There are probably a million things I’d do differently if I was to do a Kickstarter campaign again. I will focus on 5 over the next week or so, and then I will conclude with how this experience has been very beneficial.
Musing #1: Pre-marketing is very important. With the right people.
A friend of mine mentioned that he had hired a PR person well-before he was launching his Kickstarter campaign to create buzz. I totally understood the reasoning behind it, but he had a company that he wanted to launch a new product using Kickstarter to raise the funds. I, on the other hand, was teaming up with 2 other partners in crime to do a project….so there was no budget. Hiring a PR person was not an option, so we tried to do it ourselves. We spent some significant time building a fan base while we were getting our Kickstarter video completed. Ok, we’re not doing too badly here because we have quite a good fan base supporting our FB fan page. Did we really do any pre-marketing though? Nah, I wouldn’t call it that. We basically got a bunch of people to “like” our Facebook page. And even thought that is a good thing to have, it shouldn’t have been the only thing we were trying to do in our pre-marketing/pre-launch outreach. Since our core team is pretty well-connected, we essentially pooled together our network, and maybe that led to a small ripple-effect where the fan base had only two degrees of separation. So we didn’t really build a community for our intended product. It was like we threw a party, invited our friends and family, and told the to bring their in-laws, significant others, and neighbors.
Whether we had the money to hire a pro, or whether we do it ourselves, we were still responsible for figuring out where we should best outreach to. It wasn’t until halfway through our Kickstarter campaign that I found large groups of people who really understood why we were doing our Kickstarter project. They all understood our pain point, and all were so thankful that we were taking the initiative to make this product…they network influencers are all trying to promote on our behalf. Now, I’m a hopeless romantic, so I still think that we will reach our campaign goal in time because all these people will hear about it in time, and will pledge in time. Certainly would’ve been better to know these groups existed a few months ago.
This is where some of my own advice from the Youth CITIES class could’ve come in handy. As Youth CITIES alum will all tell you, I’m constantly asking student ventures the question: “WHO CARES?” Who cares about your pain point, your product, etc. Who exactly are the stakeholders? And the big question: is the pain point big enough where the core customer will pay? That’s always the defining question. We finally found ours. Did we do it in time?