What the Potato Salad Guy Taught Us About Marketing

Most of you probably already know about last weeks greatest Kickstarter campaign, where Zack Brown of Columbus Ohio dryly requested funding ($10) stating “I’m making potato salad” and inadvertently raised over $40,000 to do so. Finding himself a celebrity on Reddit, as well as pulling off a guest spot on Good Morning America, I can promise you that Mr. Brown isn’t just an unintentional genius. For starters, he owns a web development agency that specializes in UX. Secondly, his Twitter is packed with social experiments, case studies, and project orientated information. But I digress. Whether or not Zack Brown decided that crowd-funding potato salad on Kickstarter was the best idea ever, there are important marketing lessons to take away.

Keep it Simple


In an age where marketers see consumers as brand loyal, tech savvy and on the go, the sales message tends to be repetitive and overdone. Ramped up, flowery sales language hurts conversions and there are a ton of recent studies that affirm the power of keeping your marketing as simple as possible. Think potato salad, all the way.

Appeal to the Empathy of Others


Empathy is a trait of the most intelligent consumers, the types of consumers that you want to stand behind your brand. That being said, appealing to this personality trait is one of the smartest things you can do. Zack Smith did this brilliantly through his command of the English language, with this humble description:

“Basically, I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet. It might not be that good. It’s my first potato salad”.

The best marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen not only get straight to the point, they make you feel something. Pulling on the heartstrings of your audience with a little genuine gusto can go a long way.

Offer Incentives


It’s been speculated that one of the main reasons the potato salad stint was so successful was because of the earnest incentives that were offered to funders. For $20 or more, Brown promises to send you a potato-salad themed haiku. And for $35 or more you’ll purportedly receive a bite of said potato salad. While these incentives are now impossible to follow-through with, it was enough to convince over 800 people to contribute to those two donation tiers in less than a 24 hour time period.

Why So Serious?


Numerous commenters on the potato salad page point out how refreshed they were to see a person who wasn’t taking himself too seriously. This notion is invaluable in our start up stress, 9 to 5 grind existence. Lend a comedic sigh of relief to your next campaign – it’s what the people want.

Fake It Till You Make It


The success of the potato salad campaign is not a mistake. I haven’t seen something as funny since the HOPA dry erase girl. Both campaigns have the same thing in common- they were pretending not to be real. This marketing strategy has been employed by the smartest marketers who get the crux of what millennial consumers are all about- an unexpectedly good story.