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EXECUTION Crowdfunding... Making it happen.

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by 100speed, May 26, 2018.

  1. 100speed
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    100speed Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    A Bit of Background:
    So over the past few months I have been stalling in terms of creation, I initially went through a phase of creation hibernation after joining college (freshers, partying) and followed through with a (relatively successful) online poker phase after an after-interview rejection from Oxford University. After a large amount of wasted time and relaxation I know that I am ready to start doing again - and I plan on creating on a large scale.

    I am still at college and expect to have my last exam on Tuesday, after which I will be committed to making this happen alongside a tech internship, and will try and make this thread as informative and useful as possible (perhaps I should start a new Insider thread with more numbers and details @MJ?)

    Why Crowdfunding?

    Crowdfunding, in my opinion, largely allows creators to design and market a product without a significant amount of capital or risk, which is perfectly suited for me right now. I.E you can get all orders in as the campaign essentially acts as a pre-order website.

    My goal is to have this first campaign be a success, and to then branch out under a larger brand - yet for now my focus is on this campaign / product launch.

    The audience of crowdfunding websites is also a huge plus as it is also focused highly on early adopters who will buy something because they want to be ahead of the curve, so any product that screams future, or technological innovation is likely to be successful just because of the audience that frequent Indiegogo, that is if they decide to promote it on, or near their front page.

    Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

    Now, this wasn't really a hard decision for me. After having attempted to get a number of service related campaigns approved through Kickstarter, it appeared to me that the regulation for posting on Kickstarter was way more limiting and highly enforced when compared to Indiegogo. Back then, think 2014-15, Kickstarter was the dominant platform, now I see them as being on par.
    Another main reason for Indiegogo's use, for me, is that due to the fact that I am only modifying the product, and not creating my own from scratch, they are more likely to deny my product or have people flag it for "private labelling", which understandably is not allowed when crowdfunding.

    My Process so Far

    So over the past few weeks, I have been examining products on which I think I can make a big contribution to, in terms of both marketing, with my experience in social marketing and design - i.e. improve the aesthetic quality and also with regards to the offering of the product to general consumers.

    I have decided upon a product which I think will perform well on the platform based on my research and have come up with a viral marketing campaign plan, which I am starting to initiate and will coordinate the main event later in the summer in synchronisation with my campaign launch, after adequate preparation has been done (I.e. securing a release in the press in a number of publications).

    How I view crowdfunding is that there are two main areas I need to focus on:
    1. The product: if marketing is spot on and I get a lot of exposure but the product is absolute crap, my efforts will be in a large part wasted.

    2. The marketing: if the product is great yet the marketing is crap, it is unlikely to receive any exposure and as such will receive next to no sales. I have seen many indiegogo campaigns flop with what seems like a solid product and solid rewards, solely due to their lack of exposure on both indiegogo and related publications.

    My Product Plan

    As I am largely just taking an already established product, and adding some improvements in terms of aesthetics, my main focus will be on the marketing of the campaign, and that all rests on preparation, graphic design (which thankfully is one of my forte's, and PR - which I look forward to getting involved in).

    I have already reached out to 20 or so manufacturers on Alibaba who manufacture the product I am interested in improving, and have had success in finding a few low-cost yet reliable suppliers that are compliant (or claim to be compliant) with the relevant directives (CE & FCC).

    My next step will be to narrow down my choice to 1 supplier who can offer the best price and quality trade-off. I am currently in communication with one who supplies (or again, claims to) large stores in the EU and US currently, think Lidl, Target, WAL-MART etc. so I think this may be one that I will pursue a sample order with.

    Although I have had experience dealing with China in the past through dropshipping and an attempt to middleman a wholesale order from a US online retailer - I am keen to learn a lot more. I currently have a course on importing from China, specifically Electronics, which I am vaguely familiar with after selling electronics in the EU & US for which I was required to learn about the FCC & CE, RoHS directives - but this technology is another sector so I will need it brush up on it in more depth.

    My Marketing Plan

    With regards to marketing, there are a few ways in which I believe I can drive this campaign forward:
    1. Social Media
    2. Press Releases / Exposure
    3. Paid Advertising.

    Social Media

    Now, my main skillset is in Social Media, however the rate of conversion from follower/ engagement to purchaser is lower than ever before for me, in all domains of social media - so although it could be mildly successful through social media, I cannot be fully reliant.

    My main social media channel is Instagram, however my recent acquisition of new twitter account with large followings should hopefully help to expand my reach across platforms once I am able to get automated processes in place for posting, following etc.

    A HUGE place to get exposure if done right is Reddit, so that is definitely a place I will be looking to post my product on, yet enough customisation has to be done so as to not draw the haters in (and there are many on Reddit).

    Press Releases

    This is what I envision as having the largest potential for exposure for my product launch, yet it is also the one area I have the least experience in, apart from guest blogging for my previous projects, and a brief conversation with a charity PR person - I have literally no experience in website / reporter outreach at all so any insight would be useful ;) . Of course, this will be the most exciting part of this journey. My friend's mum also used to be in the press department for an NGO, so I may contact her to see if there's anything she could do.

    Alongside my planned marketing event which should capture the attention of media such as the Daily mail, I also plan on creating a list of websites that are related to my target market and contacting them for both sponsored product reviews and suggesting content which includes my product.

    Reporter outreach will be driven by my personal twitter account, hopefully showing them I have enough reach to be worth covering - whilst also potentially offering them value (i.e. free website creation, portfolio website etc.) which I can potentially outsource for basically free (through affiliate income on hosting and use of Upwork). I plan on taking advantage of my young age to add to the appeal of my product and "marketing event" and use that as an extra basis alongside a potential charity aspect to pitch to reporters.

    Paid Advertising

    Now, although I know a lot of you on here have a large amount of experience in paid advertising, I'm not too keen on using it as a primary source of traffic.
    Primarily due to the fact that if a consumer is advertised something, they either want it NOW (particularly in the US) or don't want it at all. So for a crowdfunding campaign which requires users to wait before receiving the product, I dont think the conversion rate will be very high.

    A second reason is that I would like to see how this project plays as a bootstrapped project, of course if I am close to reaching my goal, and there is huge demand for the product, it would be wise to capitalise on the hype and run some paid campaigns, for this reason I will set up Facebook pixels and the like on the website prior to launch however I do not see it being used as a primary source of traffic.


    My Next Steps

    Product:

    - Finalise my logo design, order needed promo materials
    - Continue discussions with suppliers, finalise product design and order sample units (color variations etc.).

    Marketing:
    - Code automation engagement bot for Twitter (python) using Tweepy
    --- Outreach with reporters after rapport (via Twitter & email)
    - Outreach with specific charity (donate 20% profits if can help promote me, they have relations with Sir Richard Branson)
    - Set up General Brand (product design) website to explain what we're about, already have domain name - need to slap a WP theme on there and get things running
    - Scout list of subreddits, niche websites to post project to and draft email

    Finally
    I know you're probably glad to get to the end of this post :D!
    Hopefully I wont spend as much time writing in the future xD, as it is seriously time consuming thing, but will update you in shorter snippets as this project takes shape.

    If anyone has any recommendations on what I could add to my product or Marketing Next Steps please do let me know.

    Also looking to post more details on prices, product and other things on the Inside @MJ DeMarco (just joined today, so I am excited to check out the value that is offered on the Inside later today (it's 1am xD)) if that is something people are interested in.

    Cheers.
    100Speed
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  2. Late Bloomer
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    Hey Alex, you've thought a lot about crowdfunding, but I wonder if that adds some extra steps you don't need. There are several people how have successfully launched product businesses along the same lines as you, but without trying to get a lot of capital from crowdfunding, they put their marketing effort and budget into ads to get sales and profits right from the start. There are many progress threads that lay out the whole experience with its ups and downs. I suggest you start in the Gold Threads list and read about what some of these other forum members have done. You might not need to get a pile of crowdfunding money before you can get started. If you do succeed on your own, you could still use crowdfunding later to expand an existing successful business (add another product, enter a new market etc.).
     
  3. 100speed
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    100speed Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hi, thanks for your comment and thoughts, it is really interesting perspective and has given me food for thought.
    The main thing that I feel crowdfunding offers is an "event" or movement of sorts. When a product gets a lot of traction on a site such as Indiegogo - it offers a legitimacy to a product, something to verify for news outlets, and thus gain further traction but also another source of traffic and a big pool of early adopters. I feel a standalone website displaying only one product doesn't offer the same sort of trust, both for the consumers and news outlets.
    Crowdfunding also means that the capital required to purchase the MOQ of the initial batch of the product (around 10k or so) will not have to come out of my pocket, as consumers effectively loan the money out and don't expect the product straight away - which allows time for the manufacturer to produce and ship, all without me using credit or my cash reserves.
     
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  4. 100speed
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    100speed Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    UPDATE:
    In terms of progress on my goals - slow progress due to the fact I am revising for my last finals exam:
    Product:
    - In final stage discussions with a manufacturer for samples about combining two products that they already produce of this type to create an updated, more modern look than the products are already out there
    - Logo design finalised, one t-shirt and flag (will be used for News Outlet Pitch) on the way from China

    Marketing:
    -
    pre-coding research done, I found out the Twitter API doesn't allow for one of my main interactions to occur - as such, have to work on scraping info directly off of Twitter as opposed to using their API and Tweepy
    - list of reporters made, think Techcrunch, Wired - big tech related news outlets, will add larger consumer and niche based reporters / websites to the list to then start outreach via both Twitter and email.

    Hopefully once this exam is done (tomorrow!) I can commit more time to actual real progress in terms of marketing prep.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
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  5. 100speed
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    100speed Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    UPDATE:
    Product:
    - Manufacturer I have decided on is ready to make the modifications requested, with their own in-house design team with a pre-shipment review via Skype.
    - Will send over the payment next Monday via Paypal to get things rolling on the product end.
    - Sample price is expensive however modifications include design costs etcetera. so I assume it's standard. 150$ + shipping 30$ per unit (I am getting 2 variations)
    - MOQ is 1000, which means my campaign goal is going to have to be at around 20,000$ USD to ensure we can cover the cost of the MOQ
    - Aiming for a launch around late August so have time to get product over, take marketing photos before the end of summer.

    Marketing:
    - Main website design done, content & copy in progress.
    - Twitter Account Cleaning is still in progress.

    Next Steps:
    - Continue coding Twitter Automation Bot
    - Schedule a month's worth of tweets based on similar accounts.
    - Contact the charity in mind for partnership.
     
  6. Late Bloomer
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    Will you also need to cover shipping, storage, handling etc. to be able to do something with the 1,000 products?
     
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  7. 100speed
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    100speed Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Sorry for the late reply, seems I forgot to hit send when I wrote it out!
    So the MOQ is 1000, which totals at around 15000$, so I will have around $5k breathing space for errors, shipping and any other mishaps extras I need.
    All shipping to consumers will be extra on top of the pre-orders/ rewards, as such it will not be counted as part of the goal of 20k.
    In terms of the crowd-funding, I am considering running an independent pre-order system on a website parallel to the campaign, so when we hit the goal I can divert all new marketing efforts to the independent website to stop indiegogo taking their 5% cut of the money.
     
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  8. 100speed
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    100speed Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Apologies for the late update.
    Have been very busy lately learning / building / designing and working at my internship - I don't feel good about having so much time in the day taken up with unrelated work (but I am learning python during the day so still helps) but I am committing at least 3 hours / night after work towards this (+ hours during work) .

    So what have I actually done?
    Marketing-wise?

    - Good question, currently just finished a working version of my twitter bot, however it needs to be refined, my goal to finish this completely is by this Friday.
    - Have looked into potential for other bots yet now my focus is on press outreach / building some rapport with reporters and previous kickstarter project founders who may be willing to help me out.

    Product-wise?
    - The manufacturers are preparing the sample, should be finalised and shipped by the end of next week
    - Second manufacturer (for second piece of product) should ship out soon, tomorrow or day after so should receive by next week hopefully.

    Next Steps?
    -
    Press out reach, using my list of twitter @'s of potential links into big publications
    - Twitter Account Growth, tweeting / scheduling
    - Contact local niche influencers that could feature this on site
    - Once have product in hand, approach charity.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
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