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March 02, 2017
A Real-Life Guide to Crowdfunding: Part 3
Welcome back future crowdfunders! This is the third and final piece we’re writing about the real-life hustle of running a successful crowdfunding campaign. In part 2 we covered the first 24 hours, getting some love from Kickstarter, all the apps who claim to “get you more backers”, and getting influencers on board. In this piece, we’ll take you through some tips in product development, dealing with slow days (they will happen), making the most of your final few days, and shipping your product.
But First, A Reminder On What’s Important
TAMGA is not your typical crowdfunding project. Before the campaign, our product development phase consisted of a three-person team travelling around Indonesia to find the perfect suppliers. Ever walked into a foreign textile mill the size of five city blocks and asked for a meeting? Things got interesting (the sweaty white foreigners talking about sustainable fashion were not always taken seriously). But eventually we did find suppliers who believe in our vision for a more sustainable fashion industry, and were willing to work with us on developing our unique fabric and prints. Sourcing materials, designing samples, and getting to our ideal product took more than 9 months.
Before reading this final instalment, take the time to do one critical, super-duper important thing: get your product ready. You don’t have to produce a whole line as TAMGA did, but you do have to make sure that you know the cost structure of your product, have agreements with your material supplier, and have a plan in place for shipping to backers (see our favourite courier here). You can nail the campaign design, marketing and PR, but you don’t want to be one of the 9% of successful projects that never deliver their rewards. If you want a successful business to grow out of your crowdfunding campaign, the quickest way to kill that dream is to run a great Kickstarter that can’t deliver.
Running your Campaign On-The-Go
I mentioned that we’re atypical, right? We developed and ran our Kickstarter campaign on the road. And not your typical “motel 8” on the road, we’re talking different continents, cultures, climates and wi-fi signals. An average day during our campaign would range from being surrounded by geckos in an Indonesian warung, to being surrounded by hipsters in a Canadian café.
We don’t recommend hopping continents and time zones while keeping your campaign running, but being mobile is not necessarily a bad thing. After spending the first two weeks around the same ‘situation room’ style table for 16 hours a day, the change of scenery was actually energizing. If you feel like you’re running out of ideas mid-way through your campaign, switch it up, get outside, go to a co-working space, you may find that you have more gas left in the tank than you thought.
Targeting New Backers
Ok, back to your backers. At this point, you’ve launched and have some money in the campaign. You’re working day and night to drive people to your page, sometimes feeling like a sleazy salesperson in the process (unavoidable). If you’re reading this 1-3 months before you launch, look into using Facebook or Google ads NOW. If you build an audience of people who have visited your website or joined your email list before your campaign, you can target them during it and this is proven to be pretty damn effective. This is a lesson-learned for us and many other campaigns – we didn’t do it, but you definitely should.
But if, like us, you haven’t build a custom adverting audience before you launch, all is not lost. You can still set up Google ads associated to your keywords, or you can at the very least have some faith in the nifty little star button on your Kickstarter page. You don’t get notified when people press this “remind me” button, but anyone who does will get an email 48 hours before your campaign closes. This is one of the most important features offered by Kickstarter – it build a group of people who have directly expressed interest throughout your campaign. It re-instills the urgency that got your project moving in the first place, and is sure to bring on a boost of backers.
Increasing Backer Value
There is one very annoying thing about Kickstarter – people can’t back multiple rewards. As much as our backers, would like to buy a t-shirt alongside their dress, Kickstarter won’t allow it. Either you create custom reward tiers (ie: 1 t-shirt + 1 dress), or you get a bit creative. This is assuming that you want to let people spend more money when they want to (probably a solid strategy).
How TAMGA got around this is pretty basic. Let your backers know that they can click “manage your pledge” and increase the total to reflect the other items they want. They then have to message you with the size, style, colour etc. (the survey they receive before fulfillment won’t cover the extra items). It’s a bit fussy, but if you don’t do it you’re leaving backer dollars on the table.
The Final 72 Hours
72-60 hours before your campaign finishes – post an update. Remind people that they can increase their pledge, create an incentive to do so (we offered a freebie for backers over $200), and encourage them to share your campaign with friends. If you haven’t reached your goal yet, let them know that this is the final stretch and make them feel like a part of it. Finally, be available. We did livestreams every night over the last 96 hours, and it may not have attracted hundreds of people, but it did put us out there for all to see.
We know how this all feels. After a month of pushing people to support your project, it can start to feel like you’re begging. Remember – you’re building something valuable, you’re doing something important, and you need the world to open their eyes to it. You’re not begging, you’re building a movement. Build urgency by sharing this sentiment, not by pleading with people to give you their money.
Wrapping Up And Fulfilment
You did it! Break out the champagne. Or go sleep for 24 hours. Or, if you’re like us, take a deep breath and start preparing to fulfill rewards. You’ve done a pre-launch for your business and it has gone well, but here comes the most important part: delivering on your promise. Screw this part up and you'll have a great campaign, but a crappy business.
Shipping is purely logistical, so I’m not going to get into it too much. Just stay organized, use the courier that you already identified before your project (hopefully), and most importantly, stay in touch with your backers. If you have a delay, do whatever you can to let them know, and answer every single question like a real human being. If you treat backer concerns like they’re unimportant, you will be skewered in the comments page. We had a shipping delay on some of our items, meaning that we couldn’t ship them in time for Christmas. We explained it, and offered to hand deliver items to anyone in the Toronto area if they needed it before Christmas morning. One person took us up on it (very happy customer), others understood and were super pleasant about it.
3 months have passed since we completed our Kickstarter campaign and we’re now having the time of our lives running a growing business (by “time of our lives” I also mean sleeping very little and multi-tasking more than this guy). Every day is a lesson learned and we'll do our best to share them here - sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page to join us on the journey 🙏.