What are some of the best hacks to building a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign? Bryce Fisher has a lot of them up his sleeve. Last year this entrepreneur joined an exclusive "club" of just 152 startups who have raised over $1 million on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
His startup, Ravean, makes a heated jacket. In 2015 they launched a 60-day campaign on Kickstarter and finished with a $1.3 million raise. He then went on to launch an Indiegogo campaign which has raised almost $1.5 million. In a recent Periscope interview in Hong Kong with Josh Steimle, CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency that offers Kickstarter marketing services, Fisher shared how he and his team pulled off these huge successes.
Here are three preparation hacks he implemented before his campaigns started which he claims almost guarantee a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Build a customer validation engine
Fisher, like many entrepreneurs, was inspired by Tim Ferriss' bestselling book The 4-Hour Work Week and sought to build a customer validation engine like the one the author mentions in his writing. Fisher says the problem with most customer validation methods is they don't get the customer to actually take out their wallet. Your surveys and questionnaires, according to Fisher, are often filled with responses from family and friends who are just being nice.
Instead of going to friends and family, Fisher goes directly to his customers by setting up a three-page "fake" website. "Page one is a long sales page where you get people interested in the features and sales of your product," Fisher explains. "Between each description, you put a 'Learn More' button which leads you to a product description page. The main point there is a big 'Buy' button with the price of your service, which leads them to a final page which will say something like 'Sorry, we're out of stock.' So you put Google Analytics on all three pages with the conversion codes on the third page and you'll drive in this PPC (pay-per-click) traffic to the third page." Fisher keeps tweaking the webpage including design, graphics, and messaging, until he figures out whether there is enough demand for his product, and what the best way is to market it. If it doesn't work out, he's only spent minimal time and money because he hasn't manufactured anything or created an expensive marketing program. But if it works, then what? "You can dump the gasoline on," he says.
Creating a target Facebook demographic
According to Fisher, Facebook and Google ads made up the bulk of Ravean's expenditures, and they spent more than they had to in order to learn some lessons. In their journey in the dark to figure out what worked, Ravean ended up spending five thousand dollars in two weeks that didn't deliver results. You might call that a waste, but it was a valuable lesson for Fisher. He shares a golden nugget of information from what he learned:
"Any marketing you do for Kickstarter has to be in front of a crowd that's 100% people who know what Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowdfunding is. The second that you put ads in front of people that don't know it, your CTR (click-through-rate) will be amazing if you have a good product but your drop out is going to be big," he said.
When setting up target demographics on Facebook, Fisher advises to put only three areas in: 'Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowdfunding.' He notes that they were able to pull in three to five times more traffic (based on analytics pulled from Kicktraq) by making those small changes.
Creating a killer image title video combination
One of the first things you'll learn if you research successful Kickstarter campaigns is that a great video is essential to a successful campaign. But Fisher also stresses the importance of having a strong image and title to go along with your video. He says that 70% of Ravean's organic pledges were coming from Kickstarter itself rather than Facebook ads or other marketing, which he attributed to a stellar lead/featured image and title. "Your image that you put for your project is paramount. It's the first impression, it's got to turn heads and have that 'wow-factor' to get people to click on it."
Fisher said that after potential backers interact with the image, their eyes will follow to the title which needs to represent the "big idea." For Ravean's campaign, they opted for "the Arctic Tropical Ultra-Light Heated Jacket." While Fisher felt it was "a weird title," they managed to raise $100,000 in their first week -- success that he attributed to the image and title.
If the image and title is the opener, the video is the closer. "The Kickstarter image is the first impression, the title draws people in and the video seals the deal," said Bryce and advises campaigners to approach their video with a certain laid-back hipster finesse. See Ravean's video here.
"When doing your video, you don't want to come off super refined. In fact, you want to look unprofessionally refined. You don't want to look like a stale corporation but a cool garage startup."
Besides portraying your company in a relatable way, Fisher said that your video must present the problem plaguing backers today and why your product will be the best one to solve it. "It's important to present the problem, show them what your solution is and that your features are superior," he said.