Part II of my exclusive interview with Adam Clark of Kicktraq is where we get into the really good stuff. In this interview, you’ll learn what Clark believes is most important in building a successful crowdfunding campaign as well as the benefits of advertising on Kicktraq, the one place you’re sure to reach your target audience: crowdfunders. Without further adieu, let’s get down to it!

  1. Why do you believe that Kickstarter data is so important?

Data is just one tool in the arsenal of both project owners and backers. The more data people have, especially in an easily digestible medium, the more they can have an idea of where they are and what options they have to move forward.

  1. What could all crowdfunding projects do better to help their chance of success?

Five important things. Research, research, research, research… and research. Seriously, do your research. You owe it to yourself and your project.

Research #1: Find similar projects that are in the same category or general context, see what those projects did to be successful, and what they may have done that wasn’t successful. This is where Kicktraq is handy. You can find similar projects by category, what goals they set, what the funding progression was like, what types of updates they shared with backers, and what/when types of coverage they received and the impact it may have had. Not to mention that you can find a list of news outlets who were willing to cover those similar projects and have your list of press release contacts ready to go before your project even goes live!

Research #2: Find where the folks that will support you thrive. If you want to crowdfund your hot sauce company, find folks that love hot sauce so you can find out what they like and what they want to see. If you want to crowdfund your board game, maybe visit local board game conventions to show them your game and get feedback. If you want to crowdfund a small urban beekeeping location, maybe find urban beekeeping forum that you can bounce ideas off of. Pre-engagement with these folks not only provides you with valuable feedback, but it builds your project’s fan base in the process. But this means you have to be sincere and graciously accept feedback, because if you’re not and only want to pitch your idea, people will smell that sales-pitch a mile away and immediately be turned off.

Research #3: Find out how much your project will REALLY cost. If it costs you $5,000 to start a local maker-space, don’t launch a campaign for $5,000. The t-shirts you’re using in pledge levels cost money. The fees platforms and payment processors will take costs money. Stretch goals will cost money, so don’t just start throwing things around because excitement is high and suddenly you’re successful and don’t want that awesome-train to stop. This will really hurt you in the end. And lastly, unless you’re delivering digital goods – fulfillment/shipping costs a LOT of money. Considering all these variables, your $5,000 maker-space may need to be a $10,000 project to actually make what you need, so research and tally up accordingly ahead of time. Once you launch, you can’t fix this and funding for too little to deliver could lead to the ruin of your idea, your company’s credibility and your finances.

Research #4: Research tips, tricks, and post-mortems from other project creators even on projects that aren’t in your same topic or category. Keep in mind that feedback from only successful projects may not be helpful. Look at what issues people found with their unsuccessful project, especially if they re-launched and were successful the second time around. These will provide insights that a wildly successful project may never have to deal with.

Research #5: Realistic feedback (aka constructive criticism) is important. Internally when we’re helping a project, we use the phrase “people never want to hear that they have an ugly baby”, and it’s pretty accurate. When someone invests a lot of personal time, money, energy and effort into something, it becomes their special baby and nobody wants to hear that they have an ugly baby (i.e. their time was wasted / their idea is dumb). Sometimes people are so averse to hearing any kind of criticism that they intentionally avoid situations where that feedback might happen and end up launching a project which nobody cares about because their friends and family were too nice to be honest with them. Don’t be that person.

Project owners need to be willing to hear feedback. That means it’s a requirement to show their idea to people who aren’t their friends or family and will be completely (dare I say “brutally”) honest with them. Even people who may absolutely loathe an idea can sometimes provide some helpful advice. It’s ok if your idea isn’t for everyone, but the feedback those haters have may be absolutely valid and help you to ultimately succeed. Be honest with yourself and be thick skinned. If you think a little negative feedback up-front is bad, wait until the crowd gets a hold of your idea and shreds it to pieces online! At least you’ll be prepared, and may even have well thought-out reasons to help explain why you made specific choices – which can turn the situation in your favor. It’s worth getting a few bruises in the process, trust me.

I only listed 5 somewhat nebulous things, but there are so many more that may be very specific to your situation. You’ll never know if you don’t do a little legwork up front. So be sure and do it!

  1. Based on all of your experience and data, what is the single most important factor for a Kickstarter project owner to consider?

How many people know about your project before you launch? If you don’t have at least a foundation of folks that either (a) will back and/or (b) can spread the word for you, you shouldn’t be launching your campaign until you do (or you should be expecting to fail and re-launch as part of your long-term project plan). Crowdfunding platforms are for funding, and most aren’t intrinsically designed to market your project. As an example, Kickstarter has grown their volume in the last few months so they’re operating with anywhere from 5,000-5,500 projects at any one time. They spotlight maybe a dozen a week through different avenues. That means you have less than a 1% chance of being spotlighted in some capacity, and just because a project is spotlighted doesn’t guarantee its success. You make your own success, so don’t rely on the platform to help market you at all — that’s all on you.

  1. Does advertising on your platform make projects more successful? Why should a project owner advertise on Kicktraq?

This is a common question we get, and I’ll give you a surprising answer. Projects are only as successful as the appeal they have to backers. No advertising platform, be it Google, Facebook, Kicktraq, or whatever will ever MAKE a project fund. All they can do is provide additional channels to inform people of your project. We like to call these “eyeballs” for short. All any advertiser can do is provide eyeballs – so if you have an extremely limited budget, invest in things like video production or a little graphic design, or even just more of your time researching to help create an immediately engaging page and video. Getting eyeballs on your project without an engaging page or video is like bringing diners to a restaurant without any food to serve.

Project owners should only use advertising as a supplemental tool in addition to those initial efforts, not as a crutch or something that you think will save your project when things start going south. If things start going south, you should figure out why people aren’t engaging, not throwing money around to get more people to look at an un-engaging project.

That being said, four things are unique to advertising with Kicktraq vs. other advertising channels. First, we provide a very specific set of eyeballs for projects, and a lot of them. We have tens of thousands of people who use Kicktraq every day, and we share how many people use the site every day on our advertiser page so project owners can see how many people potentially will see their ad. Also, people who are using Kicktraq are already comfortable with crowdfunding and engaged in the community in some way, so the advertising is hyper-specific to folks who you don’t have to sell on the idea of backing a project. Those potential backers are already researching, and are probably excited about another project. That’s why they are on Kicktraq in the first place.

Second, compared to generic advertising platforms, we recognize that a project may need to change during or after their campaign in order to fund. Failing or restarting a project isn’t a bad thing. It’s an educational means that many projects have used to be successful, and we don’t want project owners to be worried about losing their advertising investment if they fail initially or choose to cancel and re-launch. The project owner community supports us and we want to support them, so we have a re-launch guarantee where if a project advertiser isn’t successful or needs to cancel, we will re-run their ad when they re-launch, completely free. We don’t just give them the time they had remaining, we re-run their entire advertising slot for free. It’s one less thing for project owners to worry about, so they can focus on learning from their campaign and ultimately being successful. Facebook and Google aren’t going to do that for you.

Third, we only advertise active crowdfunding campaigns so our advertisers never have to compete with weird, non-related ads. We value and respect the folks who use our tools, so project owners never have to compete with outlandish animated “click the monkey” viagra ads and potential backers know they don’t have to suffer through those types of ads, so they stay more engaged with the sponsorships they do see on our platform.

Lastly, we recognize that the majority of the project owners aren’t looking for hundreds of thousands of dollars, let alone millions in funding. Most project owners have small budgets, especially before their project has even secured funding. For that reason, even though we could charge quite a bit more for our ad space, our general rotation ads average out to $10/day for the 14-day rotation. While those prices may vary over time, our price point is set with the little guys in mind because we really, really want the lady who is building a sustainable farm cheese cave 1,000 miles from us to succeed just as much as we want to see a book in the hands of every child.

In short, Clark believes the key to a successful crowdfunding campaign is initial research and prep-work. Without a solid foundation to help you build some initial momentum, you’re going to throw “stuff” at the wall and hope it sticks. And when it comes to advertising on Kicktraq, they certainly have your best interest at heart, and they’ll go the extra mile to help you succeed.

As crowdfunding marketing experts, the team at Command Partners knows what it takes to make a project successful, and we love a good challenge. If you’re looking for help with your Kickstarter or Indiegogo project at any stage, we’re here to help you stand out from the rest and get noticed. Our experience ranges from toys and fashion to technology and photography, so whatever you throw our way, we’re sure to build a campaign that’s destined for success.