When you’re browsing a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you’ll see that a lot of campaigns have endorsements from press, journalists and bloggers that look like this:
You might think: wait a minute, these products aren’t even on the market yet! How are they already getting endorsements from everywhere even before launching to the market?
This is actually part and parcel of a larger PR strategy that campaigns use when launching a new project to the market.
Why you need press endorsements on your crowdfunding page
Before we get into the knitty-gritty details, let’s talk about why having endorsements like this is incredibly important to your campaign.
For one, by getting media and influencers to write about your project, you immediately gain access to new audiences. When you have a media hit or when a blogger writes about your project or an influencer features you on their Instagram, or YouTube, it sends a ton of (their) traffic your way.
This audience already follows this publication or influencer so by being a project that is recommended, you already have some credibility points attached to your project. That audience coming your way is already more likely to pre-order your project than cold traffic from elsewhere.
Having these endorsements on your page also makes it more likely that people will convert into backers for your project.
Imagine that you’re looking to buy a new TV. Are you more likely to buy a TV with thousands of 5-star reviews from the hottest tech publications or are you more likely to purchase a TV that no one has ever heard of and has one review from an obscure publication?
Of course you’re going to gravitate towards one that has been tried and recommended by notable others in the world.
This concept also applies to your crowdfunding project. When someone comes to your page and sees a wall of press logos and uplifting quotes, they’ll subconsciously think “Look at all these media logos! Look at all these people that are talking about it!”. The logos on the page (and quotes) is proof that you and your campaign is somewhat “legitimate” and worthy of people’s time and money.
How to get endorsements even before you launch
A large part of your pre-launch period is going to be spent finding these endorsements for your project. And no, it doesn’t have to be difficult to get these endorsements before you even launch.
Here’s a framework of the steps to make this work:
1. Prepare a few sample products
This can be any level prototype, just know that the higher level the prototype, the better the journalist or blogger will be able to experience the product for their review.
I once worked with a product that has both an iOS and Android app component to it. The Android app unfortunately refused to work for any of the journalists (from top-tier technology publications like CNET and Wired) that we sent it out to, even with the continued diagnosis from the tech team and endless patience from the journalist. Needless to say, since the journalists were not even able to experience the product and app, the reviews came out quite dry and littered with generic product information with no real “pullable” quotes.
2. Identify key people who write about your product niche
Similar to the market research you need to do before going all in on a product for your Kickstarter or Indiegogo launch, you also have to do the research for who to talk to about your launch.
Not all publications, influencers and media outlets will carry the same weight for your campaign so take the time to do this deep research on who should be writing about you and your project.
Think about it this way, if you’re launching a product tailored towards dog owners, find people whose audience match yours. In this case, it’ll be of no use to you getting owners of cat blogs to write about your dog-related product; their readers just won’t care.
3. Outreach for a product review
Once you’ve identified key people to write about you, it’s time for outreach.
Remember that these journalists, bloggers, vloggers, and influencers get tons of requests each day (some journalists even get thousands of emails about new products each day) so you need to stand out.
If you’re pitching a new drone to a journalist in a tech publication that has written about many drones in the past, reference their work and how your new product can bring something new and unique to the table.
Let them know that you have a few products on hand for review and you’d love for them to test out the product and give their honest opinion of the product.
Again, the key here is to figure out the best way to pitch your project so that you’re not just one of the masses. This is easy to say, but more difficult to implement in real life. If you’re having trouble finding the right way to pitch your project for reviews, find me and other creators in the Facebook Group and we can start a brainstorm session!
4. Send sample product to the journalist for review
Now it’s time to ship out the product to the reviewer. This step sounds simple but there are a just a few things to keep in mind:
- Where is the reviewer located? If they’re in a different country, who pays the VAT/GST fees for getting the product across borders?
- How long can the reviewer keep the product? Forever or just a few weeks? Sometimes you have very limited products (prototypes are expensive!) for a whole slew of reviewers and you need to get them into the hands of many people before your campaign launches.
- If they need to return it, what’s the easiest and most seamless way for them to get your product back to you?
- If they need to ship it to the next reviewer, what do they have to do to get it to the next person? Do they need to “reset” the product in some way?
- What happens if the product is “faulty” when the reviewer tests it out?
- Is a “how-to” guide included in your box to the reviewer?
And yes, the list goes on and on and some things “happen” that derail your plan. Be sure that you are prepared for some of these questions above and be open-minded if things go awry.
5. Embargo the review until the day of launch
Remember when I said above that these reviews will bring in a ton of new traffic to your page? Well, this step is really important for that.
As a creator, you want people to come to your crowdfunding page (not your landing page) after reading a review. They’ll be primed to pre-order and interested enough to have clicked through to read more about your project on your page. They’re very warm leads, interested in learning more and potentially backing your project.
This means that you should work with the reviewer to make sure that the review gets released once your campaign is live. If that review is released before your project launches on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, it’s a lost opportunity for a backer.
Yes, it’s true that the reader might come to your landing page and leave an email to be notified when you launch. But to you, that’s just one more step removed from a pre-order. In their wait they might even forget about your project altogether.
6. Update the crowdfunding page to include press mentions
Once your crowdfunding campaign is live on Indiegogo or Kickstarter and those embargos for reviews lift, you’ll get a huge influx of traffic and a lot of chatter on the internet about your project.
Be sure to continuously update your crowdfunding page to include press logos and the best quotes from these mentions and reviews.
Rather than including links to press mentions and sending people out to the different sources that have written about you, you want people to stay on your crowdfunding page and get a full sense of how excited everyone else is about your product and your launch.
There it is, the six steps to get endorsements even before your project launches on crowdfunding. This is one of the main things that you as a creator should be working on in the pre-launch part of your project: getting credibility for your project so that when it does launch, people will be more likely to convert when they see your page.
Don’t have a review product? No problem!
If you as the creator don’t have a prototype (this happens often), you can still form a relationship with journalists and provide as much information as possible to them to write articles about the product and follow the same steps.
For a physical product, this “no prototype strategy” is much less effective than having at least a few prototypes for journalists to test out.
Not having a product for review means that you’ll be much less successful in getting someone to write about your project and post about it; they just won’t be able to put their opinions out there without experiencing the product and risking their own reputation in that way.
Beyond this simple strategy to get endorsements for your launch, I also wrote an in-depth article on the best press strategy here for a crowdfunding campaign.
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