You have an exciting idea or innovative product, and have decided to bring it to the world via a Kickstarter campaign – great! Here are some tips, from the BeerBro Bottle Opener team. BeerBro hit its funding goal in only 5 days, and this is what we’ve learned:
1. Before getting started, be sure that Kickstarter is right for you.
Kickstarter was the obvious choice for us, as we wanted to fund our first production run after we knew we had buyers – a low-risk approach. It was also an easy way to test how interested people were in our product. If you are in a similar position, Kickstarter may be right for you. Keep in mind that Kickstarter gets a 5% cut of your pledges, and Amazon Merchant Processing gets another 3%-5%.
2. Excellence at Simplicity > Mediocrity at Complexity
An interesting, captivating, or fun video is the most critical part of your Kickstarter page. When brainstorming video ideas, my co-creator and I initially were set on a skit or infomercial-style production, with dramatic shots, fancy editing, and world-class acting. It didn’t take long before we changed our approach, as we lacked the equipment, ability, or time to put together a professional quality video – and we didn’t think paying someone else to do it was a sensible move at this stage. With the assistance of a friend who has a high-quality camera, we took a bunch of HD photos; with the assistance of a friend who is a musician, we recorded our very own original jingle; with the assistance of some inexpensive easy-to-use editing software, we put together our own video. As a result, our video, while not overly elaborate or complex, represents our product well, looks great, and shows originality. Shooting a video with a cell phone and terrible acting, even with rich and compelling dialogue, would have been disastrous.
3. Leverage your network
As mentioned above, at the cost of a free BeerBro and a heartfelt thank you, we received assistance with our photography and music from friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – if the project is fun and interesting, most friends would be happy to assist. When your Kickstarter is live, your network should be your first customers to help get the ball rolling. Facebook post and tweet away, from both personal accounts and the accounts made specifically for your product (side note – make sure your project has a Facebook page and Twitter handle!). Before long, people outside of your network will see your campaign, and having a few dollars already pledged will give you instant credibility. With that said….
4. Leverage your network WITHOUT SPAMMING
The last thing you want is to become annoying on your social networks. Early on, share your campaign on your personal pages – but keep it sporadic as time passes. Your product’s page should maintain your regular high-frequency messages, and your personal pages should just share more important, once-in-a-while messages.
5. Differentiate yourself and be creative
There are thousands of crowdsourcing campaigns active at any given time. At this point, you are confident you have a good product/idea. What else can you do? Differentiate your campaign! Your Kickstarter campaign is a chance for you think creatively. We went with the humorous approach (a cheesy jingle and a fun write-up), but that’s not necessarily the only route you can take.
6. Have a prototype made ahead of time
It might cost a few bucks, but having a prototype made so your backers and potential backers can see the actual product is critical. A description and sketches can only get you so far.
7. While your campaign is live, HUSTLE
You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Email relevant bloggers, tweet relevant individuals and writers, call relevant B-list celebrities… whatever it takes! Be creative with who you contact, you never know what can happen. We’ve tweeted @ everyone from Snooki to Jimmy Fallon to Warren Buffett, as well plenty of beer and tech blogs. Hey, why not?
8. Figure out international shipping early on
Initially, we set our international shipping rates excessively high, because, quite frankly, we weren’t sure we wanted to deal with a ton of international shipments and customs forms. Well, the complaints from around the world started rolling in. We had no choice but to offer an additional reward (Kickstarter won’t let you edit rewards) with appropriate shipping prices. The fact that we couldn’t edit the shipping rates on old rewards (per Kickstarter) and had to create new ones made our page look a bit sloppy. Live and learn!
9. Unless you are in a rare position where your Kickstarter is related to a full-time endeavor, focus on your day job
Checking in and working on your Kickstarter can be addicting, but make sure you have your priorities straight. For the BeerBro team, our day jobs, families, and various other personal commitments were our priorities. But on the weekends, nights, and lunch breaks, it was all about BeerBro!
Have fun, and good luck!
By David Reiter
Facebook – facebook.com/getbeerbro
Twitter – @getbeerbro
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org