So I’ll admit I got this crowdfunding thing wrong a couple times BUT I’ve learned from my mistakes and the last two times got it right — SO here is what I recommend you do so you can learn from my mistakes;
Key Factors to Success;
- Video content / quality
- Setting the right goal / hitting it fast with the right rewards
- Being prepared in messaging and content
- 3rd Party Services
Crowdfunding Rule #1 — Make a great video!
Make a sweet Kickstarter video and tell the story of your product! I should know more than anyone about this (being a YouTube case study).
Mistake: The first campaign I ran on Kickstarter I did a rush job on my video as a result it didn’t draw backers into my project, it was not focused on the product and it’s features. Remember the product is the star, let it shine. Doing it on the fly is not the approach you want to take.
Learning: There are several resources you can use to make professional quality videos even if you’re the camera shy type. Here are 3 vital resources; Videohive.net Audiojungle.net and Upwork.com
Videohive has video template formats you can buy for about $30–50 and plug in with your own product images. You can find great royalty free audio on Audiojungle.net for $15–20 and get them all edited into a sweet video by a video production expert on Upwork for about $15–50/hr and have a great video in a week.
Crowdfunding Rule #2 — Setting the right goal & hitting it fast!
The two major factors that go into hitting your goal quickly are having an achievable goal and reward levels that help you get there quickly. You want to hit your goal fast — it is a key metric that will trigger your campaign to get a better rank on the Kickstarter platform and hopefully that better placement will influence your longterm success with the project.
Mistake: My first Kickstarter project mistake was to set a goal that was too high ($50K) with incentives/rewards that were way too low ($10 or $12 each) — that means I’d need 5000 backers to buy in. I did get 1500 backers but the project fell short after my first week of the launch and then died in momentum.
Learning: Find a good mix of what goal is most achievable, for me the lowest MOQ for any product, in this scenario my margins are not as good but at least I have a goal that gets the products produced.
Rewards should be limited at first (offer only 10–15 of limited quantities) for discounted items that incentivize early birds. Use “KROWDSTER” who offers a free tool to gather emails from prospective backers who will get notified the moment you go live. Indiegogo offers their own built in pre-launch page which can help you gather interested backers before you go live. These “early birds” get special discounts of limited quantities of discounted rewards. But the key is they all hit your campaign on the first day!
Crowd funding Rule #3 — “Be Prepared”
Get all your messages ready before you launch! There is a lot of story telling in bringing a product to life and backers want to share in the experience of your vision — share that and be prepared with notes and stories you can share about the experience.
Mistake: In my past projects I had left too much to the last minute and writing all the messages and updates each day alone will take you 2–3 hours of writing. You can also get an FAQ ready for your team who will help you (2 people should be enough) to have short answers to any anticipated questions. Share a document on Google drive or Asana to build a guide for everyone to share.
Learning: You can get an FAQ ready for your team (2 people should be enough) to have short answers to any anticipated questions. Share a document on Google drive or Asana project to track updates and new questions.
Have draft emails ready for your own email subscriber list and update the emails with specific data as the project goes along but have the format and general info laid out in advance — this will leave your work to a minimum during the campaign. Remember you also have to keep running your regular business while all of this happens!
Crowd funding Rule #4 — Caveat Emptor on 3rd Party Marketing
As far as 3rd party marketing services go; I’ve heard one thing universally from nearly every single crowdfunder that was successful — Don’t waste money on 3rd party services!!!
Mistake: It’s SO tempting to hit the panic button and hire a 3rd party company to promote your campaign for you but they don’t know your campaign better than you, they don’t know your product better than you, they may be better at Google targeted Adwords than you but they aren’t any better than a much cheaper Adwords specialist on UpWork.
You might hear huge claims of success from 3rd party services from other campaign owners but beware, a dirty little secret is they are getting kickbacks for each campaign that they send back to the company.
Learning: Find an Adwords or Facebook ad specialist and ask them to help build a campaign around the first days of launch — again the most critical — and be prepared to drop some money to create the lift.
One suggestion I have is to take the pre-launch backer list you have and if it’s over 100 create an “Audience” on Facebook that you can then expand by creating a “Lookalike” audience. If you don’t have a pre-launch list consider having your first 100 backers to sign up for your emails for a special small incentive, build an Audience with those emails on Facebook and repeat the above and create targeted ads for your campaign.
There are also some guides on how to be a “Staff Pick by Kickstarter” (by the staff at Kickstarter) that is worth a read and also has some good suggestions on content and thumbnails.
There is no perfect path and each campaign is different but being prepared and getting a good jump out of the starting blocks is the best advice I have for a successful campaign.
Follow my Kickstarter Campaign just launched today!