Marketing Tips for Creatives (Kickstarters and Otherwise)
Woo hoo! Strange Monsters is a staff pick!
We have 9 days left of funding, with about $1,500 left to raise. We're still offering a free Otter Illustration postcard to the next 10 backers who back at the $20 or above level, so please donate today!
I was asked in a Kickstarter forum what I did to get the project listed as a staff pick, so I thought I'd write up some of what I've learned over the last month about marketing Kickstarters in specific and over the last few months about marketing in general. As many of you know, I recently got a job at a small press marketing books. I don't have a degree in marketing; the marketing experience I used to create my sample plans and ads for my interview came from the knowledge I've gleaned as a writer, from reading and trying out new ways of promoting both my fiction and myself. We're told these days that a lot of marketing falls to writers; we're expected to have followings before we even publish our first books. I hear the same is true of musicians and visual artists: a network of involved fans is important for any creative today. Now that I've got a marketing job, I'm learning more and more about marketing in a digital world. I've been trying much of what I learned out on this Kickstarter.
1. The Humanity!
In high school newspaper class, my teacher (Hi, Mr. Posey!) used to groan when we'd come in with a photo of a building for our restaurant review. "Where are the people?" she'd say. And she was right; the photographs with people in them were always more interesting. People relate well to people.
I'm going to tell you what I did to increase my chances of becoming a Kickstarter staff pick. First, I marketed my Kickstarter well before I published it, creating a teaser page on my website. Then I began the process of locating and contacting blogs or other networks that may be interested in featuring the story. I spent pretty much every after-work hour on this for a couple of weeks prior to the campaign's launch and two weeks following, only recently taking a break after reaching 50% funding. I made sure to have a guest post on a blog lined up for the week the project launched. I submitted a brief to my local newspaper.
Only after I had several people talking about the project and those two links--from the blog and from the local paper--did I go about contacting Kickstarter. I emailed email@example.com and emphasized the human angle; rather than pitching them my project, I talked a bit about why it was an important project for me. I also sent the two links showing that other people thought it was good enough to feature, too. I asked my backers to send their own emails to firstname.lastname@example.org talking about what they loved about the project. Having other people vouch for my project gave it yet another human angle.
When Adweek featured the project, I emailed Kickstarter yet again. I never repeated my message, not wanting to spam them. Instead, I emailed with only the most important updates. I always made sure to be kind and personable. Of course, I can't be sure what actually made them take notice. But I do think that keeping the human angle in mind helps in all marketing. We don't want to interact with bots, after all. Even SmarterChild became tedious after a while.
2. Only Connect
(I'm quoting Howard's End not because I love that book but because I once wrote a 30-page paper on it and I might as well use that knowledge somewhere)
This is a part of marketing that I struggle with. I’m aware of best practices when it comes to social media: using it as a forum for conversation rather than as a soapbox; posting about other people and other news far more than you post about yourself; revealing personal details from time to time so that people can better connect with you on an emotional level, and you with them. All that is a lot of work with writing and a day job and social and familial obligations. I completely understand people who aren’t able to do all that. I’d do things differently if I had the time.
But the basics idea is still a good one, both for social media and in-person interactions. In David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing and PR, he talks about social media as a party. I've heard this before, but it clicked when I read it in his words. When you walk into a cocktail party, do you immediately start shouting about your newest project, asking people to support you? No, you strike up conversations. You have a back-and-forth with people. You talk about your project. They talk about theirs. You congratulate people on their good stuff. They congratulate you on yours. You engage in conversation about non-work-related stuff. You leave feeling like you’ve really connected with someone. The best social media strategies make people feel this way, too.
And this has always been an important piece for me personally; if you have the money, support people by buying their work as well as sharing their accomplishments on social media. A share or a retweet is great. Even better is the feeling that you’re supporting a fellow creative in a tangible way.
3. Offer People Added Value
This one’s easy and applies to both tangible value and intellectual value. I read about authors all the time who offer free books for signing up for their newsletter or who offer an exclusive postcard or personalized drawing (Zachary Jernigan did this for his book No Return) for preordering their book. Or if you don’t yet have anything tangible to offer, try to curate your newsletter, twitter, or Facebook to provide intellectual value, either linking to engaging posts you wrote and posted online for free or linking to other people’s interesting and helpful articles.
How am I practicing this last bit with my Kickstarter? Right now, by offering free postcards to the next 14 backers who pledge at $20 or more. Closer to the deadline, I’ll be posting freebies for backers in my Facebook event page for people who back or up their pledges. Stay tuned!