We started our journey with Phree in May 2015. Our task was to help the Phree team create maximum buzz and build awareness around their Kickstarter campaign, in the hopes of raising at least $100,000. Phree is a Bluetooth stylus that can write on practically any surface. When we started working with Phree, the team was already three days into their campaign. We didn’t have too much time to prepare, show market validation, nor receive the necessary credibility from those early adopters who would be the first to use it.
So you want to know how to raise $1 million on Kickstarter? Read on to learn how we did it for Phree in three steps:
Step One: Community Building
At the core of any crowdfunding campaign is a community of supporters. Months before the campaign started, Phree’s founders had already updated their family and friends that they would be holding such a campaign and asked for their support. On the day of the campaign’s launch, the Phree team invited their friends and family to a party on the rooftop of WeWork Tel Aviv. This helped them immediately create an initial community of contributors, which is extremely important in the early days of a campaign before any media outreach is done. The reason? If a journalist sees 10-20 percent of the campaign goal had already been raised by the time he gets the story, it encourages him to cover it.
As the campaign continued to gain momentum, this community became bigger and bigger, and we kept them updated and engaged at all times. We told them every time we reached a new funding high and continued to thank them for their support, every step of the way. We kept them intrigued by constantly sharing new videos of how to write with our pen, whether it be on bananas or a wall, and listened to their feedback.
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We continuously analyzed what kind of people our community consisted of, determined what was important to them, and acted accordingly. For example, when we learned that we had a substantial number of East Asians in our community of backers, we created a video showing how to write with our pen in Mandarin.
Step Two: Media Outreach
We used four different angles in this stage of the campaign:
- General PR outreach. We reached out with the story of our campaign to various outlets, both mainstream and tech. Throughout the campaign, we continuously reached out to various verticals of the press with different PR stories that were relevant specifically to their readers.
- East Asian outreach. We knew that Kickstarter had recently upgraded its back-office analytics which enabled us to better examine our numbers. After receiving our initial coverage and backings, we analyzed the traffic to see where most of the contributions were coming from, and realized that East Asia would be a great place for us to focus more of our time and efforts. Therefore, we reached out to a number of East Asian publications and tweaked our angle to make it more fitting to their needs.
- Momentum outreach. Every time we reached a significant milestone in our funding, we let the press know about it. This tactic kept them a part of our campaign at all times and made them feel like a part of its success.
- Media tour. After getting massive coverage in tech, mainstream and East Asian press, it was important for us to keep the momentum alive until the end of the campaign. The best way to do this is to meet the press in person, offering them a personalized demos of how to use the product. Quite a few journalists as well as famed tech influencer Robert Scoble, agreed to meet with us. Scoble’s video interview received over 15,000 views! Reuters also paid us a visit us at Phree’s offices, and once they published, the story was syndicated throughout the Web.
Step Three: Using the PESO Model
Getting our name in these publications had remarkable results, and even though we had well surpassed our initial $100K goal, we wanted to raise even more money to help make our dream a reality. Therefore, we decided to utilize the PESO model. PESO stands for: Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media, and was developed by Gini Dietrich. In order to have a successful marketing initiative, you need to have all four elements in place.
- Paid media. When a positive article was published about Phree, we promoted it with a tiny budget via Facebook ads to a targeted audience. This helped us maximize the exposure of every press mention we got. We also utilized services such as Outbrain and Taboola to increase the traction of these posts. We made sure to optimize these paid campaigns on a daily basis while analyzing them through their respective analytic systems and dashboards.
- Earned media. As described in detail above, we kept pushing out targeted news releases to targeted outlets on a regular basis, and received consistent coverage throughout the campaign.
- Shared media. When we were mentioned in the press, we made sure to share it on Phree’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, thereby increasing the exposure of these articles even further.
- Owned media. Demonstrating our successful PR efforts was important in order to give the campaign credibility in the eyes of potential backers and additional outlets we were reaching out to. Therefore we made sure to upload all links to our press coverage on our campaign page.
Crowdfunding isn’t easy. Too often people who see the success of some campaigns assume that they’ll just upload their idea and immediately backers will flock to support them. However, as we’ve seen from experience, things don’t really work like that. You need to continuously work long and hard to make your crowdfunding campaign a success. It’s a constant effort and struggle, and you need to be ready to constantly change your strategy, angles and actions. Yet at the end, when you do achieve your goal, and are able to raise enough money to help your dream come to life, there is no better feeling in the world.