Kickstarter is Awesome, But Not Miraculous
If you have a product you want to sell, Kickstarter is a great place to start. Maybe you need funds for the initial production run, or maybe you just want to test your concept – either way it’s a great platform. There are lots of posts and books about how to run a successful Kickstarter project, but after doubling our targeted goal for SnapLaces we did a few things a bit different than what others have recommended. Obviously every project is unique, but some of the principals we used should still be valuable.
3 Simple Lessons for A Successful Kickstarter Project
- First and foremost, we worked our asses off. Running a campaign is more than a full time job, and even with people splitting the work there was still a lot to get done.
- We didn’t discount our product. Kickstarter is the one time in a products lifecycle where people might be willing to pay more just to help you out. Don’t make the mistake of discounting just to get backers. Most people underestimate what it will take to get a product to market, and even if you don’t, unexpected things can crop up.
- We contacted everyone that backed us. Literally everyone. Their responses to our questions ultimately led to valuable insights and shaped both the tone of our campaign and the direction of our company.
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A Successful Kickstarter Project is A LOT of Work
The amount of work a successful Kickstarter project requires is probably the biggest reason for failure. Having successfully managed a campaign and backed several others that were not successful, I can confidently state that there is a high correlation between the effort and result. The ones that didn’t interact with backers or actively engage, didn’t meet their funding goals.
We Didn’t Discount Our Product
Many Kickstarter projects offer discounts on the product being funded. We felt like that was a bad idea, especially at the under $50 price point we were in. We knew that we’d need over 1000 backers to be successful and lowering an already small price point would add to that number. More importantly the purpose of the campaign was to raise funds to pay for a new plastic injection mold, so we reasoned that backers would be preordering our product and helping us bootstrap the effort.
One thing we did do was offer a significant discount to a limit number of early backers to gain momentum. Your first week on Kickstarter is crucial because new projects are featured and people are much more likely to discover them. The “early adopter” reward allowed us to get the required momentum to become one on the top projects on Kickstarter which led to additional backers, but the limit made sure that we weren’t sacrificing our overall funding objectives.
Communication is Key
Prior to launching we studied other successful projects and one data point stuck out. Successful projects updated an average of 1.8 times PER DAY! This is where the bulk of the work came in. In addition to sending messages to every backer and responding to their questions, we tried to post 2-3 times every day on Kickstarter, as well as maintaining an active social media presence (active as in cultivating relationships, not just carpet bombing posts) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Communication is the key to success on Kickstarter.
Engage and communicate relevant information to people who have helped you (or would likely help you if only they knew you existed) is the most reliable way to have a successful Kickstarter project.
The next project will definitely be better run and more organized, but if we can save you some time and misery by sharing than it will have been worth the time invested in reading.
As always, if you have a question or comment – just ask!
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Make YouTube Videos Look Great
YouTube does a lot of things well, and most of the time it’s a handy way to get a video on your website. One area where they fall short, is the way embedded videos look. As designers, we spend a ton of time making sure a web site looks great, then BAM! embed a video and it all goes to hell. Colors, controls, fixed widths, and settings (like showing related videos of your competition at the end of a video) all conspire to ruin a beautiful thing.
The standard YouTube embed looks like this:
Fortunately, there are ways to modify the way embedded videos look and function. The only thing we can’t do with YouTube parameters is make the video embed responsive, but that can be handled with some clever CSS (Here’s a post by Rachel McCollin that will explain how to make iframes responsive).
Another key detail to make YouTube videos look great
It would be lame to go through all the trouble to make your embedded YouTube player look good, then roll with the standard cover image that YouTube selects. Make your own custom cover photo. Not only will it look better, but it’s also an opportunity to include additional information like titles, a call to action, and your own branding.
Skip the details
If you don’t care why it works and just want the code to make it look good, add this text string to the end of the src url:
With the modified YouTube video parameters
This will hide everything and give you the cleanest looking embed by hiding the controls, eliminating the video title from the header, and removing the related videos from the end.
For those of you that like to know why
There are lots of parameters YouTube provides that allow us to modify the way videos function and are displayed, but there are 5 in particular that will handle most of what you’ll use. A complete list can be found here: https://developers.google.com/youtube/player_parameters
One last thing
One last note before diving in to the parameters; there are two important connectors that need to be included for this to work. First, you must add a
? after the last character of your url before adding the parameters. Second, separate each of the parameters with a
;. For example, the standard url for our Hosting Deficiency Syndrome Video is:
to that we added the string:
giving us a combined string that looks like this:
The Big 4
Now for the parameters, with a brief explanation of how each one works.
Modest Branding – This parameter controls the display of the YouTube logo. The options are 0 or 1, we almost always set it to 1.
Controls – This parameter indicates whether the video player controls will display. Our options are 0, 1, or 2. Default is 1. We almost always change it to 0. If you have a video where you want the viewer to have more control leave this at 1.
Show Info – This parameter controls the display of information like video title and uploader. Value options are 0 or 1, set the value to 1 to remove the information from the video.
Related – This parameter indicates whether the player should show related videos at the end of your video. If you have a lot of related content, sometimes this is a good idea. More often than not it will display videos from other YouTube users, you’ll have to decide what is best for your situation.
Whether you just want the code or the particulars, fixing how your YouTube videos are displayed goes a long way to keeping your website looking great. Hopefully this info will help make your YouTube video embeds more attractive and suck less.
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About Hosting Deficiency Syndrome
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We approach design, marketing, and websites from a business owners perspective. Sure, we love cool tech just as much as the next geek, but we know that providing solutions to real business problems is a better way to provide value.
The Office Audit
Back when I first started as a financial adviser, Van Kampen mutual funds was doing a big ‘value add’ push to attract more business. I’m not sure how successful their effort was for them, but one of the positive outcomes I received was an introduction to their office audit (along with a few books like “Storyselling for Financial Advisers” and “Millionaire’s Advisor“) which helped advisers understand the non verbal messages an office can communicate to clients and prospects. The typical suggestions usually consisted of things like “remove clutter,” “add pictures of family,” and “display your hobbies.” All of which were intended to instill confidence and make connections. The same is true (perhaps more so) of your website.
Financial Advisor Websites Audit
Pull up your website and pretend it’s one of your competitors. If you were looking at it for the first time what would it say about you and your company? Does it help someone learn anything meaningful about your firm or differentiate you from all the other advisors out there?
Here are a few questions to help you conduct an audit on your firm’s website:
- How often to you add content?
- Is the content written by you or someone at your firm?
- Does your home page answer the WIFM question for prospects?
- Is your website build to be search engine friendly?
- How does your website look on a mobile phone or tablet?
Write down your answers to these questions. Have your staff do the same. Unless your answers were weekly, yes, yes yes, and great, there is room for improvement. Enhancements to anyone of these areas can lead to significant improvement in the conversion of visitors (or getting more visitors) into clients.
In reality there are many factors that go into building great looking, high performing financial advisor websites, but by starting with these 5 you’ll have an advantage (assuming you do something after asking the questions) over your competition. I’d also recommend reading Storyselling for Financial Advisers and Millionaire’s Advisor, they are great books that will help you connect with clients and run your practice more efficiently. If you need help or have questions, you can get them answered with a quick message here: