How to Get Funded on Kickstarter

April 24, 2014

Check out this recent article from BloombergBusinessweek on the use of crowdfunding for small businesses:

Question: My company is contemplating a Kickstarter-style fundraising campaign. I’ve seen these kinds of things fail too often. How can I maximize my chances of reaching my goal?

Answer: You’re smart to plan ahead and do the best job possible on your crowdfunding campaign. According to data from Kickstarter.com, one of the oldest and best-known crowdfunding sites, fewer than 44 percent of posted projects are successfully funded, and most of those raise less than $10,000.

Making sure your campaign is appealing from the start—and that it gets seen—is crucial. While 10 percent of Kickstarter projects never receive even a single pledge, projects that raise at least one-fifth of their goal go on to be successfully funded 80 percent of of the time, according to the company.

Your work begins long before your campaign goes live, says Nathan Resnick, founder of Yes Man Watches, who raised more than $32,000 in January and February on Kickstarter to make wristwatches. The University of San Diego finance major started with a $15,000 fundraising goal.

“People underestimate the importance of telling everybody what you’re doing,” he says. “I called media outlets, I activated my network on social media and asked people to share it and tweet about it.” He also made sure that his Kickstarter page provided a prominent, simple way for visitors to share his goal on their own social media sites.

Because he had made early connections at watch blogs and sent them preview links to the Kickstarter site, his funding campaign was mentioned online on the first day it went live, sending him a flood of Internet traffic from around the world.

He was prepared. Three months before he launched his campaign, Resnick says, he began talking up his plans to friends online and offline, so they would come on board with funding and other support right away, giving him momentum out of the gate. He also set up a website, a Facebook (FB) page, and a Twitter (TWTR) account for his company, all featuring attractive photos of his watches. “Pictures are huge—so if it’s a physical product, make sure people can see what it actually looks like and does,” he says.

Ilene Ruvinsky, a co-founder of Don’t Call Me Ma’am, a Seattle skin care company, put time, energy, and funds into a video for her current campaign on Fundable.com. If your video is weak or doesn’t tell your company’s story effectively, “you have lost before you have begun,” Ruvinsky wrote in an e-mail. “Spend some of your own capital to get the help necessary to produce a thoughtful video pitch that showcases your products in a manner that makes them look viable and market-ready.”

It’s also important to set attainable goals. “Know exactly what amount you need for your launch and set goals accordingly,” Ruvinsky advises. “Strive to get the most you can, but keep your goals realistic.”

Resnick calculated how much money he would need to launch his watch brand and produce an initial minimum-order run. “We didn’t want to make the goal out of range by adding in additional costs that might occur later,” he says.

He also didn’t spend a lot. “It almost doesn’t cost anything to launch a crowdfunding campaign. My friend who was an amateur photographer took the pictures and someone at my university shot the video,” he says. Kickstarter’s fee was 5 percent of the total amount raised.

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What’s the most effective marketing software your business uses?

April 23, 2014

Check out this recent article from Startup Nation on the latest in marketing software:

This was the question StartupNation asked of 11 successful entrepreneurs. The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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Small business advice: How to compete against the big guys for top talent

April 22, 2014

Check out this recent article from The Washington Post on how to recruit the best employees:

The Apples, Googles and Facebooks of the world spare no expense in recruiting top talent, mostly because they have deep pockets. So, when prospective employees get a call from large corporations, they know any subsequent job offer will be lucrative and provide early résumé padding. Consequently, they gravitate toward the big players.

But that doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t compete for top talent — they just need to offer what the big companies can’t.

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Strengthening Your Small Business With Subcontractors

April 21, 2014

Check out this recent article from Small Business Trends on the use of subcontractors:

Dealing with the ebb and flow of workloads can be challenging for small businesses. How do you address those extra busy times without adding regular employees? And what happens when things slow down again?

Subcontractors can often help provide a great solution. Below are some benefits of using subcontractors and considerations for bringing subcontractors on board.

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Is Your Small Business Maximizing Its Use of Email Marketing Software?

April 18, 2014

Check out this recent article from Small Business Trends on email marketing software:

Email marketing software can be a powerful tool for small businesses. It can drive traffic to your website, increase sales, build brand loyalty, and more. And the software is even more powerful if you take full advantage of the tools available to you.

Of course, every email marketing software provider offers a unique platform, but they all provide similar fundamental functions that will help your business either a little or a lot. How much is up to you.

Many email marketers believe they’re using email marketing software to its full potential. They’re designing aesthetically appealing emails, providing valuable content, and seeing acceptable results. However, results could be better than acceptable, and small business email marketers often don’t realize it.

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Social Media Marketing World 2014 – 5 Trends You want to Jump on NOW!

April 17, 2014

Check out this recent article from Huffington Post on upcoming trends in social media:

I just recently returned from speaking at the Social Media Marketing World 2014 event in San Diego, California. This annual event is run by Social Media Examiner, a leading voice in the social media community. Every session was jam-packed by close to 2,000 attendees who came to learn from the top names in the digital marketing and social media worlds.

In addition to being a great place to learn from the very best, it was also a great place to get a glimpse at what the experts think are the next big things on the social media and digital marketing horizons.

These are my five major takeaways from the event, areas where you should pay close attention the next 12 months.

Twitter: I personally think Twitter is primed to dominate the business landscape and many of the experts at the event said the exact same thing. Mike Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner, asked me to speak on Twitter, and specifically, how to use the platform to generate leads and close sales.

Financially, in spite of its huge market value, Twitter is still relatively small in terms of business development and financial results, doing only $243 million in top-line revenue in Q4, 2013. However, they are making all of the right moves with the site itself; giving priority to visual content, launching Twitter cards to promote the sharing of richer content while providing a mechanism to get people’s e-mail contact information, as well as launching several new types of advertising.

If I were a small business owner with limited time and resources, I would place a lot of my focus on using Facebook and Twitter as the mainstays of my social media platform.

Visual-Based Content: Unanimously, the experts agreed that making your content visual-based was the most important thing you could do to drive engagement on social media. In fact, photos make up 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook. I want to make sure I say this as strongly as I can. If you are not making your social media content visually based, you need to! I have been saying that social media is going more and more visual for well over a year and have been reaping the benefit of having a visual content plan in place.

Google Plus: For a few years now people have been waiting for Google Plus to hit full stride before they go “all in” on making is a part of their core social media platform.

Google Plus growth is definitely accelerating, and at least one mathematician calculates that Google Plus will pass Facebook in total users in 2016. There was a lot of talk about Google Plus at the event. Most people agree that now is the time to jump into the fray, if for no other reason than to garner the additional SEO push that Google gives to their own Google Plus-based traffic. Fifty-three percent of digital marketers say they will increase the time spent and financial commitment to the site in the next 12 months.

Facebook Advertising: Over 90 percent of Facebook’s revenue comes from Facebook advertising and they expect that revenue number to grow steadily over the next several years. I use Facebook advertising regularly for my business and I always pleased with the results. In short, it works! I spoke to several digital marketing managers at the event, as well as representatives from several bigger brands, and most plan on spending as much or more on Facebook ads in the next 12 months.

Facebook advertising is frustrating from a couple of standpoints. First, it changes all of the time. They are tweaking different types of ads, taking away others and messing with the interface almost daily. It is also frustrating to think that they intentionally limit the free traffic your posts receive just to make you pay them money to get your content to the fan base you have worked so hard to cultivate. Maybe there will be a shift or backlash in the future, but for now it certainly appears that marketers are still firmly behind the advertising medium.

Blogging: Regardless of what you may think, blogging is not dead! In fact, social media, being the content engine that it is, has actually revitalized it. Tumblr alone has over 100 million blogs and WordPress is not too far behind at 63 million. Blogging is still a dominate way to get impactful, original content directly in front of your customers and prospects easily and inexpensively. My blog is, by far, the single largest driver of visits to my website and social media sites. If you have been playing around with idea of starting your own blog, now is the perfect time to get started.

Podcasting: If you don’t know what a podcast is, it is a “multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player.” Podcasts are important because they are a great way to capture your existing customer’s and prospect’s attention for an extended period of time by giving them something of value that is easy for them to digest. Only 5 percent of digital marketers are currently involved with podcasting but 24 percent say they plan to add this valuable tool in the next 12 months.

I have one other takeaway that is more of a personal observation than an industry trend.

The live, person-to-person connection is still incredibly powerful!

I have met thousands and thousands of people digitally on social media the past few years. At the event I had the chance to see, shake hands and spend some time with some amazing people that I had only met online before. Social media made the connection for me, but there is still no substitute for the power of meeting and connecting with a real human being.

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Yelp’s Deal With Yahoo Has Small Businesses Crying Foul

April 16, 2014

Check out this Wall Street Journal article on problems caused by the recent deal between Yelp and Yahoo:

A recent deal by Yelp Inc. to provide business listings for Internet searches on Yahoo Inc. is getting bad reviews from some small-business owners, who say years of positive feedback from customers have vanished from Yahoo.

Colonial Hardwood Flooring of Lexington, Mass., amassed six years of mostly positive feedback on its Yahoo Local listing, says owner Dan Tringale. But several weeks ago, after Yahoo began posting reviews from Yelp, nearly 50 Yahoo reviews disappeared, he says.

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Seven Things They Don’t Teach You In Business School

April 15, 2014

Check out this recent article from Forbes on some things they may not have taught you in business school:

Would you spend $200,000 on something if it didn’t make you happier? As it turns out, you can invest over $200,000 on a top MBA program these days and while you will on average earn more and have a better network upon graduation, that $200,000 investment does not guarantee you will feel happier.

I’m grateful to have attended Stanford Business School. And, now that I’ve quit my “safe” job in private equity to run my own business teaching people how to create Success with Ease, I’ve learned some universal principles that are highly effective at increasing happiness and increasing success – and, surprisingly, I was completely unaware of these concepts while I was at Stanford.

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