Congratulations! You did all the hard work, all the planning, and preparation. You put in the blood, sweat, and tears to conduct a successful Kickstarter campaign. Your project has been funded — maybe your goal has even been far exceeded! So…now what?
You’re done with the exhausting roller-coaster ride that is a Kickstarter campaign, but really, you’re just getting started. How do you turn that successful launch into long-term growth and success for your company?
First, after surveying your backers to confirm the particulars of the perks they ordered and their shipping addresses, you’ll need to follow through on getting your product made and fulfilling the orders in the time frame you committed to. Ideally, you will have gotten a head start on the manufacturing process prior to launching your Kickstarter campaign – developing a prototype, figuring out who your manufacturers will be, negotiating the costs, and so on.
Next comes fulfillment. Compared to manufacturing, the process of shipping your product to backers may seem like a straightforward task, but that will only be the case if you establish a fairly sophisticated fulfillment system — or if you hire a fulfillment provider to take care of the details. That might be the way to go if your campaign exceeded your wildest expectations — if “Yay! We now have thousands of customers!” has turned into, “Yikes! We now have thousands of customers!” Just make sure to do your research to find a reputable fulfillment partner. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites generally offer recommendations.
Throughout this process, even if (actually, especially if) you encounter difficulties or delays, keep communicating with your backers. Earn their trust, and keep their expectations realistic, by being open and honest about the time frames and any obstacles that arise.
Once you have completed the massive undertaking of getting your product built and shipped to your Kickstarter backers, the hard work of scaling up your business begins. Your team will need to develop, either through new hires or contracts with specialists, the expertise to wisely and safely expand your business.
This expertise will probably involve a mastery of tax law (maybe even international tax law, if there is demand for your product in other countries). It will also entail a crash course in the intricacies of retailers, resellers, and distributors, which might best be handled by a channel management company that would pitch your product to retailers. You will need to determine whether you want to retain the control over your brand and the connection with the customer that comes with setting up your own e-commerce site, or whether you want the scale and convenience that comes with having your product distributed by a massive online retailer like Amazon.
Even as you conquer the complexities of international tax law and the supply chain, don’t forget your initial cohort of enthusiastic supporters. Your Kickstarter backers made all of this possible — they were your early adopters, and they may be the most passionate customers you’ll ever have. Let them know you appreciate them by keeping in touch and engaging with them, answering questions, and really listening to their suggestions for enhancements or new products. Someday you may decide to launch a new Kickstarter campaign, and those loyal customers will be first in line for your next round of early bird specials.