Startup

Crowdfunding: finding superfans

Cocoon Labs

Funding

You can tick all the boxes we at Cocoon HQ feel are important when introducing a new technology; innovation, quality, value. But the thing that is vitally important to us is the customer. Without their support, Cocoon might still be an idea. After all, it’s our fan base that has allowed us to get off to such a flying start.

If you’re thinking about crowdfunding as a way of turning an idea into a business then it’s worth considering how you find your superfans.

Finding your early supporters

It’s crucial when engaging with the first people who show interest in your campaign to make a telling impression. Like eye contact and a firm handshake at a job interview, no matter how good you know your product to be, breed confidence with a professional approach. If you have time, read ‘The Curve’ by Nicholas Lovell as it looks at how to find and turn people with a casual interest in what you do into superfans, so you and they can better enjoy your product and brand experience.

Research is key in identifying the people your product will appeal to. In crowdfunding, momentum is the difference between success and failure, so to waste time reaching out to the wrong people could prove terminal.

A contact point is a simple way of driving this communication: set up a website with information about your product and direct traffic from Facebook (using Facebook ads) and ask people to sign up to a mailing list. We found Facebook Ad much cheaper and effective than Google Adwords for newsletter signups – about £0.08 per ad clicked vs more than £2.00 per ad clicked on Google. That said, Google Adwords is much more effective if you are trying to reach people who are actively looking to purchase vs just looking to find out more.

Finding your superfans early results in escape velocity. That means getting promoted on email and gaining positive press attention – adding to the momentum and further propelling your business towards success. It also means getting on the front page of your chosen crowdfunding platform, but in order to do this, you have to hit 40% of your crowdfunding target, ideally within 24 hours.

Platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter use algorithms to work out who they should promote to fan bases that register in the millions. Although it sounds like a tough ask, hitting that magic 40% aids the algorithm and helps secure a celebrity slot on the crowdfunding platform’s newsletter, which can be worth an extra 40%-60% of your target.

Cocoon Smart Home Security Crowdfunding

Developing Superfans

Borrowing the job interview analogy for a second time, it’s vital to build on that good start. Whether you think the grilling by a panel of people in matching suits has gone well or not, it’s always sensible to thank them for them time and smile on the way out. With superfans, reward their interest with your time and effort.

We kept a database of early supporters details so we could email updates and let them know about our launch. After a month of people signing up to the newsletter we politely asked them if they would take part in an interview to understand who they were, their interests, etc, so that hopefully we could find more people like them. This was part of a personal approach we believe is incredibly important, not just so that we learn quickly but also to reassured our early backers if they invested time in us, we’d spending our time finding out what they really want and need.

Also consider opening your campaign to your earliest supporters early; two days before public launch. This keeps your promise to your early supporters to ‘be the first’ and empowered them to further help our campaign by assisting with research, promoting the product and hopefully making referrals.

Hitting your target

The momentum made from strong early engagement with fans can be used to drive sales, raise your social media profile and spread the message via word of mouth.

We started slowly but surely, with small tests over a few months between August and September. In October we increased our investment and spent around £3,500 on Facebook ads to drive around 1,800 newsletter sign-ups over a ten day period. Through this we had our list of early supporters!

We tried to learn as much about our customers as possible, asking people to take time out of their day to help us better understand their needs, who they are and why they were interested in Cocoon. One of the questions we asked our supporters was to rate their interest in actually buying a Cocoon. From that we worked out that about 25% of our newsletter would be highly likely to buy and that gave us the confidence to push ahead with our campaign, safe in the knowledge that we’d have all the early supporters needed to hit our 40% target when we launched on October 31.

Cocoon Blog Market Validation Hitting Milestones

Everyone was kept up-to-date with all the latest goings on at Cocoon – and we hit 40% within 24 hours.
Our early supporters’ wallets benefited from their show of faith with a sale price of $179 (60% off RRP) as a thank you from our team, which also helped spur demand.

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