My Father and I had been developing a product for several years before we stumbled across Kickstarter. It seemed like the perfect platform to test our idea whilst conserving the dwindling piggy bank.
Our product is ZestDesk, the world’s first portable adjustable standing desk. Our project ran in October/November 2014 and we managed to raise $70k (that is me above after the campaign finished). Whilst we were happy with the result I think we could have done better. Here are the 6 Kickstarter tips which I wish I had known about.
- Launch at an existing event
The main benefit of this is that you can piggyback off the hard work of someone else. For example Pebble, the second highest grossing Kickstarter product of all time launched at SXSW. It helped the organisers create some hype for their event (having a hot startup launch) and obviously helped Pebble get the word out there. The added bonus is that at the event you can have a laptop so that people can buy on the spot. For us a health, fitness or office fit out event would have been perfect.
- Leverage someone else’s database
Engage an influencer in your sector who may be excited about your product and be willing to help out. Apparently, this is how the Coolist boosted their project to more than $13M. Supposedly, Ryan Grepper (Coolist founder) partnered with a friend who is an online marketing guru with a huge database.
You really need to set up a win-win scenario for the person who is helping promote the product. I would suggest coming up with a revenue sharing arrangement where you can both share in the success of the campaign.
- PR is key
I knew this was important but I put it in the too hard basket until the campaign had launched. If I had my time again this is what I would do.
- Build relationships early: Try to reach out to influencers in my sector and lead with value. Depending on the person it might be a guest post, a lead for a story or an exclusive on our product launch. Either way I would find something to give me an excuse to build a relationship.
- Have several articles ready to go on day 1: I would make sure that at least 1 large publication (hopefully more) had committed to cover the campaign on launch day. Keep exclusivity up your sleeve and only use it if you need it. This will guarantee that you get at least one article.
- Have something unique: This goes without saying but your job will be exponentially easier if you have something that they haven’t covered before. Try to find angles that haven’t been pushed and make sure you launch before any competitors.
- Take some ridiculous pics: The media loves the ridiculous. If you give them 10 pics they will generally choose the one that looks most interesting. Therefore if your widget is super strong, get a picture of you standing on it, if it is a dating app get a picture of two freaky looking people on a date. You get the idea!
- Think about location – USD
If the US is your ultimate market think about putting your currency as USD. Americans are put off by different currencies and Kickstarter does not convert into USD until the check out page.
- Consider Indiegogo
If I had my time again I would seriously consider Indiegogo. I have heard that you can choose your currency, on Kickstarter you need to have a business address in the US to choose USD.
The other major element is that Indiegogo have a local person who can help you out when you have issues. I would have used this resource several times. Firstly, when I submitted our project on Kickstarter I got an auto response saying that it would be a week until they would look at it. In the end it took 48 hours to go live but it threw me out and I had to move a bunch of promotional executions. Secondly, I would have used a local rep for PR advice. I am not sure what level of service they provide but it would have been great to just have a chat to an expert.
- Try to have some tech in your offering
Most of the people who buy on Kickstarter are into their tech. Any tech in your product will go a long way in getting picked up by more media outlets. It will also increase your value proposition within the Kickstarter community. For example we could have tried to tie in some wearable tech measuring sitting vs standing time.
Best of luck!