Lessons in Selling Your Product

My Heroes of History Kickstarter campaign is about halfway over, and I’m halfway to my goal. Unlike some other projects, I am way short of them.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1497895052/save-the-heroes-of-history-from-textbook-doom

I looked at a few other campaigns, and try to figure out “why”. Why do they get more/less money than mine does? Why do they have more/fewer backers than me?

What most people don’t tell you about Kickstarter is that the most successful campaigns have one or more of the following:

  1. multiple partners with equal investment in campaign success.
  2. An established fanbase and/or easy access to national/international media.
  3. A network of support where they can focus on Kickstarter and not have to worry about paying the bills or feeling like a “loser” for turning to Kickstarter.
  4. Previous experience running this.

I came in with only a little  bit of #3, in that in the worst-case scenario, I can move home with my parents and focus on my business, which would help a lot. But I lack the others.

A lot of Kickstarter advice is geared towards people whose projects a) depend on the success of their campaign and b) have a bigger team. In my genre for example, most gamers are happy with $10,000 or less, which doesn’t require a massive media push. But the projects in the s6- or 7- figures often have a well-known, established figure and a wider network than I have. I assume most have friends with more money than mine do, which might explain why so few of my friends have bothered to support my campaign. They are happy to like a Facebook post, but actually giving money is proving a problem. I hate cyber begging, but I really have no choice. You’d think some of my ‘facebook friends’ would be more supportive, but I think most of them could care less. They are more worried about their own lives and the idea of charity, that is giving up something for nothing, is foreign to them. Unless it’s something they REALLY care about, and I guess my idea just doesn’t excite them enough.

You are likely to experience the same thing when you run your crowdfunding campaign, or try to sell your book/product to someone who may not want it. So here are my takeaways:

For Kickstarer-

  1. Make sure you have at LEAST 30 people locked in to buy on day 1- Kickstarter is more likely to boost you if you get a big number on day 1. Even better is if they pledge a lot of money. Say $25- that means on day 1, you’d get $750, and that looks great.
  2. Better to have a partner- a spouse, friend, co-worker, or co-founder EQUALLY obsessed with your goal. As much as my parents and family and a few friends have been supportive, no one is more invested in this than me. Not only will having an equal partner help you reach your goal faster, but you can set loftier goals. So if I had 3 people on my team, I might ask for $12,000 instead of $4,000. Granted, partners can bring headaches. But I’d probably be at $6,000 by now if I had more investment.
  3. Most likely, your first product won’t have big attention. It will take subsequent campaigns, with a bigger fan base, to build interest.
  4. Plan! I did not spend a lot of time planning Kickstarter. Most of the more successful campaigns planned theirs out weeks, if not months, or even years, in advance. Without a reliable base of money, my campaign is mostly cyber-begging.

For business:

  1. Build a bigger team- I learned the hard way how hard it is to try to do everything yourself. In hindsight, I would have liked to have a Co-Founder to help share responsibility and also expand what we’re capable of. But the partner must a) have a different skill-set than me, b) be willing to work hard, and c) be willing to share or take responsibility as needed.
  2. Don’t assume your network will support you- big-shots who write for big-shot media outlets will tell you that if you aren’t getting people running to your book or product, it’s your fault and your  book/product probably sucks. That may or may not be true, but accept that if you thought your friends and family would back you to show support, don’t count on it. Some will, and many will not. Don’t assume. Makes an Ass of U and Me. But also don’t listen to ‘experts’ opinions over your product. Trust your instinct and customer feedback, not judgmental morons on TV.
  3. Network- one thing I’ve done is brought my product to game clubs and to kids who game to have them test the rules and give feedback. But, I should have done more of this before, in order to not delay my product launch, which will likely be one more month past when I had hoped to begin selling (may be a blessing in disguise- most people’s refunds will come through by then)

This is only the first post in this category, but if you have any unanswered questions, please ask them.

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