This guest post was written by Scott Barrett of OPEN-2 LLC. OPEN-2 and ‘partner-in-crime’ company, International Headquarters, are designers and creators as well as brick and mortar sales agents, excelling in video game sales, film and television production and game making.
To date, we at OPEN-2 have had three successes with crowdfunding. Our first was launched almost two years ago now when OPEN-2 was involved with Black Powder Media in the launch of the iMpulse Controller. When we first launched, the space was less crowded and somehow, with no advertising whatsoever, we hit our mark and beyond very quickly (ending at a decent $140k). At the time, anyone doing decently on crowdfunding sites was ‘news’ so blog posts were fairly easy to score. We found after that though, they became increasingly more difficult. Of course the more successes, the more people flocked to crowdfunding, and it has now become an art in itself to bring the eyeballs.
Launching A New Crowdfunding Project
A few months ago, Sirus Ahmadi put OPEN-2 in the crowdfunding game again with another electronic product called The HYDRA, a cool little multi-function camping/outing bottle designed to bring your gadgets along for the ride.
This product was different than the iMpulse in the crowd it addressed. There wasn’t much in way of crossover audience; in fact you could argue that the two products would appeal to opposite crowds. This meant that the fan base we built up from the game controller business was not going to fuel the bottle sales.
We did not have an email list or a following to direct to The HYDRA when we launched our campaign, though really, we should have. Being a small company, however, we did not have an advertising budget for this product. Over the course of our campaign we did a modest yet respectable $75k. This would cover the mold costs but was a far cry from the runaway hit seen by a product in a similar space as ours: the Hidrate me. Arguments can be made about viable market share of one product over another, but from a distance the two products have identical appeal (though to slightly divergent markets).
So what were the differences in our campaigns? Eyeballs, plain and simple.
Why You Need Eyeballs for Your Crowdfunding Project
The HYDRA product itself is quite good, but it isn’t something I would describe as a game changer. I would say the same about the Hidrate me. This is relevant to the point that the key differences only lay in each of our abilities to drag in the eyeballs. They did a much better job of that that we did, no question.
I mentioned we have had three successes. The third is a second wind of the Hydra campaign. Shortly after our campaign ended, we met a few members of the Indiegogo team who suggested we bring the Hydra over to Indiegogo to see how it would fare there. With nothing to lose, we agreed. We posted directly to their new ‘InDemand’ program – designed as a destination for products that have had a successful campaign and want to keep collecting preorders and raising funds after they hit their mark. The sort of personal attention shown to us by Indiegogo was startling, especially considering the faceless and impersonal connection we had with the other sites. They also had personal relationships with agencies that would bring EYEBALLS to our page, something we sorely needed help with.
You may have heard the term ‘conversions’. This refers to a potential customer becoming (converted) into an actual customer. The simple math we’re looking at is, the more ‘potential’ customers you have – those eyeballs you have secured – the more chance you have at conversions. This, of course, increases your success rate.
The Impact of Eyeballs on Crowdfunding
We saw a tickle of notice in the first week on Indiegogo. However, immediately following Indiegogo’s newsletter, where we were featured, we saw $40k in business in just two days! The power of eyeballs! We are also now gearing up with the aforementioned PR firm and will see what sort of notice they can generate for us.
Specifically they did stress, not surprisingly, the importance of Facebook and Twitter in reaching your audience. No matter how wonderful your product’s website might be, a parallel Facebook page is a must. You must be ready to service these pages though too, because a dead page suggests a dead product.
An effort we’ve made last week was to secure a booth at a trade show called ‘Interbike’, that resulted in praise, interest and orders from a very diverse crowd.
Perhaps I’m overstating what I would have thought was a very obvious postulation yet I have continually heard from people with ‘million dollar ideas’ that assume the product itself will be so fantastic that it will force people to look, even if they have no idea it exists. Everyone is just dying, or expecting to ‘go viral’.
I would love to tell you all the secrets of attracting millions of eyeballs, how to get mile long lists of potential customers… but even after our modest successes, it is still, for us, a struggle. For the creators, we can feel like architects and construction workers being thrust into the duties of real-estate agents. Creator and marketer are, I think, polar opposite skillsets. So don’t feel bad if you have come up with a great idea for shower head / soda dispenser combo (patent pending), and then find yourself scratching your head wondering how you’re going to rally a customer base. Just know that you have to do so to be successful, and explore every avenue open to you to see that you have one BEFORE your launch.
It is strange seeing great ideas go unnoticed while mediocre ones sail, but that is the nature of business and always has been. Your ability to get people to look at your product is easily as important as what you’re having them look at. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have a great product, once the eyes have arrived, but if they don’t know where to look your gold-making machine might never be turned on.
Nolan Bushnell once told me ‘good is the enemy of great’. I advocate making at least a good product, but get as many eyeballs on it as possible. If you can make ‘great’ then great, but again, eyeballs.
So before you hit ‘go live’, explore a relationship with one of the many agencies that spend all their time in the eyeball business – most offer a modest upfront and performance-based system, try cross-promotion with other like-minded or similar campaigns, try to get written up by anyone who will accommodate, especially the crowdfunding site themselves, and of course push Facebook and Twitter and any other social media outlets.
Ready to get as many eyeballs as possible on your project? Download the free Indiegogo Field Guide to get started.