I've heard so many success stories about crowdfunding that I wanted a piece of the pie.
What I got instead was a slice of humble pie.
I thought I could rock a Kickstarter campaign with all my hustle and smart marketing ideas. However, I have to confess that my first attempt at a Kickstarter campaign was basically a complete failure.
The silver lining is that I think I have a few takeaways should you ever decide to go down the Kickstarter route. In addition, I learned that simply launching my product on Amazon has resulted in significantly better returns and was a whole lot easier.
Now, maybe I just did better on Amazon because I have lots of experience there; however, today I'd like to share what I did and why I think Kickstarter was a dud for me and why Amazon has worked so well.
At the beginning of this year, we had a couple of unique ideas for our Fitness brand (that I've discussed in the past). Although neither of these were unique inventions, they both were somewhat unique offerings.
One of the products had little to no competition on Amazon selling the exact same item with a particular unique feature. The other product was simply a unique bundle of products; where, none of the individual products were unique.
For example, I just saw a company on Shark Tank selling a 72 hour kit. Nothing in the survival kit was unique, but the combination of the items was somewhat unique. This is kind-of similar to what I was doing with one of our products in the fitness niche.
The production took WAY longer than we had anticipated. I had to go through a few samples to get our “kit” items just right. In addition, there was some holdup getting our inventory where it needed to be. All said and done, I expected to be up and selling in March or April at the latest…instead we weren't ready to start selling until July.
Because I had done a podcast interview with Kendall Rizzo where she talked about Kickstarter, I had the crowdfunding bug. She shared some great tips and strategies on our podcast, and I was itching to try them out.
So, I decided I would first launch my fitness “Kit” product on Kickstarter, where I would raise a bazillion dollars. Then I would move over to Amazon where Jeff Bezos would be impressed with my hot selling item.
Well, that didn't quite happen, but I did have a detailed plan that I thought would work.
My Detailed Plan to Kickstarter Failure…
As usual, I sat down and wrote out a detailed plan of how I could launch this new product into the stratosphere. I actually still had the plan outline in my Google drive, so I figured I'd share this step by step plan that I thought would be a huge success.
(Certain references to my product, website, and niche have been removed to keep it private).
Days minus 14 to 0: Prep work to successful launch
- Create contest page + funnel
- Compile a list of 1,000 niche related publications/blogs with contact info
- Compile a list of 300+ admins of FB groups/pages
- Assign on spreadsheet who will contact each blogger/FB page
- Get ads created for FB and website from Design pickle
- Additional pictures or videos
Days 1 – 7: Grow email list through contest
Run a contest for 7 days – giveaway a kit each day
- Landing page needed with great pictures
- Outreach to 500+ bloggers and ask for email blast
- Reach out to owners of 300+ FB groups/pages interested in niche
- Change pop-up/ads on site
- Write new blog post?
- Reach out to (large event) or others
- FB ads targeting niche + retargeting ads for anyone visiting landing page – $100/day
Day 8 to 28: Launch on Kickstarter
- Develop own landing page that “sells” our kickstarter campaign? (so we can retarget)
- Email list multiple times per week about new kickstarter campaign
- Change pop-up/ads on site to drive to Kickstarter page
- FB ads targeting niche + retargeting ads from contest page – $100/day
- Outreach to another 500+ bloggers/publications and ask for mention of kickstarter.
- Follow up with bloggers from first 7 days and ask for kickstarter mention.
- Reach out to owners of FB groups interested in niche
Day 30 – 45: Launch on Amazon
- Jump send 25% off promo
- PPC ads
- Salesbacker follow up emails
- Develop plan further when we get there
As you can see from the detailed plan above, I thought I had all the pieces in place. I created a custom video for Kickstarter and had great photos. I had an email list of 17,000 people in my niche and prepped them for launch.
My team and I did TONS of outreach via email and I spent $100 a day on FB ads to drive additional traffic (as you can see from the detailed plan above).
When I looked at this plan I thought surely I can raise $10,000. With all this work and money spent on ads, I thought I could hit this magic number that I set as my funding goal.
However, after the first 7 days, I already knew we probably weren't going to hit our funding goal…we weren't even close.
We kept on hustling, but our funding page just did not convert to backers. Here's the dismal results:
Ouch! After 30 days of hard work, we only convinced 17 people to back our project. The only logical conclusion was that our product was a dud, right?
Well, not so fast!
How I Totally Redeemed Myself on Amazon
When you only get 17 buyers in 30 days after emailing thousands of people and spending $100 a day on ads (not for the entire 30 days though), I thought for a while that perhaps it was just time to move onto a new project.
However, I also realized that perhaps Kickstarter was just not the best platform to launch this product on. The product is great and fills a need; however, it's not real unique. Kickstarter tends to be more for projects that are newer inventions or innovations.
I knew that my product was not a big innovation, but I had heard so many people tell me that Kickstarter was a great platform for ANY project that you might have, so I wanted to try it out.
My next step in the process was to finally take my product to a platform where I knew people went to buy things; Amazon.
I've launched several products on Amazon and I know the process pretty well. So, we set the wheels in motion to get our listing up on Amazon.
We already had the pictures and other sales copy from our Kickstarter campaign, so the process went pretty quick to get the listing live. The next few steps needed are promotional.
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Here's what we did to promote our new Amazon listing:
- Make sure we had done proper keyword research so our listing would show up for the search terms we wanted to target.
- We already had a list of 17,000 people in our niche, so we did a giveaway/contest to build some excitement around the product.
- Emailed our list at the end of contest that even if you didn't win, you could now buy on Amazon.
- Used Viral launch to sell a 100+ units at a deep discount. Each of these that sells we lose money on, but it pushed our sales rank and keyword rankings higher.
- Started a small Amazon sponsored ads campaign.
- Used Salesbacker to send follow up emails to encourage reviews after people purchase on Amazon.
That's about it. Compared to the work we did for our Kickstarter campaign, launching on Amazon was WAY easier and less time consuming. Oh, and cheaper since we weren't spending $100 a day on ads.
Here's a screenshot from the sales of this “kit” product in September:
Now, the $5,558.61 is not an accurate revenue number. We started the discount Viral Launch in August, but lots of the sales in September were still at a discount, so the true revenue we saw was lower.
However, since the launch completed around mid-September, we are now making 2 to 3 sales a day at full price. That's roughly $80 to $120 in revenue a day from a product that totally flopped on Kickstarter.
At 2 to 3 units a day, that equates to roughly $1,000 to $1,500 a month in NET profit. I don't know about you, but I'll take that. I've added another nice product to my portfolio that appears to be producing nicely on its own nearly a month after we completed our initial launch.
The product only has 2 reviews (both 5 stars), so I expect as more reviews roll in the sales may just continue to pick up even more. However, even if this product just plugs along at 2 to 3 sales a day, I'm really happy with the results.
A Quick Re-cap
After doing hours of manual research to a thousand plus people and spending $100 a day for a short period of time, my Kickstarter campaign produced a measly 17 sales. After 30 days of promotion, 17 sales is enough for any sane business person to pack up their bags and move on.
However, after even a shorter launch period on Amazon and basically no manual outreach, we've sold over 150 units during the launch period and continue to sell 2 to 3 units a day at full price. It's been almost a month now after we completed the launch of this product, so I'm confident that it will continue to sell.
The process is also basically hands off now on Amazon. The product ranks well for a few keywords that we targeted and people just find and buy.
One of the big lessons I think I've learned is that Kickstarter might be a great platform, but only for the right products. Maybe a super star Kickstarter wizard could have made our product work; however, after giving it my best shot, I just couldn't get the backers.
People on Kickstarter are looking to back innovative, new, and exciting products.
On the other hand, people on Amazon are just looking to buy something that meets their needs. They don't care if it's new or innovative. If the product meets the criteria they are looking for, they will buy it.
So, choosing the right platform makes a big difference. I failed on Kickstarter, but I now have a winning product on Amazon.