We love a good “quitting your day job” story. It’s almost as if we have some sort of control over our lives when we hear about someone who got tired of the grind and left it all to find success in the job of their dreams. It’s so invigorating and encouraging!
This is exactly what Andrew Thomas did. Thomas is the co-founder of Skybell, an interactive video doorbell for your smart home. Thomas went right into the heart of entrepreneurship when he became one of the top 10 highest crowdfunding projects in history. Not too bad for a financial planner. Despite his millions in revenue now, Thomas made a lot of mistakes early on. To avoid his mistakes, here are five tips you can use if you’re planning to create a crowdfunding project in the future.
1. Listen to your audience.
Everyone has a great idea. However, not everyone can make millions of dollars out of every idea that comes to them. Even though you might have a great idea for a product, don’t fall in love with your idea or your assumption. Your job in the beginning is to beat up your own idea. Try to kill it dead. If you can’t kill your idea, then you know it’s good. Because if you can, you’re looking at failure from the beginning. You want to avoid this with your crowdfunding project.
In order to kill your idea, the best place to go is where your target market resides. Social media is the preferred location to get quick opinions on your project, and believe me, people will give you what’s on their mind, and sometimes it’s not pretty.
Instead of curling up into a little ball and crying, think of this as a good thing. It is constructive criticism you can take all the way to the bank. These are the people who will purchase your product, so listen to them. They will tell you the perfect way to build your product in order to sell it to them later. Go into Facebook groups, Twitter chats and other social media platforms where you know your audience stays. Start opening up conversations to see this result.
2. Do product testing.
Although it’s exciting to release your product to the masses, you need to hold off on doing so until you know exactly how your product is going to work among your audience. Some crowdfunding projects are shipped too soon and therefore fail.
Create a team of people who can test your new product out before you send it off to be judged. You always want to do the right amount of testing so you can make sure the product works correctly and the way you promised it would. Also, a beta testing group is a free and effective way to obtain real-life feedback from early adopters who will be critical of your product. Listen to them, and you will build a better product.
You want to do product testing so you can find the errors and mistakes within your product. Believe me, there will always be some. “Nothing is perfect right out of the gate,” Thomas said. “You want to find these mistakes before you ship to your customers.”
3. Don’t make promises you can’t fulfill.
Thomas made a mistake when he created his crowdfunding project. He promised to ship to his customers in two months. However, in two months and one day, the customers turned on him. He promised a delivery date and wasn’t able to come through on his promise. “If you don’t want to deal with angry customers and bad reviews, make sure you understand the right amount of time needed before you should start shipping your product,” Thomas said.
Consciously understand each promise you make to your customers and keep up with them. I know it’s easy to start saying things to make the product look great in their eyes, but don’t promise anything you can’t deliver on. It just leads to bad luck later.
4. Build trust and be informative in your description.
Whether you’re conversing with your audience on social media or writing your crowdfunding description, you should always give information that is trustworthy and informative to your customers.
The crowdfunding campaign page is where you educate and inform your customer about everything the product does, how it can help them and what they should be excited about when it is ready to go. Everything you can tell about your product, tell it here.
Another great tip when writing your description is to make sure it is formatted well. Sentences piled on top of each other make things bulky and hard to read. Break up your paragraphs so the reader can read through it smoothly.
5. Have great video.
Video marketing is taking the internet by storm. Images, while still important, have taken a backseat to what video can bring your product. Coupled with a great campaign page, having a great video will help your customers learn more and be excited about how your product can help them.
Include your video, and use it to display your product in action. For Skybell, the customer could see the interactive video of someone ringing their doorbell, and they could imagine using this in their home. Whatever your product is, create your video in a way that is applicable to a customer’s needs.
Even if you’re not a video professional, you can hire this part out to an expert who can edit your video in such a way that can help your sales soar on crowdfunding. In fact, past crowdfunding projects that included video sold 50 percent more than those projects without a video.
First published on Entrepreneur.com