This is being written based on an assumption. The assumption is that when you crafted your Kickstarter, in the financial breakdown of funds needed, one of the big ticket items was marketing!
Oh no – it wasn’t?
Then you raised enough capital to finance your product, but you are not giving it the best chance to succeed.
Do you have a musician friend or family member that have poured their heart and soul (and all their money) into completing a wonderful CD of their 10 best songs? The buzz of the excitement and dream of investment recoupment, compels them to get 2,500 CD’s manufactured. The first 500 fly out the door to their core following and supportive acquaintances. But when you visit them three years later and go to hang your coat in their hallway closet – you will almost always have to squeeze it in there above and around the big and heavy cardboard boxes containing the thousands of unsold (and now outdated) CD’s.
Perhaps their next CD offering will have a song on it called The Marketing Blues!
But Forget Them – THIS is How YOU are Going to Rock Out!
Good thing that’s not you. You were wise enough to designate a minimum of 25% of your Kickstarter campaign for the marketing component. Obviously every venture is different, and the ideal marketing budget will vary based on your unique situation.
For a starting point, let’s say from the time of receipt of the Kickstarter money it will take three months to complete the creative and production process and reach the point where you have your product ready for prime time. It is probably safe to say that 99.9857867% of you effort will be hyper-focused on this home stretch. That is where your attention is needed at the moment. However, when this moment passes, you don’t want to end up transitioning immediately to the subsequent – “What do we do now?” – moment.
A minimum of three months of marketing set up time which includes actionable tasks is crucial – not just to the success of the endeavor, but also for the continued flow of energy/enthusiasm/passion in the right trajectory.
People have to know about your product before it is available for sale. You and your team need to create buzz for what you are trying to accomplish. The foundation for this should be established early.
Enter into the world of creative marketing to answer the question: “How do I connect with my desired audience?”
Who Are They & Where Are They?
By now you probably have a solid, top level idea about who would be interested in what you plan to offer. Now brainstorm with everyone in your inner circle to go down many layers deeper. Why? Because all these sub-terrain social media audience segmentations are accessible through different, unique channels. They hang out in different places. You have to find out all their affiliations, their points of passion, their activity level – and create the best way to put your brand’s new product out in front of them. Keep in mind:
- It is important to have your company’s social media accounts set up and active, and not just with self-promotional items. Use your social media effectively to connect with and join in the conversation related to what you are doing.
- Build up your brand’s Facebook page with a paid ‘Like’ campaign targeted to the exact audience you want as your current core group AND future brand advocates.
- Be active on all the social networks where those that fit the bill participate. Learn who the influencers are and what they like and talk about. Decide where your brand fits in.
- And then, fit yourself in.
Be Competitive – Not Everyone who Participates Gets a Medal
If your offering is 100% unique as a new incredible invention that came out of nowhere – then you are in a rare circumstance and can possibly skip this step. For the most part, there is always some sort of a competitor. You need to know what they are doing and selling.
Performing Competitor Research
The key is to gain as much insight as possible and then do a better job than they do. Dive deep to:
- Find out what they are doing on social media. How active are they?
- Soak in their ‘brand voice’ and both typical and atypical content published.
- See if their branding is consistent across all their online channels – social, website, blog, etc.
- Evaluate their product compared to your own.
- Look into who their audience is and how they are attempting to expand it.
- Define your unique value propositions – what do you do better, cooler, and more definitively.
- Learn about any contests, promotions, coupons, etc. they run. What are they doing and how are they doing it? Are they coordinating between multiple social networks and their website, or just on Snapchat or Instagram?
Old School PR Done Digitally
In addition to social media, your brand needs to connect with publications and bloggers.
- Research, research, research! Who are the bloggers, publications, and writers who will potentially do a review on your product or endeavor? Start finding out. Make a detailed list of all pertinent information, contact person, URLs, examples, etc.
- Create your pitch letters. You can write pitch letters / emails individually as you do your outreach, but very often you will find that a few templates of different types of versions are more easily customized to accommodate most outreach situations.
- Create a system to document pitches and track progress of each. Set a timeline for the second contact date (if no response is received). If a positive contact is made, notate each next step in the process until the review goes live.
- Have your team ready to ship out trial & review products to those you are reaching out to. If it is a film or music CD, get them an advance copy if at all possible – or a trailer or sample songs. Bend over backwards. If it is an apparel item, or a product that comes in multiple styles and colors, communicate with the reviewer / author to ensure they immediately get what they need. Follow up to make sure they got it, and see if they desire anything else. Secure the relationship now and for the future.
- For some contacts a phone call is always best. An in-person meeting if at all possible is even better. That highly influential blogger with hundreds of thousands of followers can catapult your success immediately. Seek them out. Be chatty, be humble, kiss their butts, and give them lots of free stuff!
- Trade shows, local events, presentations, webinars, and endorsements – these are all avenues that should be pursued.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most people don’t know much about Search Engine Optimization. A lot of people who do SEO don’t know much about SEO either – they have tunnel vision blinders on and are like the service advisors at a car dealership. They will advise you to have this work done, and that work done, they will give you analysis printouts, use terminology that you don’t really understand, and make you think that your car (or website) is in dreadful condition. Scare you into buying new brakes that you may not actually need.
So be forewarned about wasting valuable Kickstarter money on these SEO ‘specialists’.
A good website audit will identify anything you really need to remedy or update, find any ‘train wreck’ items and make sure your site can handle an increase traffic stream. If your product is amazing and you create an outrageous buzz and demand for it – people will flood to your website and buy what you are selling – and that substantial traffic and conversions will override everything else.
When you see a guy or girl walk up to a hip club, all heads turn, and the dude at the ‘exclusive’ entrance welcomes them inside with appreciation that they are there – that club-goer is performing high level, successful branding!
The way you look, the way you act, the way you carry yourself, the reputation you create (true or not), the future you project – are all part of your branding. Your new company has to present itself and its offerings to the public in a way that will ‘turn heads’. Get noticed. Make people need you. Look at Red Bull. Look at Apple. Look at Derek Jeter’s or Madonna’s career.
Set aside a good percentage of your crowd funding money to consult with a branding expert. They will look at YOUR brand with eyes other than your own. They will see the bigger picture and the panoramic view. It will be the best money you’ll spend!
I had friends who had a band. They were pretty good. Other bands were better.
They rented a flatbed truck, made it into a wild looking stage, had it driven to a street in Midtown Manhattan – where they played 6 songs on a beautiful spring day – attracting a large mid-day crowd (including their core audience that they enticed to support them) that went wild with enthusiasm and excitement. Oh yeah, the location they picked was right under the windows of the record company they were determined to impress.
Guess what – they got signed! But not by that company. Their performance sparked high interest by that company, and they manipulated that response so cleverly that they leveraged it all into a major bidding war, resulting with a recording contract with an even bigger record label – the one they really wanted to sign with.
They were pretty good, but other bands were better.
Their manager was more creative in his marketing plan!
AND – they were branded well – they looked great, they were unique, they had attitude, confidence, their logo and artwork were amazing, they looked like stars – and thus attracted the attention of influential people.
Digital marketing – you need it. The Internet makes the world go ‘round.
This industry is in flux and is constantly changing. ‘Links Rule’, ‘Content is King’, ‘Google Authorship Credibility’, ‘Schema’, yadayadayada – all so last (or past) year(s) news. There is a bigger picture to address today. There is so much noise on the Internet – you have to do much more than just resonate among all of it at the same volume.
Technical perfection will not make you a household name.
You need to remove the ‘digital’ adjective so your marketing efforts are multi-dimension, and all-inclusive. To be successful after your Kickstarter – you need a solid branding and an aggressive marketing plan.
Think of that band on the flatbed. Yeah their amps, PA and guitars and drums needed to be generally OK technically, their demo CD wasn’t distorted and didn’t sound like it was recorded by a 2nd rate engineer – but all those things were just one element: the product.
There were other competitive bands in the area with better equipment, and higher quality CD’s – and they never ever made it.
Those things were NOT difference makers.
Get it All Put Together in the Right Proportions
After any Kickstarter campaign, you usually just get one shot to be successful with such an endeavor. There are a lot of great products and services that no one will ever hear of.
Will your Kickstarter be just a side gig – or the foundation for a career?
Do what YOU do best – and make sure you have the money to hire an elite marketing team that will not only ensure a solid product, it will catapult your endeavor to long term success.