I tried to use earlybird rewards to get my crowdfunding campaign to hit 10% super fast. It didn’t work. In about three different ways.
In order to budget for my campaign I assumed that I would sell 25 early bird books (25 x $20 = $500) plus 180 regular priced books (180 x $25 = 4500). All other rewards had a cost margin that was the same or better than the regular priced books, so that I could be confident of having enough funding if I hit the goal ($5000).
The decision to limit the early bird books to 25 was based on Kat Jenkins’ advice about using early bird rewards to help get that first 10%. I should have read more carefully – Kat recommends more of a discount than what I went with…
The first way that the early bird discount didn’t work, was it didn’t magically get me to my 10% goal straight away. I had a list of people who I had primed and who I thought were definitely going to pledge immediately. The early bird discount was part of the justification. I’d spoken to these people, asked if they were interested, asked if they’d like me to tell them about it straight away “so they’d be sure to get the early bird price”. When I opened the campaign less than half of them actually backed it straight away. This was a bit of a blow – my plan involved having these people backing me quickly to give me credibility for the next batch of people I contacted. I knew that there was a big difference between people saying they’d buy and people buying, but I thought I could count on these people. Maybe I should have had a bigger discount on the early bird books. More likely, I should have put more effort into developing a stronger, larger list of people to make my first 10%. I only managed a first push of 4%, meaning that I had to go out to my next tier of contacts with about half the “social confirmation” that I’d wanted.
The second way that the early bird discount didn’t work, was some people ignored it. Some of my early backers were so keen to support me that they ignored the early bird offer and took the full price book. Others opted for the signed book ($50). When I got to 10% I still had some early bird books available. A pleasant surprise, but not what I’d expected. Something to keep in mind.
The third way that the early bird didn’t work is that I sold more of them than I’d planned. This is a little bit platform-specific. When I ran my campaign, Pledgeme didn’t have an easy way to allow backers to pledge multiples of rewards. I had one or two of my early backers wanting to order multiples of books. I wanted to make it easy for them, and I just told them to pledge on the early bird reward, but mark up the amount (click $20 earlybird reward level, manually override to $60 for three books). But this only counted as one reward toward my limit. Since the margin on the early bird book was lower than the margin I had budgeted on, too many early birds and not enough high-margin rewards could have resulted in the project going badly negative. In the end I got quite a few of the higher margin rewards backed and I’m not going bankrupt. Kat has since told me that that for Pledgeme the best work-around is ask backers to pledge on the same reward level multiple times. I’m not sure if the inconvenience might be an issue. I don’t want to put hurdles in front of people giving me money!
Here’s how my campaign looked after the first day.