7 Awesome Twitter Ads That Are Killing It

Here are a few recent ads I found that speak louder than any red lettering could, and why I think they rock

Advertisements

The secret to a successful ad creative online is to bring something interesting, memorable, entertaining and/or useful to the platform audience without making people feel like they are being ‘sold’ to.  Marketing has evolved. We (consumers) are no longer moved to respond to big red SALE letters (unless it’s already at a brand website we go to, and it says 70-90% off).

Remember these kinds of ads? Bleh.

Bad-banner-example
Yeah. We are tuned out to this.

Here are a few recent ads I found that speak louder than any red lettering could, and why I think they rock:

This ad creative from Starbucks is quick, interesting, fresh, entertaining and informative. It’s also very memorable. After a few loops, I will never forget the image of that drink jumping out of the phone.

This one is just flat out entertaining. As a Photoshop gal, I immediately went to the thought of, “How’d they do this?” It’s entertaining, first and foremost. It grabbed my attention. Secondly, I discover their cool app which allows me to earn free drinks. Double stars for Starbucks for entertainment and information.

I am not a fan of McDonald’s food, or their company much. But they nailed it with this ad creative. It combines the current event of Coachella with the star power of Kylie Jenner, wrapped in a Selfie/Instagram style photo. The breakfast sandwich is part of the mood and landscape, and it honestly makes fans of Kylie or Coachella want to either jump into the photo or grab a McDs Egg McMuffin. In fact, if you scroll through McD’s Twitter feed, you will see that this ad creative by and FAR outperformed ALL of their other posts. Well played guys.

This one is great because it’s simple and cute. Target took a moment to join in on the fun of a national hashtag as well as throw in brand awareness with their bullseye pup. The result is a friendly brand reminder with a puppy. It’s not intrusive, it’s just cute.

I love so many things about this photo ad. It’s posted from Caitlyn Jenner’s Twitter account with one of her new MAC lipstick colors. The awesomeness of this photo as an ad creative is: it’s multi-faceted. It combines an image that is quick to process, her name on the cup (could be a Starbucks collab ad, too) with the lip print. This photo says SO much in a simple way that is again, not intrusive.

This is one (of many ads) that killed it so much that the Bagel Store in New York now has a waiting list for their rainbow bagels. It’s bright, colorful, tells the story and includes the bagel store signage in the background. The first thing they give you is the colorful photo, though.

This one is probably one of my favorites (and I’m not even a fan of Chevy). I am a fan of Price Ea, so when I saw him collaborating with Chevy, I had to click on it.  The content and his words are so inspiring that I literally was almost moved to misty.  Who cares if it’s pushing Chevy.  It was brilliant.

Got an interesting ad creative to share?  Send it my way, or leave a link in the comments section below.

How Do I Brand Myself?

The ultimate roadmap to building your brand

BRANDING 101: A Roadmap & Strategy Guide to Personal Branding

First of all, What is a Personal Brand?

A personal brand, or your personal brand is the culmination of your skills, knowledge, experiences and personality that come together to speak to the world about who you are. Your brand is what essentially attracts and retains customers.

Creating and developing yourself as a personal brand is similar to product branding. The overall goal with branding is to not only tell the world your story, but to differentiate yourself or your product in the market so you can reach your goals as a top influencer, brand, product or successful blogger.

Product or brand development is not always about creating something different, but about doing something differently.

To assist you in moving forward with your product or branding goals, I have created this roadmap that I like to follow.  (GET OUT A NOTEPAD AND PEN.  You’re going to need it).
I have used it often for my own brands as well as for clients’ branding purposes and it’s nearly foolproof if you follow it correctly.

This one is intended for new brands who are looking to launch fresh, but you can also use it if you want to wipe the slate clean and totally re-Brand.

This process I have created is going to require a lot of thought and some research on your part. But I promise, it will be worth it.  The more research and honesty you bring to the table, the better off you and your brand message will be.

The following questions will walk you through your thoughts, ideas, aspirations and images of your personal brand to assist you in clearly defining your brand and it’s personality.

A. PERSONAL BRANDING

  1. Define your goals. What are your personal and/or business aspirations?
    (Be specific. Clearly define your goals and objectives whether it’s becoming a famous singer, motivational speaker, CEO of a major company or fashion blogger)
  2. Who do you aspire to emulate?
    (i.e. Ariana Huffington, Oprah, SPANX, Zuckerberg, The Blonde Salad, etc.)
  3. What does your brand look like 1, 2 or 3 years from now?
    Take a moment to really visualize all of the aspects of your brand and company. (I am a firm believer in visualization. You can’t create it if you can’t imagine it.)
  4. What is your brand tagline, message or three key words that define your brand?
    (i.e. Fun, Colorful, Young; Informative, Smart, Tough; “Never Stop Creating”)

B. RESEARCH

Before you can clearly define your personal brand goals and strategy, it is important to conduct thorough research so you can answer your own brand identity questions. This is a paramount  step in creating your brand, and one that shouldn’t be skipped or skimmed over.
Research! Research! Research! Do your homework. 

  1. What do your aspirational brands look like?
  2. What are your aspirational brands doing?
  3. What have they done to get to where they are now? (read their bio, research history)
  4. Are you willing to put in the work to succeed and do what they have done. (This is a VERY important question)
  5. Who are your 3-5 biggest competitors?
  6. What are they doing to brand themselves?
  7. What can you learn from what they’ve done (positive or negative)


C. WHAT’S THE STORY?

  1. What is the overall message you want your brand to convey?
  2. List 3 brand attributes (adjectives) associated with your brand.
  3. Where is your Brand niche in the market? Define this as precisely as you can.
    (i.e. Yoga Wear in Women’s Plus Size Apparel, Writer of Motivational Books)
  4. Where is your Brand right now?  How does your audience or the general public currently perceive you?
  5. How far off are you right now from where you want to be (or be perceived)? (If you are not sure, compare your answers from #1-A to this question.)
  6. Based on your current assessment and goals of question #6, what can you change?

D. ‘GO TO’ BRANDING STRATEGY PLAN

Now that you have your image and goals hammered out, it’s time to start implementing your brand.

Make sure your brand image and message across all social media platforms is cohesive. This means your social media accounts will be consistent and look the same. Consistency is key. Do a deep social media audit and make sure you include all of your social media outlets, from YouTube to Twitter, Facebook Fan page to LinkedIn, from Goodreads to your Gravatar.  Using the same photo across all media platforms is vital in branding. Your face or your logo is what everyone sees.  The more times they consistently see that image, the more they will remember you and/or your brand. Make sure you delete any accounts that are duplicates and/or ones which you will not be needing.

Think about your personal branding attributes, what key aspect(s) will be memorable?Is your font or brand name easy to read? Is your logo good?  Is it memorable?  What about your personal style? It could include a signature piece of clothing, hair, makeup, a tagline, your public persona, etc.  If you are branding yourself, You are your Brand.  (Cocoa-Cola is always in red and white, Iris Apfel is always in big, round glasses, Donald Trump is always saying something shocking.) This is a key in strong branding strategies, and may or may not be one you employ.  But do give it some thought, and find something that is authentic and meaningful to you.

Using, Leveraging and Managing your brand. Now that you have created your brand image, message and have globally branded across all social media platforms, you will want to define which channels you will use and how. Perhaps you will use Twitter or LinkedIn to post your business articles or share links from your blog, or YouTube to post your latest travel review videos, or Pinterest for your recipes.  Whatever methods you choose, make sure to respect the platform and target your audience and place your content accordingly.  Constantly posting links on sites which are irrelevant can kill a brand and your image fast. I manage several very successful LinkedIn groups and I notice when a business or blogger is no only over posting, but over posting irrelevant content. It just looks bad and disrespectful. Target the appropriate platforms for your content or message. People may not always notice you, but they will notice if your messages look like SPAM.

[Here is where it might get overwhelming and tricky if you aren’t social media marketing savvy.  If you are not, refer to my previous post about social media marketing. It’s a long read, and one you should save in your Favorites for when you’re at that stage]

Secondly, reconsider the option of sending automatic Direct Messages (DM) on Twitter for new Followers.  This, in my opinion, is impersonal and may get you deleted as quickly as you were added. Oprah doesn’t send DMs and frankly neither should you.  If you find someone you want to connect with, politely send them (personally) a quick direct message if their email or website info is not listed on their Twitter profile. A great way to win brownie points for your brand: send a welcome tweet that says something like: Hi @AvaMarieC  Thank you so much for the Follow.  I’m looking forward to sharing Tweets!

Automated shout outs are OK and can be fun, or in line with your brand message. For Berry Jane, I like to have fun with my new Followers by sending shout out Tweets that say: @twitteruser Thanks for Following…you MUST be awesome! or  Shoutout to our new Followers: @XXAmandaxx @XXmclanexx You ROCK!!

Managing the Brand. Assuming you are now at this stage, you will want to manage all areas of your brand proactively and consistently.  Make sure all of your posts, reviews, communication styles and even photos are in sync with your brand image and message.  For example, seeing a posting of a funny cat video from a data management guru would seem confusing, wouldn’t it? Not that humor has a negative connotation in branding, but if your brand image goal and story is one of a resolute, data-driven professional with tons of knowledge in your field, posting a silly cat video on your brands’ Twitter account might not be in alignment with your goal.  If, however, your brand message is one of a very humorous and personable guy who shares more than just useful info, go ahead.  Whatever it is you do, make sure it is consistent. There is nothing wrong with connecting on a very personal level if that is who you are, and what you want to do.  Even Taylor Swift makes it a point to connect with her fans in very personal ways.

Personal-Branding-Infogrpahic


Most importantly:  Keep your image, message and goals cohesive and consistent. 

COHESIVE AND CONSISTENT.  Don’t create a Facebook page that doesn’t match your Twitter page. Don’t post negative comments if your brand is all about positivity and love. Ask yourself before you post or comment, “Is this in line with my brand message?”  If it is not, don’t post it. And last, but certainly not least: Make sure the brand you are creating is at the very least the most authentic version of who you are, or in line with what you value or enjoy most. Not only will it be easier to maintain, but it will feel a lot better to you.

How did this plan work for you?  I want to hear your story!  Leave a comment below or email me at: ava@avacarmichael.com 

5 Reasons Why Your Customers Aren’t Responding

Hint: It’s probably not what you think

 

You have built your website and it’s awesome.  Your product photos are great, your prices are great, your services are great. You’re on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. The Followers are trickling in. Heck, maybe you are getting decent traffic with minimal effort.

But nobody is really responding (i.e. buying, commenting, signing up, etc.).

What the hell is going on?

In a previous post,  we learned the importance of Social Media Marketing and how it is your most important advertising and marketing platform.

I was all over the Shopify forums yesterday, and ‘Why isn’t anyone buying?’ was the single most question asked by all of the shop owners. They post the link to their site and ask for constructive feedback from others. Many responders have good advice, but a lot of it was very much surface stuff.  

At the core of all successful marketing, I feel there has to be some kind of emotional connection established between brand and customer.

1. Are you providing anything worth sharing?

Overall, the products weren’t bad on the Shopify stores, and the websites looked fine. The one thing I did notice, however, was that most of these stores lacked sharable content (or a connection). Some of the products were cute, but it wasn’t enough for me to press the ‘share’ button. One woman had an awesome sauce product.  I mean, literally, she produces homemade sauces.  But there was no blog, no recipes, no customer feedback assuring me that her sauces were in fact, awesome.  There was also no Bio with a photo, no ‘About the Company’ and no story. The product photos were very pretty, but there wasn’t a compelling enough story for me to share that with my Pinterest audience, or to feel a connection to her (because I didn’t know who she was).  

Prepared foods can be a hard sell, unless we’re talking about cookies.  Cookies definitely sell online. Just ask this lady.

If you aren’t creating buzz, perhaps you can ask yourself if you can do something more to create that customer connection.

“Research by Ipsos suggests people shopping with online sellers also want a personal connection. The best engagement means connecting with the real person behind the storefront”. – Karl Wellman

2. Approach marketing from the Consumer point of view

When you find yourself at a new website you’ve never been to before, think about HOW you got there in the first place:

  1. Was it a referral from a trusted source: a Friend, relative, online influencer, website or celebrity
  2. Did you search for a specific item through Google search
  3. Was it a killer marketing ad you just had to click on (visuals matter)
  4. A catchy headline that hooked you in on Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit
  5. A tantalizing photo on Pinterest of a decadent chocolate cake recipe
  6. Or, a photo of a chic outfit that’s amazing or cheap, and you either save it for later (Pinterest), or buy it right now if you go to their website. 

    Case Studies:

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 12.50.04 PM
This recipe was Pinned over 6,300 times
Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 1.03.25 PM
This cardigan received over 245,000 pins. 

 

Do you understand the value of shareable content now?

 

People want to be a part of sharing helpful, interesting, funny, compelling or beautiful information. If you are not providing at least two of those things with your content or product, you probably won’t get the social media traction you’re seeking.

The first thing you should do as a business (or a blogger) is create rich content.  Show or tell the story of your product and how it benefits the world, speak to the world about what you know.  Your story can focus on beautiful photography,  humor, awesome recipes, information, or videos. Whatever your platform is, the point is to create tools that make it easy for an audience to be engaged, and then inspired enough to share whatever it is you do.

Good examples:  Song of Style, The Oatmeal, Kickstarter, The Chive, Refinery 29


3. Are You Thinking Like Your Customer?


In relation to HOW you arrived at a new website, think about your perception once you got there.  As creators, it’s hard to look at our own website through the eyes of a stranger in a new place.  Which is who your customer is when she lands on your .com.
If you aren’t sure, compare your site side-by-side to a website you shop at, or find a new one you’ve never been to before and ask yourself how you feel about it upon entering and what your initial thoughts are and WHY.  Write down your thoughts and comments.

Do a side-by-side comparison with a similar competitor’s website and ask yourself:

  • What are they doing
  • What do they have
    and/or
  • What do they offer (that adds value) – that I am not currently doing?  

Be honest with yourself, because your honesty will only help you get to where you’re wanting to go.

It could be something as much as a higher marketing budget or more effort on your part, a team to assist you; maybe you need more social media interaction, or something as simple as better photos, a more cohesive look, or even using a cleaner look or font on your website.

Are you trying to align your brand in a ShopJeen space or an Anthropologie space?  If it’s the latter, consider a thorough walk through of Anthropologie and see how you can take their visual queues and replicate it to what you’re doing.

In the case of CupShe, as mentioned above, it receives tons of Pin shares for it’s products. CupShe.com appears to be a Shopify site.  It’s overall look is clean and simple.  It’s prices are dirt cheap and it’s product selections are pretty cute.  The company is most likely a foreign-based website, which is easy to figure out considering the pricing, products (I have seen these same products from a lot of vendors overseas), and grammatical errors. But my overall first impression is a good one. I don’t know who this  company is but the website looks professional. I can see there are tons of good reviews so it must be OK. My brain ticks “trust” and so I browse a little.

With just that little bit of assurance, I am more inclined to buy from an unknown place. It also doesn’t hurt that the prices are cheap, so I am not risking too much. Trust is also a key factor for new businesses building a customer base. In order to build trust, you have to either gather testimonials or make sales.  It’s like that weird scenario of how credit builds credit, but when you don’t have credit, you can’t get credit, etc.

You might have to consider giving some things away at first to build credit, so to speak. This is where influencer/blogger outreach can come in handy.

4. Do you know who your (target) customer is?

Do you know who you your audience is?  If so, are you speaking their language?
Are you creating products that they want, in prices they understand and marketing on platforms with the visuals they see while speaking the language they understand?  It’s a lot to think about but if you give it enough thought, you can connect the dots and make sense of it.  For example, I worked for a company in 2011 who was still producing products for their 1990 customer, but hoping to target the Millennials.  Their products and marketing strategies were not only speaking another language, but they weren’t even in the same hang outs with who they wanted to reach. Their audience was the 1998 girls who grew up to be the 2011 moms. So as a result, their message was very unclear, and the collection was a convoluted mess.  If you don’t know who your audience is, how can you speak to them in their language?

Here are three great examples of brands who know who their customer is and know how to reach and engage them:

1. Wildfox.com  Wildfox is that SOCAL, vintage inspired laid back brand for 20-somethings.  Most of their marketing efforts are on Instagram.  Why? Because that’s where their audience is. Their Instagram fan feed on their website is awesome

2. Justin Bieber  Yep, the YouTube music sensation.  He got into the hearts and homes everywhere with his YouTube Music Channel (The original channel has since been changed and moved to VEVO).  It’s where all the kids hang out, and it’s #1 audience interest is Music, followed by Gaming and Sports. Justin was able to reach his audience on a very personal level here.

3. Apple Apple is the prime example of a company who knew how to connect with their customer on a very personal level.  It doesn’t get much more personal than creating the iPod or your iPhone, does it?  They didn’t just create products, though, they created a culture that everyone wanted to be a part of.

“Apple has a branding strategy that focuses on the emotions. The starting point is how an Apple product experience makes you feel. The Apple brand personality is about lifestyle; imagination; liberty regained; innovation; passion; hopes, dreams and aspirations; and power-to-the-people through technology”.
MarketingMinds.com.au

5. Are you keeping up, visually?

A last question to ask yourself is are you using strong visuals? Strong visuals get you noticed, but you probably already know that. You know what makes you click on, ‘Like’ or share something. It’s not something we always consider, but it’s a crucial element in getting attention on social media.  Like everything, visuals on social media moves in trends.  Keeping up with those changing trends will keep your content fresh and relevant.  

More helpful info: What are the Top 3 Trends in Social Media Images right now

What is the cost of social media marketing?

Make sure you budget for marketing, because a funny thing happens when you don’t do it: Nothing.

 

How much does social media marketing cost?  That seems to be a burning question everyone is asking.  Ok, now don’t freak out…

But the short of the long of it is:

A minimum of $2,500-$5,000 on average per month, depending on where your target audience is and what you want to achieve.

Sometimes, you have to pay extra for PR or blog content writing. A lot of those $2,500K-$5K prices may or may not be all-inclusive deals.  And it’s not unusual to find many agencies who charge $10,000 per month for social media marketing & management.  

According to some data findings, the cost to create and establish just a new Twitter account with targeted Followers and a little bit of content is anywhere from $2K-$7,500.
So I guess the average $2,500-$5,000 isn’t so bad when you consider the fact that some agencies charge $5,000 – just to manage your Facebook account. Nothing else.
Just Facebook.

$5,000 per month for a Social Media Marketer seems “high” because we spend so much time online, doing just that: interacting socially and participating in social media.  Our perception of social media is “fun time”,  it hasn’t registered to us that this is THE advertising platform. 

Wherever the audience is, advertising follows. Once it was Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, TV.  Now, it’s online through our news and blogger channels and our Social Media feeds.

If we can look at it from a media platform we are used to, such as Magazines, we can truly see the value and the difference: We have magazine readers, and we have magazine creators.

We don’t see all of the behind-the-scenes magic that happens to make that content available and in our face. That is what advertising is, and what Social Media Marketing is all about.

Ok, I get it.   But.. Why so much?

Let’s break it down:

  • Graphics and Social Media Ad Creatives  The cost of social media graphics and ad creatives – this includes a professional graphic designer with marketing knowledge to create visual ads that deliver results.  There is a psychology behind an ad creative that works. This isn’t the job for just any Joe Schmo Photoshop Pro when it comes to creating a fine-tuned ad creative. The average salary of a Graphic Designer is anywhere from $45-$60K per year, with some earning as much as $75K.
  • Market research  This is a very important aspect of advertising.  You have to zero in on your target audience. It makes no sense to shoot your product out into the universe if it’s not aimed at the right audience.  Market research answers: Who is your audience, what do they want, what are the buying, what do they respond to, where do they hang out and who are your competitors?
  • Ad rates The costs of promoting you or your business. Ad rates are generally included in a market budget, and an average and conservative cost can be anywhere from $250-$500 month for Twitter and Facebook Ads alone.
  • PR Writing and crafting the perfect pitches, reaching out to Bloggers, Editors, Magazines, Influencers and even celebrities.  This aspect is HARD WORK. A lot of PR agents I know charge $5K per month, just for PR.  Nothing else.
  • Creating Marketing Campaigns, Calendars + Strategies. Sometimes creating a marketing campaign can take days (or even weeks) to not only research and plan, but to write it out. (One simple 3 month marketing campaign I created a few weeks ago took me over 16 hours to research, create and write.) This takes a lot of time, but executed well, it pays off.
  • Writing Press Releases
  • Writing Blog Posts – Rich content blog posts are worth their weight in gold to the tune of saving you about $250,000 in Google Adwords costs. A well-written blog post with organic traffic can harness as much, if not more traffic, as an expensive Google Adwords campaign. One single blog post I wrote in 2011 has generated 256,000 hits for my blog so far.  If I would have paid the average $1 CPC (Cost-per-Click) with Google Adwords, it would have cost me $256,000! 😮
    Blog writers know their stuff when it comes to SEO, and they craft their posts to maximize search results.  According to ClicktoTweet and HubSpot, “Articles with a word count between 2,250 and 2,500 earn the most organic traffic”.  A good blog writer will charge around .45 cents per word on average, so a 1,000 word post is $450. For example, this post you’re reading right now is 1,326 words (or about $600).
  • Social Media Manager A full time (daily) social media manager to monitor your accounts, create engaging posts, interact, respond to positive (and negative) feedback across all channels.  I’m talking about a dedicated person who not only knows the ins and outs of social media, but one who works on all your social media accounts all day (Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook), and knows how to track and analyze the data.  This is a full time job and if you were to pay him or her a salary, it would probably cost you a minimum of $45K/yr. ($3,750/mo)


What the hell? Now, I’m kinda bummed.

If you already have an established Twitter or Facebook account, it could be a little more cost effective, because you won’t have to start from scratch and what you’ll need is a social media manager to maintain and manage your accounts: (i.e. keep them flowing, interact, grow your followers, establish relationships, and build brand awareness).  So, If you were to hire someone full time to manage your account, not create contests, promotions or ads, it would most likely cost a minimum of $40K per year, which is a salary of $3,300/mo.
(If you want someone part time, you can probably find a SMM who is good at what he/she does and is just starting out.)

 

Snapchat_Logo

$750,000

This is how much Snapchat costs per ‘Brand Story’ ad, which is a branded post that appears within the app’s ‘Stories’ feed.
(update: 12/2015 The minimum budget for advertising on Snapchat recently dropped from $700,000+ to $100,000)

141010153604-snapchat-gasp-1024x576

Scared yet?  Don’t be.  Advertising has always been costly but it’s vital to business growth.
And sometimes, businesses just aren’t ready yet.

People scratch their heads in confusion when things aren’t selling, or when customers aren’t responding.  I’ve been there before.  I’d think, “I’m doing everything right!” when the truth is, I was just not giving enough to my marketing budget or plan.

We all want to see fantastic results, but what we don’t see is the costs associated with the results we want.  And it can be overwhelming at first, but once the momentum starts, it all starts working pretty harmoniously.  Better budget for advertising = more sales = more advertising budget = even more sales, etc.

“It’s nearly impossible to do PR and Social Media Marketing on your own, unless you have tons of time, are super-savvy (creatively), and have a team to help out.
Make sure you budget anywhere from 15-20% of your annual income for marketing, because a funny thing happens when you don’t do it: Nothing.   Meanwhile, you see competitors with the same products as you doing it and going global.  If you want to succeed, there is no other choice. It needs to be a financial priority in your business plan and must be factored in as a cost to doing business”.

In the quickly moving digital world we now live in, we simply can’t wait for our audience and business to come to us. Social media is where all of the attention is these days. We stream Netfix online, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon.  We are plugged in to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

This is where the audience of the world is today, and if you aren’t finding a way to reach them through these channels, you’re kind of on another planet.  If you take your business seriously, find a way to either amp up your social media marketing time per day or hire a professional to help you grow your business.  You honestly can’t afford not to.

 

7 Crucial Elements For Crowdfunding Success

I discovered there are several pretty crucial (and basic) elements involved that can really make all the difference in your campaign.

So, you have a magnificent idea or product. Now what? With the popular crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, the world is your oyster and the possibilities for success seem endless. I have been following crowdfunding for the last 3+ years, observing the wildly successful campaigns and also ones that weren’t quite so successful. After having one of my campaigns miss it’s goal, I went back to the drawing board and dug in to as much crowdfunding tips and research as I could get my hands on.

When my second campaign first launched, my inbox was flooded with everyone from Kickstarter campaign gurus to PR agencies and Fiverrs. Everyone wanted to help make it successful. At a price, of course. But I was on a zero budget, so I did it all myself. The campaign was a success but I learned a lot. Through trial and error, along with determination, I discovered there are several pretty crucial (and basic) elements involved that can really make all the difference in your campaign.

1. Get Social! Make sure you have a strong network, online and off. Build up your social crowd and establish yourself and your brand/product first before launching. Let everyone in on your secret and get them excited, pre-launch. Talk to people, get to know them. In other words, make sure you are well connected and plugged in to your social connections. I would aim for at least 1,000 in your network. Facebook is still a great resource, but tap into Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. It’s like any business: if no one knows you exist, how can they support your project?

2. Look and Feel – Is your campaign click-worthy? First of all, make sure your MAIN image looks awesome. This is the image that everyone sees first. If it’s appealing to the eye, you’ll get that click you want. You want it to stand out. A clear photo of your product, or an appealing image that showcases your project is key.

Make sure your campaign page looks attractive and cohesive as well. Pictures tell a thousand words. I have discovered that too many words in a campaign can bore an audience. We are living in a digital age where we are more stimulated with quick posts and pictures. You can provide all the info you want, but make it easy to read. Take some inspiration from various infographics and think of creative ways to get your message through quickly.

If you are not much of a graphics guru, that’s OK. Ask a graphics designer for assistance with this.

3. Your Video This can be tricky and expensive if you don’t know a videographer or editor. If you have a budget to hire a videographer, that’s great! If you are doing a DIY video, make sure your video has good sound (I goofed on this one with a cheap radio shack mic). Create a visual story, tell everyone about your project in 30-60 seconds or less. Let your project evoke a mood or inspire your audience. Be yourself. It doesn’t need to be fancy. If you are not comfortable being on camera, a video or photo montage with your voice-over is good too!

4. Rewards Offer a variety of pledge amounts, but don’t get too complicated. I have found that less can be more on Kickstarter. Too many options, and people can get a little confused. The $16-$25 rewards are a nice sweet spot. However, I also realize a product that is more expensive is well worth it to Backers, especially if it’s a project they believe in. Also, never underestimate the power of the $1 reward! I have seen quite a few projects with over a 1,000+ $1 Backers.

5. PR and Blogger Outreach is as equally important as the product you create and vital to maintaining a steady flow of traffic to your project campaign. If you plan to do your own PR, make sure you have created some kind of social media rapport before pitching your product to an editor, even if it’s just to Share or Re-Tweet an interesting news article they have written. Make sure you are targeting the right blogs, magazines, etc. Have a list of the contacts ready to go before you launch. Send the e-mails out before you launch and offer exclusive “first dibs” press. Send them info on your project along with the website or Kickstarter preview link. Emails are the best way to reach editors. Make the emails personal. Canned, lengthy templates are not a wise choice. And make sure you follow up! (If the email addresses are not available online, you can call and ask for the specific editors’ email address if it is a magazine like Conde Nast or Hearst Publications).

Read more:  How to Do Blogger Outreach and PR

Make sure you understand the amount of time it’s going to require to reach out to the right bloggers, editors, etc. It doesn’t end when the campaign goes live. Write, Send, Follow-up and Repeat. (Getting friends to help you with this is also highly recommended). I think I must have sent 30 emails out before I got an interview and write up with Fast Company. Be diligent and don’t give up! It WILL pay off.

6. Extra Marketing Funds Set aside some funds for help in Social Marketing/PR. Even if it’s only $500-$700, make sure you have some funds for this. There are a lot of social media ad promotions you may want to take advantage of (i.e. Google, Twitter, Facebook). There are also individual PR agents and agencies out there who offer crowdfund-specific packages at reasonable rates.

7. Social “Auto-Pilot” and Organization Get familiar with social media platforms such as Bit.ly, Hootsuite and Sprout Social. These are excellent tools to help you get organized and track your interactions to see what platform works and who is listening. Also, it will do you some good to have these platforms working for you on autopilot while you (hopefully!) sleep. There is a whole other side of the world that is up while we sleep and we can’t forget to include them.

Some say there is no real secret sauce for Kickstarter success, other than having a strong network and tons of views. I have seen marshmallow projects go crazy, underwear sell like it’s a hot commodity and wallets hit (and miss). I think the product has to be a good one, but I also think people are looking to connect with a project and the creator. It’s more than just products people want. They want to feel like they are a part of something that moves them, whether it be in a fun, creative, humorous or philanthropic way.

I would love to hear about your Crowdfunding experiences!  Please comment and let me know what has worked for you!