By Javon Frazier, founder/CEO of Maestro Media.
You just completed an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign–more successful than you could have ever hoped for when writing your P&L statements–but now what? Are you at the finish line and ready to rake in your rewards? Far from it! In fact, the larger the success of a crowdfunding project, the more “investors” you have to make and keep happy. But don’t fret–after raising millions and running multiple crowdfunding campaigns, I’ve learned a few key steps you need to take to avoid any pitfalls you may experience. Below are six of these crucial steps you must take after your crowdfunding campaign has concluded.
Step 1: Celebrate and recalibrate.
Congratulations! You’ve worked hard developing your project and spent the last seven to 45 days in an almost 24/7 hustle marketing and supporting the campaign–exhausting work both mentally and physically. You have more than likely neglected your own mental and physical health during this time period, resulting in what most creators I’ve talked to get: the “Kickstarter Cold,” or as Eduardo Baraf calls it, the “Creator Crash.”
Take some time to focus on self-care and step away from your project, but make sure to thank your backers and let them know first so they are not in the dark and left asking “what’s next?”
Step 2: Get back to work.
There’s a massive mindset swing post-campaign completion. Sure, you’ll still send periodic updates and respond to the odd comment or two from your backers, but you’ve gone from being the center of the universe to a passing acquaintance almost overnight to most of your backers, and it’s time to shift your attention to production and delivery.
This could take many forms. With a wildly successful campaign, you may have drummed up some interest in localizing the product in other languages, or maybe you’ve gotten interest from distribution partners asking to stock your product. The best advice I can provide would be to find these interested partners as early as possible, perhaps gauging their interest before your campaign even begins. The sooner you can begin working with partners, the quicker they can deliver for you.
Step 3: Re-engage your backers (the fans).
You know what’s really boring and tedious? Waiting. And you’ve got hundreds or thousands of people doing just that right now, waiting for your project to deliver. Your backers are your greatest fans–and some of your best marketing assets–so find a way to engage with them regularly while they await delivery of the final product. If there’s an existing product available that your campaign is adding to, what can you do with that product while fans wait for the new thing?
Create fun and interactive online discussions. Play games with your fans (if applicable to your product). Hold live Q&As–anything to let your fans know you’re continuing to work on the product they backed and that you care and appreciate their support.
Step 4: Be honest and upfront.
It’s common and almost expected that there’s going to be a delay somewhere down the production pipeline–that’s just the way the world is currently. Every week there’s a story in the news of this product or that product being unavailable or the price of this item going up because of shortages. Keep your fans informed as these hiccups come up. It’s impossible to see every pitfall in the road, but build some flexibility into your timeline for the unexpected, that way when the inevitable happens you’ve already built time to fix it into your schedule.
When delays push your timeline out, be communicative early! There’s nothing worse than expecting an imminent delivery of a project only to be told, oh actually it’s delayed six months. By then it isn’t news to you, and it shouldn’t be news to them. It’s rough to deliver bad news; you’ll get some hate for it, but it’s better than waiting.
Step 5: Plan for the future.
If fans loved your product, those people probably want more. If there are merchandising opportunities, start exploring those. Figure out what makes sense, but the goal here is to keep your product relevant. What makes sense for you? That’s the question you should be asking, especially since retail sales after the campaign are really where you’ll make your money, not just the crowdfunding!
Step 6: Deliver.
Everyone wants their item and your backers want them first since they helped make it a reality. Delivery comes with its own headaches and joys, so it’s best to be prepared early and have your fulfillment and/or distribution centers aligned and ready. Make sure your backers get their items first, and be sure to have a plan in case backer A receives their item before backer B to limit any negative feedback.
While there are numerous nuances and plenty more to discuss, these broad strokes should give you an idea of what to expect after your campaign concludes.