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Entrepreneurs know creating brands and selling their own stuff is the long ball strategy to success, but how do you get there? Design alone is a challenge and manufacturing startup costs can be incredibly prohibitive, especially with large-scale overseas manufacturers.

But guess what? You don’t need to foot the entire bill to get started!

Crowdfunding is the way of the future for small businesses everywhere. It’s the next step in startup evolution. Of this I’m convinced and I hope to help make it happen for you as well.

The 7 steps to creating a crowdfunded product

1. Finalize the product design

Ideas are easy, products are hard. If you’re committed to creating lasting value and building a business around your own brand, you will need to prepare for manufacturing. Depending on the type and complexity of the product, this could vary from simple sketches and homemade prototypes, to full blown design teams, exact engineering specs and 3D printed prototypes.

The important point here is to seek out expertise in the area. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, your experience with factories and product design is probably limited at best. Researching and calling factories is one of the easiest ways to overcome these shortcomings and rapidly learn the production process. To do this use a site a like ThomasNet.com and start quickly scoping out local manufacturers able to offer insight and maybe even their services.

Note: You will want to line up all your manufacturing agreements prior to launching your crowdfunding campaign to deliver to backers on time and avoid scrambling and costly mistakes.

2. Become a student of crowdfunding

To really be successful kickstarting your own product, you need to understand the platform. Take weeks or months leading up to your Kickstarter launch to critique and explore both Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and absorb as much information as possible.

From analyzing and studying the most successful campaigns in your category, to exploring the popular and trendy picks, it is important to see what works and what does not. Consider even backing a few interesting campaigns as well to boost your credibility in the community and to learn more about the Kickstarter process through the eyes of backers.

3. Don’t forget about marketing!!!

The number one mistake I’ve observed among campaigners is failure to properly market. Too many inventors and entrepreneurs wait until launching to even consider spreading the story and message. By then it’s too late. The brutal truth of Kickstarter is that you need to raise 20-30% of your campaign goal on the very first day or you are almost always doomed to failure.

The power and poison of crowdfunding is in the velocity-based approach to success. The more you raise and the faster the funding comes in, the higher you rank and the better it gets. It is the flywheel of crowdfunded success, and you must board immediately or be blown to mediocrity.

Here are three proven resources to get the word out:

Friends and family: Get loved ones on board immediately. Let them know beforehand and immediately after launching that your campaign has just gone live and you need their support NOW! Literally everyone you know needs to be getting coordinated emails calling them to action. This is the only way to rise through the ranks.

Epic outreach and PR: Start a minimum of one month (preferably two) before your campaign launches reaching out and building connections and relationships with bloggers, journalists and media publications. Do this until you are exhausted, ready to quit and can’t send another email…then keep going. It quite literally takes hundreds if not thousands of emails to get results. And for goodness sake, put at least a little customization and personality into each of the emails so it does not feel canned.

Social Media: Build engaging social media profiles for the company and grow them through intense amounts of sharing and valuable content. By building a following ahead of time you increase your launch list and the shareability of your campaign when it comes down to crunch time.

4. Create a killer campaign

As ecommerce owners, we’ve all made our fair share of product pages and built out stores in the past. This part probably seems like a piece of cake…it isn’t! Product pages pale in comparison to the craftsman-like crowdfunding pages many startups create, and you need to act accordingly.

Unlike traditional ecommerce, crowdfunding is much more personal and interconnected. Startups are selling a dream, a vision of what they wish to become, not some finalized and perfected product.

Also, bear in mind that backers have never experienced the products they’re considering buying. They may also have never heard of the companies creating them. This means massive amounts of trust must be built in a seriously short time.

We’ll dive a little bit deeper into creating a killer campaign page in my next post.

5. Film a fantastic video

Content is king when it comes to engaging audiences and converting customers. In this, quality video stands supreme. If you doubt for even a second, browse through top campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. You’ll notice that the video quality and storytelling capacity of these creators is unreal. Rather than simply telling people about the product, many campaigners create captivating stories and engaging pitches which quite literally grab audiences’ attention.

This is incredibly difficult to achieve, however. The truly artistic and spellbinding videos often involve video crews, hours upon hours of shooting and endless editing just to get it right. But if your budget balks at this all is not lost; not all high-end videos are successful. The true shareability and success of your campaign and Kickstarter video almost always come down to passion and authenticity.

6. Rock the rewards

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others like them aren’t exactly ecommerce platforms. You’re not selling pre-made physical products. Instead, you’re building upon backer pre-orders and belief in your mission to make it happen.

This is where compelling rewards and product tiers enter the equation. Unlike traditional shops, both online and off, Kickstarters can get creative in rewards, prizes and product offerings. Ultimately, you’ll want to inject personality and value into your rewards—but don’t sell yourself short. Remember, if the rewards are too absurd, they will degrade your brand.

7. Execute and attack the market

Congratulations!!! If you’ve done everything right, followed the steps, and studied the strategies of success, you’ve probably pulled it off and succeeded with crowdfunding.

Kickstarter isn’t the end. Rather, it’s the beginning of a brilliant rebirth for ecommerce companies looking to take it to the next level. From investor interest, TV show appearances and incredibly exciting distributor and wholesale opportunities, a successful crowdfunding campaign can do so much for your business.

Is it right for you? I don’t know. If you have been yearning to create, innovate and build your own products I’d at least check it out.

In my next post, I’m going to share my tricks for creating a killer kickstarter campaign page.

Leave a Comment
  • mark

    This is a great read! thanks for sharing, Matt! =)

  • Hippie Butter

    Thank you for your expertise Matt. We’re working on a KickStarter campaign for the month of March. Looking forward to your next post about KickStarter.

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