If you’re new to online marketing, you might be wondering where to start. What platforms should you be using? What tools/software should you be using? How can you be effective on a limited budget?
These are good questions. I’ve had my own fair share of “aha!” moments in my career when I’ve wondered the same thing. It wasn’t until I started using Kickstarter that I found the answer to all these questions.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that enables creators to reach out to interested audiences to fund their creative projects. Launched in 2009, Kickstarter now serves over a million users globally and has funded projects ranging from film to music to product design. So, what is Kickstarter, and why should you be watching/using it?
In an interview with Entrepreneur, Chris Ducker, CEO of Flywheel, states that “the world’s most successful companies have used crowdfunding to launch their products.” He goes on to say:
“You have access to a very large audience. Your fans, followers, and subscribers already have an interest in your work. Now, you can leverage that interest into tangible benefits for your community. Not only does it put money in your pocket, but it also gives you the ability to respond to your audience with more personalized content, gain valuable feedback, and establish credibility.”
So crowdfunding can help you establish credibility with your audience, and help you gain more support for your product or service. Why should you establish credibility in your business?
In a nutshell, your audience (or potential customers) will have more trust in your judgment if you’ve been through crowdfunding. Establishing credibility means you’re probably going to be a little more transparent about the products you’re offering and the methods you’re using to arrive at those prices. While this might not seem like a good idea to you, in actuality, it could be the perfect thing. You’re giving your audience the opportunity to get involved, so you might as well involve them as much as possible. Establishing credibility also means you might have to prepare yourself for some constructive criticism. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want to look at it. You’re finally going to show your audience who you are, what you’re made of, and what you’re capable of. This could be a very powerful moment for your product or service. Why should you involve your audience in your marketing plan?
Whether you agree or disagree, most businesses now recognize the power of word of mouth marketing. This is largely due to the fact that social media allows for easy access to customers’ opinions, and, as a business owner, you can’t afford to ignore this. By encouraging your audience to talk about your product/service, you’re laying the groundwork for future customers to find and use your platform.
So, you’ve decided to involve your audience in your marketing plan. Great! But how can you get them talking about your product/service?
One way is through social media. You can put out amazing content, gain a lot of traction on social media, and gain credibility with your audience. But even if you do all of this, you won’t be considered a true expert in your industry until you’ve been through crowdfunding. Why? Because, as previously stated, your audience already has an interest in your work. The best thing you can do for your business is to give them more of what they want. This could be in the form of a webinar, podcast, or, in this case, a Kickstarter Campaign.
What is a Kickstarter campaign?
If you’ve never heard of the term “kickstarter,” it’s probably time you should have. Launched in 2009, Kickstarter is an online platform where creators can offer their audiences creative projects (usually products or services related to film/video, music, literature, and art) and seek financial support from interested parties (the “funders”) to make those creations a reality. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you might be wondering: How can I use Kickstarter to promote my business?
To find the answer to this question, let’s take a look at how Kickstarter defines a “creative project.”
- The project must be creative (i.e. something that hasn’t been created before),
- The project must have a physical embodiment (i.e. something that you can hold in your hands or order online),
- The project must have a reasonable expectation of success (i.e. you must believe there is a significant chance that you’ll be able to complete the project as planned),
- The project must be profitable (i.e. you must believe that you can make a reasonable amount of money from the project),
So, in theory, anything that you create that meets these criteria can be considered a “creative project” for Kickstarter. However, keep in mind that the platform is still largely focused on creative projects, so most of the content on the site is related to art, literature, music, and film. If you want to find out more, visit the Kickstarter website.
How can Kickstarter help my business?
Let’s now take a look at how Kickstarter can help your business.
- Creative projects: If you’re looking to fund the creation of a product/service for your business, you can use Kickstarter.
- Crowdfunding: If you’ve decided to go down the crowdfunding route, Kickstarter is the best place to do it.
- Community: By involving your audience (aka “community”) in your creative process, you’re giving them a sense of ownership in what you create. This is a powerful tool for gaining credibility.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): If you’re looking to grow your audience, SEO is one of the best ways to do it. By having a strong social media presence, you’re preparing yourself for future customers to find you.
- Data: If you’re looking to gain insight into your audience’s habits, interests, and behaviors, you can use the wealth of data that Kickstarter has amassed over the years.
When should I start a Kickstarter campaign?
While there’s no “rule” that says you have to have a crowdfunding campaign to make it as a business, the best advice I can give you is to start sooner rather than later. Why? Because, as you hopefully realize, the interest for your product/service tends to wax and wane with the seasons. If you want to be able to effectively market your product/service during one of those seasons, then you need to start your campaign soon.
If you’re looking to make the leap to the next level, consider the following:
- Product research: If you’re still in the early stages of your business and don’t know much about your product, you should probably start a crowdfunding campaign. This is when you do your research, collect data, and figure out what works and what needs to be changed.
- Marketing plan: If you’ve decided to involve your audience in your marketing plan, you can use Kickstarter to help you spread the word about your product/service. While you might want to eventually take over all marketing, getting input from your audience about what they want/need is critical at this stage.
- Establishment of credibility: If you want to be able to sell your product/service to your audience (aka “customers”), you need to establish credibility first. This is where crowdfunding comes in. By involving your audience in your creative process, you’re giving them a sense of ownership in what you create. This is a powerful tool for gaining credibility.
How can I pitch my product/service to potential customers using Kickstarter?
So, you’ve decided to go down the crowdfunding route. That’s fantastic! But how can you pitch your product to your audience using Kickstarter?