So, 2 months on and the dust has settled after the flurry of our Kickstarter. As part of a thank you we wanted to share our lessons from our Kickstarter campaign with you all. Below is a number of do’s and don’ts that we’ve learned from our research, mistakes and learning along the way. Even if you’re not a company there are still some relative pointers that we think will help you. This is far from a comprehensive article on the topic but we think it can serve as a decent starting point.
Make Early Media Engagement.
This one sounds obvious, but we ignored it and could have cost us the project if we didn’t catch up on the ground we lost during our launch. Make contact with the relative media before your launch, get your stories agreed and lined up. Most of them will honour embargoes! Have everyone talking about your product when you launch. Creating a rolling snowball is always better than trickle of stories. Mike Del Ponte of Soma writes a brilliant article on this for Tim Ferris’s FourHourBlog (Link below).
Fine Tune Your Media Outreach.
Fine-tune your selection of relative media, don’t use a scatter gun technique of contacting the media. If you do, it’s likely you’ll just annoy them or they’ll ignore you. If you’re planning to fund a tech project on Kickstarter, chances are Good Housekeeping or the National Geographic aren’t going to want to give the story to their readers. Spend time researching who to contact.
Build Interest Before Launch.
Do build and engage your following on whatever social media platform of your choice BEFORE launch. Let people have an idea what you’re hoping to achieve, build their interest and gain their support so they know when and how to help you! See Seth Godin’s article below on the importance of doing this.
Set a Realistic yet Attainable Funding Target.
With Kickstarter, the all or nothing factor of the funding can be quite a daunting factor, not only for you, but also for potential backers. Set your funding goal to a relatively easy to reach goal, but not too low that you’re not going to be taken seriously. Spend time mashing out a number that if you reach you can afford to go ahead but low enough to you think you can clear at an early stage to get even greater support. The reasoning for this is, like any adoption curve, there is a portion of late adopters on Kickstarter who want to back projects that either have already succeeded or are likely to succeed. They will resist pledging support to projects that don’t look like they’ll come through. You’ve got to remember, they are parting with their hard earned cash. We even had a woman apologize for withdrawing her pledge as her dog needed veterinary treatment. Therefore you need to make it easy for them to make the leap of faith. Looking back the trend of projects seem to be, if you breach your target early on, you should snowball past it.
Create a Good Video.
Take time to make a good and engaging video, the statistics prove the dividends. It doesn’t have to be snazzy, fancy and professionally edited, but it does need to be clear and concise, get your point across through your own style/voice.
Climb the Ranks with $1 Pledges.
The “Recently Launched”, “Hardware” and “Popular Projects” pages can be your good friends. We got most of our pledges from these pages. This is where getting your family, friends and wider networks to make small donations really pays off. It’s not the value of pledges but the number of them that matter. Get lots of small pledges, it gets you climbing up to the top of these pages, which means more eyeballs, which means hopefully more pledges. As Steve Jobs once said “Most people don’t get those experiences because they never ask. I never find anybody that didn’t want to help me if asked them for help”. Here it is really important to keep in mind that your friends and family are being generous, be grateful and pay the favour back. If it means grabbing a pint, making an introduction or a just thank you, do it.
“Do Your Homework”.
For your own research, do look for the commonalities between successful projects (an actually decent idea, the length of the video, project launch times and lengths, compelling copy, attractive and creative pledge rewards etc.) but also look at the failed projects. You can walk through the Kickstarter graveyard at kickbackmachine.com and learn from these mistakes.
Ponder over Paid Marketing Decisions.
If you have budgeted for paid marketing channels, give a good think about what channels, will provide an adequate return and attract the right people. We aren’t claiming that we did everything right and we won’t try to dissuade any of you, but our return on investment for our marketing spending was less than 5%. Use the right channels and do it right, you may not need to pay for yours.
Don’t think it’s going to be easy.
The projects that you see getting funded in 24 hours and reaching three, four or five hundred percent are the rock stars of Kickstarter. Just like in real life, it’s only a small percentage of the field that make it to those heights. But if you have a good product that grabs people’s attention, spurs emotion and gets them thinking, who’s to say you can’t be the rock stars. There are steps you can take and formulas you can implement that can help push the odds in your favour of getting past the big 100% line. Some of the really valuable ones that we leaned heavily are linked below.
Avoid launching in summer.
This was a lesson we nearly had to learn the hard way. Everyone talks about it and it makes sense – a lot of people are on holidays during these months. Not to mention the weather being good enough to even draw us away from our computers for most hours of the day. Imagine that. It’s blindingly obvious but less people in work or online, means less people visiting the Kickstarter site and less people visiting your project page.
Don’t See Launching Your Kickstarter Project as the Finishing Point.
It is only the beginning…of a beautiful friendship (just for all the Casa Blanca fans out there). The great community that is Kickstarter are a hugely passionate crowd and if you’ve a good project, they’ll want to support you and will provide you with invaluable insights and ideas to your project going forward. Kickstarter opens a two way conversation, just make sure to listen.
One last do for all of you! If you are considering launching your own Kickstarter, please make sure to let us know when you launch, we’ll be more than happy to spread the word and pledge our support!
Yours in relaxation,
The Galvanic Team
A short article by Seth Godin – “Why Kickstarter projects fail”
The piece by Mike Del Ponte of Soma on marketing your Kickstarter project on the Four Hour Work Week Blog. An invaluable read for cost effective marketing. Here is their Kickstarter that raised over $140,000 in 38 days.
This talk by Michael Paek of Cliffhanger productions, (who raised over $550,000 in less than 25 days) is a great 30 minute video on some do’s and don’ts for companies outside the U.S. setting up Kickstarter for the U.S.
As a non-U.S. Kickstarter project, the article below by GoldHawk Interactive – the minds behind the successful Xenonauts Kickstarter was a solid starting point for us and invaluable in our efforts. If you’re a non-U.S. company definitely give it a read through. It clearly goes through the all steps you’ll face.
An Amazon Payments set up Youtube tutorial