If you ask any inventor, designer or creative person what has stopped them from seeing a brilliant idea to fruition, the answer is always the same: money. But crowdfunding has changed all that. Thanks to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, a really great idea can now come to light thanks to the support of strangers.
With the rise of so many great products, causes and ideas on these sites, it can be hard to be seen and find backers. We spoke to members of our private community who have produced successful crowdfunding campaigns to get tips on creating an epic video, getting it seen and ultimately earning the funds you need.
Pick the Right Product
The biggest battle of any crowdfunding campaign is picking a product you know people will love. Since Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are ripe with thousands of campaigns for the picking, not every new idea is a good fit for these platforms.
Jason Feinberg, owner of the company FCTRY, is in the business of creating quirky products. In the past, he’s been covered by blogs and media outlets almost instantly when a new product has launched.
“When we got into our eCommerce business, there was no Kickstarter and it used to be easy to release a cool new product and get big blogs to write about it, but that was in 2010,” he says. “Because of things like Kickstarter, there’s more competition for those eyes than there used to be. We decided to join them rather than beat them.”
For their first attempt at Kickstarter, they decided to launch a campaign for their Hillary Clinton Bobblehead, having already had success with their own Obama Bobblehead during his election. He knew it would be easy to gain traction with a political figure since it was topical and already being covered in the media.
Once the video went live, they continued to promote the product as new stories broke during Hillary’s “will-she-or-won’t-she-run” media blitz.
“We adapted press releases and stories as new stories about Hillary hit too. The second you get covered by a few blogs, you’re old news. So we knew this product would be able to continue to be covered if we could keep making the stories fresh.”
If you pick the right product, Jason says you’ll reach two different audiences. First there’s the early adopters that love backing innovative products on Kickstarter and have a history of donating. But for his action figure, he knew he also had to reach the audience that would want to back a quirkier, politically-minded product.
“Picking the right product is crucial to gaining momentum on these platforms,” he says.
Appeal to your Audience
David Baron and Ryan Cocca, the innovators behind The Nugget Couch knew their product wasn’t going to show up in living rooms of the rich and famous. But they did know that their lightweight, indestructible and fun couch would be something kids, college students and moms everywhere would get behind.
At perhaps the funniest moment in the video, you can watch a cute kid jumping, grunting and flopping himself all over the couch. The couch doesn’t move and no one gets hurt. If that doesn’t get Mom to push the “Buy Now” button, then nothing will.
The video appeals to families, college coeds and small-space dwellers by selling its other features hard: durability, easy to wash and removable covers and a cool design that’s constructed using sustainable practices.
Flaunt The Product Benefits
Not every product video needs to pull at the heartstrings or make you chuckle. Videos don’t need huge production value or a flashy opening number. If you’ve got a product that will make your backers lives easier, make sure you flaunt those benefits like Jon Cyr’s Sir Lancelot’s Armor.
In less than one minute, this super scratch-resistant and impact-resistant screen protector was attacked with a bread knife, drill and hammer without making the tiniest dent. If you’re one of the millions of people that have dropped their iPhone from a table, bar counter or out your car door, then you’re already convinced.
Get Everyone Excited
Two words: virtual reality. Are the hairs on your arm standing up yet? There’s something about the pacing and excitement behind Patrick Buckley’s DIY Virtual Reality Cardboard Kickstarter.
Maybe it’s the promise of being able to stand in front of Versailles or shoot zombies. Perhaps it’s the fact that they were able to create something better than Google. It could also be the promise that it’s the “first of its kind”. And who doesn’t want to be an early adopter?
The excitement is palpable! If you can get potential backers psyched about the product, you’re more than halfway there.
Focus On The First 48 Hours
Once your video is ready for its big debut, you’ve got roughly 30 days to make sure it’s seen and funded. But Roman Khan, founder of Linjer Luxury Goods, says it’s the first 48 hours that you should focus on.
Going into the campaign, Roman focused on reaching his goal within the first week. Instead, they funded their campaign in the first 48 hours.
“Trying to reach our goal quickly was important because everyone loves traction as it gives birth to valuable word of mouth marketing and it will maximize your chances of getting featured on the homepage or newsletter of these platforms. In our case, we got both.”
Hitting their goal that quickly resulted in a huge spillover effect where they started to get coverage by some big beats like newsletter coverage and homepage feature by Indiegogo, blogs and eventually WSJ.com and Inc. Magazine.
“That traction and momentum is key,” he says.
Explain Why You’re Different
As of this month, there are around 1,400 ongoing and finished projects on Kickstarter that focus solely on watches.
So how did Jake Kassan, founder of MVMT Watches, raise 1,446% above his goal? He had a straightforward approach to showcasing why his watches are different than every other watch on the market.
His direct approach to describing the insane markup of luxury watches while showcasing his affordable yet very stylish MVMT model appealed to everyone with the budget for Timex but a taste for Rolex.
Instead of being flashy about the sleek clock face or flaunting it on some models, Jake’s frankness and direct approach made both him and the watches very likeable.
UpSell, Advertise and Hustle
If you think nailing a crowdsourcing campaign is about putting a great video into the world and crossing your fingers, you’re sorely mistaken. It takes some business savvy and know-how to get it seen by the right people.
Deven Soni and Ben Yu ran the #1 consumable crowdfunding campaign ever launched on IndieGoGo for Sprayable. They reached their initial goal of $15,000 in the first 24 hours. Though their product was innovative and their video was stellar, the two said upselling potential backers was the first hurdle.
“You need to incentivize a bit,” says Deven. “It’s easier to get a $1 contributor to then donate $100 than to get a $0 contributor to donate $1. Sometimes you just need to ask and give them a reason to donate more.”
Beyond offering premium gifts and rewards to backers, they used an expert tactic that required targeting the right audience with paid ads. In fact, Deven says most 6 and 7-figure campaigns need to spend 30% of their campaign target on advertising.
The best people to target are users that visited the page but didn’t back it, people that often back crowdsourcing campaigns by using interest-based ads and finally, targeting “lookalike” audiences – a group of people with similar characteristics of your backers.
“Once there are about 1,000 people on your email list you can create a lookalike audience on Facebook and target that list,” he says. “Additionally, you can target folks that have liked other campaign Facebook pages that are similar in nature to yours. This is a good proxy since many likers of campaigns are backers as well.”
Don’t Forget About Your Backers After You’re Funded
If you’ve followed all the advice above, congratulations! You’re well on your way to a fully backed project. The scariest part happens next. You’ve been backed, you’ve got a product you’re bringing to the world and it’s time to deliver on your promises.
A ton of things can go wrong now. There might be issues with manufacturing, shipping troubles, production conflicts–the works. But don’t be afraid to let your backers know you’ve run into a snafu or two.
“You might think it’s better to keep your head down and ride out the rough patches without scaring your audience, but that’s the worst possible thing to do,” says Jimmy Hayes, cofounder of the Minaal Bag.
Hayes said that one of the most important things he did after successfully funding his Kickstarter was carving out time to communicate with backers so that they were happy they funded his project.
“If you’re constantly in contact with backers to tell them what’s happening (yes, even if it’s ‘We’re still waiting on the port workers to come back from strike’), what you’re doing about it, and most importantly,what it means for their pledge reward timeline, then you’ll face little, if any, backlash,” he says. “This can be really difficult when it’s 2 a.m. and you just finished taping 2,500 envelopes together, but people love being part of the story–the ups and the downs.”
Launching a campaign that people can’t resist starts with a great idea. With platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, it’s easy for that awesome product to be seen by thousands, even millions of people that aren’t just future customers, but business backers too.
We hope you’ll put these IndieGoGo and Kickstarter campaign tips to the test. Best of luck as you launch the next big thing to the crowdfunding world.
Looking for even more tips on running your own successful Kickstarter campaign? Join us in the eCommerceFuel Private Forum! You’ll be able to connect with other successful campaign founders like those mentioned above (all of which are forum members) as well as get expert advice from over 600+ vetted, experienced eCommerce entrepreneurs and store owners. Learn more and apply for membership here.
Photo: Flickr/Francis Toms