26 August 2014 | 91 Comments
One of the key concepts that I often talk about on this blog (and that Richard Bliss often mentions on the Funding the Dream podcast) is that launching a Kickstarter project without a built-in crowd of people who are aware of you can lead to your project being dead on arrival.
So how do you get that crowd of people? I’ll tell you how below, but first I want to tell you how not to get a crowd: Don’t buy it. If you buy Facebook fans, Twitter followers, or attention of any sort, you’re simply diluting the base of people who are actually interested and invested in what you’re doing.
Building a real crowd takes time, but it doesn’t take much time every day. One of the most inspiring blog entries I’ve ever read was posted by marketing guru Seth Godin about 2 years ago. It’s called Feet on the Street, and it’s a list of daily actions you can take to grow your crowd through relationships. Most of the action points below are direct quotes from Seth’s post.
About a month ago, Richard Bliss and I took a look at that list and applied it to Kickstarter creators. You can listen to the 20-minute podcast here. Then I would recommend you print out the following list, pin it to your wall, and make sure you do at least ONE of these things ever day from now on. Your company will never be too big or too small for these action items.
Before you do any of these things, set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, and e-newsletter (I use MailChimp). People need a way to stay in touch with you after you engage them.
- Write a blog post not to sell, but to teach. That’s a really key distinction. Basically, when you write a blog entry (or record a video/podcast), focus on adding value to other people instead of trying to convince them to do something for you. More on that here.
- Comment on one other blog. This is one of the best ways to expose people to who you are. Don’t make the comment about you–again, you’re not there to sell. You’re there to engage and get your name out there. So once a day, comment on your favorite blog post or YouTube video and use your real name when you do. Richard and I have a full podcast on that here.
- Connect two people in your industry. This is the oldest party trick in the book. People feel important when you introduce them to one another. Not only will you add value to those two people, but you’ll increase the chances that they’ll introduce you to others in the industry too.
- Distribute one free sample. This is probably the best way to expose people to your product. If you believe in what you’re making, get it in peoples’ hands. It could be a promo given to convention attendees or a full product sent to a reviewer or blogger.
- Pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged. If you get a ping from Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, BGG, or the aggregate service Mention, go check it out! Someone has taken the time to link to you so that you’ll see you’re being linked to, which means they’re giving you permission to engage them on the same platform. When you do, they won’t be the only person to see it–others will see that you’re the type to participate in online engagement, and they’re more likely to link to you in the future too.
- Write a thank-you note to someone who doesn’t expect one. You know how it feels to be thanked by someone, especially if the thank you comes out of the blue. It feels good. This is one of the easiest ways by far to share that feeling with other people. It gives you a great opportunity to get your name in front of people who don’t otherwise know who you are (like your favorite reviewer). The key is to thank them, tell them why you’re grateful, and leave it at that.
- Reach out to someone who used to work with you. You know the saying, “Don’t burn bridges” (especially when you leave a job)? It’s also important to maintain those bridges or they’ll burn on their own someday. The way I do this with anyone in my life is that when something happens that reminds me of someone, I reach out to them to let them know. Maybe it’s something interesting I read online, or something triggers a fond memory of someone. Instead of pushing away that thought, I let the person know about it. It’s easier to rekindle an existing connection than to create a completely new one. (Richard has a very touching story about this at 10:30 in the podcast.)
- Help a stranger. This might be my favorite of all the items. The key here is that it’s not an offer to help–it’s an action you take to recognize a need and to help someone with it. I have a full blog entry about that here.
- Talk positively about the competition. It’s really easy to talk about yourself and your products online, and there’s nothing wrong with it–if people follow you, they’re interested in what you’re doing and making. But if you want to really keep their attention, talk about the competition too. For example, I often talk about games I’m excited about from other companies. I also try to link to blog entries from other writers that I think will interest my readers. The more you show people that you’re interested in the community, the more they’ll pay attention and engage with you. Oh, and focus on the positive! People get really turned off by negativity.
- Build your permission asset by 1 person. Seth Godin is all about permission assets. The idea is to incrementally make people more excited to hear from you. One of the best examples of this are project updates. You shouldn’t write a project update every day, but when you do, make sure there’s something in it that will make people more and more excited about what you’re making for them. Note that this is something you’ll do during and after your campaign–building a crowd doesn’t stop the day you launch your project.
What types of things have you done to grow your crowd, especially if it’s not on this list and might help other creators?