LAST IN A SERIES
A designer in Sarah Palin’s hometown is hoping to launch a made-in-Alaska lingerie label called Camerie with startup funding raised through Kickstarter. With 22 days left in her KS campaign, she’s raised $476 toward her $4,500 funding goal.
Meanwhile in New York, a new line of plus-size designer intimates called Delicate Curves has raised $2,371 the same way — but there’s only 20 days left to meet its $50,000 target.
And in L.A., the established boho undies brand Private Arts is trying to raise $30,000 to finance a brand expansion. With 30 days left in their Indiegogo campaign, they’ve raised $910.
Only one these efforts is guaranteed to walk away with any money at all. Can you guess which one, and why?
Lingerie Talk spoke to several lingerie entrepreneurs who ran successful crowdfunding campaigns to find out what works, what doesn’t, and what pitfalls to avoid.
Our contributors were UK designer Karolina Laskowska (KL); Toronto’s Joanna Griffiths of Knix Wear (KNIX); and Chelsea Carson, co-founder of New York label Relique (REL). Their advice is in italics below.
10 Tips For A Killer Crowdfunding Effort
1. Choose Your Platform Carefully
Everybody knows about Kickstarter, but there are many other crowdfunding sites around, and each appeals to a different community, geographic base or product niche. Some target creative artists, some are women-centric, some are focused on charitable causes. You’ll want to know which one has the kind of visitor traffic you need, what kind of projects they allow, and how they set their fees.
The latter issue is especially important. Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing model where you must reach your self-determined goal or lose all your donations. Indiegogo has a “flexible funding” option that pays out if you fall short of your goal, while holding back 9% in commissions. Thus, of the three examples cited at the top of this article, only Private Arts is guaranteed to get something, since they chose Indiegogo’s flexible option.
Whichever site you choose, read their rules and restrictions very carefully. You don’t want to spend months developing your business plan only to have it booted off the funding site of your choice.
2. Set A Reachable Target
This may sound self-evident, but it’s still the top reason many crowdfunding campaigns fail.
“You don’t want to aim too high only to see all your hard work result in nothing when you don’t achieve it.” (KL)
“It sounds silly, but in crowdfunding if you want to raise $10,000 you are more likely to hit that target if you set your goal at $5,000 than if you set it at $10,000. Strangers in particular want to be a part of a winning campaign and the sooner you can hit your target, the better.” (KNIX)
“Don’t go crazy with the amount you are asking … There were a few other similar campaigns going on at the same time as ours but asking an unrealistic amount of money for what they were trying to do.” (REL)
3. Have A Pre-Existing Web Presence
Crowdfunding is not about asking for money, it’s about engaging with (and creating) a community of supporters. Before you launch your appeal, make sure you have a robust internet presence — including website, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and more. Let your supporters follow you on the platform of their choice and keep up with your progress — because they will.
4. Tell A Good Story
Your ambitions, your backstory and your inspirations all make for a ripping yarn that supporters will devour. Tell your story in as much depth and in as many ways as you can. Supporters want to know about YOU.
“People are investing in you as much as they are in your product or designs. Don’t be shy to tell you personal story or inspiration.” (KNIX)
5. Be Perky
One of the main incentives for supporters is the donor perks and rewards offered in your campaign. Many campaigns simply use discounted products as an incentive, but that’s just pre-paying for your order. Come up with some creative and unique offers that will get people talking.
“Offer rewards and perks that people actually want and will get excited about. Limited edition designs go down particularly well!” (KL)
One caveat: Learn what kinds of gifts or rewards are allowed, and which ones are restricted. Kickstarter, for instance, requires that all rewards must be made by you.
6. Use Your Own Money
Don’t count on your new friends to shoulder the full cost of your dreams. As poker players will tell you, if you don’t have skin in the game you shouldn’t play. Investing your own money also means you’ll have something to fall back on if your crowdfunding efforts come up short.
“I used my crowdfunding campaign to help fund what I couldn’t pay for out of my own money and I don’t think it’s fair for you to only expect other people to invest!” (KL)
7. Make A Fun, Informative Video
Ever wonder why so many campaigns include an intro video? It’s because people love to surf crowdfunding sites on their mobile devices, where it’s a lot easier to watch a short video than scroll through pages and pages of your business plan.
“The videos are really key! It’s evident when you watch the videos of those campaigns earning $300K+, they’re creative, professional, and engaging.” (REL)
8. Listen and Communicate
Once you launch your campaign, the real fun begins. Start a dialogue with your supporters, post updates on Twitter and Facebook, and keep your new friends plugged in. Got some new styles or sizes? Tell people! Close to your funding goal? Tell people! Got some major press coverage on Lingerie Talk? TELL PEOPLE!
“Part of the appeal for backing a crowdfunding campaign is that customers get to be a part of the process, so be sure to keep them informed. They have great ideas so be sure to listen to them. Communicate with them if you are running behind schedule on production or need help surpassing a milestone.” (KNIX)
9. The Best Day To Start (Or End) A Campaign
“Start your campaign on a Monday and end it on Friday. This will help you maintain momentum throughout your first and last weeks.” (KNIX)
10. RPPR: Research, Plan, Promote, Repeat
Creating a crowdfunding campaign should (and will) be as intensive and exhausting as writing your original business plan. Invest some time in researching and analyzing other successful campaigns in comparable product niches in the early days of your planning. Many are exceptionally detailed and thorough — a factor which boosts their credibility and their supporters’ confidence.
“Crowdfunding campaigns are very labor intensive so the more you can plan ahead of time, the better. What new perks can you add halfway through to keep people engaged? What media can you reach out to? How are you going to handle fulfillment?” (KNIX)
Once your campaign is underway, the real fun of promoting it — through digital, social and traditional media — begins. If you’re new to the world of social media, no problem: hire a teenager.
CREDITS: Top Photo by AmpereNYC