Crowdfunding has a huge presence and influence in the startup marketplace. There are so many headlines that tell of the overnight success of product campaigns on sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. This seems like a perfect platform to integrate your product into. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott sits down with Khierstyn Ross a specialist in helping entrepreneurs launch their products on crowdfunding sites and beyond. You’ll hear her take on product validation, building a prelaunch audience, and seeing crowdfunding as more than a “One-time event.” Get ready for some powerful insights!
Validating a product for crowdfunding
The key to a successful crowdfunding campaign is momentum. You need to drive a lot of people to make pledges toward your product. How do you know a product will be a hit with a lot of people? Khierstyn Ross shares a few insights she has gathered as she consults with people trying to launch a product via crowdfunding. She encourages business leaders to get out and talk with everyday people about their product. Does it strike a nerve? Does it solve a problem that resonates? She doesn’t pretend to know the ins and outs of every industry or niche that a product will address but she knows how to help an entrepreneur ask the right questions. Get more helpful insights from Khierstyn on this episode of The Amazing Seller.
What is the best way to build a prelaunch audience for your product?
So you’ve done the research and you know your product is solving a problem that will resonate with people. How do you get people fired up about this product? How do you ensure that your launch day goes off with a BANG? Khierstyn Ross has a few ideas that will help you optimize your efforts to build a prelaunch audience. She has found that running Facebook ads with video is extremely successful in building that audience. This strategy is effective when you also include a special promotion to give ad viewers a discount percentage off of the item on launch day. To hear more tips from Khierstyn, listen to this episode of The Amazing Seller!
Is crowdfunding right for you and your product?
It seems like there is no end to the variety of products available on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But is this method of product promotion and audience gathering right for you? The truth is you don’t have to have a completely new original idea for a product to be successful on a crowdfunding site. It is a great place for original product ideas but you can also have a familiar product that has been repurposed for a specific demographic or with features that no one else is providing. One fact remains, you need to have a physical product. If you are considering leveraging crowdfunding for your product launch, make sure to listen to this episode of The Amazing Seller!
Don’t think of crowdfunding as a one-time event
Most people think of crowdfunding as a one-time event. You promote and publicize a product, gain the funding needed, then ship the item to the backers. Done. But is that thinking shortsighted? Could you leverage crowdfunding as part of a larger business model? Khierstyn Ross has built a business assisting entrepreneurs who are just getting their product on the market. She is convinced that crowdfunding can be utilized as a tool to launch into even greater success. Find out how you might be able to use crowdfunding with your product on this episode of The Amazing Seller!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [3:30] Scott welcomes Khierstyn Ross to the show.
- [4:40] Khierstyn talks about her background in business.
- [10:00] How does crowdfunding a product work?
- [14:15] What happens to the funds raised if you don’t reach the stated goal?
- [18:00] A Kickstarter page ranks high on Google right? Does that page stay up?
- [20:00] What crowdfunding site is best?
- [21:30] How would rolling out a product on one of these sites look like?
- [23:30] What is the first step once you’ve done your product and market research?
- [25:40] How would Khierstyn validate a product?
- [30:00] What is the best strategy to build a prelaunch audience?
- [33:30] Creating an appealing crowdfunding page.
- [36:30] Who should use crowdfunding?
- [40:00] What about patents?
- [41:00] Don’t think of crowdfunding as a one time event.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 327
TAS 327: How to Raise Money and Launch Products Using Crowdfunding + Mistakes to Avoid with Khierstyn Ross
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 327 and today we are going to talk about how to raise money and launch products using crowd funding and we are also going to talk about…
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…some mistakes to avoid. I have a special guest that’s going to be helping us with this who’s actually been through this time and time again. She’s seen a lot of ups and downs and things that are done right and things that are done wrong and I just wanted to dig in to this topic because I’m pretty interested in it. I think it’s a great business model for some people and I say business model.
It’s a way to launch your business or new product and that expert is Kirsten Ross and she really has been doing this for quite a while and she’s going to tell exactly how she got started in it but she’s also going to talk about a campaign that they ran when she first got started which was a flop. She’s going to talk about why and after they just tweaked a few things it was a huge success. I think that’s really important to understand because sometimes just a few tweaks can make a huge difference. I mean I’m talking about just your listing alone, you can change some images and boom all of a sudden you get a listing that’s converting now because you changed something but you thought you knew what people liked. But you have to test things throughout this process and the same thing goes for crowd funding I guess and that’s what she’s going to share with us.
Let me just say this though, before we jump into this topic, this is a little bit more advanced obviously if you are just starting, probably isn’t going to be something that you are going to need right now. You still probably want to listen because you know what, it’s good to understand what is possible. If this seems to be something that works for you down the line or maybe a partnership or maybe another brand that you work with because I think as we evolve with this business we are going to start to see other opportunities and this can be something that you can entertain if the time is right. But if you are just starting or if you are brand new to the podcast first of I just want to say welcome and little handshake here through this audio recording.
[00:02:07] Scott: I just want to say welcome and I would invite anyone that’s brand new to one of our live workshops that we do. We do these weekly, generally weekly and we talk about how to launch a product from start to finish and then we also talk about product research and finding that market or finding that product. If you want to register for an upcoming live workshop head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop and you’ll see the upcoming workshop there, you can register and then we’ll notify you when we end up doing it and then you can hang out with us, you can ask questions, it’s totally live and we’d love to see you there. That’s for anyone that’s brand new and just getting started that is probably where you want to start.
Now, I also want to say show notes. This is going to be one you are probably going to want to download. There’s a lot of great information and like I said she is going to take us through a couple of case studies in a sense as far as like what happened when they started and what they learned through that process. If you are interested at all in crowdfunding this is definitely, definitely one you are going to want to download and use the transcripts to actually print out maybe even and use as a little guide. Theamazingseller.com/327 is where you’ll find all of those show notes, we’ve got links, we’ve got transcripts, all of that stuff is over there. Alright guys I’m going to stop talking now so you can guys can enjoy this episode that I did with my good friend Kirsten Ross. Enjoy.
[00:03:29] Scott: Hey Kirsten, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. How are you doing this morning?
[00:03:37] Kirsten: Scott I’m awesome thanks for having me. I’m really excited for this.
[00:03:40] Scott: Is it morning where you are?
[00:03:43] Kirsten: Yes, I think we are in the same time zone.
[00:03:44] Scott: We are, okay I didn’t know.
[00:03:46] Kirsten: I’m in Toronto so…
[00:03:48] Scott: Okay we are then I wasn’t sure I thought the last time you and I chatted I thought we had a time difference but I don’t know.
[00:03:52] Kirsten: We did.
[00:03:54] Scott: We did because you were somewhere else?
[00:03:55] Kirsten: I was in London at the time so five hours difference.
[00:03:59] Scott: I knew there was and I’m like, “Maybe I’m just crazy.”
[00:04:04] Kirsten: No you are not.
[00:04:06] Scott: All right, awesome. I just want to dive into what we are going to talk about today which is really about a lot of people get started or they are limited on cash or they have a product idea or they want to expand their product line but sometimes capital is the issue. I know you have some experience with crowdfunding and just ways to maybe even go after finding that money. I just really did want to dig into that topic with you today but before we do that maybe you can give people a little bit of background as far as who you are and how you got into this whole space.
[00:04:44] Kirsten: Yeah everything that I’ve gone through in business I’ve pretty much fallen into it.
[00:04:51] Scott: Haven’t we all?
[00:04:54] Kirsten: Yeah it’s weird but when I was 17 I was like, “I’m going to be a doctor,” and then two years in the university I got recruited by an entrepreneurial organization to teach you how to run a business over summer and I was, “Sure, why not?” I ended up working with them for seven years and falling in love with entrepreneurship. That’s how I got my starting consulting because of my position with that company developed into me onboarding a lot of new franchises and helping people go from zero to six figure revenue in six months. I had a chance to build a consulting business when I left because I wanted to do my own thing. After traveling the world for a bit, following Tim Ferriss, I was like, “I want to be a freelance consultant,” but I spent two years trying to figure out how to build that business and I wasn’t really specific on what I was doing.
I was this sales consultant which is another term for I would do anything to help you get more customers basically. After I moved back to Toronto because I was living in the UK at the time, I connected with a local founder who ended up being the first crowdfunding project that I did. He is like, “I have this really cool vest that helps you lose weight. The thing is that I need funding to manufacture units and get this to market and you seem to know something about digital marketing. Do you want to partner up on this thing?” I was like, “Okay I don’t really know what Kickstarter is or how to do it but it can’t be that hard.” We ended up launching campaign one on Indiegogo which was an absolute disaster. We raised $16,000 out of a $50,000 goal which basically means we couldn’t do anything with the product so this went like crap.
We had a failed campaign and we need funding and Angel investors are now not going to give us money because they see that product was a flop so what are we going to do? We decided that our best was to re-launch that campaign and we analyzed everything we did wrong and we fixed and changed nearly everything about the campaign and we relaunched that same product three months later and ended up doing over half a million dollars on Indiegogo.
[00:07:14] Scott: Wow, do you think it was the marketing on that product or was there other things?
[00:07:20] Kirsten: Oh man!
[00:07:21] Scott: Was it the marketing?
[00:07:22] Kirsten: Yeah, it was definitely the marketing because what I learned, and you teach this with Amazon launches and stuff is that you want to have good momentum when you launch and especially with Kickstarter if you talk to any successful creator they will say that your first 48 hours after launch will make or break your campaign. What we didn’t do is in the first campaign is we ignored that fact and we we’re like, “Well we are just going to get people to buy.”
We had raised maybe $1,000 on that first day so we had to do on the second one was build up a sizeable audience, get our funding page in front of a ton of people and get those early pledges in early like on day one and that is what helped us get those big numbers. On top of like a bunch of other stuff that I’m sure we are going to talk about. It was the audience and it was the positioning of the product. It was like so off.
[00:08:23] Scott: Okay you bring up a really, really good point and again I want to try to understand the whole Kickstarter, Indiegogo I want to understand that better because I’ve got to be honest I don’t understand all of the workings and like people pledge but then do they automatically get the product shipped? Like when do they get it shipped in? I definitely want to dig into that process but from what I’m hearing you say, like you say it’s very similar to any launch for that matter. You build up the awareness, it’s not available yet, you might even send out some videos showing about what it’s going to be like to use this particular thing or this item and then talk a little bit about maybe your mission so to get these people already involved in the process and then when you go live it’s like, “All right guys, tomorrow’s the day we are going to go ahead and start accepting pledges.”
Then boom it all of a sudden starts to fuel that and then all of a sudden from there it starts to build its own momentum inside of that platform and then it starts giving you visibility like a podcast. If you want to be a podcaster you want to get downloads really fast when you launch so how do you do that? You build up an audience and let them know that you are having a podcast. If you are launching an Amazon product you want to build up an audience and let people know I’ve got a new product coming up and maybe give them a 25% off discount and then people rush there and then it spikes the algorithm and it takes off. Is that the same idea? am I thinking about that part right?
[00:09:50] Kirsten: Yeah you couldn’t have said it better.
[00:09:51] Scott: Cool, all right so I get that part and that makes sense. What you are saying is that first campaign you guys were running was just like, “All right cool we are going to put it up on Kickstarter and it's going to work,” and then it’s like crickets, you may have a few people and the you were like, “Okay we’ve got to do this differently, we’ve got to let people know about this thing and then give it a rush of sales and then let it pick up its own momentum.” You learned from that, you totally learned from it. You turned it around and it’s crazy that it was the same thing, it was just a different marketing strategy and probably like you said a little bit of a different positioning of the product. What do you mean by positioning? Was it for a different audience were you positioning it to or was it messaging? Give me a little more on that.
[00:10:33] Kirsten: By positioning I mean product perception to somebody. When we launched that first campaign we made the colossal mistake of not showing the campaign or the video to any potential customer or someone that fit the description of what a customer could be. We had what we thought was a winning angle of why and how we showed the top reasons why someone should buy it and what they would use it for and all this stuff and like we just got it all wrong. What we were hoping for it to do is we didn’t want this product to look like just a gimmick because what it can be perceived as is a vest that you wear and all you do is sit on the couch all day and you lose a bunch of weight.
We did not want that because those are TV gimmicks. We wanted to present as legitimate as a lifestyle solution something that you do with a full workout program and bla, bla, bla. Where we wanted to present as a lifestyle solution but what it came off as a gimmick so it alienated a lot of the fitness community we were going after, it was off and that was stuff that we discovered and we actually went back and spoke to a lot of potential customers to see how we shouldn’t reframe everything so that it would be something that would speak to them when they read our sales pitch as opposed to the opposite.
[00:12:00] Scott: Okay that’s makes sense too so you wanted it less gimmicky and more of like case study almost based or beta tester or how much you’re going to use and people actually showing that they’ve used this even if it’s a prototype they are showing it being used. Now, let me ask you this, what was the pledge to actually get into this campaign or was it whatever you wanted to put it in?
[00:12:25] Kirsten: Yeah so the good thing about campaigns is you can set different award levels based on if you say someone pledges $150 they get this, if they pledge $300 they get this. What you are doing is you can stack different packages based on how much people are wanting to pay so it’s not just one.
[00:12:46] Scott: Okay, actually my good friend you know probably John Lee Dumas who’s actually right now in the middle of a Kickstarter for his business his Business Mastery Journal and he does that very, very well and he did it from his first campaign where it’s basically, okay if you want to pledge $20 and get the product when it's released you can. If you want to buy a two pack, if you want to do another one and then get a one on one coaching call or maybe I’ll speak at your event, there is different incentives to buy more. When someone pledges more, does that help more that the money is being raised or per units being sold? I’m just trying to understand that. Is it more of the dollar amount that’s being raised that gives the algorithm or I guess the push that the campaign needs or is it more or less the units sold? I’m just trying to understand that.
[00:13:39] Kirsten: Yeah, it’s actually both but if you want to know which one will weigh more heavily it’s the dollar amount raised because how the popularity algorithm would work is based on percentage of a goal raised. So if you have a fifty thousand dollar goal the more you raise against that the higher you are going to rank on site but then the algorithm will look for and map out general activity on your page.
[00:14:02] Scott: Okay and I if I put a pledge out there that we want… If I want to have a goal of $25,000, if we don’t hit that what happens? Do you just not launch the product and then everyone does it get charged? Do they get charged upfront or do they only get charged when the product is actually met and received? I’m trying to understand that.
[00:14:24] Kirsten: Yeah it depends with which platform you use. Kickstarter is an all or nothing funding model so if you don’t hit your goal they don’t charge your backers and then you don’t get any money made. Indiegogo has a different one, they have two kinds of funding. There’s fixed funding which is the same as Kickstarter’s all or nothing or they have flexible funding. Flexible funding means that you can keep all the money raised even if you don’t hit your goal but the little disclaimer with that be sure to only select flexible funding if you can still deliver something with money raised or else you are going to have to process a lot of refunds if you can’t do anything with it.
[00:15:04] Scott: Okay that makes sense. So if I put a pledge up there at $25,000 my goal is to get to that $25,000 and if we do then that means that we are going to go ahead and start to produce this product.
[00:15:19] Kirsten: You got it.
[00:15:20] Scott: And if we do it at that point now when…? Maybe there’s different times now but when do people actually get the product shipped to them? Do you put in there different times like once this is met and it’s over, the campaign’s run its course and it’s over with six weeks from then we’ll be shipping everyone their unit or units? Is that how it works?
[00:15:49] Kirsten: Yes it does completely vary on the creator’s timeline. We’ll have two kinds of people that I see or types of campaigns that I see on site now ones that will take the money and then go to manufacturing which can have a six to nine month lead period before you get product shipped or you have the ones you have say Amazon sellers or they already have an infrastructure for manufacturing so you might get companies like The Purple. Purple they did Kickstarter for their mattress a couple of years ago and now they’ve raised $2.5 million for a pillow. They have the infrastructure and so they can deliver a lot quicker but what you’ll see when you go to back any project is you’ll see expected delivery date is whatever that date is projection-wise.
[00:16:40] Scott: Okay I’m trying to gather that so it can be whatever you put on it and it depends on how quickly you are going to be able to make it but you want to be obviously upfront with the people that are pledging because if you tell them it’s six weeks and then two months later they still haven’t gotten anything you are going to probably start getting some emails or Kickstarter. How would that work? Does Kickstarter get the emails or they go directly to you now?
[00:17:05] Kirsten: Man I’m sure Kickstarter gets a ton of angry emails but it’s generally because what happens is they are not liable for any product that doesn’t get fulfilled. It’s very clear on the website they are just there to match products with customers. With the crowdfunding campaigns it is very, the problem with the industry is that nearly every campaign delivers late so what you’ll find is that a lot of customers will go back to the company to ask what’s going on. But you’ll see other end of public comments on their Kickstarter campaign long after the campaign is due.
[00:17:47] Scott: Okay, that makes sense too and the other thing that I’ve heard, maybe it’s true maybe it’s not but just having your product or your campaign running in Kickstarter or Indiegogo usually it ranks really well in Google. I’ve heard that. Is that also another pretty cool thing that happens when you do this?
[00:18:14] Kirsten: Yeah it’s fantastic because I’ll find that for a lot of the other campaigns I run the Kickstarter or Indiegogo page will rank higher than their own website so that’s pretty cool.
[00:18:23] Scott: What happens after it's ended? Does that still stay live for a certain period of time? I’m just imagining someone coming in six months and then seeing that page and it’s ended. Is there a link that would go to your website or does it get taken down? I’m just trying to think about how that would work.
[00:18:36] Kirsten: Yes so Kickstarter campaigns once they are finished you’ll have a… It turns into a landing page where you can see the campaign but there’ll be a button and you can set that button to whatever action. You can say pre-order now, go to website, check out our Indiegogo campaign because Indiegogo you can do a free order feature if they are in demand which will let you continue pre-orders even after your campaign ends so that’s pretty cool.
[00:19:04] Scott: Have you seen anybody using the launch platform inside of Amazon to run one of these campaigns similar to like a Kickstarter where they are basically doing a preorder? I’ve seen one happen recently…
[00:19:14] Kirsten: I have not seen one.
[00:19:16] Scott: You haven’t seen that?
[00:19:16] Kirsten: No I mean I’m sure people do it I just haven’t had any experience with that.
[00:19:23] Scott: I’ve seen that there was a couple of popular games that were being created and during that process they were like like, “Our schedule for launch date is let’s just say November 1st or something,” and it was two months before it was going to go and then they started collecting a bunch of pre-orders and then once the product was made and shipped in everybody would get their thing. It was pretty interesting too. I’m not sure how that works out but I just thought I’d ask you I don’t know if you had any experience with that. With those two platforms Indiegogo and Kickstarter do you have a favorite that you like better than the other?
[00:19:58] Kirsten: I’m platform agnostic. I love both of them but the difference is actually Kickstarter has a bigger audience and they’re the Kleenex brand of the industry so everyone knows what Kickstarter as not so much Indiegogo. Personally I love dealing with Indiegogo because they will get their hands dirty with strategy and they get you on the phone to help whenever possible and it is nearly impossible to get somebody on the phone with Kickstarter.
[00:20:26] Scott: Okay and that’s pretty big. If I was to say to you, I’m like “Okay Kirsten I’ve got a really cool idea for a product and I want to go ahead and I want to get some funding for it to see if it’s even going to fly.” The way that I’m imagining and would this be a good strategy or not if I said, “I’ve got this really cool idea and I’ve went I did some research on it I can get it made, I might have a prototype and it’s going to cost me… I’ve got order at least 10,000 units of this in order to have it made for the price that I can get it done for but I don’t want to do it unless I get paid. I want to throw this up there, let people see the prototype have a video about it explain it and all that stuff.”
Then I throw out there and then from there if I was to do that which platform would you say is the best and would that be a good strategy to basically do it that way versus maybe another way that you could think of for a brand new product that we want to roll out?
[00:21:30] Kirsten: Cool, I love that crowdfunding wise is fantastic just because what you get is this massive community of people and assuming you have a winning product that is going to get sales on that platform. You are going to get a lot of visibility and a lot of sales from the crowdfunding community so I love the platform for that reason if you can rank. In terms of which platform to go with if you were to work with someone like me I have connections at Indiegogo and if I think it’s a winning product I’m going to bring it to them and that’s going to help us be known by that team to get extra visibility, press contacts, you name it.
If you are not working with a strategist and you don’t know anyone you are neutral, if it’s tech or something truly different I would go Kickstarter because that’s where the majority of the audience is.
[00:22:23] Scott: Okay, all right and if I came to you and I’m like, “Kirsten I’ve got this really cool idea. I know the market’s huge I’ve done some surveying, they’ve actually told me what they want this is what I’m going to build.” What’s the first step that you would say, “All right Scott this is the first thing that you need to tell me or let me know and then we can move through those steps.” Maybe you can walk us through that maybe through this example, pretend like we are not even doing this recording right now. What do I do next Kirsten? I’ve got this cool product, I know the market’s a raving fan base and the one that I’m thinking is a raving fan base of probably 15 years olds to about 30 year olds. Let’s say it’s in that range of people and I don’t know if some of them might be on Kickstarter, does it matter, how do we get awareness? What would be those first steps?
[00:23:17] Kirsten: Yeah, so first step is assuming it’s validated now so that’s out of question. The second thing is we need start building an audience but we need to identify what that audience is first. So first thing I would do is I would ask you to describe your customer avatar. So really describe who your customer is in different use cases. We might have four top lock for example is one of the campaigns I was on is a padlock that opens with your unique fingerprint and we had a really wide demographic of people who would use this. We had high school kids who’d use it for their lockers at school, we would have people like us who would use it at the gym in their lockers, you might have the motorcyclists or the moms that want to use for their garden shed, it was all over the place.
We want to narrow down the top two or three use cases that we believe people are most likely going to use the product in and then see what kind of person that is, what description, what is their story, what is their motivation and pain point as to why your product is going to help them and why they would pay for it. I’d want to look at that first because what we can do from that information is then take the assumptions and go test it through interests on Facebook.
[00:24:43] Scott: Okay that was going to be my next question. It’s like how do we test and validate the audience? You just answered that, we can run some Facebook ads to certain things to see what the response is?
[00:24:57] Kirsten: Exactly.
[00:24:58] Scott: Okay, even though I’m back to that… Let’s say that I’m not even as far as I just said I was and I said, “I’ve got this really cool idea of this product and I think people are going to like it but I’m not 100% sure yet.” At that point what is your recommendations there for someone that says… Because I get a lot of people that say, “I’ve got this great idea for a product,” and I’m always the one that’s like, “First of you have to validate that the market actually wants it. If you are going to start with your own brand new like no one has thing on Amazon yet or any other platform, that could be good but it also could be bad because you might not even have people that want it.”
What’s your way of validating that a product is or that you would recommend to someone? How would you validate that there is a market or a product or that product is good for a market? What would be your steps to doing that? Would it be running Facebook ads or doing other ads in other platforms? What would it be?
[00:25:52] Kirsten: I like validating first before we spend any money so I get this conversation a lot because I get products pitched to me for launches and sometimes I don’t understand the product. I’m taking on two projects right now for kids related things be it a toy or something helps with potty training. I don’t have a kid so I don’t understand the market so what I do is I grill the client on what kind of research have you done, what kind of other solutions are currently out there, how do you know yours is truly different?
If they can’t answer those questions I ask them to go out and start speaking to people. I’ll say, “You need to first create the avatar and then find those people on your network and sit down with them and talk to them about the current issues they are experiencing and whatever thing be it potty training or be it washing hair or whatever solution that your product is aiming because that’s what you need is you need those conversations with the people to make sure the pain point is big enough that they are going to pay for it. That’s what I would do.
[00:26:59] Scott: Okay cool, the other thing I mean because we have a lot of people too, that what they’ll do, I think this is a good idea but maybe it’s not you can let me know for this type of project. I know for launching products on Amazon and ecommerce it is but now that Amazon puts all their reviews for people I mean their real legitimate reviews I know there is a guy out there he is called the whisperer on Amazon basically he paid a full team to dig through reviews of products that were popular and they were selling but they had problems. He would read through or he’d have his team read through all the problems and then fix those problems and a new product that would be similar to that product but better and then he would launch that product or the company would launch that product. They’ve done millions of dollars using just that strategy alone.
[00:27:47] Kirsten: I love it
[00:27:48] Scott: You are saying that would be because you are validating that these products are actually selling because we are looking at sales numbers but then we are not making the same product we are making a better product or maybe we are putting a spin on it and adding another product that could actually work with the other product or something like that. We validated it because the sales numbers are there in Amazon and then the reviews from real people are sitting there so we aren’t guessing. We know what they are saying that they do like and they don’t like. You think that’s a good strategy for even…
[00:28:14] Kirsten: I love that strategy because it’s taking it a step further and going into forums and seeing what kind conversations people are having around this specific pain point. I love that.
[00:28:25] Scott: It's funny I just actually last night we did a workshop with a good friend of mine Chris Guthrie who created a software called Amasuite and inside of that there is five different modules of what it does. One of the things it does is it’ll take any listing that you want to take and scan all of the reviews, it’ll start to sort them like common said things together like in three words or four words or five words and then this way here you can see common phrases of what people are saying like, “It hurt my hand.” If that’s said a whole bunch of times and you are selling a garlic press you might see that their garlic press the handle was not made properly and people were all complaining about that so again it’s a way to speed up that process and dig through thousands of reviews because some products have thousands of reviews.
I love that strategy too but the thing is it does take time but like you are saying if you really want to figure out what the market wants and what it needs you can already see the sales. We aren’t even guessing that it’s going to sell we know that people are already buying a similar product or in that space and then you start to understand your market. Also I’ve done that too, I’ve had products that I’m like, “I know the market,” and then all of a sudden you start getting reviews on it and you are like, “Oh they bought it and they are a mom and I thought I was just selling to just a dad.” You totally get to learn the market which is cool.
Validation I think is big and when you get to that point you are like, “Okay I got the winning product and you are saying that we got to build up some type of awareness, some type of audience.” Would you say building up that audience in the beginning? What’s the top strategy to building that audience would you say? If you are going to tell me like, “Scott we are going to go out and start making this known or getting interest in this thing before we even go live.”
[00:30:08] Kirsten: So now that you know your interests or whatever, what I would do is I would throw up a landing page and drive up some Facebook traffic to it. Don't send all your ad budget on it but you want to send at least two or three weeks testing to see who resonates the most with what you are doing. You're optimizing that and then what you want to do about three weeks or four before the launch, two or three weeks is… Like this is what we do with Jam Sac is we have $5,000 and we pumped it into a pre-launch Facebook Ad campaign. What we had is we were like, “Hey Jam Sac launching soon. Click here to secure 30% off when we launch.”
Something super simple and we created email list of about 3,000 people who were ramped up and really anxious to go buy this on the first day. That's the most effective strategy I've seen. It's just paid advertising to build up an email list even though that’s not going to convert to help get you… Ideally you want to raise about 30% of your goal that first day but if you are going for big, big numbers like the million dollar plus campaigns you need to raise a lot of money on that first day and that comes from audience.
[00:31:27] Scott: Totally. Okay, cool. Then the other thing cool too is and for anyone listening even just like that Facebook ad that you're running there and I love it that you said 30% off coupon codes because we always talk about that like even for us, if we're launching a brand new product even a new market or even just in our existing market to go out and just start running Facebook ads to a discount of that when it goes live you get it and then you have it, that to me is like that's just a win/win because you're building up that audience to people that raised their hand and said, “Yeah, I'd like to buy this for 30% off.” Then the other cool thing is with that is being able to take that and then create a retargeting campaign inside of Facebook and also a lookalike audience which I think would be probably cool as well.
[00:32:13] Kirsten: Yeah, one thing to note about that is if you want to want to do retargeting and you have very great strategist behind this, so a Facebook strategist Indiegogo will let you retarget but KickStarter doesn't allow you to put a pixel on the page just yet. There's this, I'll probably send you a link to it but the founder of North Aware which is Canada's largest Kickstarter Campaign today, he wrote an article on qz.com on this one hack to help you be able reach out the Kickstarter campaigns. I can send that to you. That's pretty technical but it's kind of a work around that you can do for it.
[00:32:55] Scott: Yeah, send that over and we'll just link that up in the show notes and then if anyone wants to dig into that we can have them do that but I think… I guess what I'm saying is okay for the traffic you get on Kickstarter you can't really retarget that like easily but if you're building that pre-launch list and you're driving that to your own landing page you can. Are you saying you would set up…? Is there a landing page that you would set up inside of Kickstarter before you launch? Is that what you are saying or are you saying you would do it to your own like it's a lead page, click funnel page, whatever as far as that landing page goes?
[00:33:31] Kirsten: I would start with lead pages and funnels and then once you go live you just direct all traffic from landing page to your Kickstarter.
[00:33:38] Scott: Got you, okay. Cool. I'm sure that there is some being crafty or being skilled at creating a well-designed Kickstarter page or Indiegogo page as well. I'm sure there's probably people out there have already created a profession around building that for people, am I correct?
[00:33:59] Kirsten: You're correct. It's just hard to find right now because right now the people who specialize on Kickstarter or anything are very, it's just not a niche that a ton of people are in right now.
[00:34:11] Scott: Okay, I'm thinking to myself, I’m like okay now it's kind of like you're building a sales page but in the same breath there’s probably some nuances there that aren't the same that you'd have to know and I guess you could just model some pages that have had good campaigns and see what…
[00:34:26] Kirsten: That's what I would do. The way I like to look at the page if you want that optimized is you put a lot of time and money effort into your video and then your sales page is going to be an extension of that video.
[00:34:40] Scott: Got you. Okay. I think that the video in itself, it's kind of like you have a hybrid page. You have the video and then in the sales, people that want to read or have time to watch the video they can also see everything you are mentioning inside the video inside of the actual page or actually the campaign. When people are pledging are you able to access those email addresses at any time?
[00:35:12] Kirsten: Indiegogo you can access the emails any time, Kickstarter you do have to wait until your campaign finishes to get those.
[00:35:20] Scott: Okay, but you will get them once it…?
[00:35:23] Kirsten: You're right.
[00:35:23] Scott: So again you're building a list, a targeted list, mainly targeted list because these are people that pledged and so then you could also take that and use that in the future whether you want… Because I’ve said to people too, I’ve said even if you’re going to do this, I would still take that list and then when maybe you launch another product or maybe an update to this product or something, you could always retarget those people or email those people and let the know, “Hey, we just launched on Amazon. Go buy it.” Then they go buy it on Amazon and that spikes our algorithm in Amazon and then we rank better. There’s a lot of cool things you can do there with that list of people that have already pledged which is pretty cool.
Okay cool. What am I missing? What else should I need to know about and I guess the question that I know that I'm going to probably receive and I probably should try to think about this a little bit more is like, is this right for everyone to launch a Kickstarter campaign or Indiegogo or just any type of a crowdfunding? Is there any type of right for everyone to do? Like if you just want to raise some money because you just want to launch like a similar garlic press as your competitor like is this the right thing to do or should you just, it's only for like more products that are more original or that have a unique spin on it like what is the criteria there?
[00:36:48] Kirsten: I love that question. I believe that not everyone should crowd fund. Crowdfunding is amazing for physical l products so I'm just going to state that. Physical products I find that you need to have something you do not what to be launching a “me too” product and saying that though if you have a garlic press that is truly different to do what is being done already and you have a great story, it’s positioned great then launch the garlic press in Kickstarter but if it's just another knock off, there's nothing special about it and it won't stand out above the other really cool things on Kickstarter. That's the thing.
I get a lot of people that think, “Okay, well I can't do Kickstarter because my idea has already been done before.” That doesn't matter. You know the Baubax Travel jacket that raised fifteen million plus for 15 different pocket features but Baubax is not original idea. There’s so many travel jackets like Scotty Vests that may cater to different demographics so Scotty Vest was never a Kickstarter campaign but they catered to the older business traveler demographic where Baubax took this same idea, developed something awesome but marketed it to backpackers, travelers, entrepreneurs. It was still successful.
[00:38:16] Scott: Okay. So they just repositioned it, maybe added some features that would benefit that demographic or that type of person and then they coined it as kind of like this is specifically designed for the mountain climber. You know what I mean?
[00:38:29] Kirsten: You got it.
[00:38:30] Scott: Okay, okay. Cool. I like that. The other question I know I get from a lot of people is, “I don't want to really do the crowdfunding because I'm putting my idea out there and people are going to rip me off. They are going to launch my product before I do.”
[00:38:41] Kirsten: Yeah. I think that's a legitimate concern however my philosophy is that if your product is good enough to rip off, you better launch because if someone is going to try to rip you off now or later, then you might as well be first to market.
[00:38:58] Scott: That's a good point. The other thing I would ask is okay, at this point in time, do you already go and register like trademark and do you do patent? When does that stuff happen? Do you wait on that stuff until you know it's going to work? That could run the tab up too and you're kind of putting all this money and these resources into this thing that might not ever fly.
[00:39:24] Kirsten: I believe, I don't know what it is in the US but here we can do on Patent Pending. It's like the preliminary. You file it so you launch the idea and then you have 18 months to seek your full patent. Whatever the equivalent of that is in the US I'd recommend that if your thing is truly awesome then you start the proceedings but don't get a full patent until you know that your business has legs.
[00:39:48] Scott: Got you. Okay. I always see ‘patent pending' here too but I'm just wondering on that process but I'm sure that there is something there like you said you can be in that in the stages of it but then you're not finalized until you finalize it which is also going to probably going to go through more steps to making sure that it's going to be patentable and all that stuff. Okay, cool. I know a lot of people say, “I don't want the exposure, people will come and rip me off.” I think that's a legitimate concern but I also think that people can rip us off…
There's people ripping off tons of products. It's going to happen no matter what as soon as you can put out there but once you get going if you have something in place then you're going to be able to fend them off and you're also going to be able to have an attorney or something that's going to have to fall through on some of that stuff eventually and then deal with it at that time. I wouldn't let that stop me. That's me personally.
[00:40:49] Kirsten: Same here.
[00:40:52] Scott: All right. This has been awesome. Is there anything that I'm leaving out or that we should discuss that I haven't discussed? We kind of dug into some real examples and stuff which I wanted to do. I think it's easier to see how it goes. Is there anything else that you'd want to let me know or anyone else know that's listening about crowdfunding or creating a Kickstarter? Is there anything else that you want to add?
[00:41:14] Kirsten: I have two things. The first one is don't look at crowd funding as a one-time event. Crowdfunding can be an amazing way for you to build a brand online. Then you take it to Amazon to create a full business on it so it is something to be taken seriously. The second thing is that the crowdfunding industry right now is having a lot of problems with creators not fulfilling on time because they run into so many manufacturing things that first time project creators that have no experience with supply chain management. They get into it and the product gets delayed 12 months or more. I personally will not work with anyone that is looking to crowdfund for an an idea. You need to prove that you have something and so I would suggest that you wait to crowdfund until you have proper concept prototype or you at least have a very good idea understanding of the manufacturing process so that you don't get bombarded with problems after your campaign.
[00:42:19] Scott: That's a smart idea. Like you said, at least have… You want the product basically created in a sense but just maybe waiting to be finalized and then you know that you can deliver on that promise because that's just going to give you a bad name. It's going to give your brand a bad name. It's also going to give whatever crowd funding source that you used a bad name. I'm sure that they don't want that either. That's definitely a good point. You said you had two things. What was the other thing?
[00:42:50] Kirsten: That was two. One, treat it like a business and two don't… Crowdfund when you have a prototype.
[00:42:56] Scott: Okay. Cool. All right, well this has been awesome. I didn't really know where we were going to go with this when we decided to do it but I knew I had a lot of questions and I knew that you were the one to ask these questions too so this has been really helpful. I'm sure there’s going to be probably a lot of questions that are going to come in after this one airs so maybe we'll have to have you come back on and maybe we can address some of those questions.
[00:43:17] Kirsten: I love that, yeah.
[00:43:18] Scott: Then that way we can stay on top of this because this is definitely something that I've been thinking about just again a little bit down the road as far as like whether it's a brand I partner with or one that I want to start. I just want to understand that process and I think that now we've talked about it, I do understand it a lot better and I appreciate you taking the time. You want to just let people know how they can get in touch with you and if they have any questions how they can reach out to you, you can go ahead and let them know now.
[00:43:46] Kirsten: Yeah definitely. The best thing to is email me K@crowdfundinguncut.com. Also if you are in the middle of… If you're like, “Okay, I want to see what goes into your crowdfunding campaign we actually made a physical product launch checklist available on the website too, crowdfundinguncut.com. So you can just pick that up and see if crowdfunding is something you love.
[00:44:14] Scott: Okay. And I'm going to link that up in the show notes so everyone can head over to the show notes page. Definitely do that and grab that. I think that's great. That check list to see exactly what you would need going through this entire process, I think that's very helpful. Again Kirsten I want to say thank you so much. This has been awesome. I really do appreciate you coming on and I'm sure that we're going to have you come back on and do an update so I just again want to say thank you for taking your time. This has been absolutely amazing.
[00:44:41] Kirsten: Thanks. I had a lot of fun too.
[00:44:43] Scott: Yeah, this is awesome. So keep me posted. All right.
[00:44:46] Kirsten: I will. Thanks.
[00:44:47] Scott: Cool. All right. So there you have it. A deep dive into the crowdfunding world with Kirsten Ross and that was awesome. I mean, there was things that I learned through that process. There's also things if you could tell I was actually trying to explain to her how I thought that it worked and then she would say yes or no and I have to say I think I kind of understand how it works. She was being like, “Yeah, yeah, that's exactly it.” I was like, “Cool,” because again that's the way that I can validate that I'm understanding the process and hopefully you guys were able to understand that process as well.
Also again, it's a really, really powerful idea to get your product out there before you even sell it to have it manufactured but, and there is a big but here, like she said, you are going to need a prototype, you're going to need to already have some targeting done where you're going to have your audience already kind of not maybe built but you have it targeted so then you can go out and start driving Facebook ads and stuff to really bring the awareness because it is going to come down to the awareness of this product and then also how it resonates with that audience. So, I definitely learned a ton.
I don't think I'm ready yet for a crowdfunding campaign, I don’t have anything right now that I would do that with but that does not mean that I won't in the future and that's why I like to do these things because I've just educated myself and hopefully educated a bunch of you guys and you kind of understand how that process works. If you want more information about this, definitely reach out to Kirsten and ask some questions. She's so willing to give so definitely do that. All the links that we mentioned here will be inside of the show notes page at theamazingseller.com/327. Again that's theamazingseller.com/327. Again, there was a ton of golden nuggets there and you're probably want to download the transcripts and the show notes so definitely head over there.
[00:46:45] Scott: Then anyone that went through this entire episode, hung on there, you're brand new and you're saying, “Wow, that sounds awesome but I haven't even started yet. I just want to get started, well then I'm going to remind you guys about our live workshops. Definitely go register for one of those because that will get you started, it will get you moving in the right direction, it will give you those action steps to do right now. So head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop and you can register for an upcoming workshop there.
All right guys, that's it, that's going to wrap up this episode. Remember, I'm here for you, I believe in you and I am rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you guys right back here on the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Khierstyn’s email address: k[at]crowdfundinguncut.com
- Khierstyn’s Facebook page: facebook.com/khierstyn.ross
- Khierstyn’s Twitter page: twitter.com/khierstynross
- Khierstyn’s website: crowdfundinguncut.com
- John Lee Dumas’ website: eofire.com
- Read the North Aware article on qz.com – HERE
- Check out TAS workshop – HERE
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