How to Launch a Killer Kickstarter

2015-01-26-PeterDaisyme.pngAuthor Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Host, a hosting company specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. 

Since launching in 2009, Kickstarter has become the premier crowdfunding platform -- it's received over $1 billion in pledges and has funded some 135,000 projects. Because of the successes that some entrepreneurs and business owners have had with Kickstarter, it's no surprise that anyone with a great product idea turns to the popular crowdfunding site (and others like it).

If you want to get that much-needed funding for your product, crowdfunding is a great option. But to guarantee success, you have to launch a top-notch campaign. 

Beyond reading the creator requirements for Kickstarter, these eight steps can help ensure your campaign gets shared -- and funded:

1. Do Your Homework

Just like any other business, you have to put in the time and research when launching a crowdfunding campaign. This means making sure there's a market and establishing a budget for your product.

Furthermore, you need to discover some crucial information about your target audience. For instance, knowing when and where your audience spends their time on social media, such as going on Facebook during a lunch break, is useful. Overall, when you know what interests them, you can create content and rewards that are appealing.

2. Create Early Buzz

Despite all of the success stories that you've heard regarding extremely successful Kickstarter campaigns, they're actually few and far between. To ensure that you have a solid campaign, create some early buzz with people that are already in your network.

One method is to build an email list before your campaign starts. As Bhavin Parikh from Magoosh Test Prep recommends in the Huffington Post, "Build an email list and get support from friends and family ahead of time. Let them know what you're working on, and get their funding commitments. That way, you'll have social proof on day one of your campaign, and others will be more likely to give."

3. Keep Your Campaign Under 30 Days

A Kickstarter campaign can last anywhere between one to 60 days. However, research conducted by Kickstarter in 2011 found that shorter campaigns were more effective than longer campaigns, which is why Kickstarter decreased the maximum amount of time from 90 to 60 days.

It sounds counterintuitive, but you can actually increase your chances of success by keeping your campaign under 30 days, which creates a sense of urgency among your backers.

4. Have the Right Tools

You can't just put your campaign on Kickstarter and call it a day. You still have to put in a lot of work, such as sending out emails, tweets and pitching your idea. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't make use of certain tools to help make your campaign run more smoothly.

On Shopify, Dan Wang put together a nice list of 13 tools to help with Kickstarter campaigns. Here are some of my favorites:

  • BackerKit: a dashboard that helps you manage your post-crowdfunding needs, such as emailing founders
  • ShipStation: helps send your products by integrating with USPS, FedEx and UPS
  • Buffer: helps manage and schedule social media posts and updates
  • KeyShot: creates renderings of your project
  • Cision: media database that has contact information so that you can send out press releases

5. Create a Shareable Video

A high-quality video is of the utmost importance. It will be the first impression that backers will get of you and your product. This is what you need to create high-quality video that people want to share with others.

In The Next Web, Clay Hebert -- founder and CEO of Spindows and the creator of KickstarterHacks -- suggests that you should ask yourself, "Would someone share this video, even if they don't back the project?"

6. Make Sure the Price Is Right

Both Scott Ferreira from MySocialCloud and Clay Hebert have witnessed promising Kickstarter campaigns go unfunded because the pledge level price wasn't right. For that reason, Hebert suggests project creators target their pricing below the manufacturer's suggested retail price.

Ferreira recommends that you understand "what you are giving to your backers and how that corresponds to pledge level pricing." And if you can't figure that out, simply ask people. 

"I tell all the startups in my accelerator to make sure their product is right for Kickstarter. Otherwise, they're wasting their time," says John Rampton, my longtime friend, business partner and investor in several Silicon Valley companies. "Consumer products tend to work well. B2B and enterprise products are extremely difficult to get crowdfunded."

7. Offer More Enticing Rewards

According to Entrepreneur writer Laura Entis, the most popular pledge amount is $25, and the pledge average is about $70. To keep backers content, you should be offering a number of small rewards for their support.

However, you don't want to rely on just T-shirts or a gimmick like a digital high-five. Think outside the box and offer backers some unique and interesting rewards at various price levels. For example, an ice cream parlor named flavors after backers, and musicians allowed donors to be featured on a song.

8. Interact With Your Crowd

Whether it's asking questions of supporters, blogging frequently, being active on social media or following up with your audience, it's vital that you constantly interact with your crowd. Remember, it's your supporters who are breathing life into your Kickstarter campaign, and engaging with them can help improve your chances of success. "We can't expect people to care about our projects if we don't care enough to even respond or reach out to them," says Cynthia Johnson of RankLab.

What other tips have you found to help launch your Kickstarter campaign?