Selling that “Eureka!” Moment: Turning a Great Concept into a Reality

Brilliant ideas can happen at the most unexpected times.

Every now and then we all experience that “Eureka!” moment where a thought so powerful, innovative, and life-changing comes charging into our minds.  Often times, that idea is fleeting, and we rarely take any action.  But, sometimes we run with it-- all the way to the store shelves.

App developer and Los Angeles native, Dotan Saguy, crafted his idea, the Smarter Stand, while eating breakfast, and desperately trying to prop up his iPad against a jar of jelly for a comfortable viewing angle.  The Smarter Stand, two clips that adjust the existing Apple Smart Cover to create new angles, grabbed the attention of Kickstarter, and has raised more than $138,000.

Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website, encourages entrepreneurs and everyday folks to introduce those “Eureka” ideas to the public with the hopes it will attract pledges towards the product production.  So, what elements make up an effective Kickstarter campaign?  We spoke with several Kickstarter alumni to find out their secrets to success.

Define your project with a clear set of expectations and goals

“Have a plan to success which means manufacturers, sourcing, and marketing,” says Steve Calle, creator of Aqua Tek S, a Kickstarter campaign that earned more than $164,000.  “Always communicate that to your customers.”

Kickstarter supporters are more inclined to pledge if they can visualize the product, and peruse a well-established timeline of deliverables.  This includes the work that has been done leading up to the campaign, and the next steps over the following two-to-three months.

“The Kickstarter community wants to know where their support is going, and what they can expect in the coming days or weeks,” says Saguy.  “Without a concrete plan of action laid out on your pledge page, your idea is nothing more than just that…an idea.  Progress is essential, and updates throughout the campaign are vital.  It’s all about conceptualizing and executing.”

Exude passion for your campaign, Interact with the Kickstarter community often

This may seem like common sense, but if you do not demonstrate passion for your own idea, then it is impossible to convince others to get excited. Keeping your Kickstarter supporters abreast regularly is a tactic that is surprisingly underused.  On the Kickstarter campaign page, there is a tab labeled “Updates.”  Use it.  Use it often.

Additionally, keep a very close eye on the “Comments” tab.  The commentators are your potential customers so you should treat them with respect.

“Engage early and often,” says Geoffrey Litwack, developer of Hone, a Kickstarter campaign that brought in more than $85,000.  “I can’t remember the number of times I would answer a question, and the response would be a pledge.  Treat everyone like they’re rock stars.”

“Your customers will also let you know how good the product will do or offer suggestions to make it better,” adds Calle.

Develop, script, and produce a sincere video

It’s all about the visuals.

Marrying stunning imagery and descriptive audio into an upbeat, exciting video is a critical element to most successful Kickstarter campaigns.  Keep in mind, you’re selling an idea, and most times there are no samples or prototypes available for people to experience.  That means, you must rely heavily on other forms of description and communication to entice your audience, and convince them to take a chance with your product.

“My advice to other Kickstarter projects is to come up with an original video that does not insult the backer,” says Jay Johnson, founder of CordCruncher.  He earned more than $66,000 for his revolutionary headphones.  “Reach into your bag of tricks and come up with a presentation that is every bit creative as your product or concept.”

Understandably, most small businesses, entrepreneurs, and that random guy from Montana do not have a camera crew readily available to produce a professional video.  However, sincerity and passion do come through on-screen.  When describing your product, include your own personal story succinctly.  Let your potential backers get a sense of your good intentions and desire.  Trust me, it is contagious.  Make sure to include some upbeat music under your audio tracks to help push the video along, and, of course, be sure to use a lot of attention-grabbing photos and lifestyle imagery.  Backers want to see people engaging with your product in everyday situations.

“Our video wasn’t great,” says Calle.”  But, we portrayed the product and company well.  We believe we could’ve done even better with a good video.”

Proudly display good reviews on your Kickstarter page

It is undeniable; Kickstarter has enraptured industry bloggers and journalists, alike, since its inception.  So, take advantage of their interests and positive reviews.  Aggressively reach out to those who are the mouthpiece of whatever industry you’re aiming for.

Create target lists of industry influencers, and send personal emails introducing your product or idea.  Be sure to include plenty of images, pricing, and descriptions.  After securing a feature on an industry website, use it again, and again, and again.  Upload a link to the article on your Facebook account, Twitter account, and even post a positive quote directly on your Kickstarter page.  Johnson says he noticed that most people will “look at reviews even before they understand your product.”

Good luck and get started!

If the crowd-funding website is utilized properly, the possibilities are endless for anyone with a phenomenal idea.  Sometimes all it takes is one everyday problem, one creative solution, and, for some like Saguy, a jar of jelly.