If you’re reading this post in preparation for your first Kickstarter campaign, you’ve probably realized that Kickstarter is a pretty big deal. Multi-million dollar campaigns grace the front page, your Facebook feed has probably started to fill with ads for various projects, and you may have even found yourself on a mailing list or two.
When Kickstarter first began, word of mouth and rising to the top of Kickstarter used to be all you needed to make it big. But back then, million dollar campaigns were a pipe dream and there were only ever a handful of projects on Kickstarter.
Now you’re staring down 3,000-4,000+ campaigns each month, massive companies that use Kickstarter to launch their products, and campaigns that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to market their products. So how do YOU stand out? And more importantly, how can you stand out when you don’t have two extra pennies to rub together? Let’s break it down.
First, before we get into the different options, I think it’s important we cover something. Marketing is difficult when you HAVE a marketing budget. It’s even harder when you don’t have one. Be ready to fail a lot. And be ready to fight for every single bit of exposure you get. You could make marketing your full-time job during your Kickstarter campaign and still not raise a penny. It’s that hard. I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars marketing for Kickstarter campaigns, countless hours pursuing free exposure, and seen everything from extremely high returns to campaigns that can’t even find one pledge.
Intimidated yet? Good. Now let’s talk about what you can do to overcome that intimidation and give your campaign the best chance at succeeding.
1. “Traditional” Digital Marketing:
Your best bet here is social media marketing. And out of all social media marketing options, Facebook is by far your best choice. There are countless Facebook groups and pages for crowdfunding, whatever niche your product fits in, etc. Since you don’t have the funding to pay for advertisements on Facebook, these are going to be your go-to. Find the owner of the group or the page administrator where you’d like to post. Send them a private message and explain your project and ask permission to post it. DO NOT post your project with permission first (unless it’s a group designed to post projects). Your post is likely to be deleted and you can be kicked from the group or page without warning. This will damage your reputation, but more importantly, your campaign’s reputation. I’m in multiple groups and it’s common to see the exact same post pop up across multiple groups, only to be deleted within a few hours. And I never click on those posts. Because they’re spammy, and I see them getting deleted quickly. Don’t be that person. No one likes that person. Or that campaign.
Keep in mind, if a page allows anyone to post for free, your post is likely to be drowned out in a few minutes by someone else posting their campaign. That’s the biggest battle you’ll fight when trying to land free exposure. It’s something literally everyone on Kickstarter wants. It’s the reason I said you could do this as your full-time job with no results. You’re fighting against a lot of other campaigns!
2. PR Outreach:
PR (public relations) outreach is becoming more and more of a game changer in Kickstarter marketing. A campaign starts to do well on Kickstarter, one news outlet or website picks it up and writes about it. That article causes it to grow even bigger and more outlets take notice. The other news outlets don’t want to be left out, so they write about it and the campaign swells even more. It creates a snowball effect with press that can lead to some very good results for your campaigns. Buthow do you even get started?
Take your time to research journalists, bloggers, influencers, and websites that have similar posts to your campaign (Are you running a watch campaign? Find a place that loves watches!). You’d think this is common sense, but I can’t tell you how many campaigns have just gone straight to Buzzfeed or Mashable with their product, expecting to get an article. You need to reach out to your niche! Build small, end big. Not the other way around!
Write a polite email or message that briefly describes your product or campaign and why you feel it would be a good fit for their page. Make sure you include a link to your campaign!
Then you wait. Expect to be rejected, completely ignored, or laughed away. These people see hundreds, if not thousands of emails and messages just like yours each week. They really have to love your product to post about it for FREE (and making sure your product is loveable is an entirely new blog post). When reaching out to these people, there are three rules you must never EVER break. Ever.
A. Always be polite. Even if you’re rejected or they’re rude to you. Never EVER respond with rudeness or snark. Most of these people are connected in one way or another. The last thing you need is to get blacklisted (remember, you’re basically begging).
B. Do not be annoying. I understand you want to be persistent. But no one likes a persistent beggar. That’s just annoying. Send your initial email. If you don’t hear anything, send a follow-up message. Then leave it at that if you don’t have any more correspondence.
C. Always be grateful for anything they do for you. Even if they offer to only throw a link to your campaign into a post that’s not even about your project. They didn’t have to do that and if it translates to a few visits or even one pledge, it’s better than nothing!
Basically, don’t be a jerk. You’re asking for someone to post something for free with zero return. When was the last time you went out of your way to perform your paid job for a stranger with no return? Maybe occasionally but it’s not something you do on a daily basis. If you did, you wouldn’t get a paycheck.
3. Email Blasting:
This is likely a long shot for most of you. If you haven’t been accumulating emails for people interested in your product, you won’t be able to do this. If you DO have an email list, you’re in luck! And no, an email list of 50 of your friends and family doesn’t count. They’re already getting hit up by someone pushing an MLM on their Facebook, they don’t need your emails asking them to purchase your product.
If you have collected emails from people who are interested, make sure you use them! But again, don’t be annoying. Getting your emails blocked or labeled as spam does nothing for your campaign! So when should you send emails?
Launch Day: Send an email out with your link, letting everyone know you’re live!
Funding Goal Reached: Let people know production is going to be rolling shortly and people will be getting their pledges!
Last Days of the Campaign: Let people know it’s their last shot to get your product!
Outside of these three times, you might be able to get away with sending another email or two. But 3-5 emails from someone asking for your money in a 30 day span is enough to make most people click “Unsubscribe” from your list. Or block your email. So be judicious in your email usage.
Hopefully by now you’ve realized you’ve got your work cut out for you. It’s going to take a lot of work to market your campaign successfully, and even more to do it without money. But it can be done and you’ve got some ideas now on how to make it happen.
However, if you don’t have the time, drive, or money there ARE options. One of the reasons Gold Mountain Media exists is because we LOVE helping the small time campaigns make it big. We’ve obviously worked on the big hitters. But it’s the little guys that make Kickstarter the incredible place that it is. There aren’t many things better in the crowdfunding world than a first time creator watching their dream become a reality and grow each day. We offer marketing options that will allow for tens of thousands of dollars to be spent on your campaign without having to fork all that money over before your campaign starts.
If you’re interested, please feel free to reach out to us! We’d love to learn more about you and your campaign. And we’d love to help!