When you’re launching a business, you have no idea if people will embrace your product. You can pour your time and money into a business, only to find that you don’t have product market fit.
For many aspiring entrepreneurs, Kickstarter has been a game changing platform to de-risk starting a business. You can premarket a product, and not only can you learn if customers want it, they can help fund the development for it. You no longer have to shoulder all the business risk.
But Kickstarter isn’t limited to starting a new business, it can be used as a tool to launch new product offerings. Will Roya, who runs PlayingCardDecks, an online seller of unique playing cards, regularly uses Kickstarter to market new decks of cards. Here are his tips on how to successfully use Kickstarter.
1. Build hype
You can’t launch a product on Kickstarter without any sort of following and expect success. Like any business, you have to put in the work to build excitement around your product.
For Will, his website PlayingCardDecks is a platform to drive interest in new card decks he launches on Kickstarter. Prior to a campaign, he emails his customers and posts to social media about upcoming decks, building anticipation and future backers for his launch.
Part of his Kickstarter success then is a function of the marketing machine he’s built for his business. He drives customers to PlayingCardDecks through great content marketing, and then these customers in turn become engaged in his Kickstarter campaigns.
Before having an established customer base though Will collaborated with similar Kickstarter campaigns in the playing card niche where they would cross promote each other, driving initial backers. Now that he has a following, he selectively chooses partners that meet his high standards for design and execution.
2. Focus on the first few days
When you launch a campaign the first few days are the most critical. If you can get early funding, Kickstarter will take notice, and surface you more in the search results leading to backers.
To do this, Will offers special deals to early backers. For example, on some campaigns, the first two hundred backers over the weekend will get an extra playing card deck. The special offering combined with urgency pushes people to fund the campaign.
Along with special deals, you can use your network too. Ask family and friends to fund the deal to get you started.
Lastly, prior to launching, back other creators in your space. Chances are they’ll return the favor when you launch.
All this legwork getting initial backers not only helps fund your current campaign, but builds followers for future ones.
3. Maintain momentum
The middle of campaigns can be slow, and it’s important to continue to drive more backers so your campaign can stay relevant.
Will messages his email list, social media followers, and backers of past Kickstarter projects reminding them about his new campaign. He offers special incentives to engage them. For example, if you share the campaign on social media and back it, he’ll throw in extra stickers or extra decks.
During a campaign, Will recommends limiting awards and keeping them exclusive to drive excitement and contributions.
4. Demonstrate social proof
If it’s the first time running a campaign, you have to prove to Kickerstarter funders that you’re legitimate and trustworthy. There have been plenty of projects on Kickstarter that raised funds, and never delivered on their product. Funders are wary and are looking for signs that you’ll meet your promises.
While a great product video and copy helps, Will recommends being as transparent as possible. Talk about who you are, your motivation around the project, your process, and potential challenges. The transparency builds trust, connection, and confidence that you’ll come through.
Additionally, Will links to reviews on PlayingCardDecks to show a well established business is behind the campaign.
Once you’ve delivered on a campaign for your backers, you start to build a track record. Every time Will launches a new product, he’s able to point to past campaigns to show new backers can trust him.
5. Follow up and execute
Hitting your fundraising goal is half the battle. After that, you have to create and ship your product based on the timelines you promised.
This is where first time creators can struggle. Executing on product delivery is hard. It’s a logistical puzzle to solve. If you fail to do it right, you’ll burn all your backers, and hurt your reputation going into future campaigns.
Before launching a campaign, research and put the pieces together so you can successfully deliver a product. Will recommends having a fulfillment partner. They have expertise and it significantly improves your ability to execute.
Along with fulfillment, you have to regularly communicate with your backers. Be transparent, and provide updates on product development and delivery timelines. Moreover, use these updates as an opportunity to cross sell other products. For example, Will uses these updates to give special deals on items found on PlayingCardDecks.
Lastly, surprise and delight your customers. Will sends stickers and bonus cards with the final product. This builds lasting connections, in turn helping organic growth and increasing customer lifetime value. Will finds that because the Kickstarter process is collaborative with backers, they tend to be great customers for PlayingCardDecks.
How can Kickstarter work for you?
While Kickstarter is great for launching a product, it can also be a tool for regular product launches. If you already have an established business with loyal customers, Kickstarter can help you get product validation, find new customers, and finance your efforts.