Kickstarter thoughts

How to launch a successful Kickstarter?  It seems to be the burning question nowadays.  There is a great deal of advice out there – I’d recommend the excellent resources put out there by James Mathe and Jamey Stegmayer.

Incredible stuff – and theses guys do it all for free – AND possibly give away some competitive advantages.  I imagine they believe in the “rising tide raises all boats” philosophy.  In my opinion, that’s the best reason to share information –  a strong community or producers, even people who are your competitors, makes your product better, too.

Anyway, enough on the Objectivist side track. I think most people have figured out that just putting an idea on Kickstarter won’t magically get it funded, no matter how cool it is.  My first project barely squeaked by and I learned a lot from running it. Here are a couple of my takeaways.

  • Backers are looking for value, not uniqueness. If there was ever a large movement of people willing to pay a premium to altruistically support cool projects, that has become the minority.  Backers seem to be more oriented to value or timeliness than a unique reward. My rewards were about double of the MSRP I am selling my product for now, but were limited editions that would never be made again.  The interest in the “limited edition” wasn’t very strong – I think my backers were mainly people who liked the Card Caddy enough to pay the premium price.  I think I would have had more backers if I just did away with the special edition and had the mass market version available a bit below MSRP.
  • Build you network well before your launch.  J&J above plug this relentlessly and you can’t overemphasize it.  Take time to get active in forums related to your product.  Have active social media accounts.  Collect emails where ever and where ever you can.  In my campaign only about 1/3 of my backers came from Kickstarter – I had to bring in the rest.  This is pretty much the split I’ve heard from other campaigns.
  • Shipping sucks. For the generation of “Free Shipping” it’s tough to offer a product where the customer pays shipping separately.  So, you end up including it in the price, but for my product which is under $10, the minimum to ship most anything is $3.  It really inflates the price of an item if you’re adding 30% to its cost just by including shipping.  But overall, it seems to be the best option.  People seem to cancel a sale if there’s a separate shipping adder.  Plus, if you have shipping as a separate item, Kickstarter adds it to your overall total – this really threw me off on my calculations.  What ended up happening was that I met my funding goal, but about a 1/4 of it was shipping, so I really didn’t have the money I was expecting to pay for the tooling and production of my product.

Anyway, those are just a few thoughts on Kickstarter.  I’ll be launching my next one in January for Double and Triple Deckers as well as snap-on accessories like a score pad, storage boxes, connectors and more.  Hopefully I’ve learned these lessons and will have applied them!

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