Don’t consider a failed crowdfunding campaign fatal.
Trust me when I say that a filed campaign is not fatal. There are many stories of failed campaigns that ended up in success.
For example, the first campaign for Ryan Grepper and Coolest resulted in failure to reach his $125,000 goal. Six months later, the second Coolest campaign raised more than $13 million out of Grepper’s $50,000 goal from over 62,000 backers, beating the previous Kickstarter record set by Pebble smart watch in 2012.
If you were to look at the two Coolest campaigns, they don’t look much different.
So, how did Grepper go from a failed campaign to the biggest success on Kickstarter to date? He made several small changes that made a major impact…roughly a $13 million impact!
So many variables exist in a campaign that it’s hard to put a finger on any single thing that might of gone wrong the first time around with your campaign.
But, now that you have a campaign under your belt, you have something very important. You now have the attention of a group of people who backed your campaign and want it to be successful. You also have data and information you can use to make your next campaign an overwhelming success.
Below are seven areas you need to review after a failed campaign.
1. Revisit the Product Itself
The first thing you need to look at is your product itself.
Sometimes the product is just not a good product. Sometimes, the product is not exactly what people were looking for. Sometimes the benefits of the product were not conveyed in a way that potential backers would have a clear picture as to how the product could benefit them.
Now that you have an audience of people, it’s time to ask them what might have gone wrong and what they think you can do better the next time around.
You can find out a lot of information by surveying your backers. Through the use of campaign updates in either Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you can solicit feedback from your backers.
If you have an email list, you can send emails requesting feedback, or surveys through tools like Survey Monkey. You can start asking questions on social media that may lead you to the potential problem.
The key here is to ask open questions to get honest feedback.
In Grepper’s case, the prototype he featured on Kickstarter didn’t have all of the features promised. Without all the features, it was difficult for people to make the leap to envision what could be. Plus, it took away a lot of credibility with the prototype not fully developed.
When he launched the second campaign, he had a full prototype. People were able to see exactly what they were getting.
It’s tough to get funding without being able to demonstrate a full prototype for potential backers. Make sure your prototype is to a point where potential backers can see what the product is going to do rather than imagine what it might be like. It’s hard to make the leap to what your product could be. Having a fully functioning prototype substantially boosts your credibility and your backing.
2. Make Sure Your Video is Short and Focused on Benefits
If you look at videos of failed campaigns, the videos either focus too much on the inventor or founder’s story and the idea or the videos are vague. Failed campaign videos also leave out product demonstrations. I’ve also seen videos that were vague commercials about what they were doing. These tend to fail miserably. The story of the inventor or founder and the story of the idea is important, but it should be brief in relation to the benefits of the product.
If you analyze Kickstarter videos of successful campaigns, you will notice that the videos are more focused on the benefits to the end user, not focused on the founder and the idea.
To showcase these benefits, successful videos give a full product demonstration within the video. Think back to infomercials, and how the product is demonstrated. They take the product to the extreme, showing just how amazing it is. Infomercial guys show their product removing wine stains from white linen shirts within seconds. They have even been known to blend bowling balls in supercharged blenders. Many of these demonstrations show the power of the product in a way that is more extreme than everyday use. The thought then becomes “Well, if it can blend a bowling ball, it can probably handle whatever I put in there!” Your video doesn’t have to be cheesy, but it should dramatically demonstrate how your product works and give people a reason to back your campaign.
I also find that you should focus on what I call use cases. Your product can likely be used by people with different interests for various uses. For example, when Pebble watch came out, without use cases nobody knew exactly how you could use it no matter how great of a product it was. But, when you see that it can measure yardage to the pin for a golfer, golfers suddenly saw the value in the product. When runners saw that it could display their time, pace, and mileage directly on the watch for them to easily see, it has more value to runners.
When you showcase specific features that might entice a certain audience, make sure you are speaking directly that audience. Don’t assume they can make the leap and imagine how the product might work for them. Show them exactly how your project benefits them.
3. How Large Was Your Audience When You Started
So much of the success of a campaign happens before a campaign is launched. I teach that successful campaigns have audiences built that are interested in backing your campaign long before they are launched.
You need to build a social media following, and most importantly, an email list of people who are interested in your campaign. You need to reach out to influencers and have them promote your project to their list to tap into their audience in an effective way.
Failed campaigns go buy email lists or try to build a large audience of people who are widely uninterested on the cheap, expecting people to naturally love what they are doing and hand over their money. This doesn’t happen.
If your campaign was not successful, your true audience of interested backers may not have been large enough. Only a fraction of your social media followers and email list will back your campaign.
Look at the number of people from your social media following and email list that actually backed your campaign. The number of people divided by the number of people on your list is called your conversion rate. Take your conversion rate, and back into the number of people you need on your list at that same conversion rate to reach your goal. That is your new goal for the size of your audience.
4. How Engaged Was Your Audience During the Campaign?
Not only do you need a large audience, but you need them to be engaged. If you collect email addresses and never send an email leading up to your launch, them you let them know your project is live out of the blue, you will get very little engagement. Not only do you want people to be aware of your campaign and on your list, it’s critical that you engage your audience to get them excited about your campaign.
If you’ve done a great job engaging your audience leading up to the campaign, but didn’t get the backing you thought you would, it may be that your product or pricing didn’t line up with the expectations of your audience. If this is the case, you need to survey your audience to find out what the issue might be. You are likely to receive excellent information that you can use to tweak your product for your next campaign.
When you launch your project the second time around, you will have a larger, more engage group of supporters that will not only back your campaign, but promote your campaign for you. This multiplier effect helps you get early momentum, which will ultimately lead to a successful campaign.
Engaging your audience can dramatically increase your conversion rate from your audience, resulting in a successful campaign with a smaller audience.
5. Was Your Initial Goal Too High?
One change that can significantly change the trajectory of your campaign is the campaign goal. I’ve written about the importance of the size of your goal previously, and I can’t stress that enough.
With the Coolest campaign, his initial goal for the failed campaign was $125,000. The second time around, his goal was $50,000. He achieved the $50,000 goal in the first day, largely through his initial audience. Once the campaign reached 100% of the funding needed, it took off and grew exponentially.
Smaller goals allow you to fund your campaign quickly. I recommend attempting to fund your campaign within the first 48 hours. From there, your campaign is an attractive story for media and influencers and boosts your credibility with potential backers.
Consider lowering your goal in order to raise more in funding.
6. The Timing of Your Campaign Matters
When Coolest launched the first time, the project was launched in December, thinking that people were in the buying mood around the holiday season.
Launching in December is a common mistake. I have never recommended launching in December. Holiday shoppers are shopping for products as gifts that can be given now, not in the coming months.
December is typically the worst month to launch a campaign for a consumer product. If you are launching a campaign with the idea of capturing holiday shoppers, the campaign needs to be launched in October with delivery of the product in November or early December.
Even if December was a good time for campaigns, it was not a good time to launch a campaign for a cooler designed for the summer. People are not thinking about coolers in December. Coolest relaunched in June of 2012 when people are thinking about coolers.
I recommend to launch in months where your product makes sense. If you are launching a seasonal product, find a time to launch that makes the most sense. Don’t rush into a campaign when the timing isn’t right.
7. How Well Did You Market Your Campaign
Launching a project on Kickstart isn’t enough. Many failed campaigns did not marketing their project throughout the duration of the campaign. You can’t expect everyone to love what you are doing and back your project. Your campaign is the ultimate direct marketing and sales test for your project.
Focus your marketing on sales channels that are getting the most traction. When you first launch a campaign, you want to blanket social media channels, blogs, and email with news of your campaign. As you move along, you will find that one or two channels are producing the most backers.
I personally find that campaigns marketing on Facebook are the most successful. If you need to focus your marketing on one channel, my bet would be on Facebook.
Treat your campaign like a full time job for 30 days, and spend at least 80% of your time on marketing. You will see the results if you do.
A failed campaign is not fatal. If your campaign failed, you can fold up and move on, or you can look at data, get feedback, learn from your mistakes, and build a bigger and better campaign.
If you can put the pain of failure aside, you may realize that this is a great opportunity. If you’ve had a failed campaign, my hope is that your campaign will be the next Coolest.
Take a look at the seven factors above. You may only be a few feet away from striking gold.