By Russell Nohelty
We at Wannabe Press are in the middle of our third Kickstarter campaign for My Father Didn't Kill Himself. My Father Didn't Kill Himself is a weird book. First, it's not a comic, which has been how we've grown Wannabe Press. Second, it's told all in blogs. Third, it's a black comedy mystery about death, and loss, and junk, not the most uplifting subject.
We also set the goal at $1 and are trying to keep interest going through me doing humiliating videos and "setting our goal" at 1,000,000% funded. Usually once you get funded, people stop pledging.
If we can reach $3,000 by the end of the weekend, I'll make a bonus humiliating video just for backers, where I pour one ounce of ice cold water on my head for every $10 raised!
And yet we are successful with it already! Within the first 5 minutes of launching we were 500% funded, from a phat $5 donation! And in the first week we're over 200,000% funded! I've never seen something 200,000% funded, so that's pretty exciting. Plus, we were named Staff Pick for the first time!
We're using this success to supercharge our 2016 by growing both our novel and children's book divisions. We just signed several new books, a podcast, and created a course called www.freekickstartercourse.com.
We accompanied our launch with a new mascot roll-out, expanding our conventions and in-store signing events to nearly every week in the first half of 2016, and taking on outside print projects for the first time since we formed Wannabe Press in 2014.
And I did it because we found Ted and Veronica.
Who are Ted and Veronica?
They are my ideal customer avatars. They are the amalgamation of traits of people who resonates with my work and with whom I resonate.
It wasn't easy to find them, but once we did, everything became crystal clear: our project roster, our branding, our message, and our core values, everything about us as a business. Everything flowed from understanding Ted and Veronica.
It's how we built our brand without burning out. It's how we can sustain ourselves. How did we find them? Let me show you.
- We focused on a single project first.
Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter was our first project. It was dark, funny, and twisted. We took it to shows and watched as the same type of people bought the book over and over. They looked similar, talked similar, and even walked similar. They had similar interests in music, movies, and even clothing brand.
- We launched a second project and found more of the same.
When we launched Katrina, we saw the exact same types of people bought that book as well; the same people who bought Ichabod loved Katrina. People started buying both books at our table and we knew we were onto something. On top of that, our average customer spend grew which meant we could make more content.
- We took all our data and figured out our ideal client avatar.
After Katrina we sat down and thought of all the traits that make up the clients who dug our books the most: artistic, dark, rebellious, twisted sense of humor, anti-authority, college educated, etc. This isn't a 1 to 1 match obviously, there are people who liked our book that didn't fit into that category, but those traits were consistent with people who resonated best with our stuff. Those traits directly led to Ted and Veronica, which are who we market everything to right now.
- We took those ideal customer avatars and figured out how to serve them.
We knew our avatars didn't like BS. They were no muss, no fuss. They wanted straight talk. So our messaging flowed from that. We put our core values, or submission policy and more on our website. We set up an autoresponder sequence geared toward telling people about our core values and what we're about. We focused our weekly newsletter on being transparent, honest, and forthright. We created a podcast to speak to the artistic community and a free course to help them succeed. Our mascot even embodies that punk, rebellious spirit of our avatars.
- We started creating content directly for our avatars
My Father Didn't Kill Himself was a hard nut to crack. It was a different genre, format, and platform that we'd every used before. It was a mystery when our avatar was used to horror. It was a novel when they were used to comics. We didn't understand for a long time how we would be able to sell this book. Then we realized that the spirit of the book and what the book spoke about, was the same as our previous books. It dealt with perception. It dealt with religion. It dealt with deep subject matter in a very entertaining way. It was a black comedy in the way all our other books were dark. That gave us our marketing strategy and the confidence that somebody that liked Ichabod and Katrina for SURE would like My Father Didn't Kill Himself as well.
Now, everything we do is geared toward Ted and Veronica. Every project, every email, every piece of marketing content. It's all for them.
I know, I know, as a creative you don't want to be bound to one type of customer. And that's great and all if you want life to be incredibly hard. If you want to build your market from scratch over and over that's fine. I don't recommend it though because building one audience is hard enough.
I'll tell you a dirty little secret. Since I found my avatars I've been having more fun than I've ever had before. I've been able to find out exactly how to build my brand, cater to my base, and still create things I want to create, all because the stuff I like and the stuff my avatars like are the same.
You have somebody out there that wants what you have to sell. They are out there. If you find them, then you can sell them a book about a psychopath, or one about a devil killing butt kicker, or one about a Goth girl whose father commits suicide and she sets out to prove it's a murder…because you are speaking to the same person again and again with different ways to interest them.
It's the best way to go about it expanding. Discover your ideal customer avatar, find out how to serve that customer, create content for that customer, wash, rinse, repeat.
Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and Kickstarter Consultant. He runs Wannabe Press, Free Kickstarter Course, and Kickstarter University. Find him on twitter @russellnohelty or facebook /russellnohelty. He does it all for his wife, dogs, Ted, and Veronica.