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Kickstart your campaign the right way

When I first heard of Kickstarter I immediately began to draw up an imaginary list of things I would crowdfund one day: my very own fashion line (haute couture not prêt a porter), an artsy movie that would sweep all the categories at the independent film festivals and a thought-provoking coming-of-age novel. A girl can dream.

Last week British scientists have announced their goal of funding the next moon mission via – you guessed it – Kickstarter.  The campaign, aptly titled Lunar Mission One, is asking for £3.6 million in pledges total of which £600 000 are for the development phase alone. This makes it the platform’s most ambitious and, by the same token, most unrealistic endeavor yet.

What began as an invite-only funding platform with less than a hundred projects in April 2009 has turned into the poster child of the modern digital boom. 7.4 million donors have pledged over $1 billion for 74,000 creative projects. Among these are two Academy Award-nominated documentary shorts (Sun Come Up, Incident in Baghdad), a synthetic biology application (The Glowing Plant Project), various albums, art projects, video games and even Hollywood movies (Veronica Mars). Kickstarter has reached stellar heights – literally.

It didn’t take too long for the PR industry to discover crowdfunding campaigns as a powerful marketing tool. One of the most noteworthy has been the PR campaign for the 3Doodler, the first 3D Printing Pen, which raised $1 million overnight. Perhaps unsurprisingly, plenty of PR agencies followed suit and launched their own Kickstarter campaigns. Yet, despite the seemingly simple concept of the online fundraising platform, following a routine procedure does not suffice to guarantee a successful outcome.

Eco-fashion startup Laene Scandinavia is a prime example of a great idea that fell victim to a lackluster campaign as the company’s founder, Anette Cantagallo, readily admits. The fact that only 43% of projects launched hit their target, implies that Kickstarter campaigns require just as much work as more traditional campaigns and have to be equally innovative. Carolina Alvo, CEO & Founder of Petite Fashion, stresses that innovation begins with a compelling story that should be funny, entertaining, informative and catch peoples’ attention within the first 10 seconds. In addition, creative visual content and exclusive rewards are key to making your project stand out amongst the crowd. What qualifies as a great idea might be subjective, however the good news is that there are some key steps one can take to give their campaign the best chances to reach its goal.

  1. Pay attention to the length and budget of your campaign

It is a common misconception that longer campaigns will result in more funding. In reality, shorter campaigns show confidence in your project and, statistically, have had higher success rates.

As Kickstarter operates as an all-or-nothing model, it is wiser to aim for the minimum funding amount necessary to launch your project. Otherwise you may risk walking away with nothing.

  1. Leverage your own personal network and send out tailored messages

Kickstarter projects that meet their goals quickly are a rarity. So you should aim for all the support you can get. Family, friends and acquaintances will be more likely to pledge than random strangers on the Internet. Customize your messages when you reach out to your network. Don’t forget to follow up!

  1. Have a clear strategy

A Kickstarter launch should be treated like any other launch – go for the wow effect. However, you should also have a clear plan in place for the middle and end of your project and provide frequent updates throughout.

  1. Leverage Kickstarter for PR

Use your PR expertise to get the best results. This begins by presenting your project in the best way possible, on the platform itself as well as paying attention to how it appears in search results.  Reach out to influencers and offer exclusive info before the launch of the campaign. Take advantage of cross-promotions as this will enable you to engage with the demographic that has previously expressed interest in similar projects.

If you follow all of the advice given above, there is still no guarantee whether you will be able to get your campaign off the ground (pun fully intended). But sometimes, with the addition of self-belief, drive and most importantly innovative ideas, the most unrealistic projects can come true. Speaking of which, the Lunar Mission One project fund currently stands at $376, 283.

Good luck!

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