So, you’ve got a fantastic idea for an amazing new gadget that the world desperately needs and you’re bringing it to Kickstarter in hopes that it will fund. Or perhaps you’ve launched your shoe-string-budget community project and you’re willing to spring for an ad to help push it toward success. In any case, online ads for your project can be an excellent choice. But how do you choose how to advertise, with whom, and when?
A short aside for a quick disclaimer – Kicktraq provides sponsorship opportunities for projects, but that’s not the main topic of this article. Please, please, please take the time to do some research so that you’ll get the most out of your time and money. Whatever advertising dollars you do spend are too important to not spend them wisely, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Kicktraq is about enabling your success, so the most important lesson from this and all of our posted Tips is: Do your homework, whether that leads to advertising with us or not!
When should I advertise, and why?
First and foremost, if you’ve waited until the last week of your campaign, you’re only 25% funded, and now you’re panicking about where to advertise to try and save your project - just stop. Stop right there. There’s no need to panic, because in all honesty you probably shouldn’t be advertising anywhere. We see this all too often and we completely understand. You’re in freak-out mode trying to do anything you can to save your baby. We get it and we tell this to folks all the time – you’d do better to do your own pound-the-pavement campaign and start reaching out to folks directly (or cancel and relaunch your project with a stadium full of backers cheerleading you on at the start of your second campaign) since it’s unlikely that any last-minute, unplanned advertising campaign will make a big difference. Don’t let anyone scam you out of your limited funds promising to help save your campaign in the 11th hour. That’s not what advertising dollars for crowdfunding campaigns should really be used for (at least not that alone). If folks are walking in the door but not ordering off the menu, maybe it’s time to sit down and evaluate your choices as a restaurant. No amount of bigger, louder, costlier billboards touting the amazing ambiance and selection at your restaurant will change the behavior of those potential backers if they’re present but not forking over the funding. Their money is important too!
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, advertising can perform a few functions in your campaign – it can (A) boost your initial rush to get you as close to your goal as possible at the beginning of your campaign, it can (B) help bolster your campaign during the normal lull period after the first 1/4 of your campaign has run its course, and (C) advertising can reinforce a change in the perception or focus of your campaign.
The benefits of early campaign ads are obvious. If you’ve done your homework in advance, you should have a sizable portion of your fan-base ready to pledge on day-1. Advertising at the beginning of your project can help supplement that exposure by announcing that your project is officially live and by giving your current fan-base something to share as your advocates. We’ve talked about this before. If you enable your backers to spread the word for you with quality, sharable campaign assets, your backers will to try to get new backers interested and engaged early on. They love your project almost as much as you do, so if you give them the tools to share it, your backers can hit your project out of the park in the first week! And let’s face it, the earlier you have folks come on board, the easier your job becomes down the line. However, if you don’t fund in the first week, don’t stress. Data shows that projects that are at least 30% funded early on, we find especially before your halfway point, are likely to succeed.
Mid-campaign ads should target those backers who might not have heard about you and who you might not otherwise be able to engage to share your unique idea. These folks will help smooth out that drop off in activity after your lovable, loyal fan-base has already done its job. We’ll talk about where to find these new people and the importance of really knowing your target audience a little later in the article.
Focus ads are helpful when you find out that what people are interested in about your project isn’t exactly what you thought it would be. For example, let’s imagine that after running your campaign for a couple of weeks you find out that backers of your BreakfastBot home automation project care more about the app and its scheduling functionality than your original project focus, the device you plug into the wall. Both the app functionality and the devices were part of your original project plan, but your backers are really focused on the benefits of the app and all of your ads are focused on the beauty and benefits of the devices. Advertising gives you a chance to adjust your focus and the perception of your project’s benefits by keying in on what the backers are telling you they actually find beneficial, which may help you to better connect with potential backers who are learning about your project via your ads.
Where should I Advertise?
If you’ve done your homework, this is a question you should already have some answers to; however, some places you might want to advertise might not be completely obvious. If anything, choosing the most nebulous route like Google Ads and trying to juggle keywords or some generic advertisement network is probably not your best bet. There are much more focused ways to spend that money of yours. The key is: know thy target customer! (Bazaar Kicktraq trivia: we give our target customers names… and faces since they’re often based on people we actually know. It’s much easier to figure out what drives target customers “Chris” and “Brandie” when you can sit down with them over board games and Perrier and just ask them.)
For example, let’s go back to our BreakfastBot project. So, we have our little set of gadgets that are used to automate turning on appliances so your toaster makes you toast, your juicer makes your fresh OJ, and your coffee maker percolates your favorite cup of Joe at the push of a button from your smart phone in bed in the morning. Should you advertise on a large gadgety blog with lots of other gadgety things? Possibly. But what if you could find a blog about lovers of fresh juiced OJ in the morning? What about finding a home automation forum? Or maybe a newsletter for folks who are dedicated to having their morning coffee before they leave the house? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little because there will likely be very little specific competition in those targeted forums vs being drowned out as just another gadget among hundreds of others that were released that week.
But what if you have a local project that people outside your community may not be interested in? First off, don’t box yourself in too much. Mrs. Kicktraq and I have both personally backed projects like a goat farm in Seattle which we’ll probably never see with our own eyes nor will we ever likely get to enjoy products from their lovely new cheese cave. You may be surprised how large your “community” is. People all over are probably passionate about the thing that you’re passionate about. Just because you have a local brewery, don’t assume beer lovers from around the globe might not be willing to contribute.
Of course, a local focus can pose its own challenges. Surprisingly, you might be better off taking the offline approach of advertising through local newspapers (and their online siblings) or targeted business partners in your area. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your local farmer’s markets and see if you can put up a poster for your goat cheese project, or local school and family newsletters who can talk about your library expansion project and how they can help fund for as little as $10, or even the town newspaper where you can talk about how you’re trying to save a historic movie theater but you have to upgrade to the latest digital projector.
Another smart advertising option may be Facebook. If you can define a specific target demographic of individuals by age, gender, or even region, Facebook ads might be worthwhile because of the detailed granular control (and the flexibility to change or stop the ads in an instant) that their specific platform gives you. So if you’re developing a wedding planning guide, targeting females between 18-25 who list themselves as engaged on Facebook could be a good way to focus your ad dollars on your actual audience.
Effective advertising is all about focusing your effort on the right audience, and you can’t be afraid to do a little legwork and research to get the most from your advertising dollars. You might be able to save a considerable sum of money by seeking these folks out and engaging them in a smaller niche space, and have opportunities to actually talk to these potential customers directly instead of writing up 100 characters in a Google Ad, plopping it in with a few keywords, and hoping for the best – because once that money is spent, it’s gone forever, even if it didn’t net you a single backer.
Lastly, if you can, find an avenue that is flexible enough to allow your campaign to be flexible. If you find out during the course of your BreakfastBot project that more people care about the app on their smartphone vs the gadget actually doing all the fancy bits, you should shift the focus of your ad message from the gadget to the app. Your advertising partner(s) should be as adaptable as you need to be during your campaign.
Kicktraq Sponsorship Ads
Now to toot our own horn a bit.
Kicktraq ad spots natively conquer one of the known problems with running more generic online ads because our audience is already your audience. 100% Of the ads seen by the thousands of unique visitors to Kicktraq each month are Kickstarter savvy – they’re either backing a project right now or they’re looking for the right thing to invest in. You get a chance to skip right over the whole “What is this Kickstarter thing? How do I know you won’t just take my money and run?” and go right to folks who are ready to click that big green button.
Our goal is to help enable your success regardless of your project size, which is why we ask about your project first and talk about sponsorship second, and yes – sometimes this means we actually don’t take your sponsorship because we realize we’re not the best avenue for your success, even if you haven’t realized it yet. Your success matters to us. We understand that for some projects, even an ad that costs as little as ten bucks a day can be a big investment. Because you’ve invested in us, we want to invest in you – so we’ve come up with the Kicktraq Sponsorship Guarantee for our general rotation sponsorship customers. If you advertise with us and your project does not fund, even if it’s because you decided to cancel and relaunch your project, we will give you your exact same general rotation ad spot for the same amount of time when you re-launch the same project – at no additional charge. This lets you focus on the re-launch and success of your project without worrying about loosing any sponsorship dollars you’ve already invested with us.
But again, if you spend some time in advance to look at your budget, look at your focus, know your target audience and pick the right avenue, you’ll be way ahead of the game no matter where you spend your ad dollars.