With a week left on the Lairytales Kickstarter campaign and a lot of funding still to go, I’m stepping back to review progress, and share the lessons I’ve learned so far.
1. Lower your goal if you can
Without an iota of promotional help from the Kickstarter platform, we’ve raised over £5000 in a category where the average funding goal is often much lower than that.
With adjustments to the print run, we could kickstart our project right now with that funding, but because our goal is twice that, we may not see a penny of what we’ve raised. I’m starting to regret setting a high goal, but it’s one of the few elements that can’t be adjusted once the project is live.
My advice? Think really REALLY hard about your funding goal before you hit go. Do you honestly need that much to deliver your minimum viable proposition? Can you pare back your MVP to achieve something smaller? You can always overfund but never underfund, so it’s worth considering reducing what you’re asking for, then using stretch goals to deliver more if your project is super-successful.
2. Plan how to get Kickstarter’s attention from the start
The target audience for Lairytales (parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, family friends of 3-8 year olds) is vastly different from the core user base of Kickstarter (25-34 year-old men).
We’ve faced a huge (unexpected) barrier here. That’s because the majority of our target audience have barely heard of Kickstarter and don’t understand the concept of crowdfunding or how it works. I think this has been the biggest oversight of our campaign.
We’ve had no staff pick, ‘project we love’ promotion, newsletter coverage or any other support from Kickstarter itself, and because of that we’re virtually hidden within the platform. So everyone who has backed us has done so through our own outreach activity. They are friends or friends-of-friends.
If I did this again I’d spend a lot more time planning how the project taps into current trends and working out what is likely appeal to the Kickstarter algorithms. I might even adapt the project content to fit this.
3. Schedule press releases across your campaign
We had a fantastic first 48 hours when the project launched. Then attention waned and activity on the site slowed right down, until we plateaued for weeks at around 40%.
In hindsight I wish we’d saved some of the early press coverage to deal with this mid-campaign plateau. Our campaign has spanned half-term and Halloween, both topical events that we could have (and did) hang press releases off. We seemed to have exhausted our press coverage at the start though, which is probably when we needed it least.
4. Work really hard on content
Your project is the end goal, not this crowdfunding campaign. Don’t lose sight of that. Carry on working on it and try not to spend your entire life looking at visitor stats and posting repetitive social media updates.
Keep doing what you love and other people will start loving it too. The biggest impact on funding has been when we’ve published new, relevant content. New content has far out-performed Facebook boosts and Twitter ads in terms of conversion.
I’d even suggest keeping a little something back at the start of your campaign, which you can release when pledges go quiet.
5. Social media is your friend, but think before you pay
All our marketing activity with any direct conversion has been carried out on social media. Facebook has been far and away more effective than Twitter.
Remember to post several times a day though – both platforms have mysterious algorithms that dictate when your post will be seen and by who. If you post content once, it will only be seen by a small percentage of your potential audience.
I’ve found that I need to post around the following times to get engagement: 8am, 10.15am, 12pm, 5.15pm and 8pm.
Be careful before you pay for social media marketing. We’ve spent a small amount on Facebook and Twitter but I’ve stopped now as very little was converting to Kickstarter visits (and almost nothing to actual pledges).
6. You’ll owe several bottles of wine by the end of this
The most effective, zero cost, marketing approach is to rely on the generosity of friends who do fit your target audience demographic (and are therefore likely to have other friends in the same group).
I have a handful of friends who faithfully share everything I post and, by doing so, lend me credibility with their networks. I call this group the Fantastic Five and I owe them all a very nice bottle of wine each (didn’t factor that into the funding goal, dammit).
7. Wow, this can be tedious
I underestimated the sheer amount of work this Kickstarter campaign would require just to keep it rolling and maintain a level of momentum. It can feel like a slog sometimes, and it can be a little isolating.
You’ll feel guilty about ‘spamming’ people on social media, and it’s occasionally tough to keep a positive outlook going when you’re throwing everything you’ve got at it, and still the stats flat-line.
I’m not quitting though. Just when it feels impossible, something amazing will happen – someone with a huge social media following will share a post, or we’ll receive an amazing pledge – and I’m mentally back in the game.
When push comes to shove we launched and ran a crowdfunding campaign, with no existing fan base, no capital and other jobs to do. We raised a decent amount of cash too. And that, I’m proud of.
Wish us luck for the final countdown. See you on the other side.
Just in case you still haven’t backed Lairytales 😉 http://lairi.es/gD51EB