This is a guest post of Bob Pritchard by Andrew Ochoa, CEO of Waverly Labs.
We believed we had something incredible: the world’s first translating earpiece. On May 25, 2016, we launched our campaign for Pilot: Smart Earpiece Language Translator, and we had immediate, runaway success. In 15 minutes, we reached our initial goal of $75,000, within two hours, we raised $1 million, $2.4 million in 30 days and now have $5 million in pre-order sales.
Our success was not just because of an innovate product. It was the result of lots of careful planning during every step of our development.
We bootstrapped from personal funds and a small investment from friends and family, but we decided that crowdfunding was the best launch strategy for Pilot. Backers of crowdfunding projects skew high towards “innovator” and “early adopter”and Pilot seemed like a good fit for this audience.
Our launch strategy had three stages: pre-launch, launch and post-launch. The success of the campaign is based on pre-launch strategy, and if we didn’t execute well we wouldn’t have a successful campaign.
Pre-launch growth strategy
We established our funding goal, based on hitting our development milestones. We then encouraged our own community to contribute so we didn’t fall for the biggest myth of crowdfunding. People expect crowdfunders to show enthusiasm no matter what. But if you just launch it, they will NOT come. No matter how great the product, they will not contribute unless it is an immediate success.
The major component of the pre-launch was a strategy to build excitement weeks before the launch. This strategy included a teaser video, press outreach, ad spend and a rewards campaign, all with the purpose of driving traffic and increasing email signups to our website.
We cut our full campaign video to create three separate teaser versions for different uses (Youtube, Facebook, website, etc). The teaser would create curiosity without giving away too much information and would encourage people to go to our website to learn more.
We placed email signup forms throughout the website to amplify lead capture. We offered a giveaway of the Pilot and more entries into a raffle every time that person shared the campaign on social media.
We got a few press contacts to write about us and compiled a press list to pitch quickly via email.
We allocated a few thousand dollars for ad spend on multiple platforms, including YouTube, Reddit and Facebook. We ran the teaser videos across these platforms during a test phase. Facebook was by far the best platform for outreach, engagement, social sharing and ability to reach a target audience.
We ran the teaser video online a few weeks before the campaign, the referral program picked up and social shares increased. We went viral, 175,000 email signups in 2 weeks and the video was shared over 40,000,000 times on social media and press. We launched and it took off..
The pre-launch strategy success was due to an interesting product, we told a simple story: boy meets girl and the referral campaign encouraged people to like and share. You can’t have virality without sharing.
The video is the first thing people want to see. We had a minimal budget,
The focus of the video was product, team and traction with no technical details. We had an exciting thumbnail and enticing headline.
- Emphasize social media shares
- Create social proof through media/press
- Show how it works with detailed product pics
- Simplify the idea for the average person to understand.
- Provide testimonials from real people
- List the features and specs of what it does
- Reveal technological magic of how it works as proof
- Call to action: company history, the challenges, then ask for help
- Compelling rewards: infographic with clear/concise reward tiers
- History and roadmap / timeline
- Showcase the team
- We hired a designer to help us layout the page.
To maintain momentum we stayed in communication with our community and moved our campaign into Indiegogo InDemand, which allows you to continue funding and taking pre-orders after the campaign has ended. We hired a Director of Marketing to keep our community engaged and responding to their questions.
Brilliant…that is how you do it.
The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%