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Crowdfunding: Another Tool in Your Marketing Tookit

Crowdfunding: Another Tool in Your Marketing Toolkit

“I’m a marketing consultant, what do I really know about Crowdfunding?” was the dialogue going on in my head when I received a phone call from a respected agency in Massachusetts asking if I was available to develop a presentation on Crowdfunding for their semi-annual meeting of non-profit agencies.

Fortunately, she couldn’t hear this brief, internal conversation and over the years I have learned not to share my every thought. I was grateful that my inner-entrepreneur immediately took over the real conversation and said, “While I’m not an expert on this hot topic, I have been watching it from my ‘marketing chair’ and see it as another tool in a small business owner’s marketing toolkit to help promote and grow their business.”

Sold! She loved this angle so I was hired and began to think of the best way to put together a dynamic, one-hour presentation on Crowdfunding, making it valuable for folks contemplating a campaign to raise funding for their business venture and educational for individuals not ready or just curious to learn more.

Most of you know my perspective on luck, we create our own as we proactively do the ‘right’ business activities. So, as luck would have it, one of the women I’ve been mentoring over the last 10 years, Joanna Alberti, approached me as I was searching for the right story to share. She asked me if I thought it was a good idea to create a Kickstarter campaign to fund a booth at Surtex, one of the top licensing shows held annually in NYC.

small version of sophie on broadwayIf you’ve read either (maybe even both) of my books, you are familiar with Joanna’s story.  In 2005 she launched PhiloSophie’s®, a stationery and card business featuring the fabulous and fearless character, Sophie.  Joanna has already experienced a lot of success having been named the “Top 25 Under 25 Young Entrepreneurs” by Business Week and her cards can be found around the U.S. in stores like Target and Wegmans.

Now Joanna wants to take her business to the next level and was curious to learn if Crowdfunding was a good way to support her dreams. Damn – some times things fall perfectly into place and this was clearly one of those times. I definitely thought this was a great idea (not just because I needed a case study) but because Crowdfunding is a perfect match for her business.  To scale, Joanna needs more exposure, the kind that requires licensing her products to manufacturers. Combined with the fact that she is a part of the creative economy this was, without a doubt, a perfect fit.

So we were off and running at lighting speed. My presentation was in 3 weeks and we knew we needed to get the campaign completed before then, not just so I could feature her as a case study but to also ensure she had enough time to raise the funds required to pay for her booth at the Javits Center in NYC (not an inexpensive venue). So much to do… so little time to waste. If you’re considering launching a Crowdfunding campaign, below are the 9 steps that Joanna and I pursued. Trust me, the payoff has been significant. Within 72 hours, Joanna raised more than 50% of her $3,000 goal. Click here to check out Joanna’s campaign

9 Steps to Successful Crowdfunding

1)     Start with a SMART Goal. You’ve heard me talk about SMART goals before. Make sure your goal is Specific – Measurable – Actionable – Realistic and Time-Based. Of critical importance is ensuring your results are measurable in terms of dollars funded for your project, profit after fulfilling perks, exposure to new potential customers, and ROI on your time to create and fulfill the campaign.

2)     Think Location, Location, Location. Even online location matters so review the different Crowdfunding platforms. You have likely heard of the two major players (Kickstarter and Indiegogo), but there are do-it-yourself models and lots of other small players. They all have different audiences, criteria, and success rates. For example, Kickstarter campaigns have a 44% success rate, as opposed to Indiegogo whose success rate (according to sources like TechCrunch and the Verge) is only 9.3%. Data shows that 83% of Indiegogo companies have not raised at least 25% of their goal.

It’s important to understand the differences amongst the various platforms. Below I have provided details about Kickstarter and Indiegogo. However, there are many important details to consider when selecting your host location, so make sure you ask the right questions before you select a site.

  1. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing model, meaning that if you don’t hit your goal you do NOT get to keep any of the money. However, if you don’t hit your goal you are also not obligated to fulfill the perks. If you do meet your goal you will be required to pay them 5% of what you are funded (plus an Amazon processing fee).
  2. Indiegogo will allow you to keep all of the donations you receive (even if only raise a buck), but if you do not hit your target donation goal you will pay them a 9% fee (to keep the funds). If you hit your target you only pay a 4% fee, lower than Kickstarter. However, if you don’t hit your target and keep the money donated, you must fulfill all of the perks promised.

3)     Perks Engage and Support Your Brand. Give yourself time to develop perks that excite and interest your audience. Remember, these are branding opportunities so make sure whatever you give away, it is related to your business to help build your brand power. That means don’t give away a toaster if you’re a video producer. For PhiloSophie’s® Joanna decided to create 3 Limited Edition versions of Sophie in New York City. These are beautiful renderings only available to Kickstarter donors – something you will NOT find on her website. Depending on how much is donated, the design is offered in different formats ranging from notecards and prints to recyclable totes and trays.

revised kickstarter4)     Perk Fulfillment Must Be Realistic. Make sure your perks are cost effective so that fulfilling them doesn’t equal (or exceed, yikes) the price of the donation or you’ll find yourself in the same or worse financial position as you were at the beginning of the campaign. Easily said, this needs to be strategically determined. For example, offering mugs can be twice as expensive to fulfill as recyclable bags when you consider packaging and shipping costs. Plus, how many people are going to see a mug on the donor’s desk (unless they’re wildly popular) compared to the number of people who will see your design on recyclable bags every time the donor takes them to the store.

5)     Understand Donor Categories. Most people will donate at the lower end ($50 and under), so make sure you offer and can easily fulfill those perks so you’re not tarnishing your brand by not sending the promised items out in a timely manner. Joanna and I created an excel file with all the perks, cost, and profit for each and how many we would need to meet her donor goal and her actual profit (amount funded minus the cost of goods sold, including her time).  Again, you don’t want to spend 50 hours on a project that ultimately only generates a couple hundred dollars (you could work at a fast food chain and make more money).

6)     Determine Approximate Range of Donors Required for Profit. Create a simple excel file that shows donation total, profit, and number of funders in each category. Manipulate the cells for the “number of funders” to see how much donation revenue and profit you’ll make depending on how many people donate in each category (i.e., 50 donors give $10 and 2 give $150). This creates a visual starting point so you understand approximately how many folks you need to make enough money to take your business to the next level. Continue plugging the actual numbers into the excel file as the campaign progresses so you know how profitable the campaign will be.

7)     Remember, this as a Marketing Campaign. A Crowdfunding campaign can and should mimic a typical marketing campaign. Let’s consider all the benefits that can be generated by a campaign.  To name just a few:

  1. Raise or generate money
  2. Uncover customer needs and interest in your product
  3. Validate a concept and/or identify key value proposition
  4. Test messaging
  5. Generate interest or create a buzz about your product or company
  6. Create brand awareness
  7. Create early adopters, raving fans, promoters, and a solid customer base

Notice how these benefits are precisely what you will achieve from a marketing campaign to promote your business. I know you wouldn’t dream of putting together a marketing campaign and not follow through with the all activities to ensure its success. Crowdfunding is no different. Focus on ensuring its success to achieve benefits that exceed the donation amounts.

8)     Launch an Integrated Campaign. Once you recognize the critical marketing benefits you can achieve, now is the time to create and launch your fully integrated marketing campaign. You want to ensure that your friends and family are not the sole sources of your funding. If that is the only audience you reach then you have lost an important opportunity to expand your reach and target new customers. To expand your customer touchpoints you need to focus on a variety of online and offline tools. For PhiloSophie’s® this included: email blasts, Facebook posts, Blogging, Tweeting, LinkedIn shares, newsletter outreach, and partnering with other brands to promote the opportunity. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to develop and run the campaign for the 30 days (or whatever time period you select) until you are completed. Many donations come in at the very end… you will want to ensure you have the ‘marketing copy’ ready to roll out the campaign before you launch (remember, you’re still running your business while managing this campaign).

9)     Measure, Analyze, and Course Correct as Needed. You must review the metrics that tell the story of your campaign’s success (or failure – but hopefully not). Even if you hate number crunching, this process is critical to ensure you are achieving your stated goals and can make changes as required if something isn’t working as anticipated. Here are some numbers you should focus on, but each campaign is different. Most of the Crowdfunding sites offer tools to help you do this.

  1. Number of visits each day and after marketing pushes
  2. Number of video/site views and percent that pledged
  3. Contributions after marketing pushes and by contribution amount
  4. Pledges from external referrers (outside the platform)
  5. Popularity of each reward category
  6. Visits from your website and other social media sites

So, are you excited about the opportunity or have I scared you off? Here’s a summary of the Lessons Learned from the PhiloSophie’s® Kickstarter Campaign:

  • Select the right venue (location, location)
  • Advanced planning drives traffic
  • Perks are a branding opportunity
  • Make sure you understand profit not just donations
  • Analyze, analyze, analyze
  • Remember – this must be an integrated approach

Best of luck growing your business and using all the marketing tools available to build your brand. If I can be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to email me at beth@m-edge.com. Click here to check out Joanna’s campaign!

 

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Are YOU a Game Changer?

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Regular readers of my blog know that this summer was pretty exciting for me as I had the opportunity to teach at two universities (Brandeis and Boston University) and visit Lagos, Nigeria where I spoke with over a thousand students about innovation and entrepreneurship.

However, the lesson that stands out the most from this summer is that one-time speaking engagements and short-term (3 to 5 day) conferences don’t really ensure nor support meaningful change. It’s great to speak with motivated students and business owners about change and innovation but it can also be quite disappointing if the impact you are aiming for is fleeting.

How many times have you left a seminar charged up and inspired to execute change within your organization only to return to your ‘daily life’ and ‘business as usual’ never implementing the much desired change? I can personally attest that this is something that plagues me and sometimes leaves me pondering why I bother attending or speaking at conferences if it isn’t going to make a difference.

This month we explore how to shake things up and become the game changer you need to be!

Beth

 We all know that change is hard, really hard, but if you (and I) don’t take the steps required to execute on our dreams, then nobody is going to do it for us.  Change is in your hands but it won’t happen simply by attending a few workshops or networking occasionally to make the ‘right’ connections. These are activities that are great starting points but you must take the time to create very specific and measurable goals in order to achieve the vision that you are aiming for.

As a trainer, my desire to have a long term impact on individuals I have the privilege to work with led to the creation of a business card handout used to capture an important SMART goal. It asks ONE simple question: “What SMART goal do you want to achieve in the next 30, 60 or 90 day period (you pick the time frame)?” Plus, there’s space for only four actions to be executed during that period to ensure you don’t become overwhelmed with too many activities that simply won’t get done.

Since I started handing these out at seminars I have been thrilled with the responses I have received. Months later participants in a workshop or talk I gave have come up to me to show me their SMART Goal card and tell me that they carry it around to ensure they actually do what they had committed to. This takes the prize when it comes to my own job satisfaction. Would you like your own card? Feel free to click here to download the SMART Goal Card.

 I’ve seen the benefits of follow up in my workshops and in the classes I teach at BU and Brandeis. One example is a course I taught over the summer called the BU Urban Business Accelerator. This is a 10-week course designed to help students gain expertise through consulting with small business owners in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The students achieve solid experience as they begin to truly grasp what it means to be a small business owner and see first hand the obstacles encountered in growing and maintaining a business. The business owners get support from dedicated, hard working students who research their specific industry (e.g., beauty salons, electronic stores) and help them better understand how they are doing relative to others in the industry and learn how to manage their business by the numbers.

This course, masterminded by a BU student in his senior year, has a unique twist that is at the heart of its success and differentiates its impact and value from other programs. There’s a 24-month follow-up.  The program doesn’t end when the course does, unlike most traditional classes and business growth programs. This follow-up provides a chance to review what’s working, what’s not and what midcourse corrections need to take place to ensure the companies are using the new tools provided to them by the students. While we are still in the early stages of gathering this post-initiative data, I am convinced, based on early data collected, that this is a critical element that will help make this program a true game changer. In fact, I believe it makes enough of a difference that I am reviewing other business growth classes that I offer to determine how I can ensure that the lessons taught are lessons executed

Long-term success has a better chance of occurring when individuals measure their success not by the strength of their idea but by the actions they take to directly achieve their goals.

Like a great diet or exercise regime, success depends on what happens when we leave the protected environment of the classroom and return to working IN the business. Without making time to work ON your business and make appointments with that very important VIP – you, you may have had a nice experience but the bad habits return quickly.

Ready to set your SMART goals now? Simply visit the SMART Goals page here on my website for a worksheet to help you define your goals and executable action steps and to download my SMART Goal card.

http://www.m-edge.com
 

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Can Dog Breath Teach You About Creating Loyal Customers?

 

Happy Holidays! As 2012 comes to a close, I want to thank you for your support and friendship. Many of you have reached out to share your stories of success and disappointment. I have appreciated your honesty and hearing how you have overcome challenges throughout the year.

Can dog breath teach you about creating loyal customers (and I don’t mean the already-loyal, four-legged kind)? 

To find out, please read the article below.

Is your 2013 growth plan in place? If not, I have a special offer to help you create a plan. As part of my latest book, Lucky By Design, I created a 5-part webinar series where I walk you through the process of creating your Lucky By Design Roadmap (your growth plan).

The Webinar Series is on sale now (through the end of the year) for only $20.13 (that’s a 65% discount). Plus, if you haven’t purchased my book yet (or would like another copy), you can buy it for $10. Interested? Click here for more details!

Wishing you a joyous new year!

Beth

How Dog Breath Taught Me a Valuable Lesson About Creating Loyal Customers

If we’ve spent any time together, you know that I’m an ‘over the top’ dog fanatic. Our home boasts two, four-legged canines (Biscotti and Twizzler), and they delight us on a regular basis. So, you won’t be surprised that as critical members of our household, they are clearly the most spoiled in the family (yes, even more than my 2 teenagers!)

Last month one of my students sent me a link to a video related to dogs. Naturally,  I dropped everything else I was doing and clicked on the link. It featured a clip about Orapup, a tongue brush designed to help dogs (well, actually humans) manage dog bad breath problems. Let’s face it, the dogs don’t care that their breath stinks.

As you might guess, I purchased the Orapup for both of my pups and waited for shipment to arrive this month. Now, the product wasn’t actually ready – they were taking pre-orders. Since I love to support startups and it seemed legitimate, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. It’s not like the dogs would know that their Hanukkah presents arrived late (they are really bad at reading the calendar).

On Dec. 12 I received an email stating:

Beth,

I want to deliver a personal message about your Orapup Preorder Status in the video below.

Sincerely, Dr. Bob

Orapup

It turns out the factory didn’t deliver their mold on time so while Orapup had anticipated a December delivery, it was now going to be January before shipment arrived. Having spent many years working with manufacturers, this is not an uncommon challenge. But how they handled it was less common.

If you watch the video (click here or on the image above) you will see how they use self-effacing humor, provide real information and sincerely apologize for the delay…even offering money back to the >14,000 people who pre-ordered. Their video was short, engaging to watch and very real and honest. What more can you expect from a company? Assuming I like the results of the product (better dog breath), this is a company I am very likely to engage with in the future and recommend to friends/colleagues.  I’ve told you, right?

Let’s face it, mistakes happen, no matter how hard we work to prevent them. However, the true nature of a person and an organization can ALWAYS be measured by HOW they react to the mistake. Remember this the next time an error occurs – on your part or somebody else’s. Think of your reaction as an opportunity to demonstrate the beliefs and principals you adhere to in your company (and life). In addition, you will also learn a lot about a colleague, business or friend relevant to how THEY react to their own mistake. It will help you determine IF this is a person or organization with whom you want to engage in future endeavors.

Charles Darwin said:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

As I await my order of Orapups, I wish you health, peace and happiness plus the ability to respond with dignity when needed. Please continue to stay in touch and share your stories with me. They provide me with great inspiration.  From my home to yours, happy holidays!

Beth, Ben & Jacqui
Beth, Ben, Jacqui, Biscotti & Twizzler

 

 

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24 Hours Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

The Small Business World Summit starts tomorrow. 

 Keep Your Friends Close but Your Enemies Closer
 Beth Goldstein, Marketing Edge

Competition is not limited to companies that offer products or services exactly like yours. Companies compete on solutions and their value to customers. Therefore, competition is about fulfilling a need, not about offering an identical product or service. What needs do your products or services fulfill? How else can your current or potential customers have their needs met? What companies fulfill this need? You must continually assess companies that offer like solutions, ensuring you understand their value proposition and benefits to your customers. 

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch starting tomorrow and throughout all of Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to register!

 

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2 Days Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

 TIP OF THE DAY:  Continually Check-In With Customers
Beth Goldstein, Marketing Edge

The Small Business World Summit begins in 48 hours! TODAY IS YOUR LAST DAY TO Pre-register and get the Small Business Growth Package worth $149 –  FREE!

There are many variables that influence customers’ needs and you must be aware of current as well as future ones if you are to grow your business. Even if you’ve been in business for a significant number of years, it’s critical that you constantly check in with your customers to see how their needs have changed over time. Simply take the time to step back and look at your business objectively. Force yourself to ask your customers questions about their needs, even if you are 100% convinced that you know the answers. Some of the responses might surprise you.

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch during Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to pre-register!. Plus, when you pre-register you will get a Small Business Growth Package worth $149 for FREE that includes:

  • Keeping Score Manual, Ribbon
  • Business Boot Camp Accelerator eBook: Setting the Stage for Growth, Marketing Edge
  • Building an Email List that Build Your business, Constant Contact 
 

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3 Days Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

Initiate Tactics That Directly Align Your Unique Value With Customer Needs
Beth Goldstein, Marketing Edge

The Small Business World Summit begins in 3 days! Pre-register now and get the Small Business Growth Package worth $149 –  FREE! 

While it’s important that you understand the products and services that you offer customers, it’s even more critical to understand what your customers value and why they buy products/services from you rather than your competitors. What common needs and characteristics do your customers share? By understanding how much each customer spends with you, how often they frequent your business and why they value their business relationship with you, you can more easily execute activities that will impact all of these factors and increase your value to them and consequently their value to you.

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch during Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to pre-register!. Plus, when you pre-register you will get a Small Business Growth Package worth $149 for FREE that includes:

  • Keeping Score Manual, Ribbon
  • Business Boot Camp Accelerator eBook: Setting the Stage for Growth, Marketing Edge
  • Building an Email List that Build Your business, Constant Contact 
 

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4 Days Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

Understand Your Employees’ Expectations to Be a Great Leader
Suzi Lemen, Dynamic Corporate Solutions

The Small Business World Summit begins in 4 days! Pre-register now and get the Small Business Growth Package worth $149 –  FREE!

The new worker has different expectations than employees in the past.  Understanding these expectations can make all the difference in leading successfully.  One of the expectations is that there will be opportunities for continuous learning.  Leaders need to develop formal and informal learning plans for their workforce.  Don’t find out when someone quits that they felt like there were no opportunities for growth.

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch during Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to pre-register!. Plus, when you pre-register you will get a Small Business Growth Package worth $149 for FREE that includes:

  • Keeping Score Manual, Ribbon
  • Business Boot Camp Accelerator eBook: Setting the Stage for Growth, Marketing Edge
  • Building an Email List that Build Your business, Constant Contact 
 

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