Episode 140

6-Figure Product Launches on Kickstarter

Khierstyn Ross - Founder of Launch and Scale
November 11, 2020
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Khierstyn Ross is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to launching products on Kickstarter.  She’s experienced the highs of multiple 6-figure product launches, plus she’s endured the heartache of a launch gone bad.  She knows what to do and, just as importantly, what to avoid.

In this podcast, we talk about the keys to building a 6-figure crowd-funded product launch including:

  • What products work best for a Kickstarter launch
  • Why audience building is so important, how to do it, and why so many people underestimate it.
  • What kind of targets to set for your first day of your Kickstarter launch
  • What to consider when it comes to shipping
  • Top mistakes to avoid
  • How storytelling fuels crowd-funding launches

Plus more!


Khierstyn Ross -  Founder at Khierstyn.com

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Mentioned in this episode:

Kickstarter

eE Jeremy Horowitz

Groove Life

Peter Goodwin

Original Grain Watches

Indiegogo

Crowd Ox

BackerKit

Seth Godin

Peter Drucker

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another addition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. Today, we're talking about how to have a six-figure product launch using Kickstarter. Now, we've talked about product launches before. In fact, I recommend you go back and listen to the Jeremy Horowitz podcast where he talks about using SMS and different messaging platforms to have a product launch. Today, we're talking Kickstarter.

Brett:

You've probably seen even some successful brands using Kickstarter for new product launches. I'm so excited to dive into this topic. I think it's going to be super helpful and applicable and hopefully you will be able to put these ideas to use. Now, a couple of quick notes before I introduce my guest. If you're watching the video, you've probably noticed, "Hey, Brett, you look like you're in a nursery or a kid's room or something like that." That is because I am. So at the beginning of quarantine, we kind of restructured our nursery, my son, Benjamin's room, he's three, will also be my office.

Brett:

We're back at the OMG offices now for the most part, but we're remodeling the podcast room. It just made sense for me to be at home today. So I've got Spider-Man, I'm sorry, Superman and Green Lantern in the background and this show is brought to you by the letter G. See right here, the letter G, just like on Sesame Street back in the day. So this should be a lot of fun.

Brett:

Well, my guest today is the host of the Launch and Scale Podcast. Also, she is the founder of khierstyn.com. Her name is Khierstyn Ross. So Khierstyn, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on. I'm really excited about this topic.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, same here. I guess we were joking before. It's like Khierstyn from khierstyn.com. Sounds weird, but cool.

Brett:

Well, it sounds like you're a superstar. Sounds like there should be flashes going off in the background like paparazzi.

Khierstyn:

Should be.

Brett:

Yeah.

Khierstyn:

But I'm like, keep it simple. But yeah, that did make it easier to get to.

Brett:

But it's a unique spelling of Khierstyn too. So don't go maybe for the traditional spelling of Khierstyn. Maybe that's Kirsten Dunst or something. I don't know. But you're unique. How do you spell your name, just for those that are wanting to type this in as we talk?

Khierstyn:

Grab a pen. But yeah. K-H-I-E-R-S-T-Y-N.

Brett:

Love it, love it.

Khierstyn:

It's phonetic. There's no special story behind it. But yeah.

Brett:

Your parents wanted to be unique. They wanted you to really learn how to be a good speller from a young age.

Khierstyn:

Yes, exactly.

Brett:

Yep, yep. That's awesome. Really pumped to talk about Kickstarter. Even some friends of mine in the eCommerce space who have very successful businesses are still using Kickstarter. One of them is Groove Live, silicone wedding rings. I'm actually wearing one right now. Peter Goodwin, the founder, is a buddy of mine. They just launched belts. When they launched their belt line, they used Kickstarter to do it and it was phenomenally successful. I know a lot of brands that got their start on Kickstarter, previous guests, the guys from Original Grain Watches. They also launched on Kickstarter.

Brett:

Lots of ways to use Kickstarter. But how'd you become a Kickstarter expert. What's your backstory, your origin story?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. I kind of joke that Kickstarter found me because, at the time ... I've been doing it very full-time for about five years now. Since then, I've raised millions using Indiegogo and Kickstarter, which the platforms, we'll get into how they're ... whatever.

Brett:

Great. We'd love to know that. Yeah.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, yeah. But how I got into it, I definitely didn't pick it. I was very adverse to becoming a Kickstarter consultant and here's why. Before I broke onto the scene five years ago, I was working in the construction industry. I was running a house painting company and then eventually ended up coaching certain entrepreneurs to learn the trades and go from no business experience to running six-figure businesses at a university. I was doing that for about seven years. By the time I turned 24, I feel like I kind of aged out of that and I was looking for my next big thing.

Khierstyn:

So I went traveling for a couple years to Australia, UK. In the UK was the first time, in London specifically, the first time I heard about this whole crowdfunding thing. I sat through a crowdfunding talk and I didn't get it. I was like, "I don't understand this." So anyway, fast track a few months. I end up moving back to Toronto and going to my first networking event. That's where I met the founder of my first crowdfunding campaign. He had this cool idea which at first I didn't think it was that cool, but people really gravitated toward this idea.

Khierstyn:

Eventually, we formed a friendship and he's like, "Look, you know a little bit about online and getting people sales or whatever. Do you want to partner up on this campaign?" I was like, "Sure. I don't understand crowdfunding, but how hard can it be?" Famous last words. We ended up partnering together on this thing. I ran the marketing. I ran the strategy. This thing ended up being a colossal failure. So just to understand Kickstarter a little bit, you need to-

Brett:

Saying, "Hard could it be?" That's usually famous last words. Anytime we get into something and we're like, "This will be a breeze," yeah, that's usually not going to be.

Khierstyn:

It can't be this hard. You don't know what you don't know what you don't know. But yeah, so we get onto Kickstarter. We had set a goal of raising $50,000. So that's what Kickstarter's about is you have to set a funding target that basically says, "Okay, we need 50 grand to pay for inventory and get this idea off the ground." So that was our goal. We wanted to raise $50,000.

Brett:

If you don't hit the goal, then the deal does not happen, right? It does not fund at all?

Khierstyn:

Well, on Kickstarter, yes. But on Indiegogo, you have the option of doing a flexible funding, which means-

Brett:

Got it.

Khierstyn:

... if you don't hit the goal, you can still keep the money. So that first campaign we ended up only raising about 16,000 out of a 50K goal. At this point, we didn't have enough to do anything with that amount of money. So we wrote that off as a failure. At first, we thought it was probably the product. But after talking to people in our market and starting to do a bit of digging as to why this campaign failed, it became very obvious that it wasn't the product. It was the marketing and the execution of the launch.

Khierstyn:

We're like, "Okay. Well, if it's not the product, how can we change this and maybe do a relaunch and just try to make it better the second time so that maybe we'll raise that 50K?" So we ended up following the rules this time, getting guidance, and doing research into how to properly do this and take it very seriously. We did and that second campaign, a few months later, ended up netting us in 30 days, $598,000 with close to 5000 customers.

Brett:

So from 16K to 590K and how many customers?

Khierstyn:

Like 4800.

Brett:

Yeah, which is amazing. That is even more valuable than the 590K, which is awesome. What type of product was this for? Or can you mention that?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. I can mention it. It ended up being a drastic failure. They say if you're not embarrassed by your first project, you're not doing it right. It was a vest that helps you lose weight through cold temperature.

Brett:

Okay, okay.

Khierstyn:

The science is-

Brett:

So cools you down, forces you to warm your body up, burn some calories in the process, okay.

Khierstyn:

Exactly.

Brett:

Okay. It's a novel idea.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. The founder saw the opportunity because there were other similar products launched like this where they had ice packs. It was a vest with an ice pack. But he's like, "No, I want to do a tech version of this that keeps the temperature more sustainable." So hired an engineering firm, raised a bunch of capital before we ... And then after we raised the capital, the engineering firm's like, "This isn't possible or it's not possible on your budget." So it was an epic disaster from the first day.

Brett:

We forgot to tell you. We should have mentioned this upfront. But now would be a good time to tell you this won't work. Okay, good.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. I can talk about this now because, A) I didn't create the product. But also, a lot of people got scammed out of ... They got product, but the product was literally nothing like what was promised. I could talk about this now because at the time there was a lot of hate online towards the founder and I just chose to use what I learned to set better expectations and kind of use that for the basis of my teaching.

Brett:

Pick your product better too. But yeah, but really the real lesson here for you and for the people listening and watching is, hey, the difference in a properly executed launch is the difference between that 16K and 590K and a handful of customers, whatever that was, versus 4800 customers.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, huge.

Brett:

So let's talk through this. I guess what might be kind of fun is what are some of the mistakes? What are some of the mistakes you guys made, other than a cooling vest that doesn't cool? But what were some of the mistakes you made and what are some of the common mistakes you see people make that going into this thing, "Hey, this is going to be really easy," and then it fails?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. That comes down to what the heck we changed between campaign one and two. Campaign one, we knew that people said online that you need to have a really strong start to your Kickstarter launch. We didn't really get that until we fell on our face. So I want to talk first about that because that is the biggest, biggest mistake anyone makes with any product launch, whether you're on Amazon or you're on Kickstarter, is not having built up enough awareness to give your campaign that initial traction.

Khierstyn:

So this is super relevant because with Kickstarter and Indiegogo, they have an algorithm that helps them determine which projects are successful and which are not. They have this because that's how they make money. They make money based on every dollar you raise. So what you need to do, unlike Amazon which is more of a slow burn approach over time and consistent sales, Kickstarter is you got one day to prove yourself. It is that 24 hours. So what you need to know about Kickstarter is that if you have a 60-day period to raise funds, the first few hours are everything. So the biggest thing-

Brett:

Wow. So not even just the first day, it's the first few hours. That's crazy.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Because the better you do at getting sales in within those first few hours from the list that you built up from the audience and all that, which we'll get into, the better you're going to do. Because what's going to happen is if you bring in about 30% of your goal within that first day, Kickstarter's going to help reward you with additional platform traffic that you get by ranking.

Brett:

Got it. Okay. So setting your goal is something you should consider when you set your goal is that you want to try to hit about 30% of it that first day?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

Interesting.

Khierstyn:

To be clear, I'm not sure if we should backtrack into what Kickstarter is, for some people that are new.

Brett:

Yeah. Actually, absolutely. Let's do that. I think most people know, but for those that don't. I was so excited. We jumped right ahead into the mistakes. But yeah, what is Kickstarter.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Then let's get back to the 30% because there's a clarification there. But what is Kickstarter? Why should people pay attention to it? The number one biggest stress that will kill your ability to scale is cashflow. It's cashflow because you have, as an entrepreneur, no shortage of ideas of products, but knowing how you usually bring products to market is that you need to fork out thousands of dollars to pay for inventory on that new product before you even sell it.

Khierstyn:

So by the time you order the inventory, get it into FBA, get your listing up and sell that, and money in the bank is, if you're lucky, six to eight months from the day you paid the manufacturer.

Brett:

Very cash-intensive upfront.

Khierstyn:

Very cash-intensive, yeah. This is the number one issue with entrepreneurs being able to scale in the physical product space. So what Kickstarter does, honestly, it flips that on its head. We'll get into which products work with Kickstarter because not every product works with Kickstarter. But it allows you to set up a presale campaign where when you have 30 or 60 days. We'll just keep it simple. We'll say 30 days. You have 30 days to raise a set amount of money that's based around an inventory goal. So if you know that you need 20K to go manufacture product, your goal is 20K to raise in 30 days.

Khierstyn:

How you're making that money off people, people aren't donating to your campaign. They're literally preordering-

Brett:

Pre-buying.

Khierstyn:

... your product. Yeah. They're pre-buying with the understanding that they're going to get that product in four months.

Brett:

And they're going to get it at a discount, right, so that the deal is, hey, I'm pre-funding. I'm pre-ordering this product. I'm going to get some perks. I'm going to get a discount most likely and I get to be in on the launch of a product.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, exactly. So by the time your campaign ends, three weeks after that, cash is in the bank and then you go to the manufacturer and you just keep going. Number one, that's what Kickstarter is. It's a presale model being able to tap into a global community that Kickstarter offers.

Brett:

That's right. I know the answer to this and you kind of alluded to it. But for those that are maybe thinking, "Well, why use Kickstarter? Why not just email it to my list and take preorders or do something else? Why would I go to Kickstarter? Because Kickstarter, you mentioned they charge a fee on every dollar that you raise. Why use a crowdfunding platform rather than just doing it ourselves?"

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Here's why. This does differ per platform. Let's hypothetically say that you want to sell a couple thousand units of something and you go to your list. You're restricted in sales based on your list and how much ad spend you can personally drive in traffic to a sales page to get people to buy. Whereas with Indiegogo or Kickstarter, when you start to rank on their platform, you're actually tapping into organic platform traffic.

Brett:

Millions of visitors, millions of people on the platform.

Khierstyn:

Millions of visitors. So I'm just trying to pull it up now. For example, one of our campaigns we raised about with 2800 backers, 350,000. I don't know if you could see this, but essentially ... You can't see this. 42% of all of our sales came from Indiegogo.

Brett:

You can share your screen if you want to for people that are watching the video. Explain it obviously, because most people just listen. But if you want to click share, you can, just to be fun.

Khierstyn:

So here. I don't want to show the rest. But this is it. These are the steps. We raised 2800 customers, this many visits, and this much raised. Of that, 44% of our funds came from Indiegogo. So we could have a list of 10,000 people and only drive it to our Shopify page and raise 100 grand. So with the right product-

Brett:

Yeah. You do the math on that, that 44% of funds, you could also say that probably means 44% are there, but to the backers. So you're talking 1000 people or 1100 people or so that were new that got into this pre-funding program, crowdfunding program that this business didn't have access to prior to using Indiegogo.

Khierstyn:

Exactly. Of course, the amount of funds that you get from the platform drastically differs based on your sales volume and how popular you are on the platform. But you tend to raise a little bit more through Indiegogo's community. But really, that's what it is. It's like getting your product on Amazon. You tap into this established traffic source.

Brett:

Yeah. There's something interesting too about backing a product on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I recommend anybody on here listening that if you're not familiar with the platforms, get on there and back something. It's kind of interesting. It's kind of fun. It makes you feel like an early investor or something. I mean you're actually not an investor. You're just buying a product, but it's fun. In some ways, some of the sales resistance is lower because you're like, "Hey, this is a new idea. This is a new startup. I get to kind of see if it happens." Part of the fun is seeing if it will get-

Khierstyn:

Being part of that.

Brett:

... funded as an investor.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, because you get to be a part of bringing something awesome that you care about to life. Even if you guys or anyone watching this is serious about doing a Kickstarter, it means a lot for you to be a part of a community because you have a creator profile that people can click through and see what projects you've backed or what projects you've done. So it just really helps if-

Brett:

Social component to it, for sure.

Khierstyn:

... you're part of it.

Brett:

Social sharing and stuff, yeah. Okay, that's awesome. Great background. Let's go back to where we left off-

Khierstyn:

The goal.

Brett:

That 30% goal, trying to hit that in the first day and even the first few hours are super important. So clarify that a little bit.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. The goal is tricky because there ... This is pretty common practice where people online are going to say, "You need to set a low goal because if you let a low goal, it's easy for the algorithm to pick up."

Brett:

Sandbag a little bit, right?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. But that is too easy of an answer. That can get people into a lot of trouble. So any seasoned creator and I'll ask you what your goal is because there are two goals. There's the Kickstarter goal, then there's the real goal that you need-

Brett:

The real goal.

Khierstyn:

The real goal. You need 30% of the real goal. So if we look at some numbers that we say, okay, the goal is to raise $50,000. But on Kickstarter, we're going to put the goal at 10. The reason we pick 10 is because that is the bare minimum you actually need to fund in order to realize the goal.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Yeah, if you hit that, you're doing it, right? You've committed to the deal, so it can't be too low or else you'll end up in a bad spot.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. If it's too low and you don't have a backup funding source from an investor or financing somewhere, you're going to run into trouble. So you have to make sure that the goal is low enough so that if you only hit just above that, you're still able to do something with that.

Brett:

Right. That's awesome. Okay, cool. So that's the number one mistake is not getting that initial traction and getting backers quickly. What are some of the other mistakes that you see rookies making or that you made in your first attempt?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. The second one is not talking to your market. The founder and I of that first campaign are both super skinny and have never struggled with weight loss and here we were selling a weight loss product. I have personally never dieted or anything. So I only guessed at what the consumers' fears, hopes, dreams, and desires were. So the copy, the positioning actually alienated the people we were going after. The second time around and now this is a-

Brett:

It's so important. I'll just do a quick side note. This applies to so much of marketing. The market really understands if you're being authentic or not or if you're speaking their language or not or if you're coming from a place of understanding or not. They sniff it out pretty quickly if something is off. So yeah, I really appreciate you mentioning that.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Because that's something. People jump quickly to, "I have a product and I got to go to Facebook." And then they wonder why this doesn't work, because people don't take enough time to make sure that the product offer is there. What I mean by the product offer is that you not only have validated who your niche is, or niche, have validated the big pain points and the USP and the differentiator and why people ... Just truly understand why someone buys your product and what are the common objections that you need to deal with in the product development side as well as just generally using it. If you don't understand that, you're going to have an impossible time selling your product.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely.

Khierstyn:

So you got to be a student.

Brett:

Just because it's a crowdfunding platform, people are excited to back certain products, you still have to have copy that resonates, that's empathetic, that hits hot buttons that people believe and are compelled to take action on.

Khierstyn:

You need to make them believe that you are one of them there as a savior to solve their problem.

Brett:

Great.

Khierstyn:

Not so much of a biblical sense, but you know what I mean.

Brett:

Yeah, totally get it. Yeah. Cool. That's another mistake. Any others that you would list as top mistakes to be aware of and avoid?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. This one people don't think of until it's a little too late, shipping, charging shipping. As an Amazon seller, when you pre-buy your inventory you know how much ... You can estimate good shipping rates. But when you are going to Kickstarter-

Brett:

Yeah. You should know.

Khierstyn:

You should know, yeah. When you're going to Kickstarter and you're not buying inventory until after and you don't even know how much you're going to sell or to what countries and what volume to which countries you're sending it to, it's a best guess scenario. A lot of times, if you are inexperienced with fulfillment, you're going to drastically undercharge for shipping and you're going to get the bill and it's going to cost you a lot of money. So what backers are doing or I'm sorry, what campaigners are doing now is they're starting to charge shipping after the campaign.

Khierstyn:

There's a bit of backlash online about this because some backers, people that actually buy these products, they feel a little misled. It's misled because of poor communication on the part of the product creator. So two things to do here, with your shipping, I would absolutely charge shipping after your campaign once you have final numbers in. There are softwares out there. We used a pledge manager. Crowd Ox or BackerKit are both great. You can charge shipping prices to backers after the campaigns ends once you-

Brett:

So these are pledge manager software. Sorry. What are the names of them again?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. One of them is Crowd Ox, C-R-O-W-D O-X. The other one's BackerKit.

Brett:

BackerKit, got it. Okay, cool. We'll link to those in the show notes as well.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Those are great just to help you manage address changes, offer upsells, charge shipping, stuff like that.

Brett:

I get it that some backers would be offended by this, but I think a lot of people would get it if you're upfront about it, if you mention that you're doing this. A lot of people realize this is a little bit of a different scenario. We're funding the creation of a brand-new product, so some of the details come later.

Khierstyn:

That's what most people don't do is they don't communicate it well.

Brett:

So communicate it. Got it.

Khierstyn:

They're just like, "Free shipping," and then they're like, "By the way, you got to pay 10 bucks." So what I would suggest so there's no backlash and you actually collect pledges is you are ... On your reward summary, the description at checkout says this. On the page it says, "It's free shipping here, but you're expected to pay this much by region later." We are very, very upfront about that.

Brett:

That's better than trying to maybe overestimate a little bit on shipping?

Khierstyn:

Yeah, because if you overestimate, you-

Brett:

It's you risk conversion, right?

Khierstyn:

... probably decreased your cart value, yeah. Conversion's not cart value. Yes, exactly. Because someone will get to checkout and be like, "$25 for this thing? No way."

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. And the price is only 25 bucks or whatever, yeah. Okay, got it. So charge shipping afterwards. Make it clear. Make it upfront. I think this is the only scenario where you could charge your shipping later and people would be okay with it. But they'll only be okay with it if they're expecting it and if you manage those expectations. Got it.

Khierstyn:

Yep.

Brett:

Okay, fantastic. Any other mistakes to avoid?

Khierstyn:

I think people underestimate the amount of time it takes to build an audience. That's one. Start as soon as you can. It doesn't have to be perfect. I have a lot of people who they come to me and they're like, "We don't have our perfect prototype images yet." I'm like, "You don't need that." You need just basic. One of the companies I'm working with does a guitar amplifier and we did the version one with them. Now we're doing the version two. The version two, we literally only have renders, but we're like, "It's okay." Because we have some footage from the past product and we're just animating something together until we have a final reveal and things are great.

Brett:

Very cool.

Khierstyn:

You have to start.

Brett:

Audience-building more important than getting the perfect prototype or the perfect picture or whatever.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Because with your audience-building comes talking to your customers, comes play testing with people. Everything stems from you going out and talking to your market about your product.

Brett:

Great. Okay, awesome. This has been super helpful. Now I'll know we'll be likely hitting some of the same things, but from a slightly different angle. What are the steps to take? What do we do to get ready? We've decided. We're going to launch. What are the initial steps we take?

Khierstyn:

First off, make sure your product is validated. Don't just throw it up and hope for the best. Make sure it's validated and you've talked to at least 20 people in your niche about your product, for one. And then you'll have a pretty good understanding of what they deal with. And then the next step is to start audience-building. There's two ways I like to build an audience. First off, I'm a huge fan of an email list. There's a lot of launch strategies around ManyChat or TikTok or social media or whatever. But nothing replaces email for that one-on-one communication channel.

Khierstyn:

I do email. But I want to build a list and there's two ways we do it. The first one we focus on organic marketing strategies. Organic, to me, means anything you don't directly have to pay for or pay a lot for. So that in its basic sense is friends and family. You have friends and family who will support you with your launch. The second would be paid advertising. Paid ads will come down to my channels I use are Facebook and Instagram with that.

Brett:

So then are there any specific formulas or tips on how to build those ads to launch a fundraising play or any of the organic tips as well?

Khierstyn:

We'll do Facebook. A lot of people will go for the cheapest cost per lead. You've heard of lead ads, right?

Brett:

Sure. Yep.

Khierstyn:

Okay. The difference is in the funnels. A lead ad is where when someone sees your ad, they just subscribe right on Facebook. There's no landing page. They never leave Facebook, which is why those leads are so cheap because it's just a, "This looks interesting. Here's my email." The way we do it is a much higher cost per lead, but I will tell you why we do it this way. Doing it where we get someone to click on an ad, it takes them off of Facebook to your landing page where they then have to subscribe.

Khierstyn:

We make it harder for someone to do it, which means by that extra step, the person subscribing to your page is more qualified because we have forced them to read the copy, watch the video, whatever. And then they're like, "No, I get this. I'm in." The cost per lead, if we say on a lead ad can be 50 or 60 cents, doing the way we do it is $2, $1.50 to $2.50. It may seem crazy, but here's where this really matters. When you have someone who comes in from a lead ad, they are going to forget about you in 30 seconds.

Khierstyn:

They're not super qualified. Not qualified means the conversion rate of your list built through a lead ad is going to be dramatically lower than that where you've had to get someone onto your page and prove that they're interested. This is just how we do it. While the cost per lead is much higher getting them off, I much go for quality over quantity.

Brett:

100%.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. That's one thing with Facebook. Even their Facebook Support, their customer service recommends lead ads because they just want performance. It's like, no, you got to look at the big picture with it.

Brett:

Yeah. It's good for Facebook too because people don't leave the platform. They just enter their info there and now they're on Facebook where they can see other ads and Facebook can make more revenue. But it totally makes sense. So those 50 cent conversions are actually worthless for the most part, where the $2 whatever leads are very valuable. That totally makes sense. Great.

Khierstyn:

So yeah. That's one thing I'll say. The other thing I'll say is I make organic outreach sound so easy. Just talk to your friends and family. But this really surprised me. As I started coaching a lot more people on how to actually go out and talk to friends and family, it is the one thing they get so hung up on because they feel like they're bothering people. They feel like there's ulterior motives and they just don't want to be that sleazy MLM person.

Brett:

They don't want to feel like they're selling them a pyramid scheme, exactly. They don't want to alienate family and friends.

Khierstyn:

They don't want to sound like that. It's just like, "Oh my God." Okay. So I just want to help anyone listening to that who's like, "That's me," that's going to impede your performance. I'm not saying force yourself to do it, but try to reframe that experience in that when I go and solicit support for my network or I get our students to do it, people especially at the Kickstarter level want to help you get something awesome off the ground. So they're inspired by what you do and they want to help support in whatever way they can. So you are actually doing them a favor by giving them some way to feel like they contributed to something bigger.

Khierstyn:

So I think it's going to help to get your friends bought into something and then seeing how they can support, even if that's not even financial support, even if it's just sharing it with five friends. You're just getting it out there.

Brett:

Yeah. This does not carry the same negative stigma that an MLM carries, at all. People will feel good about contributing to your sunscreen line or new coffee line, whatever it is. They'll feel good about that. Whereas the MLM page, we don't need to get into the psychology of it, but there's a lot of resistance there. This is totally different. People want to hear the story. So yeah, get out there and do it. You're actually shortchanging someone or robbing them of the opportunity to help you and also the opportunity for them to have some fun in the process. So get out there and tell them. Yep, exactly.

Khierstyn:

I know. These people could be your best advocates. I've coached dozens of entrepreneurs at this level and, I swear, three of them are totally comfortable going to their network and the others are like, "I don't know how to do this."

Brett:

It's so crazy. Just get over that mental hurdle. It actually becomes much easier once you get started and it is sort of fun. You got to do it. Okay, cool. So we got validate the product. Start audience building and, like you mentioned before, audience building really trumps almost anything else. So what comes next?

Khierstyn:

What comes next, I get asked by sellers, "Okay. Well, how does Kickstarter play into the bigger picture of my brand building?" So what comes next after you've done a Kickstarter campaign is that you now have a list of hundreds or thousands of people that have either bought your product or are just subscribed and they're waiting for you to go on Amazon. The next step is you actually do what I call a version two launch, which is after Kickstarter right around this time you're starting to fulfill the backers. You then use that existing audience. Maybe build it up a little bit more, but you do that to help facilitate your Amazon listing or your Shopify store.

Khierstyn:

We've done this a couple times where with Jamstack, the guitar amplifier, we did a two-month-long crowdfunding campaign, raised about a quarter million. We then had eight months to fulfill because of some hardware glitches and whatever. So in that eight months we kept preorders going and we raised about a million by the time we officially started fulfilling. And then we said, "Well, no. Let's not do a soft launch on Shopify. Let's do a big celebration saying we're officially available and put some ... Just make an event out it." That first month we did 112,000 on Shopify.

Brett:

Wow. Wow.

Khierstyn:

I just look for any excuse to create an event and maybe do a sale or do something around it to get you on another platform. So that's really what you do.

Brett:

So version two doesn't necessarily mean it's version two of the product. It'll like launch 2.0 type thing.

Khierstyn:

Exactly, yeah.

Brett:

Okay. Got it.

Khierstyn:

We are out of preorder mode, two-day shipping. We got this.

Brett:

Very cool. Very cool. That's awesome. I love that. Because yeah, that's the real key here, getting a nice product launch is great. Getting that influx of cash, whether it's $100,000 or 590 or 1.1 million with James back there, it's all valuable. But if you can't translate that into sustainable business, then it's just kind of a flash in the pan. So that's how you can help start using it to build your brand. Okay.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, exactly.

Brett:

Awesome. Cool. What's next?

Khierstyn:

For?

Brett:

For the process. We got validate the product, building the audience, launch version two. What would come next?

Khierstyn:

Right. Scale. I find that when you launch your Kickstarter ... We're kind of past that. But yeah, then you launch on the platforms. But then really what comes next is scaling your business. So you want to have processes in place, really the habits that you've built through every single day execution of building an audience. Your number one goal now isn't building the email list. Your number one goal is getting traffic to your site. You want to have a system in place to continue to build your brand, build your tribe.

Khierstyn:

That comes down to a host of having a really good organic strategy around maybe the founder getting on podcasts, doing JVs with people, doing giveaway contests, having a solid content marketing strategy. And then once you have that foundation good, you can start testing paid ads and looking to scale that way.

Brett:

Love it. Love it. Fantastic. Let's talk a little bit about platforms because I think this is something, one, I'm interested in knowing your perspective. But two, I think a lot of people are asking, "Well, do I use Kickstarter? Do I use Indiegogo? Do I do something else?" What advice would you give? I know you alluded to a little bit of the differences between the platforms a minute ago in that Kickstarter requires you to get all of your funding. It sounds like Indiegogo does not. What are the other differences to consider?

Khierstyn:

Yeah. A couple differences, first off, if you're wondering which platform you should launch on, I would do a quick Google search to find similar products to yours and see what platform does better, Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Sometimes it's not that easy. Kickstarter's the default that people go to because it's the Kleenex brand of the industry. They have three times the traffic and community Indiegogo does. But I actually think that I prefer Indiegogo most times because with Indiegogo still being a giant of a platform, but they're like the underdog. So they do everything-

Brett:

They'll lead you to break through there too. If Kickstarter's three times the size, it's also maybe three times as competitive as well.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, it's three times as competitive, which means it's more expensive to rank on Kickstarter, more expensive to get the kind of community support that you'd get. So Indiegogo, you're going to end up raising more from their community and they're super hungry to help you. So if you like your project, you can create deals with them to get listed in their newsletter. You can create deals for support. You can't even get someone from Kickstarter on the phone unless if you have a really, really good in.

Brett:

Got it.

Khierstyn:

I think Indiegogo just offers way more support, more flexible, and less competition on the platform.

Brett:

Cool. That makes sense. But I love that also looking at, okay, just do a quick Google search. See if there's similar products on each platform and also looking at maybe how they performed, and then what kind of numbers you're seeing in the platforms as well.

Khierstyn:

Exactly.

Brett:

You mentioned before considering what products are a good fit for crowdfunding because it sounds like there could be some companies, some categories where crowdfunding isn't even a good idea.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Most consumer products are good for crowdfunding. If you have an app that serves dentists or you have an app that serves social media professionals or anywhere that your end user is the business, then that's not Kickstarter for you.

Brett:

Yeah, B2B, professional services, that's not good.

Khierstyn:

No. Consumers is your end goal. Products, any product-ish can do well on Kickstarter, assuming two things. Assuming, one, there is product market fit. It has to be able to sell naturally and there has to be a need for it, a need predicated by you are solving a big problem in someone's life. What I don't advise you do is-

Brett:

It's really like a perceived need too, right? It's not just that a need that you think people have, but a need that people actually have.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, exactly. One of my favorite products that we're launching is a beard straightener. I was like, "Yeah." Tank, if you're listening, I was listening. He came on and I was like ... First, I thought, "This is so dumb." But then I'm like, "A) I'm not a dude."

Brett:

Don't have a beard.

Khierstyn:

"B) Let's hear him out." He legit true seller style, he's like, "No, there's a massive demand for this."

Brett:

Interesting.

Khierstyn:

So Dave created a thing around that.

Brett:

Some guys have really scraggly, really curly beards. I keep mine high and tight so I don't need the straightener. But yeah, I could see that as a market. But again, you got to have empathy.

Khierstyn:

Huge market, yeah.

Brett:

And you knew to talk to those 20 people to validate that.

Khierstyn:

Now it's like I'm totally sold. I get it because a lot of guys buy female straighteners for $200. It's for girl's hair, not for a beard, which is a different make and stuff. But yeah, in saying that, what you don't want to launch is a private label product. There's a caveat to this. If you have a private label product that you have customized, you've improved, you've made better, and you've put a brand story around that, that's a Kickstarter campaign. But what isn't a Kickstarter campaign is something you've straight private labeled and there's literally nothing different but the packaging or the bundle.

Khierstyn:

Because you have to look at if someone can buy your product or a very, very similar version of your product on Amazon, why are they going to wait four months?

Brett:

Yeah. Not going to happen. There's got to be a brand story around it. It has to be some point of differentiation. It has to almost, maybe novel's not the right word, but it almost does have to be kind of novel and new or else people are going to say, "Well, why don't I just go pick something else?"

Khierstyn:

Exactly. But what's really common, if you were looking for a playground of new ideas, just search old Kickstarter campaigns. Everything is public. A project we're working on, they saw an awesome campaign for a product I can't mention. But the product ended up failing. The campaign did not fail, but the product failed because of deficiencies in product testing and stuff. So this Amazon seller was like, "I freaking love this idea. I've solved this exact problem. We're going to do it better." Now we're doing it.

Brett:

Nice.

Khierstyn:

So that could be another way. Essentially, you're finding problems and looking to solve it. It doesn't have to be this new drone or new futuristic technology.

Brett:

Yeah. It could be simple. It can be very, very simple, but it still has to be solving a perceived need, has to be a little bit new. It can't just be a repackaging. I love the way you phrased that. It can't just be a repackaging of what I can get right now today on Amazon. It has to be something new, but it can be very simple. I think sometimes simple is really fun and easy to sell. But it sounds like you have to have a story around it as well. Any tips? We talked a little bit about sales copy and empathy and understanding your market.

Brett:

But any tips on the copy and what needs to be there in that brand story? I'm assuming that you're going to probably want a Kickstarter video. You're going to want a video and some copy and some images or renders or whatever. What do advise there?

Khierstyn:

Don't focus on you. Okay. I'll give you an example. This is one of my favorite products, The Monk Manual. It's a planner.

Brett:

Monk Manual. It's looks leathery, looks substantial potentially.

Khierstyn:

Yep. It's good. I'm totally obsessed. We obviously launched that product, that's why I'm super biased.

Brett:

Very simple though. It's a journal.

Khierstyn:

Simple. Yeah, it's a journal. What Steve did is what I'll tell you you should do and what Steve didn't do is the what not to do. Okay. If Steve led with the video saying, "Hey, guys, support my campaign. We really need your help to bring this to life. The Monk Manual's been a dream of mine forever. It's going to mean the world to me." All about you versus how you need to sell to someone which is we created a planner for you to experience more peaceful being and purposeful doing. Here's why this matters and why we want to pass this on to you.

Khierstyn:

So all of your copy, all of your story, everything has to be around what is in it for the consumer. I think I heard this from Seth Godin years ago. Our favorite radio station is us. What's in it for me? It's your name, YFM or WYFM, whatever, right?

Brett:

Yep.

Khierstyn:

So all of your copy, your video, everything, you only come in about why this matters to you as closing the deal. But you've got to lead with the product. You've got to lead with the benefit to the consumer and what problem exactly it's solving.

Brett:

Yeah. I think the way you tie in yourself is, and you can only do this if it's authentic. You couldn't have done this for the weight loss vest because you're already skinny, so you would not be able to do this. But someone could say, "Hey, the reason I created this is because I was so frustrated. I was so frustrated that I was trying all these other things and they weren't working." So you're communicating. You're connecting with the audience that you have the same struggle as them and you are so upset or so passionate or so excited or whatever that you created a solution and here it is.

Khierstyn:

Yeah, exactly>

Brett:

That's how you work yourself in not, "I need this. This has always been a dream of mine." No one cares about that. They care about how you're going to make their life better.

Khierstyn:

In 2010, that worked. Now, it's a product marketing thing. It's a product marketing machine, so it has to be about them.

Brett:

Yeah. It's so interesting. I heard Peter Drucker, famous management consultant, he gave some advice that was really more about life and management and business success, but I think it totally ties to marketing. He says, "Don't try to be successful. Try to be useful." I think that's really good advice. We may try to-

Khierstyn:

I like that.

Brett:

This has to be successful. I have to have success with this video. Don't worry about that. Be useful. Communicate at a level that's going to make someone say, "That's going to make my life better. That's going to be super helpful."

Khierstyn:

Stephen, I forget his name, a different Steve. He's big into licensing, Stephen Key. The end of our interview he's like, "If you want to help people, help people," as his justification for why they don't do paid ads. I was like, "Oh my God. That's great." Just be authentic and help.

Brett:

Yep. And people will get it. They'll see through you or see if you're being authentic. Fantastic. So we're kind of wrapping up here near the end of our journey. This has been a ton of fun. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. If someone's listening and saying, "Hey, I need some more Khierstyn in my life for my product launches and to make this stuff successful," where can they learn more about you? And then I think you also got some free resources and stuff that people can consume.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. To make it easier for you guys, everything's on my website, so khierstyn.com. It's K-H-I-E-R-S-T-Y-N dot com. We have links to our YouTube channel, podcasts, and free resources as well. If you guys are actually considering a Kickstarter campaign, you want to learn more about the process, you could send me a quick email. Something I want to do exclusively for Brett's audience is that we have a full mentorship program called The Product Launchpad that'll take you from zero to fully up on Kickstarter.

Khierstyn:

So if you want a free 14-day trial to check that out, shoot me a quick email, subject line, Evolution. My email is k@khierstyn.com.

Brett:

K@khhierstyn.com. Excellent.

Khierstyn:

Letter K. That's it.

Brett:

Khierstyn Ross bringing the A game today. Thank you so much. This has been a blast. Really appreciate it. I'll link to everything in the show notes as well, so you can check it out at omgcommerce.com. Click on Podcast. All the details will be there. So you can find out more there. But get a hold of Khierstyn. Check out her resources, super helpful. Hey, consider Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I think it makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. With that, Khierstyn, thanks again. Really enjoyed it.

Khierstyn:

Yeah. Thanks, guys. Take care.

Brett:

Awesome. As always, we appreciate you tuning in. We would love to hear from you. What show ideas do you have? What should you like us to talk about? Also, we'd love that review on iTunes. That helps other people discover the show. With that, until next time, thank you for listening.

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