Spend it to make it? How one startup invested in influencer marketing to drive a Kickstarter campaign

It’s widely acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges faced by almost every startup is how they market their products and services effectively, especially when it comes to putting them in the hands of potential customers.

Before the internet, entrepreneurs without solid financial backing had to rely putting up flyers, going door-to-door, and taking out an ad in their local paper. Today there are so many more tools to help them reach the right audience, and social media in particular has made it much easier to communicate with people all around the world.

Kathrin Hamm, Co-Founder of SOMNOS explains that doesn’t mean marketers all of a sudden have it easy. Since everyone has access to the same tools, small businesses face fierce competition, fighting for consumers’ attention in a saturated market. If you’re not targeting the right people and standing out in the sea of brand content online it can be tough – and it’s even more difficult when you have a limited budget.

That was the challenge we faced at SOMNOS® when we launched our Kickstarter campaign last year. We had created a range of weighted comforters designed to relieve stress and insomnia, improve sleep, and lead to increased energy during the day, but needed to raise €20,000 to help bring the product to market in the US.

What we found was that while the Kickstarter website and the systems for managing funds are readily available, the most difficult part was how to make it seem like a real product worthy of investment. Weighted comforters are a well-known concept within the medical community, but we needed to demonstrate the benefits of having one for personal use.

Equally, we knew knew that there are countless crowdfunding campaigns out there that are just concepts or pipe dreams, whereas we had a fully finished, high-quality product ready for market.

So with that in mind, we decided to invest in a small budget into an influencer marketing campaign to coincide with the funding round, allowing us to put the product in the hands of real people and generate authentic examples of it in use.

Working with managed influencer platform Takumi, we gifted 20 influencers a comforter in advance of the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. They oversaw the whole campaign, sourcing and briefing a variety of different influencers, like singles who worked and traveled a lot, and mothers with young children, in order to showcase its use in different situations and appeal to various audiences.

This allowed us to reach a new demographic outside of the usual target for weighted comforters; a younger segment of 25-45 year olds who might not be aware of the concept but could benefit from a better night’s sleep, and when the campaign went we saw an immediate impact.

We managed to smash our initial funding target in just 12 hours, and went on to raise more than $170,000 USD – seven times our original goal. The 20 influencer posts also generated a total reach of over 455,847 people, giving an average engagement rate of 4.52 percent, and our Instagram followers increased of over 430 percent in the subsequent 20 days.

The most significant statistic though, is that we were also able to trace 42 per cent of backers on Kickstarter to Instagram. Seeing people share the benefits of the weighted comforter with their friends and followers lent credibility to our brand and product, and we found that in turn drove funding. The campaign also gave us 20 high quality visual assets showing people enjoying the SOMNOS® product, which we could then reuse in our own channels and for other marketing purposes.

As a business, it has helped us to launch into the US and as we move forward into new products and markets influencer marketing will undoubtedly be a part of our plans. It was once described to us as a dark art, something only within the reach of firms with big budgets – but we’ve seen how it can drive huge awareness, and even investment.

For startups and small businesses like us, it’s definitely worth considering, in particular for consumer goods. In a crowded market, it might just help you stand out.