When we started roccamore, we did discuss if crowdfunding was the right way to go for a Fashion product, especially for something as complex as shoes. We were faced with much skepticism and really doubting if crowdfunding was the right way to go for us.
However, we needed to prove our concept, and find out if people really understood and trusted our value proposition. So, after much considerations, we decided to use Kickstarter, which had just launched in Denmark, as our crowdfunding platform.
We postponed our launch several times, because we didn’t really nail the message the first times and realized it was a challenge to target both European and American audience, as they are very different. While Americans are already familiar with crowdfunding and eager to support all kinds of start-ups, Europeans are relatively new to the concept. Another problem was that the main crowdfunding audience is very product/technology oriented and not that into fashion.
From our studies, we could see that usually Facebook accounted for only 10-20% of the traffic to a successful Kickstarter project, but we wanted to change that fact by creating a Facebook buzz before we started our Kickstarter project. We also had a lot of information gathered from our focus group research and online surveys, where we got the users to speak up and share their insides and opinions. We took all this feedback very seriously, also realizing that we truly enjoyed being a user-based brand, allowing people to be part of developing our brand with their feedback. Many of our users told us how they loved being included in the process of building roccamore and how it made them fell like they were truly a part of the brand story.
Two weeks before the launch, we informed our friends, close network, and our Facebook group of around 400 followers (mostly friends, families and network) that we were launching on Kickstarter. The first 48 hours of a Kickstarter campaign are crucial, that's when you really need support and help spreading the word. Another important fact is that your campaign's success depends very much on activity; the more comments, likes and shares, your campaign has, the higher it gets ranked on the Kickstarter page.
Just after the launch, the first 12 pledges came very fast, mostly from friends and family, but then it stopped.. -and we began to worry! Maybe only 12 people thought our concept was a good idea? However, when we woke up the next day, luckily the campaign had picked up :-)
One of our biggest obstacles was, and still is, that only few people has actually seen or tried on our shoes, and the people that have seen them, have only seen samples and NOT the actual shoes from production. We couldn’t start the production before the Kickstarter campaign was successfully over, so it meant we had to sell our shoes based on prototypes and a strong marketing effort.
From the beginning we had a carefully planned PR strategy. We worked very much with social media exposure with daily Facebook updates and Twitter waves, to inspire and create interest, while rewarding our users, by communicating directly with them and making sure they felt, that they were an important part of our journey. Furthermore, we spent a lot of time contacting the medias, both offline and online. We learned that they don't really care for press releases, but prefers you calling them directly and pitching the story to them. Then, if you manage to catch their interest, they will ask you to send something afterwards. We also reached articles that were relevant to our project and then target the specific journalists. We found that our time was better spent on the big news sites, entrepreneurial platforms and crowdfunding blogs that on fashion magazines and bloggers.
Within the first week, we got "Staff Pick" which seemed to create good feedback on social media and suddenly American crowdfunding blogs got interested in us. We also received many retweets/ favorites from crowdfunding Twitter profiles and was very happy when American lifestyle site Brit + Co. wrote a small article about us and shared it on Facebook. Quickly after that more comments and feedback came and the number of American pledges significantly increased.
We reached 100% of our funding goal with 18 days remaining, and we were over the moon with joy - but we also knew, that nothing was sure, people could still decide to suddenly cancel their pledges, so we decided to increase our social media activity, to keep the momentum.
Shortly after we had reached our goal, some of the biggest and most respected Danish Newspapers and online media began to talk about our story. The biggest breakthrough came when Danish newspaper Politiken gave us the whole back page on their Culture section and an online article posted just 12 hours later. When they posted the article on their Facebook page, our campaign was on fire. We spent a lot of time answering every comment and message personally and more than 1200 people joined our Facebook page and we received over 100.000 DKK (13.500€) in pledges within 24 hours.
On the final day we also launched our web shop, and within 4 days after campaign, we had sold 35 pairs additional pairs of pre-orders. In total we sold more than 450 pairs of shoes in 40 days and achieved 220% funding on Kickstarter.
Here is the summary of our success points:
A clean, strong Kickstarter page that clearly explains what you do and what you need the money for
A strong community and updates on your social media several times a day
Contact with the media personally before, during and after the campaign
Get as many people as you can from your network, to help spread the word
Believe in your project, because if you don't, why should anyone else?
For us, Kickstarter was the perfect way to prove our concept and find out if the users and customers would understand and believe in our product.
We hope this short summery will be helpful and can guide you through the preparation process of your own project. We wish you the best luck with it, and thank you for helping us with ours