About 35% of projects that launch on crowdfunding get fully funded. That means there’s a whole bunch of projects out there that fail.
Like most other business domains, crowdfunding requires its own strategy. I’ve talked to countless founders, worked on numerous projects, and am on a mission to help entrepreneurs like you successfully launch and get fully funded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
I’ve compiled a list of 13 crowdfunding mistakes people typically make during pre-launch and how you can avoid them. The more you can avoid these pre-launch mistakes, the better off you will be in your execution:
1. Not really talking to potential customers
It’s detrimental to build your product in a vacuum. You might think that you have the most incredible product idea in the world only to have it fall flat because no one else wants it. Sure a few friends and colleagues might think it’s a “cool idea”, but you have to dig deeper. Get out of your comfort zone and dare to be vulnerable.
Quiz total strangers about your idea. Can you explain exactly how and why customers would want to use it? Does it solve a real pain point in their daily lives? Who are they and what do they value?
2. Insufficient market research
Before you go all in, take a look around to see what others are up to. Being aware of your industry is crucial for every crowdfunding campaign creator.
Here, a lot of people tell me that their product is completely new and there is nothing else that compares. I hate to break it to you, but your project is a newer iteration of something that already exists or definitely similar enough to something else on the market.
Awareness on this point is key because someone who might buy your product can still choose to take their money and spend it on something else that is similar.
Do research on those similar campaigns or products. Look at the campaigns that did well. What are they all doing? What can you learn from campaigns that didn’t do well? The more you can learn beforehand, the easier it will be to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward.
3. Ignoring the power of visual
Product images, lifestyle images, videos, short clips, GIFs – they’re all incredibly important aspects of your crowdfunding project.
Without them, there’s not much to elicit an emotional response from your audience and even less to post about. Since crowdfunding happens online, the product is intangible. Moreover, you’re asking for money for something that isn’t on the market yet; people need to be able to experience as much as they can through the visual parts of your campaign. You need visuals to convince people that your idea is worth investing in even before it comes to life.
4. Not building a community
Successful products don’t launch to no one. In order to create a hit, you need to engineer every part of your campaign to support a community of fans. Find others who are as passionate and vocal about your product as you. Convince them why your product is worth vouching for, sell them on your vision and enlist them into your community.
5. Don’t have a (well-designed) landing page.
A landing page is literally the digital storefront of your brand, company, and product as you work to launch your crowdfunding project. You’re completely new to the market, where else will people find information?
With that in mind, there’s no way a store can convince people to buy without a storefront and there’s no way anyone will buy if your design is from the 1990s (no offense to the 90s, I’m a 90s kid).
6. Skip talk about the benefits
There’s a clear difference between features and benefits. The features of a product are its physical characteristics (size, color, weight, durability, etc.). Benefits, on the other hand, are how people feel as a result of using the product (safe, ecstatic, humored, etc.).
Too many projects just say what it is they are making, but don’t connect it to the value or solution their audience needs. Be sure you know how to distinguish between the two for your product and that it is clearly articulated in your campaign.
Features are cool, but benefits create that connection that will drive people to buy. Remember, people don’t buy a car because it runs on four wheels, they buy the car because it will make their commute quick and convenient.
7. Forget about friends and family
Crowdfunding at its core is about relationships. It’s getting others to help pool resources to make your dream a reality. When you think about it, the closest relationships you have are those with your friends and family.
Go out there and get confirmation that they’ll help support you by contributing to your project within the first 24 hours of the campaign. It’s a guaranteed pool of resources to propel you to bigger gains.
8. Skimping on social media
There are some who are adamantly against using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. That’s completely fine in your personal life, but you must use social media for your crowdfunding campaign.
It’s not optional, but rather a must-have.
It’s one of the key channels where people can find information about your project. If you’re running a larger campaign and have a budget for advertising, these social channels will be some of the lowest hanging fruit for the highest ROAS so it’s time that you get in on the social media game.
9. Not having any niche press or bloggers lined up
The PR industry has changed. Long gone are the days when agencies would tap their contacts and you’ll get a nice little piece written up about your project on Mashable, TechCrunch or CNET.
While it’s great if this does happen for you, getting the attention of these publications is even more difficult now. Sure, it can help boost your credibility, but truth be told, it won’t be the outlets that move the needle when it comes to funding and pre-orders.
Instead, focus on niche publications that have readers who already care about what you’re creating. That’ll bring the most qualified audience to your project.
10. Don’t warm up the community for launch
Launch should be a spectacle for everyone involved. Assuming you’ve built up a community, it’s also necessary to warm up your fans for a launch. They’ll need to know when it is, how they can pre-order and where they can get it. This is especially true on Launch Day. That day is so incredibly important because hitting certain metrics will trigger the popularity algorithm on the crowdfunding platform and organically drive more visitors to your page.
I recommend providing an enticing Launch Day reward for your avid fans in order to drive them to convert early.
11. Launching when they’re not ready
This one pains me the most.
Oftentimes I see motivated creators with incredible products. They’re out there doing all the steps and getting it all right but set themselves up for failure by launching when they’re not ready.
They do this by publicly announcing a launch date way before they are comfortable with their launch metrics (having a big-enough audience to trigger the Kickstarter or Indiegogo algorithm on launch day, seeing good email open rates and click rates).
When you think you’re ready, slow down and take a 5,000-foot view of all you have. Launch once you’ve built an email list, repeatedly tested your positioning, and adequately warmed up your audience. Take the time you need to get your strategy right and the pieces in place before launching.
If you’re at the cusp of launch and need a final look through, I can help! Get in touch here.
12. Purely relying on Kickstarter or Indiegogo community
While both Kickstarter and Indiegogo have a large community (about 60 million people collectively visit the two sites each month), you cannot rely solely on the platforms for traction.
The platform only makes money if your campaign makes money (they take 5% off the top) so you must show the platform that your campaign is a moneymaker.
Only then will the platform work for you and start showcasing your project in different locations.
13. Clicking “launch” and hoping for the best
Some people skip all 12 steps prior and commit the deadliest crowdfunding sin.
I also call this one “hope marketing”. It’s when someone thinks that they can just have a “cool” product, plop right into a crowdfunding platform, and hope that their genius will completely blow people away.
Unfortunately, that won’t work (never did, never does and never will). Crowdfunding on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo is hard work; it’ll take hours of planning, days of iterating, weeks of learning and months of implementation to get to where you want to be.
Familiarize yourself with this list of mistakes and review them often. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of a launch that the big picture gets pushed to the wayside. Make sure you know where you can possibly trip up, and how to solve the problems that come up. If you need a final review before you launch, get in touch.
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