At Float Tank Solutions, our main goal is simple.
We want to provide access to floating for as many people as possible. That’s why, this week, we are opening up our blog to our friend, Shane Stott. Shane, an avid float ambassador, life coach, and founder of Zen Float Co., will walk us through the essentials of running a Kickstarter campaign, with a highlight on his current efforts to raise money through Kickstarter for a documentary on floating.
Hey everybody, Shane here.
After some back and forth with Graham about writing a guest blog post, we finally arrived upon a topic that I know fairly well: launching a successful Kickstarter. I’ve been through 4 successfully funded ones, one of which BARELY funded, and one that’s live right now for the feature documentary, The Float Tank Cure.
Here’s a LINK to the documentary if you’re interested and, of course, any support is greatly appreciated!
The scary thing is that, as I write this, I’m not even sure that it will fund! Unfortunately, this is the pressure that comes when running a Kickstarter campaign, so prepare yourself, it’s exhausting!
Before you read any further, I want to stress The 6 Laws of Crowd Funding that you can’t break:
- You need to offer something truly valuable to your backers. No, your dream doesn’t count.
- Know exactly who will be contributing the majority of your funds.
- You should be in contact with a big enough audience long before your launch day.
- Know, in detail, the reward sizes and quantity, and make sure to be REALISTIC!
- Momentum early on will save you a TON of work.
- Press matters, so take the time to line it up.
Usually a Kickstarter campaign flops because they forgot to heed one of these laws. Ok, let’s dive into each a bit to add some clarity.
The reality is that you need to offer value in order to raise funds. Sometimes, people donate just to feel good about themselves, but they often need some sort of return on investment. This could be in the form of products, such as shirts and other schwag, but could be as small as receiving credit for being part of something great. Either way, think of the value proposition first. What’s the most valuable thing you can offer each level of donation? Is that enough? Can you afford to offer that without spending all the money on rewards?
I’ve seen it many times over. People think that, because they are doing something great for mankind and want to help people, their dream will be shared by 1,000’s of others and they will reach their funding goal. The truth is, most Kickstarter campaigns probably won’t. You have to focus on the value you can give your funders. Perhaps even obsess.
Know Your Backing Group
You should be able to describe your perfect backer avatar. For the Floating Documentary Kickstarter, I hoped my greatest offering was increased customer traffic at float centers as a result of the film. That’s the most valuable thing the film will create. So I tailored EVERYTHING toward float center owners.
Don’t waste your time thinking about the random people that will contribute $10. Think about the bulk of the funding. Maybe the bulk of funding will come from small donations and, if that’s the case, know EXACTLY where your backer is. What do they like? Male or Female? Age? Your ads need to be targeted and you need to gather much more information than you think you need. More on this below.
Contact Way Before Launch
We started by calling every single float center personally (320!) to tell them about the plan. This began a month before launch day. We then made a custom video that would speak to the centers. We then emailed every center a week before, a day before, day of, and during the campaign. Likely, your Kickstarter will not be top of the list for your audience, so you need to remind them.
If you’re funding with the general public, you need to be gathering your crowd BEFORE launch day. Whether through email, FB, Twitter, etc., you should feel like the majority of the funding crowd is well aware of your project prior launch day.
Know Your Rewards
First, come up with the specific amount you’ll need to cover your project. Ours funding goal was $70,000.
Next, come up with a funding scenario that seems reasonable and will over-fund your project by at least 50%. This step is necessary because, most likely, it WON’T go how you want it to.
200 x $10 = $2,000 (thank you email)
100 x $100 = $10,000 (thank you in the movie credits)
200 x $300 = $60,000 (standard center listing)
50 x $500 = $25,000 (featured center in directory)
4 x $1,000 = $4,000 (banner on directory site)
1 x $4,000 = $4,000 Associate Producer (people only, no co’s)
1 x $5000 = $5,000 Producer (Shane)
Hey, if it goes as planned, great! However, it will likely fall WAY short of your prediction.
You need momentum on your first day. Momentum on Kickstarter will get you press coverage, and features on the site which will get you more eyeballs on your project. This is how you fund with much lower effort. The first day is crucial. You should have lined up at least 10% of your goal when you click the launch button. A handful of people you have personally contacted should be ready to donate when you launch.
Side note: Sometimes momentum will come from friends and family. If you’re afraid to fail, and aren’t willing to ask for help from people you know, prepare for some headache. Even if they just help you share your project, that can go along way. If you’ve done the heavy lifting before launch day, you should be willing to ask for some help. You’re going to make it!
Yes, press and publicity matter. In fact, the more catchy or interesting your Kickstarter story is, the easier it will be for someone to talk about it. With the Float Tent kickstarter, we were the world’s first, and quite frankly a huge breakthrough in float tank technology. It’s very easy to cover our story because it’s interesting, new, and cool. A film about float tanks, when some already exist, not so much. But we knew this going in.
The best method I’ve found for drumming up press is to find similar Kickstarters that have been covered on other sites, and reach out to the writers of those online articles. Just make sure you’re email is to the point and clear.
Second, there are press and media professionals on sites like Freelancer.com that can help you find outlets to cover you. You’re paying mostly for contacts they already have, but also for help crafting your story and knowing where to submit it. Finding the right help is priceless, as press is like rocket fuel for Kickstarter.
Third, post your own story once you launch and tag relevant celebs, sites, and bloggers socially. They might think it’s cool and repost. It’s always worth a shot.
Those are the 6 Laws. Stick to them, and you’re well on your way towards meeting your funding goal!
Here are some more TIPS AND TRICKS that I’ve seen work well:
1. Spend to gather your crowd early. I can’t say how much but, knowing your rewards, you should be able to estimate.
2. Spend on ads that link directly to your Kickstarter during the campaign. I actually talked to a firm that guarantees Kickstarter success, and they said every client of theirs spends $50 a day for the whole campaign! You might need to spend much less, but plan on spending for traffic.
3. Create an image for your Kickstarter page that shows logos of the sites your project has been featured on and update it constantly. Yes credibility matters, and will likely always matter. If people see other people care, they will care more.
4. Have a team ready to be in charge of ads, handle email inquiries, create Kickstarter updates, etc. Don’t try and do this all on your own. (Unless you’re unemployed)
5. IndieGogo Sucks. Yes, I’m sure that offended someone, but you need to realize that Kickstarter is all or nothing, Indiegogo is not. Basically any money you raise on the GOGO you get. Who wants to get behind a project that under funds? With Kickstarter you can say “if we don’t fund, you don’t get charged” and that helps with backer confidence.
6. Early Bird works! Why wouldn’t it? It’s a discount to get backers in faster. If you discount a reward for the early pledgers just limit the quantity to say 20 or 30 and label the reward with “Early Bird.” Be sure not to do more than makes financial sense.
7. Be prepared to adjust rewards as needed. Some things will go faster than planned and some will flop. That’s ok! Just keep working them to fit your audience’s needs.
That’s about it. I hope this has helped.