With crowdfunding transaction values expected to hit $1.04 billion in 2018, it’s tempting to think that with a bit of elbow grease and a lot of social buzz that any entrepreneur could have a slice of that enormous pie.
There are reams of information on how to create a successful crowdfunding campaign, how to pick the best crowdfunding platform and the most successful crowdfunding projects. They’re packed with detail and offer so much great advice that you don’t need another blog post regurgitating what was said.
You may, however, want to take a closer look at a current (2018) case study of a campaign that worked. This campaign is Wado, a line of sustainable sneakers created by a trio of Barcelona-based entrepreneurs. The Kickstarter campaign goal in March was to raise 11,000 euros or about $13,500. Instead the campaign raised 363,761 euros or nearly $447,000.
A lot of what the Wado team did will reiterate the points raised in this excellent piece by seasoned crowdfunder Khierstyn Ross. In fact if there is only one article about crowdfunding that you are willing to read, by all means choose hers because a) it’s grounded in experience and b) it doesn’t sugar coat.
I discovered the the Wado campaign not on Kickstarter, which I seldom visit, but through the daily email sent by Inside Hook. First lesson of successful crowdfunders:
The imagery was flawless
‘Pictures are worth a billion pixels.’ That’s the money quote from a Thrillist story about how Netflix’s new algorithm was serving up images based on viewer behavior and preferences. The entertainment behemoth’s research showed that artwork made up 82% of a viewer’s focus when scrolling through choices to watch.
The same principle applies to crowdfunding platforms where there are lots of distractions. Quality visuals elevate campaigns from the noise. Analyses of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns show that they all had compelling imagery in common. A UK study of Kickstarter campaigns found that a project with a video was 85% more likely to be funded.
Wado had shot after shot of the shoes, all beautifully taken, with or without models. It also had photographs of the founders, the factory, the shoes in production. There was video of the founders and video of the shoes. In short, there was no shortage of eye candy to tempt and convince. On the Inside Hook email, Wado’s imagery made me click through to their Kickstarter campaign.
They used other media, not just social
The Wado team had obviously diversified its marketing portfolio to spread the word through sites like Inside Hook which has a significant audience. It’s interesting to note that the media coverage spanned the globe, with articles in French, German and Dutch.
In her piece, Ross said having a social media strategy was fine, just don’t rely on it completely. ‘While having thousands of Twitter followers and likes on your Facebook page is great for social proof, it will not move the needle the way you need it to.’
She champions a good, not purchased, email list in getting much-needed traction during the crucial first few days of a crowdfunding campaign. It’s likely Wado’s email list played a part in achieving the next point:
The campaign reached 92% of its goal in less than 24 hours
Ross says it’s essential that a campaign raises 30-40% of its funding goal in the first three days for it to be picked up by Kickstarter or Indiegogo’s ‘popularity algorithm’. A hot campaign will be picked up and featured prominently on the site, where it will be enthusiastically funded by more people. Success breeds success.
On Kickstarter, Wado’s campaign was featured on ‘Projects We Love’, a popular section of the crowdfunding site, halfway through the campaign. On Indiegogo, where Wado was 3,307% funded on March 31st, the campaign lives on in Indiegogo’s InDemand while also being featured on the first page of the Fashion & Wearables category.
There was an element of gamification
To entice donors to spread the word and maybe even purchase another pair, the team created stretch goals during the campaign:
- If funding reached 25,000 euros (a little over $30,000), one more color choice would be added, with followers empowered to pick from three variants. The goal was reached in three days and the winning color, beige, was unlocked.
- If funding reached 250,000 euros (approximately $307,000 and change), the team would throw in a cotton drawstring shoe bag for every pair. As the campaign surpassed this target, the shoe bag is now a certainty.
All throughout, the team posted updates on Kickstarter in addition to email updates, keeping the shoes very top-of-mind for funders and increasing the likelihood of them amplifying the campaign. This note, for example, was meant to clarify shoe sizes but a link was included for recipients to share on Facebook. Who hasn’t gone onto social media to crow about his or her latest find?
The timing was impeccable
Timing is critical in a campaign’s success — you want to catch your funders when they’re most in the mood to open their wallets. And the Wado team, whether by design or accident, couldn’t have chosen a better time to launch a retro-inspired sneaker.
Sneaker sales have been soaring, thanks to the athleisure trend. According to the NPD Group in 2017, lifestyle running shoes grew more than 40 per cent in the third quarter alone. All major, mid-market and mass fashion brands have launched their own versions of sneakers. The best proof yet that sneakers are hot? Gucci’s current cult footwear is not its signature loafers but its Stan Smith-like Ace sneaker.
Wado is also tapping into the current zeitgeist for retro footwear. There’s been a general wave of nostalgia for the 70s and 80s which hasn’t crested yet. You can see it in the popularity of Netflix’s Stranger Things, the re-emergence of bowl haircuts and scrunchies, and a renewed fervor for vinyl and mixed tapes.
Sustainability was a key message
Mindless consumption brings on the guilt, but conscious capitalism makes shoppers feel virtuous. In all of Wado’s material, sustainability was as important a message as the retro inspiration:
- Every purchase of a pair means two trees planted in northeastern India
- Wado sneakers are constructed from chromium-free leather
- Manufacturing is done in Portugal; no sweatshop labor in Asia
The Wado team even adopted a hashtag, #playgreen.
The takeaway from all this? It may not seem obvious but there had been months of preparation behind the scenes before Wado surfaced on Kickstarter, something to remember if you are ever in the mind to crowdfund your next big idea.