Khierstyn Ross, of Crowdfunding Uncut, is a crowdfunding strategist, working on campaigns that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Khierstyn didn’t start there of course, but discovered what she was best at and most enjoyed while working through client projects. Once she decided to niche down, she became one of the highest in-demand crowdfunding experts.
Khierstyn shares how she went from a generalist to a specialist, what that did for her business, how she built authority in this space, how she finds clients, and how she prices herself for a service where the results are so uncertain.
Khierstyn shares with us:
Crash Course in Crowdfunding:
Khierstyn didn’t intend to get into crowdfunding. She had 6-7 years of experience advising startups before she did her first IndieGoGo campaign. With no crowdfunding experience, she helped a weight-loss wearable-tech product launch through an IndieGoGo campaign, with the goal of raising $50,000 to get a prototype manufactured. It failed and only raised $17,000. Three months later, they tried again, and raised $600,000!
What happened in those 3 months that made such a difference in the success of crowdfunding?
First, she and the team talked to the target audience. They found out that their positioning was off. They were selling the product as a quick and easy fix to weight loss rather than as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle. Always talk to the audience!
Second, she and the team built up an audience and an email list before launching the second campaign. The first launch went live to the sound of crickets because no one knew who they were or had any expectations of a product. For the second launch, they had buyers the first day because they had prompted their audience about the launch. Because the campaign was growing quickly on the site, it got promoted as new and noteworthy, bringing it to the forefront of the campaigns on the website.
Finding a Niche:
When she explained what they had done differently between the two campaigns as a speaker, she started to get approached by other companies that wanted her help. A few campaigns later, and she was hooked. So she niched down into crowdfunding product launches.
It was hard to niche down from being a jack of all trades. There was the temptation not to pick a niche and take away her options. That perception was a fallacy. By not niching, she wasn’t memorable and wasn’t seen as an expert in something specific. When she niched, her business got a 5x boost in income and client quality. Lesson: niche! Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
To figure out your niche, think about the types of clients you loved working with in the past and figure out what they have in common. Then commit to that niche for a while and see where it goes. Try to get in front of the big influencers in your niche. Once you build a relationship with the influencer, and be their friend and be good at something, then they will refer clients to you.
Getting new leads:
Khierstyn doesn’t go out and search for clients. She lets clients come to her through referrals. This puts her in a position of power and strength, demonstrating that she is a high quality expert and letting her control who she wants to work with.
To get the referrals coming in, Khierstyn does two things: attend conferences and host her own podcast.
There are two types of conferences: the 3,000 person traffic and conversion conferences that cost about $1,000 to attend and the intimate mastermind group conferences with 50 people and the price tag of $4,000-$5,000. Best ROI: the more expensive one.
At the smaller conferences, you can build relationships and connections with amazing people. Often, these are people who are highly motivated, doing great things, have money and are willing to invest in their businesses, and have rich and extended networks. Building relationships at these smaller conferences means referrals down the road.
To find these smaller conferences, you need to ask people in the niche. You can start by asking a mentor or influencer in your target audience.
So even though Khierstyn doesn’t have a direct marketing budget, as in she doesn’t send out emails or make Facebook ads, she does invest in marketing through these networking events. This past year, she spent $15,000 attending and speaking at conferences, but that was easily covered by the clients she acquired as a result.
Her podcast, Crowdfunding Uncut, deconstructs successful campaigns and features guests that have had successful campaigns or are industry leaders in marketing to get ready for the crowdfunding campaigns. The podcast has positioned herself as a leader in the crowdfunding space.
How to qualify clients:
Khierstyn gets a lot of referrals and people who want to work with her so she is in the great position where she gets to choose who she wants to work with. That means qualifying the client. Khierstyn qualifies based on the results she wants in her business.
Khierstyn has positioned herself as the person who works on the big campaigns of $250,000 or more and has high success rates on crowdfunding campaigns. That means her reputation depends on her choosing the right clients to work with that she knows will be successful.
“We have to make sure that we can work together and this thing is going to take off or else we make very little money.”
Khierstyn’s perfect client:
- The product is a good market fit
- The founder is confident, a high-level thinker, resourceful, and has a marketing mind
- The budget is big enough to get the product to market, at least $50,000
- Campaign management: 10K a launch plus 10% of campaign funds to have a high-end, extremely successful campaign managed by Khierstyn. Khierstyn is basically a partner in the product launch.
- Tailored Campaign Strategy: Spend 3 hours with Khierstyn on the phone for $1000-$1500 to get a made-for-you marketing plan that you then go and execute
- The Academy: Taking a group of 10 entrepreneurs from ideas to e-commerce businesses over 6 months through group coaching.
- Product Launch Checklist
- FT 084: From LinkedIn Connections to Clients with Rachel Pedersen
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Find Khierstyn online: