Why Crowdfunding Might Be the Missing Piece of Your E-Commerce Puzzle – 204
Everybody knows all about Crowdfunding, right?
Maybe not. If like me, you think that you’re investing in a company, you’re wrong. In most cases, with crowdfunding, investors are simply pre-purchasing products.
Today on the AM/PM Podcast, Tim Jordan welcomes Khierstyn Ross, a crowdfunding expert who is here to tell us how the platform might be a very interesting piece of the e-commerce puzzle to help you launch a successful product on Amazon.
We’re familiar with the brand names, Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but how does the crowdfunding platform really work? What does it cost? Who is it for, and what are the best products to try to sell?
Khierstyn answers all those questions and also speaks about an interesting partnership she’s got in the works with Tim.
Listen in for all this and more.
In episode 204 of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim and Khierstyn discuss:
- 02:50 – How Khierstyn Found Crowdfunding
- 04:30 – Making All the Classic Mistakes with Indiegogo
- 06:00 – A Hugely Successful Relaunch Changed Everything
- 07:30 – Crowdfunding Represents a Marketplace
- 08:50 – In Most Cases, it’s Not Equity, it’s Pre-Purchasing Products
- 11:00 – How Crowdfunding is Like Face Tissue
- 13:00 – Khierstyn and Indiegogo are Assisting with Tim’s New Product Launch
- 15:30 – Crowdfunding Opens Up E-Commerce to a Global Community
- 18:50 – Crowdfunding isn’t Free
- 21:00 – Kickstarter isn’t the Obvious First Choice
- 23:50 – What are the Best Products to Sell with Crowdfunding
- 26:00 – Selling with Unique Solutions and Stories
- 28:30 – Khierstyn’s Launch Sweet Spot
- 31:45 – Knowing Your Product is Going to Sell
- 35:25 – How to Contact Khierstyn
- 36:30 – Khierstyn – “Don’t Wait to Invest in You”
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “join” our Facebook Group and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on eCommerce and make more money? Follow these steps for helpful resources to get started:
- Get the Ultimate Resource Guide from Tim Jordan for tools and services that he uses every day to dominate on Amazon!
- New to Selling on Amazon? Freedom Ticket offers the best tips, tricks, and strategies for beginners just starting out! Sign up for Freedom Ticket.
- Trying to Find a New Product? Get the most powerful Amazon product research tool in Black Box, available only at Helium 10! Start researching with Black Box.
- Want to Verify Your Product Idea? Use Xray in our Chrome extension to check how lucrative your next product idea is with over a dozen metrics of data! Download the Helium 10 Chrome Extension.
- The Ultimate Software Tool Suite for Amazon Sellers! Get more Helium 10 tools that can help you to optimize your listings and increase sales for a low price! Sign up today!
- Protect Your Amazon Brand with a Trademark! Protecting your brand from hijackers is vital. SellerTradmarks.com provides a streamlined process for obtaining a trademark for your business and shielding your products from fraud!
- Does Amazon Owe YOU Money? Find Out for FREE! If you have been selling for over a year on Amazon, you may be owed money for lost or damaged inventory and not even know it. Get a FREE refund report to see how much you’re owed!
Tim Jordan: A lot of e-commerce sellers have heard of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but very few people understand why you would use it, how would use it, the initial costs. And today I’ve got Khierstyn Ross who’s giving us a high level explanation of things like the biggest mistakes people make, what types of products are good for crowdfunding, and she’s sharing some of the stories of her most favorite launches she’s ever done. Stay tuned in this episode of AM/PM Podcast.
Tim Jordan: Hi, I’m Tim Jordan. And in every corner of the world, entrepreneurship is growing. So join me as I explore the stories of successes and failures. Listen in as I chat with the risk takers, the adventurous and the entrepreneurial veterans. We all have a dream of living a life fulfilling our passions, and we want a business that doesn’t make us punch a time clock, but instead runs around the clock in the AM and the PM. So get motivated, get inspired. You’re listening to the AM/PM Podcast.
Tim Jordan: Hey everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the AM/PM Podcast. I’m your host, Tim Jordan. And today we have with us, Miss Khierstyn, is it Khierstyn or Kristin? Khierstyn Ross. And I hate to ask that, cause you and I have been talking so much lately, and I realized I am that kind of guy that calls people by the wrong names for years and never realizes it. But since this is a little bigger audience than what we’ve been doing previously, I figured I’d get it right. So Khierstyn, how are you? And are you glad to be here?
Khierstyn Ross: I am super happy. Today, I had to actually put real pants on and not yoga pants to pretend like I’m going to the office. So–
Tim Jordan: Well, I was going to say it’s kind of weird because even on the video, you can’t even see your pants, so is it like a mental thing?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. It’s definitely a mental thing.
Tim Jordan: You just have to pump yourself up. Okay.
Khierstyn Ross: I find– for me, it’s important to treat your business in just day to day when you’re getting ready for work to actually put on an outfit that you’re just ready to go and perform in, for it’s a psychological thing versus if you are in pajamas and you go to the office in pajamas, which is two steps out of my bedroom for me. I’m just not in the same head space. I’m more in a Sunday lazy mode, as opposed to let’s conquer the world and go.
Tim Jordan: Today, we are talking about crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is something that those of us that are in eCommerce as a digital marketing, or any of that stuff have seen for a long time. There’s a lot of really cool success stories. There’s also a lot of misconceptions. There are just a lot of people out there that need information from a very high level. So we’re not going too deep today. I want to treat this more of like a very comprehensive intro. Okay. So when I say comprehensive, I mean, don’t go super light, but let’s get a little bit deeper. So Khierstyn tell us briefly, how your life led you to the point of being a crowdfunding expert?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah, I think four and a half years ago, I was open to trying anything. I was at the point a consultant that was just coming off of backpacking and I just moved back to Toronto and I hadn’t specialized in anything. I just knew that I wanted to work with entrepreneurs and I was literally helping anyone improve sales, which to you means– that could mean anything, right. It could be helping people improve their door knocking skills to go cold calling in neighborhoods. It could be helping with on boarding new companies, use it as a product. It could be Facebook advertising. It was just– it was all over the board because I was lost and really trying to cater to everyone. And I think that mindset of just try anything will eventually lead me to what I’m supposed to be doing. I was open at the time when I went to a networking event in Toronto and started talking to the founder of a physical product that was a vest that helps you lose weight through cold temperatures.
Khierstyn Ross: And at that time, I thought the idea was so dumb until he started pitching it to other people in the networking event. And I became friends with this guy and I was like, okay, so maybe there’s something to this product. And he– after about a month or two of friendship, he’s like, look, you do some stuff online. I want to go to Kickstarter. I want to launch this thing. I need it. I need money for inventory. I want to just validate and want to really just put a marketing campaign together and see if there’s something to this product. And I was like, you know what? I don’t even understand crowdfunding, but let’s look into it. And let’s just see. So we partnered up. I headed up the marketing of the campaign and he was the product guy in the front of the brand, right?
Khierstyn Ross: So we ended up about two or three months later launching on Indiegogo. And we made every classic mistake in the book and ended up having that first launch completely tank. We had a goal of raising $50,000 on Indiegogo. And we only raised about 17,000, which anyone who’s listening to this that has dealt with manufacturers, your tooling, inventory, we couldn’t do anything with 17 grand. And I was like, well, that was humiliating. All my friends and family saw me and this guy fall flat in our faces. So what are we going to do with this?
Tim Jordan: Yeah. Because this is all in public. All this stuff on crowdfunding, everybody got to see exactly how well you did.
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. Everyone. And I put– I was telling you everyone about this. I was so excited about it. And we classically failed. It was so painful. But yeah, that led us because it was so painful. We’re like, okay, well, what are we going to learn from this? And so at that point, as a founder, you have two choices. You have the choice to either quit and move on to something else, or diagnose a problem and see if you can change an outcome. And so luckily for us, the product wasn’t the problem. It was actually the execution of the strategy and the marketing behind it. So we ended up deciding to relaunch three months after that, making every change in the book. And then we launched and the thing exploded. We ended up with that campaign doing about $600,000 US, with close to 5,000 backers. And that was insane. And I guess, because we were so public about the failure and then the explosion of the campaign a few months later, that led to a lot of startup meetup groups around Toronto, just being like, Hey, what did you do?
Khierstyn Ross: How do you fail so far and then you come back and do that? Come and talk, right? So I started doing talks around Toronto. I got a lot of interest on the crowdfunding side. Locked in a second campaign where that I ended up doing another 350,000 and then two, three, four campaigns later, I’m doing quarter million dollar launches for different kinds of physical products. So in terms of how I found crowdfunding, it really found me through being super curious about a new avenue online and also not giving up with that. So, here we are.
Tim Jordan: Here we are. And let’s assume that we’re talking to an audience that is familiar with e-commerce and maybe familiar somewhat with the concept of crowdfunding. Let’s kind of start from the beginning. What is crowdfunding?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. Great question. Because while it seems obvious, it’s not. So by crowdfunding, what I mean in this interview specifically, we are going to be talking about Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These are two online websites that act as a marketplace. Okay? So what I mean by that is we just say Kickstarter. Kickstarter’s started about a decade ago to help people with an idea, validate that idea and kind of launch it to people around the world and see if they can get traction for it, okay? So today, Kickstarter can be used for physical products, which is exactly what we’re dealing with today. You can do it to raise money to finish your film, theater production. You could use it for charity. You could use it for really any project that you want to bring to life. And how someone can crowdfund a product these days is that with a Kickstarter campaign, it’s not like Amazon where you just put up a storefront or you put up your sales listing, and you can just sell and build that over time. Kickstarter has about 30 to 60 days where your marketing campaign is live. And in that timeframe, you have up to 60 days to raise the goal that you’re looking to raise. So for example, $50,000 with that first campaign was our goal. And we had 30 days to raise 50 grand. What we were using that money for was to pay for tooling and inventory.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. And let me back up, and when you say raise money, you’re talking about actually selling stuff. So this isn’t like, Hey, invest in our company. This isn’t like, Hey, lend us some money. No, it’s– you’re actually pre-purchasing this item, right? So this item is for sale, even though it’s not available. But if we meet the goal, it will become available, then we’ll ship you the product.
Khierstyn Ross: Exactly. And so that’s a big misconception is that some people think they have to give equity up in their company, but that’s not what Kickstarter is. There’s a different kind of crowdfunding called equity crowdfunding, where you can do that. But that’s where you’re looking to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that’s more, when you have an established business idea. For this, you put a marketing campaign up to raise money for pre-orders or raise money for inventory. So what you’re doing to put a marketing campaign together, people are pre-ordering your product. You take that money from Kickstarter, you go manufacturer, and then you deliver product. So you’re able to walk away from Kickstarter, not only with a validated product idea, you can have customers from all around the world. So, typically hundreds or thousands of customers that are now ready to get their product from you a couple months later.
Khierstyn Ross: And now you have also created a business for yourself. So the beauty of Kickstarter too, it’s not only for people with their first product, you can use it for that first product, or even if you are a current Amazon seller that you have a proprietary product that you want to launch to Kickstarter, to then wants your brand online. You’re able to do that. Because Kickstarter’s really the main event that you use to build social proof and create an event online so that the world now knows about your new product and you build off that momentum.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. Now you keep saying the word crowdfunding, and then you also use the word Kickstarter and you’ve talked about Indiegogo. This was something that I was confused about. And those of you that are listening, if you are confused right now, what we’re talking about is crowdfunding, but the generic, well, the generic term is crowdfunding. The brand name that’s most commonly associated is Kickstarter. So Kickstarter is the largest marketplace, the largest brand name when it comes to crowdfunding. So think of it like Kleenex, we say, Hey, go get me a Kleenex. Kleenex is a brand, but really would mean face tissue. So even in this explanation that Khierstyn is just giving you, she used the word Kickstarter several times, but understand that a lot of times those in the space, as we’re talking about this, we just use that generically as crowdfunding. The biggest is Kickstarter second biggest Indiegogo. And then there’s just a mountain and mountain behind them. Here’s the big question: Is crowdfunding e-commerce?
Khierstyn Ross: So that’s– it’s funny you asked that because Kickstarter was started as a B Corp, which I think means only for– only to be used for nonprofit related things, right? And he– obviously it now looks like a big e-commerce storefront. So Kickstarter is fighting not being a store because they want the novelty of new product ideas coming to market and not being used by people who take a white labeled product or something that is slightly different from what’s out there and just like launching it for marketing. So, while Kickstarter openly says, they’re not an e-commerce platform, Indiegogo has taken a different approach where they’re more e-commerce friendly from a user experience and being able to buy multiple products and stuff like that. So on the surface, yeah. It’s, e-commerce. Kickstarter doesn’t like that and they do make it difficult for eCommerce companies to use to its fullest potential. For example, you still can’t put a Facebook pixel on your Kickstarter page.
Tim Jordan: But even though it’s not all products, it’s still e-commerce because a lot of people are buying tickets to events that haven’t happened yet. People are buying prints of art. So it’s still electronic commerce, but it’s not always product based. And my understanding with the project that we’re in, and those of you that don’t know it– I have mentioned this, Khierstyn and I right now is recording this. She’s helping me with one of my next big products or projects, I should say, product projects. And she’s going to be managing all of my crowdfunding kind of operations. And on that one, we’re using Indiegogo. And one thing that I learned in that discussion of whether we’re going to use Kickstarter Indiegogo is that Kickstarter is it’s really big, hard to get a little bit more custom service. And Indiegogo is actually chasing the very specific product, niche, right? So they’re trying to launch products where Kickstarter is still doing a lot of art or music, or they still did a lot of products too, but it’s all in place. So we were going with Indiegogo because they’re wanting to focus the majority of their operations on products. And we think we can get a little bit more customer service from them, like a little– like a direct corporates, a liaison– support, that kind of stuff. So, all right. How do we, well, let me ask this, and I know the answer based on the project we’re doing, but when people ask you like, Hey, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, is it a standalone system? If I’m going to launch my next product, is that the only thing I need is just go to that platform and they’ll take care of everything, I can do everything there. What is your answer for that?
Khierstyn Ross: Can you clarify the question? As in do you need any third party plugins for payments or–?
Tim Jordan: So I’ll skip for it, I’m talking about traffic, right? Because my perception when we got started with our project was, Hey, I can go to Kickstarter and launch this thing and people find it. And I found out that’s not actually true. It’s not as like closed as Amazon. Amazon has all the traffic. And as long as we hit keywords, people can find it. No. With Kickstarter, it’s a really great tool, but you have to have other accompanying, I won’t say tools, but even advertising types and audiences and things like that to get started. So I know that for us, what we’re doing with my project is pushing audience to it. And then also we’re having other platforms that accompany it like Shopify. So when you think of like, Hey, I’m going to help this client launch a crowdfunding thing. What other pieces are usually in play? And for us, it’s going to be Facebook advertising, social media advertising. We’re going to set up a Shopify landing page, which will turn into the Shopify storefront later. And then we’re also doing email marketing campaigns. I know that’s for us, but what are generally the other pieces of the pie?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. So I think before we get into why you need all that, or what you need, let’s look at why you need all that to begin with. So the beauty of Kickstarter and Indiegogo is they have this global community that you can tap into. Kickstarter alone in the last six months has had about 25 million hits to its website in the last decade has helped fund about $5 billion worth of commerce for its projects. So it has huge clout and huge opportunity to get discovered around the globe. And I think a lot of people will see those stats and think, “Great. All I have to do is just launch my product and poof, I’m off to the races.” Right? And that assumption is going to kill you. What you have to know about having a successful launch using Indiegogo or Kickstarter is that you– they have an algorithm that helps them filter through projects to determine which ones are popular and making money and which ones that users like, and then they’re going to push more traffic to those launches, because Kickstarter and Indiegogo will take 5% off of every dollar you raise. And they have to make sure that backers are getting shown projects that they’re actually going to back. So that overall Kickstarter is business, right? So because of that, you have to understand how the algorithm works and how to use that to your advantage in your launch strategy. The way to actually have a strong Kickstarter campaign, because of everything it’s going to enable for you, walking away with hundreds or thousands of new customers, PR opportunities, being able to leave and have customer base– as seen on TV deal, whatever retail deals that looks like that happens because of everything you do in your launch. So having a successful launch comes down to everything you do before and ahead of launch. So you know how you mentioned, okay, well we need Facebook ads. We need email lists. We need audience, social media. We need all that. So that we’re going to hit the bigger vision goals on Kickstarter.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. So it’s kind of spring starting fluid in the carburetor in your lawn mower. And I’m sorry for most of you that won’t get my analogy. I’m a Southern guy. There is gasoline in the tank of a lawnmower. It won’t run by itself. But if we can give it a shot to begin with, it will crank up faster. It’ll grow bigger. So with Amazon, we have a launch and sometimes you can just start selling and slowly accelerate. And finally Amazon will really ramp up and start selling once you get indexed and start ranking for this. With crowdfunding, you have to really give this thing a good punch. Because if you don’t catch their attention, they’re not going to start pushing it themselves. And unfortunately, even if you have the greatest product in the world, if there’s not some sort of outside traffic outside driving force, it may get stuck down on page 90 and nobody will ever discover this thing.
Tim Jordan: Kind of like these freezing cold torture device vests that you talked about that hopefully make you skinny, right? So, anybody that’s thinking about crowdfunding or that’s– it shouldn’t at all, what are some of the top misconceptions that people have about crowdfunding? I would say we’ve already hit on some of them. One is, it’s not a standalone platform people think it is. Two, it’s not free. I know a lot of people get into crowdfunding. They think, Oh, I don’t have any money to start. I’ll just load this thing up on crowdfunding. And I throw it on Kickstarter Indiegogo, and then I’ll have the money for inventory. And when you and I first started talking about my project, you were like, Hey Tim, you better have 25 or 30 grand just in marketing spending, just Facebook ads for the first 60 days. And I was like, Holy cow, this is not cheap. So what are some of the other misconceptions that you see people frequently having?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. So big one, assuming Kickstarter’s just going to hand you traffic, right? That’s a big one. Also misunderstanding why you need to invest the money up front to get that because Kickstarter started as a play to get funding for inventory, but what it really is, is a marketing channel. So you have to use it for that. The other misconception, I see people kind of getting screwed on this after the campaign is they just want to wing it with product costs. Going into a launch, they don’t have shipping figured out, shipping rates figured out they don’t have their cogs figured out. They don’t have their price kind of locked in and they end up getting screwed on the other end of the campaign when they go to fulfill, because the manufacturing bill is higher than they thought. They had no margin for error in what they raised.
Khierstyn Ross: And they didn’t even have a backup funding source for additional capital once you go through the Kickstarter funds. Those were the big things that people kind of just don’t know and they don’t realize it until they get into it to realize like, Oh, I didn’t plan for this properly in advance because I just didn’t know, this is my first time bringing a product to market. And so I find that brands and people who currently sell products online and then go to Kickstarter for a new product, they are way more equipped to deliver on time and profitably because they have supply chain locked in from other products.
Tim Jordan: Gotcha. We’ve already hit on this question a little bit, but let’s go a little bit deeper into Kickstarter versus Indiegogo.
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. The question’s probably how do– like with you, we got on a call that day and you’re like, great. Kickstarter and I said, actually Indiegogo, and then we talked about why. Let’s just have that conversation again, but nonspecific. So people think that Kickstarter is the obvious choice because they’re the Kleenex brand of the industry. They’re what everyone knows. But with that comes some consequences. Kickstarter itself has, say four times the traffic Indiegogo does, but this also means four times the competition for eyeballs. So with Kickstarter, unless if you have 50 to a hundred thousand dollars to invest into an advertising budget and you’re going for the high six figure early seven figure launch, it is going to be really, really hard for you to rank and stand out on Kickstarter as opposed to Indiegogo as number one. So the competition makes it more difficult. This also means you’re going to get less sales from their community. Indiegogo– I love because they are the underdog. They are– if they like your product, you can get an account rep assigned to you. You can get them on the phone. Maybe that’s just me, but you can get them on the phone. You can get them actually giving you feedback on their page.
Tim Jordan: You just basically said you’re way cooler and more awesome than the rest of us.
Khierstyn Ross: No, I take that back. No, but that’s when my experience with them is, they’re just– they’re more approachable and they’re willing to go a lot further to get you to be successful. And my favorite thing is if they like your project and they know that they need to take you away from Kickstarter and launching on their platform, they’ll promise you certain promotion opportunities in their newsletter that they say, okay, once you hit 50% of your funding or you hit 75,000 raise, you’re going to get newsletter placement, which gets circulated to their subscriber base of 1 million people that are going to buy your product. So you are going to make a lot more money from Indiegogo with the right product. That’s typically what I find. And then if you want to get nitty gritty into demographics and stuff, Indiegogo seems to be more of the tech base platform. There’s also slightly more females. If you’re launching a baby product or something for parents, Indiegogo could be a good option for you. Kickstarter is now moving more toward the creative side, like board games, theater, journalism, design, that sort of thing.
Tim Jordan: I got you. Okay. Makes sense. For most e-commerce people, don’t just assume if you’re trying to launch a product that Kickstarter is way to go cause their biggest, I think there’s a big argument for Indiegogo and for the product that I’m launching, we are going with Indiegogo. All right. So when we’re looking at either one of these platforms, what are the best types of products to sell on there? And I asked that because a lot of e-commerce sellers are kind of selling the same old crap. They’re selling stuff that is maybe very heavily keyword influenced, but it’s not really a good product. I saw once this guy that continuously sets up these campaigns on Kickstarter to sell very generic bar where there’s nothing different about it. He might rise five or $10,000. And I don’t know why he’s doing that, but it’s obviously not a good product. So my suspicion is that a really good product for Kickstarter would be something that is maybe different, very unique, very innovative. But, you tell me, if someone comes to you an idea what has to happen for that to click in your mind as, yes, this is a good crowdfunding option.
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. It’s less about the product and what you’re selling and more about how it’s positioned and how it’s different. So sure, you can go on and go to Kickstarter, take a white labeled product that and turn it purple. You just make some minor adjustment. You can go on and turn in like 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 even, and get a couple hundred customers if you want, but you are not doing anything novel. You’re not doing anything unique, right? So if you want to really be successful in e-commerce and you’re using Kickstarter to grow a seven figure brand, you’re growing something that you want to sell long term potential, you can’t focus on profit only that drives your product decisions. The products that make the most money long term and the products that stick in the consumer’s mind is it because there’s something new and unique about it, okay?
Khierstyn Ross: And I don’t mean it has to be this new drone that– this never before seen thing, it has to solve a genuine problem with a story behind it. Those are the ones that for me, light me up. I’ve worked with, for example, there’s a lawyer mom that I work with and she while breastfeeding got so frustrated by the lack of product that she was able to use to store breast milk while she was at work 12 hours a day. She designed a cooler for breastfeeding moms to help make life easier. We have a– one of my old clients is an electric guitar enthusiast that was tired of not being able to play. He designed a custom portable solution for electric guitar players to be able to play anywhere in the world. These are all products like the cooler exists and the amplifier exists, but it’s a modern twist on an everyday problem that someone really took the time to figure out a game changer of a product. And that is what is unique. That’s what’s sexy to investors. And that’s how it’s easier to go big with your campaign because you have a story behind that.
Tim Jordan: This has to stand out as something cool. You can’t just have the same old Amazon bull crap on here and people expect to buy it. So unique product, innovative product image, solution, unique story, right? All of those things work on these platforms.
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. And you don’t want to focus on just flipping out products and doing 17 crowdfunding launches a year because you’re not doing anything, but just turning a quick dollar. If you really want to build a brand, you’ve got to focus on serving a human. And that comes down to really getting clear on a good product that really changes a life.
Tim Jordan: You’ve worked with a lot of people that have launched crowdfunding projects. What was one thing that most people are just consistently shocked about? Or, what are some of the most common mistakes that you see people making just day in and day out.
Khierstyn Ross: Man, first off they underestimate the amount of work that goes into a launch. Number one, hands down. They’re that or they see I’m going to do multiple six figures and they don’t have the capital to invest it in or the time to invest in it. So I think those are the big things. They just– they can’t really grasp the concept of how to have a big launch and even what that will cost. They’re two biggest things.
Tim Jordan: Gotcha. And typically going in, what dollar amount is a reasonable expectation to raise? Everybody wants to launch a seven figure Kickstarter campaign. It usually doesn’t happen. Most people, “successful campaign” for e-commerce product, a hundred thousand, quarter million, 50,000, what’s kind of your typical ballpark average just to set expectations, successful campaign launch for product?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. My sweet spot that I love to work in is about 50 to a hundred thousand dollars, especially for a first Kickstarter launch.
Tim Jordan: Gotcha. And let’s say the number’s a hundred thousand. I know that you and I went through this really advanced algorithm for my products. We’re not getting that deep into it now, but if I want to launch a product with a hundred thousand dollars raised, what kind of budget do I need for just the marketing on that? Just, I know that you can’t get too specific, but just ballpark someone, just playing out the scenario in their head. If I want to launch a hundred thousand dollar campaign, what do I typically need to have ready to spend in advertising dollars?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. Two numbers, if we assume you’re starting from zero with no list, then assume it’s going to be 20 to 35,000. And that’s all in that video ad spend, right?
Tim Jordan: And that’s if it’s done well, obviously if it’s a poor converting product, it could be more if your product sucks, if it’s not innovative, right? But for a good product, average is a hundred thousand dollar launch. You’re looking at 20, $25,000 just in the advertising.
Khierstyn Ross: Yes. If you’re an existing brand, it’s going to be less because you have an audience that you can start with that you only have to build up your audience a little bit more around that product.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. And we’re talking about advertising dollars. We’re not talking about, Hey, click to buy this product. We’re talking about lead acquisition, putting people in your funnel, collecting their emails, giving them on Many chat or whatever it is prior to the launch. Because we’re going to run these campaigns to build an audience for six weeks or eight weeks before launch day happens. And then we accept to get them to convert. And only a small percentage of people you’ve engaged with will actually convert and make the purchase on that first day, right? And that first day, as I understand it, and you correct me if I’m wrong is really important. Because at first they will launched, that’s when we have to prove to Kickstarter, Indiegogo, whatever the platform is that we’re legit, that they should invest in us. And if they will do that or if we can do what we need to do for them to do that, then the sky’s the limit because they’re going to start putting their collective muscle behind this product that we’ve proven to them people want, right? So I know we’ve talked about building a list, getting social media, but also just friends, like hound people, please share this thing with my product. We’re going to be trying to reach out to some influencers. So it’s a lot of work. What I’m hearing is, I think we’re trying to set realistic expectations cause there’s a lot of people out there that sell, Oh, get started with Kickstarter courses or hire consultants say, Oh, it’s easy. If you know what you’re doing and that’s not what you’re saying, you’re saying it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Tim Jordan: Is that right? But it’s not easy. Well then that’s good because if it were super easy, everybody do it. Everybody succeed and we’d get washed out. But if we have a unique product, unique value proposition that’s talking about, there is an opportunity there, but you can’t do it halfway. You got to put your foot on the gas pedal and push hard and be a hundred percent committed to this. But it is possible. Is that right?
Khierstyn Ross: You got it. Yeah.
Tim Jordan: All right. So what’s one of your favorite stories you’d like to tell people about all of the difference– and I didn’t prep you for this, but of all the different campaigns you’ve run, what’s one of the best stories, one of the most exciting thing that’s happened that just gets you jacked up and you’re super proud of?
Khierstyn Ross: For me, I think hands down, my favorite campaign ever was the guitar amplifier because you have this teacher who is great with kids and humans and he’s also a natural marketer and he designs this product and he just collaborated so well together. And just seeing you, it’s funny. Because – one big question is how do I know my product’s going to sell? And the second we started advertising that, it was like fanatics. Oh, they just were like, Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this thing exists.
Tim Jordan: So this is like a wireless amplifier? Is that what this is?
Khierstyn Ross: It’s wireless. So it has a built in battery, and you charge it.
Tim Jordan: Okay. Yeah. So when you’re saying it can be done all over the world, you can take this out to the beach, you can– it doesn’t have to plug it. So it’s still plugged into your guitar. So, it’s still just an amplifier, but you don’t have to have a dedicated power source. So that’s what made it unique.
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. So my favorite part about doing this is the second you turn on advertising. You just know based on public feedback if a campaign is going well. The community we built up around this, the emails and the stories and the excitement, that’s hands down one of my favorite things about this, just you know you have a good product and that’s one of the beauties of just putting it out there for a month or two, cause people are like, I am so freaking excited for this thing. So that campaign was my favorite. And I also loved ending that campaign because I had to completely take over communication because Chris and his wife just like– she went into labor about four days before the campaign ended. And so I’m writing the email like, Hey guys, so I’m actually the project manager, Chris is in the hospital delivering his second son or whatever. And it was just, it was really, really fun.
Tim Jordan: That is awesome. So when are you launching your product? Because I think that of all these times we’ve talked, you’ve never launched your own product?
Khierstyn Ross: I know. Okay. First, I am very open. If someone has a good product idea, they want to partner with me on, I’m stuck figuring out the product. So that’s one thing. I’m very open if someone has a good idea, potentially a second thing. But the other thing is that I I’m torn on launching my own product right now because I’m busy growing my company and my consulting for products. And I don’t believe in having 50,000 different businesses because I want to do one thing really well. So I’m torn on starting that if now is the right time. Or if that’s something in 12 months I start to do, but yeah, a hundred percent in the plan.
Tim Jordan: You understand the marketing, you know the process, but you’re hung up on finding that product. I know a lot of people the same way and it goes back and forth. Some people have an incredible product, but don’t know how to launch it. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Sometimes you just get in your lane and stay in it. And as entrepreneurs, sometimes we forget that we don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to be all things to all people, we can stick with something very, very specific, be really, really good at it and never have to venture outside. I totally get that.
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. It’s kind of like a triathlon, I’m a triathlete and it’s a swim, bike, run, and there’s a running joke in the community. Why be good at one thing when you could be terrible at three different sports. When you look to diversify to growing an e-commerce empire and a consulting firm–
Tim Jordan: That’s really hard to do. I get it. All right. So how do people track you down if they have any questions? I know you’ve got, of course you do some consultancy. You basically just pitch yourself. If anybody has a credible product that they want to partner with you on, how do they track you down?
Khierstyn Ross: Yeah. So the hub of all things Khierstyn is that khierstyn.com. You cannot spell my name. So I’m going to spell it for you. It’s khierstyn.com. I have a full podcast. You can find me on YouTube or send me an email, [email protected]
Tim Jordan: That’s awesome. I can’t believe you just called me out for not being able to spell your name correctly. The last few times I actually got it right.
Khierstyn Ross: No one else can spell my name. You got it locked down.
Khierstyn Ross: K H Y I E R S T Y N. Oh, I got it wrong again. Dang it. Here. I was bragging on myself and screwed it up anyways. You guys have it? Check the show notes. We’ll have it linked in there. We’ll probably get it wrong in the show notes too, but all right. So any last words of wisdom, give us a five second tip about something not related to crowdfunding. Something completely random. Give us a cooking tip.
Khierstyn Ross: You know what? No. i have spent that last two years of my business thinking no, once I hit this milestone, I’m going to invest in a piano. Right? Because of quarantine, I’ve been reading more and I’m reading Tools of Mentors by Tim Ferris. And the resounding message in there is life is short. Just have a hobby, have some freaking fun and invest in your personal side. So I said, this weekend, you know what, screw it. I went and bought a piano. Now learning to play piano again. That is my word of wisdom is try not to get so hung up on working 18 hours a day. Take the time off just to reset and figure out what you actually want in your life. It can be personal. It can be business, but you have this opportunity today to really start to get clear on what it is you actually want to do in your life and use this time to go for that.
Tim Jordan: Amen sister. Awesome. Well thank you for being on today. Again, if any of you want to track her down, check out her link in the show notes, get in touch with her. She can help you out with multiple facets of a crowd source campaign. Just remember that crowd sourcing product launches is not necessarily easy. It’s not necessarily cheap for the right product. It’s absolutely worth it. This product that I’m launching, of course I could launch this on Amazon. But I think I can launch it bigger on a crowdfunding thing because the nature of the product and how cool it is and the excitement. And then we will later move into Shopify and Amazon, all that stuff. But the first major push is crowdfunding. So you guys keep an eye on that. I’ll be doing the case study that we’re going to be launching publicly. I don’t want to announce it now until all the IP and stuff has finished until we reached some milestones.
Tim Jordan: And then it’s all going to be public information. We’re going to share with you guys. Because we’re recording basically everything. So we’ve got Zack from Gembah working on it. We got Rich Goldstein. We’ve got Paul Baron. We’ve got, of course Khierstyn. We’ve got a lot of other people that we’ll be showing you guys in this case study. So make sure to check that out, whereas we’re releasing it and you’ll see more of the process of crowdfunding and kind of a walk-through of how to get started. And like I said, Khierstyn is leading up. So thank you Khierstyn for being on. Thank you all for listening. And we’ll see you guys on the next episode of AM/PM Podcast.