Wesley Chang

November 22, 2016

Hardware Crowdfunding Success: Using Press to Gain High Momentum

Press Feature Image

What makes a crowdfunding campaign successful?

Is it luck?

Strategy?

Or some sort of wizardry?

In all honesty, it’s a bit of everything, but usually strategy takes the cake. One thing that’s for sure is that getting initial traction is critical to a successful campaign.

There’s plenty of ways to get early traction, but, as many of you already know, getting press may possibly be the best path to success.

Now, let’s talk about how to do it!

Press Can Do Wonders for Your Startup

Let’s just dive right in, here’s what press can do for you.

1. Brand reputation

With zero brand recognition, getting media coverage will help get you recognized by a wide range of people. And you may even be considered an influencer or leader–if you’re featured consistently.

2. Customer acquisition

Chances of having customers the minute your hardware prototype is finished are extremely slim. Media coverage could solve that through funneling new leads to your website or social media accounts.

3. Investor opportunity

Early investors, as we already know, are immensely beneficial. Just like the two points above, the more media coverage, the greater the chances of early adopters of your product.

Truth be told, there’s zero reason for any hardware startup to hold back on reaching out to journalists but the reason why so few actually do so is because of fear and rejection.

So to make this entire process smoother for you, I’ve laid out a simple approach to getting your product featured.

Making Friends with Influencers and Journalists

Even if you don’t personally know any influencers or journalists, you can always get in touch with one to spark up a relationship.

In most cases, you can simply get on Twitter and search for journalists in your niche, send them a direct message or even just tweet something nice to them!

But before you start your journey to getting press by pitching a proposition, keep this in mind.

Influencers probably receive hundreds of emails a day requesting a feature or a shoutout. Set yourself apart by offering the influencer something in return for their partnership. A successful partnership is one where both parties are growing.

Take Acton Global for example–who has created an incredibly beautiful and advanced e-board that we’ve seen so far.

We were fortunate enough to host a webinar with Janelle, the co-founder of Acton, where their very first step to making sales after developing their prototype was getting press.

What set them apart from others was the fact that they sent an actual prototype to several writers that they thought would be a great fit for their brand. To be exact, she said,

“I’m sure all the editors have thousands of emails a day that they don’t check… We wanted to try something new so we sent out our prototype to some friends in the media and got some feedback from them. Some said, ‘Oh I have an article coming out soon, maybe I’ll write about you.’ And others didn’t even reply. It doesn’t hurt to try.”

Now, even though Acton had connections in the media and knew who they could reach out to, you shouldn’t be discouraged from outreaching.

In fact, here is a simple process that you can put in place.

1. Identify Who Would Write for You

You don’t have to get in contact with every influencer you find, target influencers that would actually be interested in writing about you.

In the guest post titled, “How to Get Traction For Your Crowdfunding Campaign,” by Martin Kessler, CEO of Ambi Climate, a startup that built smart device that makes your window and wall air conditioners smart, Martin wrote,

“An easy way of researching this is by running a Google search on news coverage of similar projects that have been crowdfunding. You can either do this on your own, which can be time consuming or you can rely on a service such as PressFriendly.”

This allows you to find out who’s interested in your market and who would most likely be willing to write for you.

2. Throw a Different Pitch

We said it before, and we’ll say it again. You need to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Stop sending influencers boring emails and send them something creative.

If you have extra prototypes around, pack one up and send it off to a journalist! They’ll give you feedback on it, and will be more willing to write about it if they’re impressed or intrigued by it.

What’s even better is, if you send to multiple people, you’ll get different stories. One journalist may be intrigued by the design, while another may be fascinated by the functionality.

3. Build an Awesome Press Kit

Press kit

The next big step in getting press.

A lot of startups will have their press kits as a downloadable .zip on their website, or some would even have a “contact for information” section.

Either one is fine in my opinion, but I lean towards convenience so a .zip may be the best choice.

Anyway, a press kit!

Press kits contain everything from logos, to stories, to founder biographies, and even instructions for the PR.

Having this kit ready for a press release makes it so much easier and quicker for the writer to get what he needs.

But it’s not just about making the PR’s life easier. You can fill this thing up with anything you want. As long as it’s related to your brand.

One major advantage is that you can tell your story exactly how you want to.

Let’s Reiterate

Crowdfunding is so much more than earning funds to manufacture your product. A successful one starts with a community and ends with a community.

Hopefully a much larger one.

But in order to go into crowdfunding with enough momentum to get you to your initial goal you’ll need traction.

That’s where press saves the day.

Press gets your brand, story, and product exposed to thousands of people.

Imagine getting featured on TechCrunch, Engadget, or Gizmodo.

Their articles are shared hundreds of times in a single day.

So to start your journey, discover who would want to write for you, send them an offer they can’t resist (it doesn’t have to be a prototype), and then build a press kit for them.

PR should be taken seriously and is really the key to gaining momentum in crowdfunding so do not be discouraged if you don’t have friends in the media, or if you’re rejected. Just come back the next day with a new approach!

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