Three Unexpected Outcomes From My Kickstarter Campaign

Think you’ve heard everything there is to know about Kickstarter Campaigns? These benefits might surprise you. Read Beverly Anderson’s crowdfunding story

I went into the Kickstarter process fully apprised of how much time it was going to consume. I was told, “forget doing anything else during your campaign”, and also how important it is to tap deeply into my existing contacts and the importance of social media to a successful campaign. I soon found that these were all true. Going in, my purpose for the campaign was clear and simple: raise money and product awareness for our premium western pants for riding and lifestyle. It was a critical time for the company and me. I needed to find out if my idea had any legs and whether or not mine would carry it further.

Some of the greatest benefits, however, came in unexpected packages. Following are three of the highest impact lessons I got from the campaign:

1. A Kickstarter, or any crowdfunding campaign, is a great conversation starter. I used this advantage to make calls that I wouldn’t have easily made otherwise. Some outcomes were amazing. For example, one industry icon evaluated our products and marketing position and gave me not one but TWO valued phone calls with his input and advice. I wound up doing an emergency photo shoot during the campaign based on his feedback. And it paid off.

2. You learn a lot about your own products. Perhaps it should have been obvious, but just learning what people responded to on social media and which products they ultimately chose is great marketing input and informed my path forward with the business in both positioning and in actual product choices. In our case of clothing design, it’s reconfirmed: black. People want black.

3. You need to be serious about social media if you want to succeed at crowdfunding.This lesson was a tough one. I had never been so dependent upon social media before and I had an awakening that I needed it if I was going to succeed. The dirty little secret is that social media is much more than just the practice of posting things and getting ‘liked’, although many are making a good living off of doing precisely that. Social media is, instead, truly an extension and representation of your brand. Duh! I know, but with the bulk of my prior social media experience as a Facebook lurker, it was a reality check.

For any crowdfunding campaign that is by design 99% online, social media is not only essential, it is everything. After three tries with three different social media consultants, I wound up taking it back and doing it myself. The result was a true adherence to my brand and a great new awareness of the use, and sometimes magic, of social media. Be forewarned, however, because social media is a huge, but necessary, time sink.

Was it worth it? There are many costs to a Kickstarter campaign. You have up front costs of the ever-important video to produce and email harvesting with companies like Kick Off Labs (well worth it, by the way, and a great tailored service). There are rewards to provide and produce and, in many cases, this involves the development of something entirely new. In our case, we needed something to reward backers for the popular amounts of $25 and $50, who rightly expect a reward but for which we could not afford to give them a pair of our pants. (We designed and made fancy leather hatbands that use our excess materials.) Pricing of awards was tricky, too. Most people expect domestic shipping to be included and tremendous bargains. Then there are Kickstarter fees and expenses (almost 10% of the money raised), and taxes.

With all of this in mind, crowdfunding is not a way to get rich. I do think, however, it accomplished fairly well my original goals of raising money and product awareness. We raised 32% over our initial goal and with the proceeds have done what we stated we would- set up local, dedicated manufacturing and begun to sponsor more women in sport. We are in the middle of our first production run, which is all very exciting, and truly satisfying. I’d also never give up the unexpected benefits I received by being in the position of conducting a crowdfunding campaign. Net: Yes! It’s worth it.

Beverly Anderson is the founder and CEO of Equescouture, Inc., a company that designs and produces luxury apparel for the growing athleisure markets. Prior to that, Beverly was the founder, CEO and Board Chair for digitalEPC, an after-market trading platform for construction materials. digitalEPC was selected as a Springboard Midwest company and successfully raised several rounds of venture funding. Beverly has enjoyed an active participation as a Springboard alumna since. Beverly has also been a senior management consultant and a construction executive. She resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.