Let’s get this out of the way first.
Crowdfunding is the most effective way to launch a product by pre-selling at a discount and building a strong community in the process.
That’s not my belief, it’s true.
If you want to be a part of the minority who approaches crowdfunding in this way and actually has successful crowdfunding campaigns, read on.
The concept of crowdfunding is simple, but doing it is hard.
The trap that so many creators fall into with crowdfunding is thinking that it is easy. They see hundreds of projects get extremely overfunded, raise millions of dollars, and think all they have to do is shoot a heartfelt video, throw it on Kickstarter, and they’re done.
That may be a little over simplistic, but overall, I think the majority of crowdfunding creators don’t understand the full scope and it is that perception that I want to change.
This isn’t going to be some surface level BS. We are going to get down into the nitty gritty systems that I’ve seen work from personal experience with my company LaunchBoom — a product launch system where we leverage crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
But let’s start simple.
There are five phases to a campaign — (1) Discovery, (2) Asset Development, (3) Pre-Launch, (4) Launch, (5) Post-Launch.
For this article, we are going to be discussing the 3 most important phases: Discovery, Asset Development and Pre-Launch. Without a story, solid assets that convert, and a successful pre-campaign, you have no chance of having a great campaign. Think of it as building the foundation to the rest of your crowdfunding experience.
Before we talk about getting it right. Let’s take a quick peek at why most people are getting it wrong. Most campaigns you see on Kickstarter and Indiegogo spend 30–60 days attempting to reach their goal. They create decent assets, launch their campaign page, and wait patiently for backers. After the first few days they realize this strategy does not work and they spend the next few weeks in a cortisol filled haze trying to reach their goal.
The strategy we utilize over at LaunchBoom ENSURES you reach your goal in the first 24/48 hours of your campaign’s launch.
Here’s the secret:
Do NOT launch until you have a large enough email list. We use this equation to determine how large the list needs to be:
CR stands for Conversion Rate and Av. Order stands for Average Order Value
It is so important to exercise tactical patience and wait until you have enough momentum before you launch. This will ensure you meet your goal AND are a popular project. By becoming a popular project, you will appear on the top of your product’s category for either Kickstarter or Indiegogo, putting you in front of more backers.
Lets dive into what it takes to build a list and have a successful pre-campaign.
Answering the question “what is your story?” is one of the most important questions you will answer for your campaign.
To get there, we have to answer a lot of other questions first. Don’t worry. There’s a system for this.
I use a framework called the Consumer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) pyramid (some of you may have seen this in your marketing textbooks). I’ve found this to be lean enough that it doesn’t take up too much time to complete, yet powerful enough that you can just do this and be on the right track for your campaign. The general idea behind the CBBE pyramid is that you do not own your brand, your customers do. It is something that lives in their mind. For that reason, we approach messaging/branding as if we are a consumer.
There are about 30 questions to go over so we won’t go too in depth, but you can view and download our questionnaire here.
Once finished with the CBBE questions, you will have a CBBE Outline, a Marketing Statement, and a Marketing Message.
CBBE Outline — Your completed CBBE Questionnaire. Typically we answer the questions using bullet points.
Marketing Statement — This is typically more resonance based messaging that is no more than 35 characters long. Also known as your tagline.
Marketing Message — This is your story boiled down into 135 characters (Kickstarter’s limit — we’ll go over that later).
Here’s an example of this in action for some of our clients:
Marketing Statement — Your window to nature.
Marketing Message — Plants filter the water. It’s the most beautiful and low maintenance way to keep a piece of nature in any space.
Marketing Statement — See Your Game In A New Way
Marketing Message — The first ever portable golf swing analysis and shot tracking system.
MESSAGING CAN EVOLVE DURING THE PRE-CAMPAIGN
Even though you should take the time to make sure your messaging is tight before leaving this phase, know that your messaging can evolve during the pre-campaign depending on feedback you are getting from the community.
With that said, only change small parts of your messaging. Ideally, you want have the same messaging for the entire campaign and use the same messaging (Marketing Statement & Message) everywhere (social media posts, ads, emails, PR, etc.).
Using the messaging you just finished during the previous phase, you can now create marketing assets for your product. At a minimum, we will want to create 3 assets for the pre-campaign.
- Pre-launch Landing Page
- Teaser Video
- Kickstarter Video
PRE-LAUNCH LANDING PAGE
Landing pages are getting easier and easier to build now. If you have design/dev resources on your team, then great! You probably got this part covered. If not, you have many options available. At my old agency, Label Creative, WordPress was our choice then and it still is now.
Put your landing page on its own URL that will be used for the campaign. For example here are some of the URLs that we used:
EcoQube C — getecoqube.com
Ziro — http://ziro.io/
Orison — http://orison.energy/
That way, if someone sees the URL in an ad, email, or social media post they have a better chance of remembering what the URL was.
Now that your landing page is done, it is time to spruce it up a bit. That’s where the teaser video comes in. This is typically between 30–60 seconds long and is meant to capture the interest of every person that comes to your page.
These videos are very good at making your landing page more effective. All you need is b-roll of your product (shots of your product being used, in different locations, etc.), some music, and a voice over. To choose what type of b-roll you should get, what music should be playing, and what you should say on your voice over, just look back at your CBBE Outline. Here are the sections that should have the most influence.
B-roll — Imagery
Music — Feelings
Voice Over — Salience, Performance, and Judgments
Here are some examples of past teaser videos.
There is no “right” way to do a Kickstarter video. You just need to make sure you follow the CBBE pyramid and have fun with it. Typically, you are expanding on your teaser video to make this happen.
Here are a few examples:
Now that you feel confident with your messaging, it is time to start building an email list. This email list is very important to your campaign’s success. It will help drive the initial momentum of the campaign.
The most effective way to build your email list is by sending traffic to a landing page for your product.
Let’s breakdown that statement.
COLLECT EMAIL ADDRESSES
So why is someone going to give you their email? You could just put an email signup form and ask people to signup if they are interested, but that won’t be very effective. Sure, you could have the coolest product in the world, but people are generally more selfish when it comes to giving up their email.
That is why we run a Sweepstakes and giveaway the product or a product bundle. You can be creative with how you do this. The main point is in return for them giving their email, they get an entry into the sweepstakes.
MAKE IT VIRAL
We recommend using ViralSweep to run your sweepstakes. There are others out there, but this one has worked the best for us. The main reason for using this widget as opposed to just a simple opt-in form is the built in viral functionality. When someone enters their email they receive 1 entry and are immediately given other options to increase their entry count by sharing and referring their friends. This gives them more reason to share, which means less money you have to spend on sending traffic to the page.
Speaking of traffic… how do you get traffic to the page?
Let’s lump traffic into two categories: free and paid. I’ll start with free because who doesn’t like free?
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) — change cover photos, post organically, etc.
- Your Brand Website (if you have one) — add a call out somewhere (fixed headers work great) that direct people to the landing page
- Email Signature — add a message or graphic in your signature leading people to the landing page
The main takeaway for free traffic is that you use every traffic source at your disposal and somehow link back to your landing page.
Now let’s talk about paid channels.
I guess I shouldn’t say channels because there is really only one we’ll focus on — Facebook Ads. With resources available to project creators, this has given the biggest return by far. If you have more resources to invest in other paid channels, go for it. But for the majority of creators, I recommend sticking to just Facebook Ads.
If you don’t already have an ads account you can set one up here.
FACEBOOK ADS 101
You are going to want to set a budget that you are willing to spend to acquire email addresses. We’ve found the easiest ad with the biggest return is what is known as a promoted post. In this ad type you are going to post like you normally would to your Facebook page, then you are going to “Boost The Post.” Make sure that the post has an image in it (usually of the product) and if you have text on the image make sure it doesn’t breakFacebook’s 20% rule.
Make sure that you attach a Facebook Pixel to the ad so you know what your Cost per Lead (CPL) is.
- You should target a CPL under $1
- Make sure you add the Facebook Pixel in the Pixel section of your Viralsweep giveaway — this requires the $99/mo version (it’s definitely worth it to see what ads are actually converting)
- Use Facebook Look-A-Like audiences with your current email list or with the emails that you get during your advertising efforts.
To really maximize the value of the traffic being sent to your landing page, you are going to want to build retargeting lists. This will allow you to advertise to those people on these lists once the campaign starts. The two lists we are going to build are for Google Remarketing and Facebook Custom Audiences. See the guides below to set them up on your landing page:
Google Remarketing –https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2611268?hl=en
Facebook Custom Audiences — https://facebook.com/business/a/online-sales/custom-audiences-website
Now every visitor who comes to your landing page will be “cookied” and added to your retargeting list so you can advertise to them once the campaign starts.
EMAIL MARKETING (NURTURE & CREATING BUYERS)
Once someone signs up for the giveaway, our goals have shifted for that individual. We now want to (1) nurture them and (2) shift their focus away from the giveaway.
Let’s start with the email nurture. Every person on your list only has a finite amount of time that they will be interested in your product once they enter the giveaway. This is known as their retention rate.
In order to keep your list engaged, we need to nurture them with valuable & educational content.
There are many ways to do this, but here are some email ideas with a couple examples:
- Thank You — once they sign up for the giveaway send a video message from the project creators. In this email, you can thank them for signing up and let them know that they are part of a special group that will know first when you launch your product on Kickstarter/Indiegogo.Example below:
- How-To — Maybe there is a specific feature that you’ve been getting questions about. Example below:
- Design Deep Dive — Have a video that goes over the technology and design in greater detail — early adopters love this type of content.
- How It’s Made — Footage of the building and prototyping process. Show sketches, 3D prints, etc.
- Google Hangout — Let them know that there is going to be a VIP only Google Hangout with your team. Have them RSVP and post questions to you before you go live. After the hangout is over, you can immediately make it a YouTube video and then send another email to the people that didn’t attend.
- Brand Story— Maybe you have an interesting story about why you are creating this product.
Now let’s talk about creating buyers. I say that creating buyers is separate than nurturing, but really creating buyers is the ultimate goal of the nurture campaign. People joined your list because of the opportunity to win your product. We know that they are interested, but being interested enough to give their email and being interested enough to pre-order your product are two very different things.
We want to subtly switch your list’s focus from getting your product for free to “I’m going to get this product whether I win or not.”
This will depend heavily on the type of content that you are dripping out during your nurture campaign, but there are some other tactics you should use in your email copy:
- Let them know they are part of a small community of VIPs that are going to hear about the launch first.
- They will get the chance to take advantage of very limited supply ofextremely early bird discounts.
For your nurture campaign, it’s helpful to automate the emails and give them 2–4 days separation as not to spam your list. You can easily set this up using Mailchimp. Just click on the “Automation” page when you sign in to your Mailchimp account. Mailchimp has a direct integration with Viralsweep as well.
Prepare For Launch
KNOW THY MARGINS
Now it is time for you to start setting up your Kickstarter page. Besides making your page look great (which I’m not going to go over here), you need to make sure your Reward levels are solid.
When you are creating you reward levels you want to first start with your margin on your product. For example, let’s say that I am bringing an innovative new guitar to Kickstarter called the BoomGuitar.
To figure out my reward levels, we really want to use our margins as a decider. For the BoomGuitar, my margins look like this:
The cost to produce your product is not the only margin you must take into account. You also have to take into account Kickstarter’s cost (9%) and your marketing cost (~25%). So for every sale, we will want to reduce the margin by 34% to play it safe.
Now that we know our margins, it’s time to Reward Stack. Reward Stacking is a mashup of scarcity, urgency, and the power of the discount. Take your core product and offering multiple levels of discounts and a limited supply for that product. So for BoomGuitar we could do something like this:
BoomGuitar VIP Special — $90 (32% margin) — 100 Available
BoomGuitar Early Bird Special — $100 (36% margin) — 1000 Available
BoomGuitar Kickstarter Special — $110 (38% margin) — Unlimited
I suggest working with your reward levels until you have margins that you are comfortable with. The main take away is your margin is not just your product cost. Kickstarter and marketing costs are significant and have to be factored in when deciding on your reward levels.
It’s important to get your reward levels right before you launch because you have very limited control over what you can and cannot do during the campaign.
- Change quantity available
- Add new reward tiers
- Add more shipping locations
If someone has backed the reward level, you cannot…
- Change the description
- Change the shipping price
- Change the price of the reward level
SUBMIT FOR APPROVAL
Once your page is complete, submit your project for approval. It will take 1–3 days typically, but we recommend submitting it at least 1 week prior to launch. Remember, you can adjust your Kickstarter page after it is approved.
You’ve got everything setup and you have a launch date set! Now it is time to let the world and your community, who you’ve been nurturing, know that you are going to launch.
Send An Email 7 Days Out and 24 hours before launch
- Let your list know date and time of launch
- They will be the first to know
- They can take advantage of extremely early bird discounts
- We only have a very limited supply
- You’ll announce the winner on the launch date. Your Call to Action in the emails should be for them to go back to your landing page to continue to share and get more entries.
When they send a rocket to space, the teams don’t just slap a couple rockets to a hunk of metal and hope it all goes right. They take the time to not only plan accordingly, but build everything they’ll need for a successful campaign.
Following this guide for the pre-campaign is like preparing for a rocket launch. If you do it correctly, you’ll have built an extremely strong launchpad and fuel-loaded rocket with a clear trajectory for success. In other words, you’ll have a community who is extremely excited to get their hands on the product and who will drive the initial momentum of the campaign.
Besides dollars, this initial momentum will give you leverage to use throughout your campaign. This can come in the form of tapping into the Kickstarter/Indiegogo community of millions, selling your story for PR, laser focusing your targeting for advertising efforts, etc. but we’ll get into this more in part two of the series (coming soon!).
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