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Case Study: Successfully Funding a $40,000 Kickstarter Campaign, with Sarah Towle

Sarahtowel200Sarah Towle is a successful author, educator, and entrepreneur who came to me with a big dream. She was ready to take her business, Time Traveler Tours & Tales, to the next level and was looking for a collaborator to help her develop the right strategy.

Time Traveler Tours & Tales shapes interactive stories from historical events, people, and places, just as a sculptor extracts the statue hiding within a block of stone. These stories are then offered to audiences where they want them most: in print or audio, on a tablet or mobile device.

I helped Sarah and her team move from “Is this really viable?” to “We did it!”

Key milestones we reached:

  • We successfully launched and funded a $40,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund a new StoryApp Tour to bring author Mary Hoffman’s In the Footsteps of Giants to life.
  • We crafted a messaging strategy that included a weekly email newsletter, which now has hundreds and hundreds of subscribers.
  • Sarah is now being invited to speak at conferences about her expertise; this, without any pitching on her part.

Today, Time Traveler Tours & Tales is thriving, and Sarah has attracted a core audience made up of people who look forward to hearing from her each week — and who have raised their hands (and opened their wallets) to actively support her work.

Our Goals

A long-time educator and author, Sarah was already operating Time Traveler Tours & Tales, with one StoryApp and title under her belt, when she contacted me. She had big dreams of expanding her multi-format, interactive publishing imprint but lacked a plan for making her dream a reality. She had a vision and a lot of good ideas, but felt as if she was throwing ideas at the wall, hoping something would stick. By bringing on a collaborator, Sarah’s goal was to develop a strategy for growing her business, and help prioritizing the steps in that process. Her big-picture goals were to:

  • Clarify her messaging
  • Identify her ideal audience
  • Turn audience awareness into clear actions: subscribers and backers

Sarah was preparing to sign author Mary Hoffman, and wanted to ensure Time Traveler Tours & Tales would be a place other authors would be drawn to in the future. Therefore, Sarah’s specific goals were:

  • Plan the steps for expanding her publishing imprint
  • Launch a new StoryApp for Mary Hoffman’s In the Footsteps of Giants, which tells the story of the making of Michelangelo’s David.

The Solution

We began with clarifying her branding, messaging, and honing her communication channels.

First, we had to understand Sarah’s clients’ vision, and hone her messaging so that her audience understood it. Then we did loads of ideation and custom research. This wasn’t about fitting Sarah into a template, but understanding her (and her team), understanding her vision, then doing the creative work needed to make it a reality.

Another pressing challenge was how to fund the launch of the new StoryApp for In the Footsteps of Giants. After extensive research, we made the decision to pursue a Kickstarter campaign. Our goal: $40,000.

This involved lots of cold hard research — the stuff that others skip. We didn’t just read an article or two about Kickstarter best practices; we read every article. We sought out and interviewed those who had successfully funded similar campaigns. We visited the Kickstarter headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and partnered with their in-house publishing expert for all the advice she could possibly give. We crafted plan after plan, idea after idea. What’s more, we actually listened to the advice we received, pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones again and again. You can read more details here.

The Results

We researched, launched, and successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign, which provided more than $40,000 in funding to Sarah’s project, with 277 backers.

You can see details of the Kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2091425754/a-new-storytelling-form-brings-history-to-life/description

We crafted a weekly email newsletter that now has hundreds of subscribers who love hearing from Sarah every week.

She is being asked to speak at more conferences to talk about her work.

And most importantly: Sarah and her team are now producing In the Footsteps of Giants with Mary Hoffman, and seeking out ways to expand to other titles.

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