5 Kickstarter Mistakes You Should Avoid
1. Putting “You” First.
If you have not read the classic book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, now is the time!
Ironically, although we live in a highly individualistic and egocentric society, the individuals that prosper most economically are those that put other’s needs, wants, and desires before their own. You think I’m joking?
Pick out a problem, need, or want that everyone faces. Let’s say the desire that most people have to feel like they can reach their potential and be in control of their own life. Now, imagine an author that writes a book that inspires millions of individuals to take action and strive to live out their dreams. From having read this imaginary book, people end up having a better quality life, are grateful, and are more than willing to pay another $10 for their next book, or even recommend the book to a friend.
Although the author invested time and energy into producing the book, it is only after it has become helpful for another, that he or she prospers. By making your primary motivation to add value to other people’s lives, you will receive dividends well into the future.
Instead of senselessly promoting your project to bloggers, twitter accounts, on forums, and to your social network, first seek to understand the person you would like to support your project, then state the clear benefits to that individual, and finally, go to your full lengths to help the individual before asking something of them.
For example, I get a lot of requests from people who would like me to promote their project on twitter/facebook or to do an interview. I am far more likely to do so if the person states the message as follows:
“Hi Sal- I really enjoy your content at CrowdCrux. I’m doing a film project on Kickstarter and we have seen some traction and I was wondering if you could check it out. I have a really compelling story behind this project (enter how the project came to be). I’ve also learned a tremendous amount from doing this project and think it could be great to share these tips with your readers. I realize that you are very busy, but if you have the time to do a quick interview, we would be extremely grateful and promote it on our website, twitter, facebook, and more. Great work on the blog and keep it up!”
Now, that’s an extremely flattering message and makes me almost feel compelled to interview the person. They are a fan, understand that I try to provide great crowdfunding tips for people looking to do a campaign, and realize that I am also looking to grow my subscriber base and could benefit from the fact that they are willing to promote the article.
Clearly, this person took the time to understand my motivations and crafted the message in a way that giving them an interview would benefit me. Not only would I likely do an interview for this person, but I might even consider pledging for their campaign.
The next time you are going to put your self-interest first, stop, think about the interests guiding the person you are attempting to persuade, and then work from their interests back to yours. I really recommend the bestselling book How To Win Friends and Influence People. You can probably find it somewhere online for free if you look hard enough.
2. Poor Budgeting
There is nothing less satisfying than putting all your effort into a campaign only to have to end up owing money after filling all of your orders because you didn’t not budget carefully enough. I have seen it happen, and believe me, you do not want to be in this position.
I would recommend calculating in a buffer for your campaign of at least 10% to compensate for miscellaneous costs, especially if manufacturing and shipping is involved. A good number of campaigns I have read about must sacrifice their profit margins due to costs. Don’t let this be you!
3. Failure to Study Industry Examples
If you are going to write a book in a certain genre, you read books in that genre ahead of time. If you are going to create a business, you look at other businesses in your industry to see how they obtain customers, phrase marketing messages, and what their value proposition is. Even a quick glance at similar crowdfunding campaigns in your Kickstarter Category can help you craft a better video, call to action, or structure more meaningful reward tiers.
I would recommend studying a minimum of 5-10 campaigns in-depth before launching your own. When you are not under the clock to secure pledges, you can have more time to identify the factors that caused Kickstarter success or failure and really focus on those elements rather than scrambling when your project is live. Check out: The Crowdfunding Bible: How To Raise Money For Any Startup, Video Game Or Project for some example campaigns.
4. Underestimating Social Media Preparation
Unless you already have a large established audience, you need to be revving up your social media campaign (twitter/fb/google+/pinterest/LinkedIn) a minimum of three months before your campaign. It needs to take the place of a part-time job, meaning at least 2 hours per day spent on social media six days a week. This includes posting, following, sharing, and building relationships.
Until relatively recently, the only way to secure new business was to attend networking events, make use of paid advertisements, or get referrals from friends or past clients. Now, you have the entire world at your fingertips. Take some time to learn more about how to use twitter to market your campaign. This infographic is a year old from the time of writing, but you get the idea:
5. Expecting High Conversions
If you are familiar with sales and marketing, you can skip this bullet point, but otherwise check out the diagram below.
Essentially, for your Kickstarter campaign, the “marketing campaign” block will be comprised of: twitter/fb/pinterest/linkedin/g+/forum marketing, any news coverage you may receive, people that check you out from networking events, and any individuals that may find you on the Kickstarter website. Referrals includes individuals who pledge to your campaign because they saw that their friend pledged or their friend told them what an awesome campaign you have!
As you can see, despite expending a large amount of effort getting the word out, you can only expect a small number of individuals to pledge. Depending on the campaign, I’d say you can expect a .05% – 5% conversion rate overall (different reward categories will likely have different conversion rates). What is a conversion rate? If 100 people view your campaign page and 1 person pledges $30 for the reward tier where you actually receive the product and 5 people pledge $5 as a “supporter,” the product reward tier has a 1% conversion rate and the supporter tier has a 5% conversion rate.
This can be good information if you are considering running a facebook ads campaign as this successful Kickstarter project did.
Remember, keep a realistic view of conversion rates, and good luck!
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