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How to (successfully) crowdfund your product launch, what we learnt from 21 days of kickstarter mania!

As a startup we had to think of ways to fund our business and crowdfunding was always top of our mind because we love the idea of building a community. First of all, which crowdfunding route to take? We weren’t interested in selling part of the company as a means to raise funds such as crowdcube, not yet anyway, as we have a clear product to develop and pre-sales crowdfunding would better suite our timings. We went for kickstarter over Indiegogo as it has the all or nothing ‘meet your funding target or you get nothing’ model that we felt would motivate us to really commit a concentrated period of high effort to making the campaign a success. 

Putting the page live and deciding our rewards helped us focus on making a clear a concise video, explaining the benefits of our product, and also to invest in a professional photoshoot to bring the product to life. Kickstarter has some great guides to help you get started.

photoshoot

Important things to remember when making a promotional video:

  • Communicated clearly and concisely the benefits of your product as soon as possible. The golden rule of presenting applies – tell people what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you have told them.
  • Answer your main customers questions, how do I use it? How much is it?
  • Show your draft video to people who are not part of your product team to get their feedback. This really helped us to rethink our video early on which resulted in a much better video overall.
  • Tell your unique story once you have let everyone know what you are all about.

WUKA wear was on kickstarter for only 3 weeks, the project launched on the 19th of November and ended on the 10th of December. We chose 3 weeks as kickstarter recommends 30 days or less and we were concerned about running into the holiday period, it also adds some urgency to your page so your visitors need to make a decision whether to back you or not more quickly. There are NO SHORTCUTS to a successful campaign, it takes hard work and constant learning and adapting. Going live will mean you get a lot of unsolicited emails suggesting that for many hundreds of pounds they can email a group of ‘superbackers’, just be smart and ask the right questions, we found that demographically they did not fit who our customers would be so did not choose this route.

Starting the campaign is not the beginning but the middle of the process of launching a product. In getting ready for this day we had spent six months building an online presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through our email list so that we had an interested audience to talk to on the day of the launch. Do not underestimate how long and how much effort it takes to get your first 100 email subscribers! Value them and create a content calendar to keep your audience engaged.

What went well?

Well to begin with kick off went really well, in less than a week we raised 35% of our target. There was lots of buzz around social media that we fuelled with regular posts. Getting backers was amazing and we were watching the kickstarter app all day and night! However there was a sting in the tail! We didn't realise backers could also cancel their pledge so it came as a surprise when the first one did and we hadn't factored that into our estimates. It turns out buyers remorse is quite high on Kickstarter, we calculated that 13% of pledges got cancelled, but luckily for us this was far outweighed by the fantastic support of the rest of our backers.

We also did some paid marketing, which was a good learning curve for us. What’s really important is that you treat each advert as an experiment to see what CPA (cost per acquisition) you get. So that means advertising with different messages and targeting to see what yields the most efficient marketing. The sales worse for facebook adverts, we tried video ads, text ads, photo ads, carousel ads, all of which generated more or less ‘views’ but very few sales. We spent many hundreds of pounds and in the end stopped all social advertising, we will retry this once our product is available to buy in store.

Good thing about kickstarter is you can track your sales. We made different web links for various platforms to track down where sales were coming from. 

Social media is definitely an area for marketing but it was not boost post but the personal engagement with customer that drove our sales. During the week, we joined various target Facebook groups where we could post the information of our launch. We searched any post engagement in related to topics of menstruation, period , sanitary product, menstrual product, eco-friendly menstruation. 

There is no substituting good old fashioned pounding the streets to make sales, thanks to WEN for sharing their stall with us.

Slightly time consuming but every post in these group or engagement with right customer brought some sales in. The other media platform that drove good sales was youtube. By the end of first week, we had a product review video put up by the “RUMPs” star Bryony Farmer. The thread definitely created a buzz and views of more than 4K and 8 sales for which we agreed a referral fee for her, well worth the investment and a lot of fun to watch!

Another source of our customer was our mailing list, built up from promoting it through the year. We send an update email on every milestone we reached. We use mailchimp as our tool as its easy to use and has all the features we need to make an attractive email.

By end our second week, we started pushing on PR. We were published in one journal, local newspapers and an online magazine which helped to increase our traffic and by the end of second week, we were fully funded. 

whatif

Mot excitingly that meant we had to quickly think of a stretch goal, we hadn’t planned ahead! However it was easy as we had been working on a Wash bag made by local artisans in Nepal so it was the perfect fit. We decided to put up a stretch goal of extra 1000 pounds to make Dhaka Fabric WUKA Wash bag which we hit… on the last day!

Our data shows us that the fastest sales came in the first 3 days and on the last day, so the early rewards with the highest value clearly helping people to make the invest decision, and the last day we made a lot of noise on social and email to remind people this was their last chance to get a pre-launch discount and secure a great stretch goal which helped to push us over the second goal line. 

pie chart

The dashboard tells us that Kickstarter generated about half of our sales, however a couple of large sales we know were made from our direct selling so in reality it was more like 40-45%, which is fantastic, much better that we had expected, which shows the power of Kickstarter’s marketing and that’s without any special featuring by them. 

Overall, it was very exciting to launch our product this way and we learned a huge amount, mostly about orchestrating multiple marketing channels and managing our time, which i'm sure will be useful for growing the business over the next year. Lastly, thankyou to everyone who believed in and supported us, it feels special to have the faith of people and it drives us every day to know we have such great supporters. 

backer card