Tips for funding a successful Kickstarter campaign in Buffalo from Cowork Buffalo founders

Part one of three parts covering the talks given at the Perfect Pairings Event Tuesday night. The event, sponsored by Social Media Club of Buffalo, featured several Western New York area business owners who used social media in order to promote their businesses.

For Cowork Buffalo founders Kevin Purdy and Brian Fending, Kickstarter not only helped fund their business (funded at 200% of their original goal), but it also helped market their business.

“The marketing impact of doing a Kickstarter and mailing it in the first week and really getting it out there is huge,” said Fending. “That was probably one of our biggest marketing pushes to date, around this Kickstarter. It got people not just making suggestions, but actually opening up their wallets to make it a place that they would want to work.”

The campaign helped to bring in new members to their coworking space, now located on Main Street. The idea for starting such a space came from similar spaces existing in other cities and from a desire for such space in Buffalo expressed online via social media and in e-mail groups, especially Buffalo Open Coffee.

“One of the things that made it easy for us to –in 20 days—to go from, ‘Hey, let’s do (this)’ to ‘We got it,’ was that we had years of ‘warm leads’,” said Fending. “We had a whole bunch of people who wanted to see this (Cowork Buffalo) happen. We reached out to those warm leads and through e-mails and phone calls they became members of this business.”

They also used social media to “ask for help” in coming up with pricing for their coworking space rates along with feedback on the location of the current space and problems with it such as parking.

“One of the reasons we have such a long-term customer base is because we made people ‘part of the thing’ which really helped out when we did our Kickstarter project,” said Purdy.

“When we put that up (Kickstarter campaign) had a tremendous response in the first few days,” said Fending. “People would find the Kickstarter and tweet at us (@coworkbuffalo), then find the Facebook page, then pledge their support.”

In order to make the campaign a success, Kickstarter gave them the following advice, “Focus on the community, not the product.”

“We really focused on what we were trying to achieve and what you could expect if you helped us out with it,” said Purdy.

They also shot video for their campaign, but in the end, never used it because they felt the video was not true to their company.

“Why are we pretending that we’re this professional brand?” said Purdy “We’re four dudes that wear tech conference t-shirts to work.  We’re more joking than professional; we’re more rough-edged than polished.”

A piece of advice to future Kickstarter campaigners – don’t start your campaign in the middle of December. The campaign “lagged off” after launching, due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and because people’s attention was elsewhere. Plus their cowork offices were closed due to snow and school snow days.

“We did a massive marketing push in the last few days (of the campaign),” said Fending. “We strived for every tweet to include –not just a link to convert —but to give people something to talk about. In every piece of social we put out there; we gave people something to talk about.”

“Consistency (in your marketing campaign) is key,” said Purdy. “The drop-off (in our campaign) was noticeable.”

Purdy also said to have a plan in place for delivering perks if your campaign is successful before your campaign ends.