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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 3 years ago

Campaign climb

Want to succeed at crowdfunding? Follow the two P's: planning and publicity.
by: Will Powell Contributing Writer

After the kickoff of Pure2Go's Kickstarter campaign, Kenn Visser watched as the product received $5,500 of its $25,000 goal within its first 48 hours.

Then, it stalled.

Despite its robust start, it appeared that the May 30 crowdfunding campaign, which was raising money to develop Water One of Southwest Florida's personal water purifier for retail, would suffer a fate common to many Kickstarter projects: It wouldn't reach its goal.

“I think we were offering really good reward levels, but how to be able to get that to the people most likely to buy it through an affordable social media campaign was the biggest challenge we had,” says Visser, who managed the campaign.

The Pure2Go personal water purifier spent two years in development to be 100% safe to bring to market. Initially developed for the U.S. Marines, a long-time Water One customer, Pure2Go acts a filter when it's attached to a personal hydration backpack, or it can be utilized as a direct drinking straw when fed into any contaminated, non-saltwater source.

“We're really working on targeting the travel industry,” Visser says. “We see two streams: one targeting the traveler, and the other being the more serious hiker, backpacker and survivalist.”

Despite the initial stall of the campaign, with the help of internal assistance within Water One, external crowdfunding aid, and even family, Zisser and his team eventually pushed the Kickstarter campaign into raising $38,250 by the end of its 45-day duration - 154% of its initial goal.

So what does it take to make a Kickstarter campaign successful? A lot of it relies on building the right social media buzz. “If you aren't driving the social media aspect of it, nobody is going to find you,” Visser says.

Aside from leveraging staff members' personal and professional social networks, the campaign also requires an investment to help promote social media posts to make sure people outside of their network will see them. Visser estimates that the Pure2Go campaign team spent $2,000 on the external aspect of its campaign.

To help promote the campaign and create content for it, Kenn Visser brought in his brother-in-law, J.P. Eason, an experimental filmmaking teacher at Full Sail University in Winter Park. Eason acted as a media consultant for the campaign, and Visser was the producer.

In addition to assisting with the visuals, Eason also designed the Pure2Go website. “If I could create content that would feature aspects [of the product] that were great, I knew the campaign would do well,” he says.

Visser believes that part of the campaign's success is owed to the length of the campaign. The campaign team opted to have a 45-day duration rather than Kickstarter's recommended 30-day duration.

“We had at least a 15-day initial learning curve, that if we hadn't done that, we would've burned at least half the time away and not done anything,” Visser said. “I think we used
BackersHub, BackerClub, Gadget Flow and some Facebook ads to drive that [the campaign], and eventually we started getting traction because we were reaching the people.”

Water One of SWFL, which is an expansion location of the Chicago-based Water One, cannot answer for the future in terms of sales projections for the Pure2Go, but its next moves include filling reward orders for those who donated. Campaign rewards included Early Bird Pure2Go traveler's kits and traveler's kits with outdoors accessories, such as backpacks.
The Early Bird Pure2Gos have been the most popular purchased reward.

“Once we figured out how to more refine our SEO and get it to people who we thought were more interested, then we really began to get that traction,” Zisser said.

Kickstarter tips
1. Have a plan to promote the campaign
2. Leverage social media to advertise
3. Spend money to boost posts
4. Opt for a longer duration to have time to meet the goal
5. Offer good rewards to entice people to give.

By Will Powell | Contributing writer

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