Hail Mary Marketing MVP: How One Entrepeneur Threw Together A Last Minute Kickstarter Campaign, Raised 2X Their Goal, And Came To Market
There are currently 229,921 Kickstarter Projects that have been unsuccessfully funded.
Usually this is due to a lack of planning, promotions, or both.
Brian Tam, and his creativity consulting firm, Let’s Make Great, were able to get their Kickstarter project, Proto, validated & funded in 2 days (!!!) and DOUBLE their original goal.
And they accomplished this:
- With an email subscriber list of 100 people
- While still working full-time at their consulting firm
- And a last minute promotions strategy
Here’s how Brian and his team were able to get their product funded and raise 2X the amount of their original goal with just a few weeks of preparation.
What is Proto?
PROTO is a storytelling game about the chaotic experience of innovation in entrepreneurship.
The premise of the game is to compete with other players to build your business.
You take on business challenges such as:
- Your business partner was poached by another company
- A natural disaster has wiped out inventory
- You received a lot of bad feedback from your users
A lot of business challenges are out of our hands.
Using the cards as inspiration, players come up with ideas to:
- Take on these business challenges head on
- Get creative with their strategy
- And architect the possibilities, of growing their business, out of any situation
And if you're a team, this game gives you the opportunity to REALLY get to know each other, and test whether this is the right team for your business.
Are your teammates constantly attacking your ideas?
Are they collaborating well with the others?
Do they take feedback well?
How creative are they under pressure?
This product started out using scraps of paper from a notebook, as the playing cards, into a fully designed game set that is now in mass production.
"[It's] a badge of honor to have our product validated on Kickstarter. This is a product that was co-created with the community - from pricing to development".
Now let's jump into how this all came into fruition.
“A Big Piece of the philosophy for the Kickstarter campaign was to get validation of our idea, and do it, without spending our own money".
"One year ago our goal was to make $10K for our Kickstarter campaign. It was an arbitrary number that we pulled from the sky. But then we looked at our community [of 100 people on our email list] and we DID NOT have the community to justify this number".
"It all came down to the math".
"We got practical and lowered it down to $3500 - putting into account the costs of manufacturing, shipping, finding all the resources, etc".
Brian admits that they didn't have a strategy in place for the launch.
In fact, it was "all hands on deck chaos" a few weeks before the product launch.
One week before they launched, Brian cold emailed - bloggers, innovation entrepreneurs, gaming bloggers, and innovation firms.
He was looking to get a mention within these publications so he could get thousands of ideal customer's eyes on the campaign during the day of launch.
To find these connections, Brian went the old school route of using Google and typing in such phrases like, "Top 10 Innovation Blogs" and "Top 10 Gamification Blogs".
For more examples of cold outreach emails that worked, click HERE.
And it worked:
There was a 30-40% response rate.
Of that, 80% were rejections.
And 20% said, "Great - we’ll help"!
They were able to find 12 Bloggers, in total, with a blog audience of 50K+ people - to spread the word throughout the length of the campaign.
They either featured the campaign on their blog, retweeted Proto's Kickstarter page, or gave Proto a pledge.
Get the Product in their Hands
Many people stick to promotions across the digital playing field.
They'll run a social media distribution strategy which consists of a handful of tweets and a few Facebook posts.
And that's the full extent of it.
Brian moved back to his hometown of New Jersey, for a few months, to be in the correct time zone for the campaign promotions.
From here, he continued the promotions of their Kickstarter by reaching out to the press, attending gaming events in NY, and tracking down meet-ups and networking events he could frequent.
And did we mention that he was still taking on sales meetings and working with clients in Shanghai? And Shanghai is 12 hrs. ahead of Jersey. So if his clients wanted to talk at 2pm, he was waking up at 1:55am to get on that call.
He went to one location where he KNEW his ideal customers were.
The only board game cafe in Manhattan, The Uncommons in NYC.
He walked into the establishment.
Asked the owner if he could demo the game.
The owner said, "Sure. We have gaming demos on Wednesday which is our Feature Night".
Brian was in front of his ideal customer and was able to get his product in the hands of hardcore gamers - adding on to the people who were tweeting, Facebook posting, and spreading the word about the campaign.
Some even made a pre-order, through him, right then and there.
Glory to the Super Fans
We've talked about cold email outreach.
Attending meet-ups and networking events.
But now we're going to talk about who really tipped the scales for the success of this crowdfunding campaign: The Super Fans
Brian had 100 subscribers on Let's Make Great's email list.
1/2 of them, the true fans, showed up to support from Day 1.
Brian and his team had nurtured such a deep relationship with their clients, for 2 years, that they made a pledge...but asked for LESS.
"Some of our past clients made a pledge and told us, "keep the extra one and give it away to somebody or an organization you like".
Needless to say, Brian and his team were floored by this generosity from such a small group of people.
It's another demonstration of how "going deeper, not wider" with the audience you have at the moment, can be the staple to your success.
Because of the Let's Make Great's Super Fans, the Kickstarter audience, all the bloggers that pledged or even retweeted the campaign, and the gaming community - Brian and his team were able to secure 141 backers to fund their project and DOUBLE their original goal.
The project was 100% funded in 2 days.
The rest of the funds came in on the last 3 days of the campaign cycle.
They were able to raise $7,069 (double than what they were asking for), for their product and "earn their stripes in running this Kickstarter campaign to success on their own".
"I truly value those 'lessons learned' and can now look at the big picture of what went right and what went wrong and do this again - being more ambitious with our goal and strategy".
An extra cherry on top to this win.
Because of the Kickstarter campaign and their outreach and promotion, it has lead to them signing on new clients for their creative consultancy.
Also, they have not stopped the promotion of their game.
Demoing the game at a recent meet up of 20 people, 10 put in a pre-order.
Proto is still going through a few iterations, but production starts in August 2017.