated content (UCG, as it has become known in industry jargon)!
Investors, too, apparently think it is a no-brainer idea. Brickfish will announce to tomorrow that it has raised $11.2 million in a first round of funding from DCM, a Silicon Valley venture firm. Other investors include Draper Richards, Draper Associates, Mangrove Capital and OCA Ventures.
Chief executive Shahi Ghanem, former president of Nasdaq, said advertisers seeking to build brands through banner ads, pop-ups and other ways are getting frustrated. Those avenues are increasingly ineffective, he said.
Brickfish launched in January, and claims about 40,000 members. It’s way early to say whether the company will succeed or not. The trick is whether Brickfish can get users to take this one extra step. Once users submit their ideas, will they be proud enough of them to put them on widgets in their blogs, to share with still more users — again, all for free? Well, that is the $11 million question. It would be viral marketing that big advertisers like Pepsi could only dream of.