John Brubaker: Five Things I Learned While Doing Kickstarter

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John Brubaker is an award-winning author and is looking to create a film based on his book, “Seeds of Success.”  Here are five lessons learned from his Kickstarter campaign, which is still active for the next week.

5.- Don’t enter the woods without a map. In preparation for my first Kickstarter campaign these are a few road maps I’ve accumulated, which can work for you in crowdfunding or any other type of endeavor.

  • Interview the foremost authority in your field. I interviewed Hollywood crowdfunding expert Jodie Bentley.
  • Study success and failure. Both leave clues. I researched the top 20 most funded Kickstarter film campaigns as well as the biggest failures. This enabled me to find themes and determine what works well and what does not. You can do the same in your field.
  • Become a “student consumer.” What I mean is purchase or hire that which you wish to emulate. I backed a popular fitness project, just to see how it “went viral” and were fully fund in just two weeks. I then interviewed its inventor to learn what strategies worked best for the campaign and what to avoid.
  • Recruit great teammates. I hired a team of experts in web strategy, project management and online video production. Together we created a crowdfunding toolbox that contains a written game plan and live event, social media and email marketing strategy and reverse engineered a promotional schedule.

The lesson: Work to your strengths and hire or delegate to your weaknesses. Note: A back-up computer and router are solid investments. (Murphy’s Law happened on my launch day.)

So many people have asked for our crowdfunding toolbox that I’ve added it as a Kickstarter reward. The bottom line is that teams don’t enter a game without a scouting report, guides don’t enter the woods without a map and I can tell you from experience you shouldn’t enter crowdfunding without a game plan.

4.- Avoid “Field of Dreams Syndrome.”

The mantra from the iconic baseball movie Field of Dreams was “If you build it they will come.” A lot of business people make the same mistake whether it’s with a brick and mortar shop, an online business or a Kickstarter campaign. If you build it that doesn’t automatically mean anyone is going to come to your page. You’ve got to drive the traffic to your door and channel your “Inner-Godfather” by making them an offer they can’t refuse. A professionally made, compelling but brief video is an investment not an expense. It’s everyone’s first impression of your campaign and visibly demonstrates how

A Kickstarter campaign is just like any other job. It is a full-time commitment and if you make a part-time commitment you will only get part-time results.

3.- It’s a game of momentum.
Don’t let the highs get you too high or the lows get you too low. A campaign is a marathon not a sprint. I set a goal of raising $30k in 30 days which in my mind meant I needed to find $1000. every single day. In reality, there have been $0 dollar days and several $5000+ dollar days. It’s like baseball, don’t look at an individual at bat, instead review your overall batting average as that is a better representation of your success and progress.

2.- Remember The Rule of Seven.It will take an average of seven impressions before people take any kind of action. So don’t get frustrated when your close friends or colleagues don’t all rush to respond to your first email appeal. We are in the age of digital distraction, keep reaching out to them. Crowdfunding is a contact sport, the seven contacts don’t guarantee a commitment it’s just the minimum number of times they need to see your call to action to even respond. Along with the rule of seven, remember the SW-4 formula: Some will, some won’t, so what, stick with it.

1.- Persevere through the dead zone.

In a crowdfunding campaign, the zone between 50 to 75 percent funded is commonly referred to as the dead zone. We just cleared the toughest part, which is moving past the 50 to 60 percent funded benchmark. As you’re reading this, we’ve recruited 100 backers and raised over $20,000 of our goal.

Most of the time dead zones or lulls in our sales occur because of inactivity. If you’re in a lull or not getting the results you want, you’ve got to double down and persevere through that natural mid-point lull or deadzone. My daily non-negotiable is 20 personal contacts (email and Facebook don’t count). I don’t stop my work day or go to bed at night until I’ve made at least 20 personal contacts.

Perspective: Kickstarter is actually NOT new.

Kickstarter isn’t new, just the online portion of it. I was doing Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter. For 12 years as a college coach, fundraising was a huge part of my job. I was writing letters, making phone calls and wining and dining boosters to raise money for my lacrosse program. I bet you do the same activities. That stuff is what we called “social media” back in the dark ages when I was coaching.

So this Kickstarter thing isn’t new. It’s about mobilizing and engaging your community. I’ve been doing that every day that since 1996 and I bet you do the same daily as well. The annual operating budget for my college team was $45,000 but we never had all those funds in one lump sum. Something we can probably all relate to right?

I had to raise $30,000 of it at the start of each year. So in essence I was running a crowdfunding campaign every year. Making phone calls, holding benefit dinners, speaking to civic groups and sitting in a dunk tank. Would you believe I even auctioned myself off as a butler for 24 hours to some lucky bidder? I didn’t realize how many business development activities got away from me over the years until I started this campaign.

Warning: You will expose yourself and be exposed. Running a Kickstarter campaign feels like you’re running a marathon naked. You expose yourself by publicly putting your goal out there for the world to see. You will often feel like you are in this all alone (which is why I recommend partnering with someone on your campaign). My daily lonely, public, naked updates are here.  You will also be exposed, your failures become immediately obvious to the world. Did you get off to a slow start? Have a prolonged plateau? Have an inability to finish strong down the stretch in the closing days? Understand that you are 100% responsible for your results.