|photo by gazelyDESIGN|
Launching and successfully funding my first Kickstarter Campaign has been an amazing experience. I have had many requests to share what I have learned so far and what I suggest for a successful campaign. Here I am sharing my experience and observations, but of course, it is different for everyone. Different projects benefit from different strategies, however, I have learned that there are some universal commonalities with successful campaigns.
1. START EARLY
I started researching and preparing for my campaign almost 6 months before it launched. I created a campaign strategy, much like a business plan, that allowed me to plan for and administer all of the necessary components of the campaign.
I also did a great deal of research on my project- all of the legalities, supplies, pricing, and more to ensure that I was planning a viable project and appropriately budgeting my campaign.
My other form of research was other campaigns- what was successful, what was being funded in Canada (a new and small market for Kickstarter), and what elements made for great campaigns.
2. CREATE A PLAN
Much like a small business plan, I drafted a whole plan around the logistics and marketing of my campaign. Necessary steps included professional photographs, a video, blog posts and social media posts, contributors for my rewards, networking with bloggers who would actively promote my campaign, drafting a Press Release, and setting a schedule of events once we launched our campaign.
3. IT IS ALL ABOUT MARKETING
From early on, it was very clear that the best, most engaging campaigns have great marketing components. I hired a professional photographer and graphic designer to ensure I had excellent product photos and a campaign video that could be the introduction on the Kickstarter page.
I also scheduled blog posts, incentives, social media posts, and features with other bloggers in advance of my campaign. It is very time-consuming to spend 30 days (the length of my campaign and the most recommended by Kickstarter) promoting a project. It is easy for fans to have Kickstarter fatigue. I tried to keep my content fresh, well- timed, and I would post live when we reached a milestone or had something new and exciting to share.
Be cautious about over-promoting- I did see some of this as I followed other campaigns and this is why it is very useful to use several social media outlets so that you can vary your content to your audience. Also, watch out for spammy types of promotion that are around crowd-funding.
4. PLAN YOUR REWARDS THOUGHTFULLY
I was very happy with how I planned my reward tiers but in the future I would make some slight adjustments. Now that I have delivered all of my rewards and received feedback from my backers it is so nice to hear that people are happy with what they received. One thing I was very careful about was making sure I could deliver my rewards on time. Kickstarter highly recommends delivering rewards on time and now I can see why. I have seen great campaigns that have failed to deliver rewards on time and it is visible on social media and on Kickstarter when backers start questioning and complaining about their rewards. I staggered my delivery dates and this is a great strategy to spread out the production, cost, and work of packing and mailing rewards. Also, I have seen campaigns change their rewards after the fact. I recently observed a successfully-funded campaign for a food product that has since changed many of the rewards they promised their backers, delivered their rewards late, and have actually changed the project. I have a feeling that there are many disappointed backers for this project.
5. GENUINELY CONNECT WITH YOUR BACKERS
It has been wonderful to connect with my backers- some friends and family, some long-lost friends, some from my business network, some who live in my community, and some who just randomly found me or heard about me from the media. I sent a thank you message (which you can do through the Kickstarter website) to every single backer. And I sent it within a few hours of receiving their pledge. I was glued to my IPad, which I don't normally do, but I really wanted to be able to express my gratitude and let people know that their pledge was making a difference. Also, when I mailed out all of my rewards, I wrote a personal note in every package. I think that when people take the time to write out someone's name and say thank you, that backers truly appreciate the details.
Backers are future customers so every interaction is a customer service moment. Whether the project is successfully funded or not, people who back a project are likely to return and back another or buy your product. I have since had many orders from my backers which is a wonderful statement about building relationships and connecting with people who believe in my project.