"Naivete is your best friend and your biggest enemy when launching a food business and a Kickstarter campaign."
Today we're sharing an interview our co-founder, Jessica, did with Sari Kimball of Food Business Success. In this segment we discuss everything from why we decided to launch Defy Foods to our top tips for running a successful Kickstarter campaign.
For anyone who is considering launching their new product or idea with a crowdfunding campaign, here are our top 5 tips:
1. Spend time researching other campaigns and really digging into what you like and what you don't. Use this to start to build an outline of the types of topics you want to cover in your campaign. (A lot of this content will be similar to what you will use on your website, so be sure to think about that so you can get the most runway out of your content.)
2. Look into ideas for your video. Kickstarter highly recommends creating a video. (We've seen stats floating around that a campaign without a video is 85% less likely to fund!) Watch many other Kickstarter videos and write down what you like: music, graphics, format. Will it be an interview? A narrative? Lots of graphics or more storytelling? We recorded our own video and did our own editing. If this isn't up your alley, look around for someone with more experience that can help you. While there are agencies that focus solely on Kickstarter videos (can you believe that? There is a whole industry around Kickstarter!) you also could find film school students or friends who would be willing to help for a lot more affordable rates.
3. Get familiar with the Kickstarter platform. Start to build your campaign so you know what format to create assets in, how the flow will work, what types of fields you need to figure out. This was a huge help so by the time we were getting close to launching our campaign, almost everything was built, linking properly and ready to go.
4. Crunch the numbers. Do a really thorough job figuring out the financials and fine tuning your funding goal. Think about the cost to manufacture, packaging costs, shipping and freight, legal expenses, marketing expenses and so much more. The expenses add up very quickly and you want to make sure that when you ask for an amount you are confident that if you hit it, you will be able to fulfill on your promise. Rule of thumb: get that number and add 20%. Everything will cost more than you think, no matter how much legwork you do in advance.
5. Build a marketing plan. While we definitely did a lot of work up front, we quickly realized after launching our campaign there was a lot we would've done differently had we known. This one is meaty, so I am going to break it down into a few bite sized pieces:
- Build your audiences and distro lists. Think about personal and professional contacts. Build your email lists. (Tip: I was rather nervous to reach out to old colleagues I hadn't spoke to in many, many years. But I decided to go for it, after all this is probably the only time in my lifetime I will be doing something like this and I figured the worst that could happen is a few people are offended and ignore me. What I found out was absolutely to the contrary. People were so excited and intrigued to hear of my venture, and many were incredibly generous and happy to support me. I was soo touched!)
- Many, if not all, of the Kickstarter campaigns you see hitting six figure numbers, hire one if not multiple agencies to help them promote and drive traffic to their campaign. What you don't see behind the scenes is what type of profit margin they actually have once all those fees and commissions are paid out. Decide ahead of time what your goal is. Do you want to spend less and hit your goal? Or are you trying to make headlines with overfunding and how much are you willing to spend? Do all of this before you launch your campaign. We didn't know this and ended up looking into agencies mid campaign, which was hectic, to say the least! Agencies generally want to start working with you 3-6 months before you launch your campaign.
- Dovetailing off the last point, the reason agencies want to work with you so far in advance is to do testing and build an audience that you can speak to when you turn on your campaign. (This is how campaigns fully fund in under an hour!) Even if you don't work with an agency, start to play with paid ads on Facebook. The barrier to entry is quite low (think $5 a day) yet the learning curve is steep. Get familiar with this in advance. The more you know how to do and the more people you have who have shown interest, the easier it will be to drive your campaign once it's live.
- Lastly, get ready for a rollercoaster! Managing your campaign is an hourly and daily job. Try, test, evaluate and pivot. See what works and do more of it. See what doesn't and do less of it. You can set up unique referral tags in Kickstarter and with Google Analytics to use in different marketing vehicles and be able to track where your backers come from. Your most precious asset during your campaign is your time, so try to spend it as wisely as you can.
Hope this helps anyone considering a crowdfunding campaign. If you have specific questions, comment below and we'll do our best to answer them.
If you're interested in working with an Industry veteran who can guide and consult you every step of the way in launching a food company, check out Sari Kimball and Food Business Success.