Crowdfunding isn't easy, but if you get the planning right you can make your life during the campaign just that little bit less stressful. In this article I want to share a number of tips and tricks I have learned during my experiences helping campaigns on KickStarter and Indiegogo - in particular the Oomph Coffee Maker campaign last year on KickStarter reaching 234% funding, which has since gone on to InDemand for Pre-Orders on Indiegogo and at the time of writing this is a few weeks from shipping.
Top Tips for Crowdfunding Campaigns
1 - Don't Rush It!
You may have the best idea in the world, the next big thing, it may be something that will soon sell a billion globally - but if you rush into a crowdfunding campaign you will suffer a huge blow and you will probably fail. It happens all to often. You can usually tell which are the campaigns where they've gone "i've got a great idea, its amazing, lets get some crowdfunding" and then written 1000 boring words about why the product may be great, but they haven't really stopped to think about it - they flop 99% of the time - don't be one of them!
Don't Rush It!
Take your time to build out your product, build a business plan & business case, build your story and tell your story in a clear narrative in your campaign and get some awesome imagery.
Don't Rush It!
Plan everything you can, consider everything and read 100 articles like this (there is a huge list at the bottom of this article of some I love) & learn from them.
Don't Rush It!
Talk to others who have ran campaigns, Talk to other live campaigns - ask them about what they have done, what they did right and wrong, what mistakes they made, you will be amazed how open crowdfunding folks are...
2 - Build A Lean Crowdfunding Team!
Running a KickStarter campaign takes a huge amount of effort, don't underestimate it. If you are considering going solo - don't be a thick headed Wookie build a team around you that can help you build a successful campaign.
Sure the initial product concept is your own, but I am betting that you don't have the entire skill set needed to build an amazing campaign and keep it going from pre-launch, throughout the campaign and post-campaign. AND even if you do, you lucky-badger you, then you probably don't have the energy - the Oomph campaign ran for 37 days, Matthew (the creator of the product) and I worked every single day of those 37 ... it was exhausting and there were two of us!
So here are the people / skills I think you will need to find / have in your lean team as a minimum:
- Marketing: E-Mail Marketing, Outreach Marketing, SEO, Copywriting, Social Media
- Graphics & Video: Photography*, Videography*, Graphic Design, Product Concept Design*
- Accountability Partner (or Business Friends): Someone to check your figures and plans make sense
* are likely to jump in and out of your campaign as needed.
The other added benefit to having a team around you is that they will offer a new perspective on your product and campaign. They will bring new energy and drive to a campaign that in your mind may have been running for months or years as you've taken the concept to prototype stage.
3 - Build Campaign Buzz Early
If this is your first campaign, then you are coming to the table probably without an audience. This means if you turn up with a campaign page and social media accounts suddenly, then on day one you are going to struggle to get any traction.
To combat this there is a solution, its called building buzz. In essence it's outreach marketing through your industry, building your social network profile and collecting information from those you meet who may be interested in your campaign so you can notify them when you go live.
For the Oomph Coffee Maker we did this in many ways, but not all of them worked. The most successful were:
- Talking to industry bloggers about our product and upcoming campaign.
- Talking to local industry groups and companies about the product.
- Attending two industry events, one as an stand holder to show our device.
- Build a website to collect e-mails.
- Build a social media presence, mainly Twitter and Facebook.
We also knew that to get a real buzz around our launch we would need to do something big without our new industry "friends" involved, so we held a launch party. Over 100 coffee lovers attended through the evening - we had raised 20% by the end of our first 24 hour period, something we saw as a huge success.
A video of our KickStarter launch party.
4 - Hold A Campaign Launch Party
If you've got the contacts in the industry and the support is around you, hold a party to launch your KickStarter Campaign into the world.
Not only is it an amazing way to show the world that you have support already, because you will get them posting photos on social media! But you can get them to be the first people to pledge and pledge they will.
TOP TIP: Get some friends with iPads and have them at a stand able to help people pledge there and then. No messing around, No waiting til they go home, No issues with the WiFi, have it set up ready to go.
A bit like Inidegogo the algorithms on KickStarter for rankings and promotions are based around traffic, social and pledges ... if you can make enough noise on day one with a party and get enough pledges from it you may find yourself featured on day one... AWESOME!
5 - Get Your Campaign Timings Right
There are two key factors for timings of a crowdfunding campaign, that of the duration of the campaign and then when to start it.
How Long Should a Crowdfunding Campaign Be?
In general most campaigns are less than 40 days long, and the most successful are between 30 and 40 days. The reasons for this are mixed, sometimes is hedge betting to get the most from backers and other times its that going for too long is a 'turn-off' to backers as it looks like you will do anything to be funded. To short on the other hand is a very risky business and unless you have millions of people about to back you - don't even think about it.
When Should You Campaign Start?
This is a little more tricky to answer, as each industry will vary and each niche within it - but here are some guides to help you decide.
- Launch or End on a Pay Day weekend in your key target territory (your key target market).
- Use market seasonal trends to decide when sales of your product would be hot (in normal terms) and start then!
- Use Google Trends to check global and local trend patterns in search to backup your seasonal data.
- Look at when other similar products (across platforms) have been successful.
- Don't launch on a holiday.
If you get your timings right you can cover more than one pay day period, time the seasons just right (even though it may mean delaying your launch a month or two) and boost your KickStarter pledges just by doing this little bit of research and planning it instead of rushing.
The other advantage to this planning stage is that you can also use it to plan when you will post key campaign updates, again avoiding things like holidays where possible. This means you can use pay day periods within your campaign to boost pledges.
6 - Produce a Great Campaign Video
There are ton's of articles about this across the web, but the video really is the first stopping post to your campaign. If you don't have one you could risk loosing sales, having a bad one ... well that could be even worse.
Remember this is probably the only chance on KickStarter you will get to really show case your product "live" on the page so use it and use it well. Don't make a 5 minute video that doesn't show you how to use the product. Keep it snappy, simple and the message simple too.
Videos can be really hard work, this is why I'd advise getting some hired help in with this. It may cost you a little bit of money to get the filming and editting just right but it will be well worth it in the end.
At the end of your video the potential backer should be able to remember:
- Your Brand Name, or You
- Your Product & What It Does
- How Awesome Your Reward Will Be
7 - An Awesome Campaign Title
The title (other than your image) is what will first draw people to your amazing kickstarter project. So getting it right is paramount to your campaigns success.
There are a few ways of doing it, the easiest is to fill it with the uniqueness of your product like this...
- The First __________
- The Worlds Only _________
- The Fastest ________
- The Unique ________
- The Most Elegantly Designed _______
- The Worlds Most Beautiful ________
It won't surprise you that these work wonders at getting sales, but they are used so much that every other campaign seems to use them so lets make it a little more personal. You should be using your title to cause empathy and desire for your product from your audience. Think about issues they have and how you are solving them, or how your product is different and how you can say that.
Lets have a look at a few:
- KAISR Original: The Ultimate Inflatable Air Lounge (19103% Funded)
- Flow Hive: Honey on Tap Directly From Your Beehive (17385% Funded)
- ZANO : Autonomous. Intelligent. Swarming. Nano Drone. (1867% Funded)
- Sondors Electric Bike - Most Affordable eBike. Ever. (1806% Funded)
- Bagel: The World's Smartest Tape Measure (4512% Funded)
As you can see there are lots of ways of saying "this is for you" but generally its about giving a salesy pitch point rather than just features of the product or a description.
8 - Writing a Great Campaign Pitch
There are tons of articles about writing create sales campaign pitches for crowdfunding (scroll to the bottom of the article to get some links to those I've loved) but here's a few things it boils down to...
- Make It Scannable, use headlines to split up your page and make them easy to understand (how it works should be how it works not some random text about "the jiggery pokery of my product")
- Use short paragraphs where possible, long ones are boring and skipped over generally.
- Use lots of imagery, a photo is worth a 1000 words and people really are here to see your product not your text.
- Use Formatting, on KickStarter you can bold, italic, link etc use them make things stand out.
- Use an Positive & Active Tone, being positive and definite within your campaign pitch can be a real boost to backers mentality.
The bottom line is that, as with your video and your title, emotion is what you need to get into your campaign text. And it does beat out professionalism, this is where you get to be you and show who you are and why you are doing this.
Remember this isn't a pitch to formal investors, its about fostering a relationship with backers on KickStarter, people who want to help creators like you to build their project - emotions are how to connect with them! So talk about your backers more and more, if you can don't talk so much about yourself or your team. Talk about the product but more so how the backers will love and benefit from the product.
9 - Have a Media Page & Pack
There is nothing worse than being approached by a blogger or media outlet to be asked for your logo's, videos and imagery only for you to realise its in 25 locations and it not in any one neat place for someone to find it handily.
In fact, its damn unprofessional.
Creating a media page, or even just a media pack in a dropbox folder than you can share a link to doesn't take long to organise but can make you look much more professional and on the ball.
You can link to it in the footer of your campaign page and in your email footers, but best of all because its dropbox and in your control you can always change the content.
If you have it on your website the same rules apply, but you get to put the text content on the page for everyone to see and share more interactively (a much better choice).
10 - Read These Awesome Articles
But first, if you've enjoyed this read, scroll a little further and hit a social sharing button :)
Things to Know Before You Crowdfund - entrepreneur.com
9 Tips to Crush it on KickStarter - GeekWire
Pro Tips for KickStarting a Photo Book - PetaPixel
Lessons of a Failed KickStarter Campaign - IndieWire
Creating Awesome Pitch Videos for KickStarter - Moz
How to Make a Successful KickStarter Video - VideoMaker
Writing a Compelling Campaign Pitch - CrowdCrux
Writing a Killer Campaign Pitch - Copy Hackers
A Guide to PR for KickStarter - Shannon Drake
Social Media the Secret Weapon to KickStarter - Hootsuite
Creating Highly Effective Campaign Rewards - Art of the KickStart
We know there are tons tons more of wonderful articles, I will add a few more as I write more articles about Crowdfunding. If you've got some crowdfunding tips to share get in touch andy*at*seoandy.net
If you've a project you need help with or would like SEO Andy to manage do please contact me.