Today’s post about “crushing it” with crowdfunding is the final in a 3-Part series covering all the aspects of a successful Kickstarter campaign.
In the previous two posts, we looked at:
- The pros and cons of crowdfunding;
- Developing your “pitch”;
- Using video for storytelling;
- Identifying your Backers and targeting your Evangelists.
- Connecting with your potential Backers;
- Step-by-step Communications Action Plan, including:
- Press release (free template – CLICK HERE for instant access)
- Social media
And finally, in this post, we wrap it all up by coving the following elements of a successful Kickstarter campaign:
- Reaching out beyond your current network;
- Step-by-step Outreach Action Plan;
- Rewarding your Backers; and
- Campaign timeline/schedule (another free giveaway – see below!).
Again, recall that this series on crowdfunding was written with Kickstarter in mind, however, the principles and action plans are equally effective when used on any of the other crowdfunding platforms (i.e. IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, etc.)
And now, onward and outward (from your network, that is…)
Outreach Beyond your Network
Reaching out and asking for help, support and ultimately money is your main on-going task with crowdfunding. Once you’ve contacted your primary backers and potential Evangelists, you’ll quickly realize that you need to extend beyond your existing circle of influence to make your project a success.
Whether you’re seeking investment or simply needing people and outlets to distribute information about your work, you are constantly needing and relying on other people to support your cause. It’s hard work, will make you leave your comfort zone, and will require you to develop a thick skin.
You’ll be faced with a lot of rejection, and received many “no thanks” (even from many of whom you believed could be your primary backers) – but don’t let that dissuade your efforts. Learn to get comfortable with hearing “no” and use these cues to discover the best ways to get to “yes”.
Dealing with rejection and having to pivot and learn from this process will be invaluable lessons that extend well beyond your campaign.
To ensure you’re starting off on the right foot, it will require some research to identify your potential target audience. Use the following Outreach Action Plan as a guide to help you locate potential investors beyond your personal network:
Crowdfunding Outreach Action Plan
- Consider your project’s broader market, and then niche down to the specific audiences that would potentially be interested in this type of product/project. Identify active individuals within this audience, such as Bloggers, Facebook pages or Twitter users. Make a list of at least 20 to 100 of the top influencers in this space, as these are potential people who you can contact to help spread the word;
- Identify outlets that may be receptive to receiving your press release (Get your downloadable template HERE). Find the names of whom at that blog, magazine, news site, radio or other program is the primary contact for receiving press releases;
- Search for existing online communities, forums, groups and blogs to not only send your press release, but also to engage in their discussions. Leave interesting, supportive and helpful comments on blogs, and eventually speak the administrator or authors to write a blog post about your campaign;
- Create a database of high profile people within your space, including minor celebrities on social media who may potentially take an interest in your project;
- Begin drafting enticing emails, short messages and Tweets with links to your project on Kickstarter, asking for help in spreading the word. These communications should be catered specifically to each of these influencers. It’s okay to repeat a message, but ensure it’s personalized to each recipient. The goal here is get them interested enough to help spread the word. If they invest in your campaign, that’s a bonus. But we’re aiming at leveraging their status and existing fan-base;
- Don’t forget to “think local”. Big city or small town, local news outlets are always looking for home-town interest stories. Potential local sources for your news release could range from a chamber of commerce newsletter or local paper. You might think that larger metro and national news organizations are beyond your reach (and you’re mostly right), but not necessarily – go to their websites and find the appropriate contacts for news releases, where there might be potential to get featured on their constantly updated web-editions.
This action plan is not a one-and-done. Complete the above steps often – consider the database as a working draft that you build on; reach out, via email and Twitter, regularly before and during the launch; participate in forum and blog discussions on relevant topics daily.
The goal is to attract as many potential fans to your Kickstarter campaign as possible. It’s a grind, but when your work pays off and you gain support for your campaign, it will be well worth the experience.
Keep in mind, the reasons for all these actions and why it’s important to document everything, is not only for the sole purposes of launching your Kickstarter project. A big part of this process is to identify who and where you can return to if/once your project gets off the ground.
Not everyone is an early adopter, or interested in supporting a crowdfunded project. But some people may be interested in your offering once you’ve proven yourself and could be a warm prospect for a second round of sales, once Kickstarter has been used as your proof-of-concept.
For those early adopters, willing to go along for the ride during your fundraising campaign, these people deserve an extra perk for believing in you and/or your project.
Rewarding your Crowdfunding Supporters
Kickstarter is designed to provide rewards in return for someone’s financial pledge. Determining the rewards and the pledge levels will take some brainstorming. Browse the site and see what other successful projects have done, especially projects similar to yours.
Although there is no right or wrong ways to structure your fundraising rewards, here are a few considerations to think about:
- Rewards should be relatively easy to fulfill and affordable to deliver. On average, rewards will cost you 5-7% to deliver (production, time, postage, etc.);
- Be Creative! Although T-shirts and stickers are very common perks, they’re still relatively cheap and fun. Digital downloads are easy, but can be potentially valuable additions. Personal notes, including postcards or a phone call, are a nice personal touch. Sky’s the limit – just plan for it and remember to be budget-conscious.
- Plan in advance for a way to “jump-start” a flat-lining campaign. Things can start with a bang, but like most projects, crowdfunding campaigns can go through an inevitable slump during your project’s fundraising timeline. One way to reinvigorate the campaign is to announce a “surprise” new reward, giveaway or an auction.
- Notwithstanding large scale projects or campaigns being run by big name personalities, the majority of perks for pledge levels at $25, $50 and $100 are statistically the biggest sellers. However, don’t neglect $10 and under – these levels provide a way for anyone to get involved, which can potentially help more people get involved and/or more people sharing your campaign.
- Don’t create rewards so grand and costly that you actually lose money on your fundraising campaign. No joke, this happens.
If nothing else, remember to get creative, and try to offer something valuable at each price point.
Crowdfunding Campaign Timeline
It seems to be human nature to under-estimate the amount of time it takes to complete any one task. Executing a successful crowdfunding campaign is no exception.
This is a massive undertaking – you’re essentially running an entire fundraising campaign, more or less on your own, with the end goal of launching a business or product. It should come as no surprise that this process is all consuming.
The good news is there is a lot that can be done in advance, to help prepare for the time that the campaign goes live on Kickstarter.
Project management is key, so each campaign should be chunked into three phases:
- Pre-launch (research and preparation);
- Launch (live on crowdfunding platform); and
The timeline provided in our DOWNLOAD covers a 24-week period, with the following phases overlapping each other:
- 20-weeks dedicated to the pre-launch preparation;
- 5-weeks for the actual fundraising campaign; and
- 2-weeks to quickly wrap up your campaign by thanking your backers and shipping out their rewards.
To some, this timeline will seem overly generous, while others will need double this amount of time for the prep work alone. Each project is different, depending on the project manager and scope of the fundraising targets, but use this timeline as a general guideline.
But here’s the real kicker: running a successful campaign is just the beginning. Taking your project from a crowdfunded idea to a product on the market means that, technically, the “real” work is still ahead of you.
Thankfully, all of the work in preparation for the campaign, the pledges and support (including buzz) generated from your crowdfunding should be more than enough get you started and keep you motivated to build out your passion project, while keeping accountable to your backers.