If you’re looking to succeed at crowdfunding campaigns, then you need to make sure you stack the deck to ensure the best chance of meeting your funding goals. Sure, there are a lot of highly publicized success stories from the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but for every Oculus Rift or Shenmue 3, there are hundreds of projects that never gain the momentum they need to succeed. According to Kickstarter stats actually less than 2% of campaigns raise more than 100K. So all of those project that you saw raise millions are rare. Some of this comes down to the product itself; some of it is down to the marketing. And sure, there’s an element of luck in there too. But then, on top of this are a hundred other little factors that can make or break your campaign – things like timing for crowdfunding campaigns. It’s not just how you launch or what you launch – it’s when you launch as well. Keep reading as we explore how to perfectly time and execute your crowdfunding campaigns from a manufacturers perspective
As a rough guide then, you can expect your campaign to follow a timeline like so:
T- 6 to 9 months – Manufacturing Begins/Completion of Manufactured Prototype
T- 5 months – Crowdfunding Campaign Prep
T- 3 months – Building Pre-Campaign Buzz
T- 0 months – Campaign Launch!
0-30 Days – Campaign Completion
T-6 to 9 Months: Manufacturing Begins
Probably the most crucial aspect of your crowdfunding campaign if making a physical product is actually going through the manufacturing process. In our opinion having the manufacturing process in motion allows you to trigger every other event in your crowdfunding campaign. By this point on your road to crowdfunding you should have already selected a manufacturer to work with either through online sourcing sites like Global Sources or using a project management firm like Berkeley Sourcing Group. The reason setting this up first is important is you need to found out if you can actually make what you are promising to the customer. It is imperative you discover how much it is going to cost per unit so you can charge the right price to your early supporters. Lastly having it set up in advance allows you to deliver your product to the backers in a reasonable amount of time versus waiting 9 months because of delays due to not vetting out all problems before launching your campaign. The amount of time it takes you to manufacture your product will vary massively depending on the nature of the product, your resources and expertise etc. However, it’s safe to presume it will take you at least 6-9 months to complete the process and you’ll need to create some kind of prototype in that time as well that you can use to demonstrate the potential of your product.
T- 5 months: Crowdfunding Preparation
Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Workweek, talks about the importance of ‘prep and pick up’ if you intend to ‘hack’ Kickstarter. Basically, the concept is that you should do a lot of the work long before you intend to launch your project to make sure everything is ready to go at the click of a button. That means you should create your video, write press releases and create e-mail templates long before your project goes live. This way, all you have to do is to hit ‘send’ to maximize your marketing potential. Once you go live you’ll be too inundated with interview requests and other marketing activities to sweat the small stuff.
What you’ll also find, is that this tends to mean you end up doing more as you won’t be distracted by your other commitments. And there are practical considerations here too – creating a video takes time and money, and you’ll need to factor that into your budget when you go live. You may find you can make your video more cheaply, which will give you the option to offer more valuable perks. Setting everything up in advance is a great way to account for costs, and it just means you’re stacking the deck in your favour.
Here is a great crowdfunding checklist to review by Krowdster.
T- 3 months: Building Pre-Campaign Buzz
Of course you’re not going to wait until your project goes live before you tell anyone about it though! Magazines and websites like to be able to cover breaking news, but it takes them time to turn a press release into a beautiful feature for their site so they need to get all the information early on.
Meanwhile, you should also start building a community around your project before you take it to Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Why? Because that community will serve you incredibly well when it comes to drumming up support for your project. If you create some true fans, they’ll not only be almost guaranteed to back you – giving the project momentum from the word go – but will also be likely to spread the word on your behalf. Then again, you also don’t want to start building buzz too early or you can pass your peak and people will end up losing interest. Start making noises about a year before you go live and gradually increase the engagement as you build up to the big day.
Another benefit? People want what they can’t have. If you tell them about something super exciting and then make them wait to hear more, their anticipation will grow to a fever pitch.
There are many ways you can do to generate buzz and build a community. Creating a ‘pre-launch’ site is one, building a social media following is another and crowdsourcing ideas can also be useful. Here are some great tools that can help you with the process.
T- 0 months: Campaign Launch!
So how do you go about deciding when you want to launch?
A good start would be to take a look at your calendar. Particular times of year see people become more charitable, with Christmas being an obvious example.
Of course you might be inclined to think that people would be less generous at a time of year when they’re likely blowing huge wads of cash on Christmas presents. Then again though, if common wisdom is to be believed then we’re actually more generous when we have less. So Christmas would be a pretty good time of year! Then again though, if you were hoping to strike when people were feeling flush, then choosing the end of the month (around the 28th) would mean starting your project right when people have just been paid.
Holidays like Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day also create new marketing opportunities for you, and this is something else to consider.
Likewise, you can also jump on other big events and even the launch of other products that might lend your campaign some extra momentum. Is your product related to comic books? Then launching around the time of the next Avengers movie could be a wise move. Is it an iPad accessory? Then perhaps you could wait until Apple’s next conference. However, just as important as when you decide to launch it is important to remember there is a bad time to launch. Remember to go back and understand your Unique Selling Proposition and the perception of your product. A good example is the coolest cooler.
Day 20-30: The Last Minute Push
But your launch date isn’t everything. While this is an important consideration, it’s also important to think about is when that ‘home stretch’ will be – which tends to be the time you’ll get the most backing right behind the initial launch. The general advice is that shorter campaigns tend to actually do better by increasing the time pressure on your backers. 30 Days tends to be considered the ‘golden length’ by most accounts.
This is also important seeing as there tends to be a last minute ‘push’ towards the end. Your project will have more momentum at the start and again in the final days if it follows the most common trajectories. This is your second opportunity to get people excited about your idea, so make sure it comes at a good time for you and that you’re ready for it.
So when picking your start date, consider the length of your campaign and when your project will end as well.
Day 30: Campaign Completion!
Was it a success? Or is it back to the drawing board? If it was a success you know have a great problem and that is fulfilling the orders and to continue building the business by taking additional orders. If it was unsuccessful then you must make the decision of investing more time in figuring out why it wasn’t successful or to just bury it and move on. In any case you should be proud that you made it through a campaign.
This is just a rough outline to help you come up with a timeline for your crowdfunding campaign. Of course, every business is different, and you might have a different strategy – just make sure you’re thinking carefully about the timing of each step, and how you can optimize this for maximum effectiveness.
If you have any more thoughts, tips, or experiences to share, then we’d love to hear them in the comments section below! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to keep up with the latest developments in the crowdfunding world.