Be damn careful… when estimating your Circle of Influence.
Maxwell Hughes is a seriously legit musician. Watch his Kickstarter video because it’s awesome and funny AND check out a little from his other video posts. This boy can play!
But unfortunately, his recently ended Kickstarter was unsuccessful.
Using him as an example, let’s talk about how to avoid epic failure by estimating your Circle of Influence and determining your funding goal, BEFORE launching.
Estimating Your Circle of Influence
Before the Video, Before the Project Description, Before the Rewards…
Sit down and think very, very carefully about your true Circle of Influence.
This step should include listing out your friends and family, possibly tightly knit groups of coworkers both present and past. It may be safe to assume that you can get up to half of them to pledge as long as you have a solid Purpose Worth Backing and are clear about your needs with a good Call To Action.
Also, how many people are on your email list and how many social media fans do you have?
You will get a much smaller proportion of backers from these circles, like maybe 5% (or less) of your email list and even less of your Facebook fans, but you do want to consider as, obviously, they will get some marketing attention.
An Assumption You Should NOT Make
…is that another band’s mailing list can help you out significantly. Yes, it sometimes can help a lot, but don’t hedge your success on it.
Back to Maxwell.
This guy is a KILLER musician. Especially if you are into badass, fingerpickin’ guitar players.
He was also in The Lumineers for a few years as a touring member and cowriter. These guys probably have a substantial email list and they have a couple hundred thousand Facebook fans.
But most of their social reach is not interested in Maxwell.
This is absolutely key to understand.
When it comes down to it, when you are on your own, you are on your own, unless you have a strong personal connection with someone else’s fans (your were a founding member or a key member of the band, for example).
So you have to really honestly attempt an accurate estimation of your Circle of Influence.
Regardless of his past experiences, Maxwell’s Circle of Influence is not nearly big enough to support a $20,000 goal. His Facebook fan page has just over 400 likes. He mentioned by email that he is just getting organized and does not yet have an email list….
Determining Your Official Funding Goal
Your official goal should be an achievable amount based on your Circle of Influence and your minimum viable project budget (the absolute minimum it would take to make the project a reality) should reflect this.
If you have larger aspirations and are unsure of whether your Circle of Influence matches up, use a flex goal strategy. Be extremely upfront and clear about what your unofficial (higher) goal is and what that will help you accomplish.
So, back to determining your goal…
You can fairly safely assume between $50 and $70 per backer depending on how your Circle views your project and how you present it. For example, if you frame it as a pre-order you’ll most likely have a lower average pledge per backer than if you frame your project around a fundraiser, where you’ll be asking a higher-than-real-world price for your staple items ($20 to $35 for a CD, for example).
This number will, of course, be influenced by your project including your Purpose, Call To Action, overall project design/quality, and rewards package design… But for now, we are just planning and need a number to base on.
A Rough Estimate
Any estimate will naturally be very dependent on you and your specific situation.
But just for shits and giggles, let’s bang out a number of an example scenario that is probably similar to Maxwell’s case.
Let’s use a conservative figure of $50 per backer.
Let’s say you have a personal circle of 200 family and close friends.
And assume that you have an email list of a couple hundred as well as a social media following of a couple hundred.
If you can get up to half of your personal circle to commit and 3% to 5% of your social media fans to commit, you are probably looking at just over 100 backers. For planning, be conservative and assume 100.
Apply our $/backer and your project goal = 100 backers * $50 / backer = $5,000 Kickstarter goal.
Look at Maxwell’s unsuccessful Kickstarter. He garnered just over $5000 in support! If his official goal had been in line with our conservative estimate, he could have used an unofficial, higher flex goal and likely managed to hit $8,000-$10,000.
It is critical to make an honest, realistic attempt at assessing your Circle of Influence. You must develop an official Kickstarter goal that has some relation to the real world!
When doing this, actually make a list of friends and family!
Then, assume that your social media reach isn’t nearly as big as you think it is.
Develop your estimate.
If your estimate isn’t what you want your project to be, think about whether or not you can get a project done that you’d be happy with at that amount and then use a kick-ass flex goal approach to reach for your ultimate goal simultaneous to improving your chances at success with a lower, official goal.
Then, work like a DOG to prove yourself wrong and turn your Circle into fundraising backers left and right!