"Failure isn't a badge of shame; it's a right of passage"
- Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos.com
I would love to be writting this post saying how happy we are that our Kickstarter project fully funded and we'd like to thank everyone for their awesome support as we start manufacturing and delivering rewards to out backers. Instead I'm writting to thank everyone for their awesome support!
I won't lie, for a day and a half the fact that our Kickstarter failed had me down. I had known from the outset that failure was a very real option, but actually failing feels different then the potential of failure.
Luckily a failed campaign is very revealing on what needs to be improved in order to make a successful campaign. I've been analyzing and picking apart the campaign since it ended, to find what worked and what didn't work. Here's what I've come up with:
Our facebook posts funneled a lot of traffic to our Kickstarter page.
I'm not great at Facebooking (that's right, I just verbed Facebook [that's right, I just verbed verb... that's pretty Meta]). And I thought that my daily Facebook posts about the Kickstarter campaign were going to start annoying people. However, after looking at the pageviews data there were big traffic spikes that lined up with the social media posts. Plus, after reanalyzing the posts I concluded that the posts were hilarious! Who doesn't love stop motion LEGO videos?! It turns out that anyone that's comfortable enough to be using social media is probably from a generation that has perfected the art of ignoring ads or content that don't interest them. And if it really bothers them they can always unfriend or unfollow without too many hurt feelings.
There's no silver bullet to marketing.
I kept thinking that the right marketer or right easy marketing strategy would solve all my problems in one easy click. It turns out that marketing is just a word we use to describe a heck of a lot of hussling. Making and leveraging contacts with people that are trusted by the community you're trying to reach. Telling a great story to convince people that they want to see you succeed. Finding creative ways to cooperate, collaborate, and cross promote.
Giving away free products to people that can publicly review them is a huge part to a successful marketing campaign that I did not leverage fully this time around. This is difficult when the Kickstarter is funding the initial batch of the product. However if you don't send anything to reviewers (and do so long before launch), they have little to no content to post about.
An external company website adds authenticity to your campaign.
Tada! You're currently reading this post from a website that did not exist during our initial campaign. We learn quick...
I had originally thought that a website would be a waste as I didn't plan on posting any additional content that wasn't going to be on the project page on Kickstarter. However, people like to see that your project has a history in order to be able to envision it's future. An external project website shows that you were around before the Kickstarter and will continue to be here after the campaign ends. In addition, it provides a place to post press releases, media kits, and information for potential investors.
Have most posts and updates nearly ready to go prior to launch.
Life gets busy. Especially if you're still working a day job and just moonlighting as an entrepreneur. I knew better than to launch without a lot of posts and updates at least outlined. However, after several months of work prepping for the campaign, I feared that if I didn't launch soon I would just never launch. It's a complex balance of 'Done is better than perfect' and 'Get it right the first time' but there's a good chance if you don't get it done prior to launch, it's not going to get any easier during the campaign.
Use Early Bird rewards.
This is really just a win-win for everybody. By offering a small quantity of your product for sale at a lower price you create a sense of urgency so that people back your campaign immediately instead of waiting for a more convenient time. The plus side for you is you get an early boost that gives other backers confidence to back your project ("Well if everyone else is doing it...")
Have more fun.
People back your project because they want to be part of something fun and creative. The project needs to exude the fact that you're passionate about what you're doing and that you simply love it! Backers need to be able to smell that passion in every aspect of the project since they're only backing you because it's their passion too. By ensuring that you've done the necessary prep work and are fully ready for launch in all aspects, you can actually enjoy the experience and make a great experience for your backers as well. Be a little ridiculous, you're not a business yet, you can afford to be a somewhat absurd.