Wanna Be A Crowdfunding Success Story?

Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn so much from crowdfunding success stories. Taking advantage of websites like Kickstarter puts your brilliance on virtual display for a whole host of future customers. But if you want to command major bucks for your company, carefully consider the forthcoming pieces of advice. Incorporating them into your pitch will make your idea that much more investment-worthy and ultimately help you meet your fundraising goal.

1. The Elevator Pitch – If you can’t sell your idea during an elevator ride, LEARN HOW TO DO IT. Embrace the art of writing an elevator speech and then memorize it. Practice it in front of a mirror. Think about a tweet. You get 140 characters to make someone decide to favorite or retweet your thought. Same concept applies here. Two sentences, thirty seconds – compress that story and sell the heck out of it before your target audience loses interest. You have one shot to captivate them. Don’t mess up.

2. Swear Partners To Secrecy? – Not if you want to heighten awareness of your product or service. Pre-launch is super-important because you want to have your “street team” already assembled and evangelizing your offering. Get the word out by leveraging your network, which will best position you for a big splash. Don’t be afraid of someone stealing your idea. Chances are pretty good nobody will run with it and beat you to the punch.

3. Plan For Delays – Challenges often crop up when planning for a product or service release. Best case, you launch on your scheduled date. But always have a contingency plan in place as backup, as well as a communication ready for all the folks eagerly awaiting your launch. You want to keep them personally invested.

4. Just Give Me A Reason – The product is supremely important to prospective investors BUT the story should never be overlooked. To sell a product, you need to establish a reason WHY someone should buy. Use the story to create the perception of need and watch it drive the demand.

What other pearls of wisdom can any of you successful crowdfunders share??

The Swifty Entrepreneur

I’m currently obsessed with Taylor Swift’s newest hit, Style. I admit I wasn’t always a fan but over the past months, I’ve changed my tune, no pun intended. Her music is peppy and catchy but what really impresses me is the way she’s been able to transform her brand into a vocal empire.

 

Three specific things come to my entrepreneurial mind.

1. Know Your Customer – When you’re building a product, you need to be in tune (ha! I did it again!) with the needs and desires of your target audience. Taylor’s demographic is primarily female, primarily millennial. She creates music that appeals to their tastes – snappy, bouncy beats tinged with a bit of heartbreak and vulnerability. We’ve all been there and can relate to the trials and tribulations of dating. Her blatant honesty makes her music that much more refreshing and you want to sympathize with her plight because, really, who hasn’t had their heart pummeled at one time or another?? As women, we band together (OMG, I’m totally on a roll here, right??) and support one another in times of need. It’s just our nature. And with her 40 million Twitter followers, she has a pretty captive audience for those tales of woe.

2. Perfect your Product – As entrepreneurs, we work tirelessly to build and deliver quality products. But if we can’t believe in them wholeheartedly, how the heck can we convince the world to embrace them? Sometimes we need to make choices about our market distribution. Setting the right perception up front goes a long way in resonating with your target customers. If they see you offering your product for a lower value than they perceive it is worth, you may lose them. Consider Taylor’s decision to pull her music from Spotify. Why, you may ask? Because she felt distributing her music through streaming services devalued it. She recognized that perception is reality and being true to her hard work meant she needed to be very selective about her distribution channels.

3. Stay True To Your Brand – Taylor is a crossover success story. She tweaked her image but never strayed from her core which is why she’s sitting pretty at the top of the charts. The beats changed but the message always stayed constant and her fan loyalty persists as a result.

 

Release Day Blitz! “The Design” By R.S. Grey

Title: The Design

Author: R.S. Grey

Release Date: March 1, 2015

Find on Goodreads

Five minutes until the interview begins.

Fresh on the heels of her college graduation, Cameron Heart has landed an interview at a prestigious architecture firm.

Four minutes until the interview. 

She knows she’s only there because the owner, Grayson Cole, is her older sister’s friend.

Three minutes. 

For the last seven years, Grayson has been the most intimidating man Cammie has ever had the pleasure, or displeasure, of being around.

Two Minutes. 

But the job opportunity is too good to pass up. So, Cammie will have to ignore the fact that Grayson is handsome enough to have his own national holiday. 

One. 

After all, she shouldn’t feel that way about her new boss. And, he will be her new boss.

“I’m not scared of you,” I said with a confident smile.

“Perhaps we should fix that, Ms. Heart. Close the door.”

Amazon

I paused just outside of the front doors and took a deep breath, trying to get my bearings. I was twenty minutes early for my interview. My outfit was still wrinkle-free. My pad-folio was filled with extra copies of my resume and reference letters, and I’d rehearsed every possible question that Grayson Cole would ask:

Greatest weakness? My inability to settle for anything less than what I deserve. I’m stubborn and persistent.

The honest answer? My inability to overcome my schoolgirl crush on you even though you’re a self-righteous ass.

I would NOT be giving him the honest answer.

I am a lover of books, chocolate, reality TV, black labs, and cold weather. Seriously, if I had it my way, I would be curled up on the couch with all of those things… everyday.

I live in Texas where I spend my free time writing and reading. My favorite authors include Mindy Kaling & Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m a comedy geek and love all things “funny”. Women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are definitely the biggest inspirations for my writing, though I think my work tends to skew a bit smuttier than theirs.

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Book Blitz & Review – “Shattered” By Pamela Sparkman and Deanna Gohn

Title: Shattered (Stolen Breaths #2)
Author: Pamela Sparkman & Deanna Gohn
Release Date: Oct 13, 2014
Find on Goodreads

Close your eyes for a moment and picture this.

A gorgeous redhead walks into a bar.

No, wait, a wedding reception.

A gorgeous redhead walks into a wedding reception. Poised, polished and flawless – on the outside.

He’s tall, dark, and handsome, exactly like a fairytale prince and he won’t take no for an answer as he leads her to the dance floor.

But this will be no ordinary dance and theirs is no ordinary story. What begins as rhythmic steps on a dance floor fluidly and beautifully becomes the rhythm of two hearts meant to beat as one.

Until the music stops. 

In a moment everything she’s put behind her comes crashing down, threatening to destroy what his love has helped repair and rebuild.

Life throws punches and it hits hard when you least expect it.

What they learn is that sometimes, in order to be truly whole, you have to first be shattered to your very core.

Amazon

Before I even realized what I was doing, I’d reached out and grabbed her hand and pulled her into me; and then I was kissing her.  I’m pretty sure I caught her off guard, since she let out a soft moan.  My hands held her face, and I… forgot how to do this.  My lips froze.  Her lips and mine were touching and nothing more.  The kiss was simple.  It was chaste.  It was precious.  And for a whole minute that’s what we did, touched lips, because I forgot how to do this.  My lips completely paralyzed against hers made this the most innocent and the most sensual kiss I’d ever experienced. 

I slowly, very slowly, backed away. She still had her eyes closed.  She was mesmerizing.  She opened her eyes and looked up at me, her eyes holding mine.

“Don’t say anything,” I quickly told her.  “Just…just let me look at you.”

She complied, and remained silent.  She held my gaze, as I held hers, and I slowly counted in my head all the things I loved about her.  She was beautiful, kind, funny, sophisticated…  The list grew longer as I stared down at her, and I finished my mental list with this realization: she was Maggie, which meant she was everything

“Tomorrow,” I said, “I’m taking you somewhere fun, so get some rest.  And wear comfortable shoes.”  I stepped around her and guided her to the bed, stopping her when she touched the mattress with the back of her knees.  “Lie down, and I’ll tuck you in.”

She still had not said a word, only obliging my requests.  She lay down and I pulled the covers up over her, then reached around and turned off the lamp.  I leaned in, lingering quietly above her, wishing I could tell her what was in my heart.  I placed a kiss on her forehead, a soft whisper of one that lasted for a beat longer than I intended, but not as long as I would have liked, then gently pulled back.

“Night, Maggie,” I said, walking toward the door.

“I didn’t think you would really do it,” she whispered.

“What?  Kiss you?”

“Yeah.”

“I wasn’t going to, but you challenged me.  I guess you could say you made me do it.”

“Is that what I am?  A challenge?”

“You’re definitely a challenge, sweetheart.  It’s a challenge just to keep my hands to myself whenever we’re in the same room.

 

Pamela Sparkman – 

I grew up in Alabama and have always been an avid reader. I had a stack of those Little Golden Books and I can remember reading Three Little Kittens over and over and over again. It was my favorite.

Fast forward and the older I got the more in love with books I became. So, I’m admitting that I am a huge nerd. The only reading I don’t like are those math word problems. And I’m okay with that because no one has ever asked me in real life… “If I give you two bananas and take away six apples, how long will it take the southbound train to collide with the northbound train if Johnny left his house at midnight?” It just doesn’t happen.

So, yeah, books are my thing.

Oh and music. All kinds. Love.It.

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Deanna Gohn – 

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Review

There are so many important elements of a captivating novel – believable, relatable characters you can empathize, laugh and cry with, an entertaining and engaging supporting cast, and a compelling plot.

Let’s start with the main characters.

Joe…no brainer. I immediately loved him to pieces, maybe because there were so many things about his character that reminded me of my husband when we were first dating… =)

I love when characters have little quirks or unique personality attributes and being a master joke-teller was his “thing.” Joe is the kind of guy who goes for what he wants. He doesn’t let anything stand in his way when his sights are set on something…or someone.

Maggie…to be honest, I didn’t really feel like I knew her for most of the story. I saw hints of her past, what the author showed me, but I didn’t feel the effects as much as I would have liked. At least, not until well into the story. I wish I’d been able to get to know her better earlier but I’m glad her history was finally revealed and seeing how she dealt with the hand she’d been dealt really changed my opinion of her for the better.

The secondary characters definitely didn’t disappoint. They all had their own “stuff” going on, making them more multi-dimensional. I especially loved the relationship between Joe and his best friends. I could feel their history and their banter was both humorous and heartfelt.

My impression of the overall story was very good. It was a little slow to start but it gained speed and ultimately captured me. I think the reason why I didn’t love it was because I felt disconnected from Maggie for the better part of the book. Once I truly understood her and her history, things came together and I found myself rooting for her. I wanted her to find her own happiness, to make up for all the past pain.

Overall, I’d give Shattered 4 stars. And I will anxiously await the next installment. =)

Happy Cover Reveal Day!! “Losing Her” By Mariah Dietz

I’m happy to announce the cover reveal for “Losing Her” by Mariah Dietz!

Title: Losing Her (His #2)

Author: Mariah Dietz

Release Date: March 1

Find on Goodreads

Synopsis:

“I loved her and she left. Maybe I wasn’t enough. Maybe I’ll never be enough.” I’ve been thinking these words since before we even got together.

Everything is new. The old no longer has a place here. Physical items are easy to replace. I’m constantly battling the ones that aren’t.

Every thought and memory I have is stained.

By you.

You weren’t even there for half of them.

How is she still present even though she left?

I can do this. I’m going to survive losing her.

*** This is the second book of the His Series, and it DOES end with a cliffhanger. The final book of the His Series, Finding Me, will release June 1, 2015***

 LH Cover

Excerpt:

“Dude, you’ve got to get up.” Jameson sighs as I pull the pillow back over my head. I don’t even know what day it is anymore. I don’t care.

What adds salt to my wounds is the fact that the world keeps turning. People continue waking up and going about their day. The sun rises and sets. I hear kids laugh and play, neighbors greet one another, and birds sing, and all the while I wonder how? How does the entire world appear to be surviving this nightmare of losing her?

****

Hank comes to visit in June. I still haven’t heard from Ace, and yet I’m still staying at my mom’s. I can’t leave. I can’t go back to that house. I’d moved rooms shortly after she left, and now reside in the guest room on the main floor. It’s better this way. There aren’t any pictures of her in here or random memories, like the one of her sitting on my bean bag chair when I was sick last summer. I also don’t have to face the window that looks out onto hers.

Hank knows that I know mom sent for him, hoping that he’d be able to “help” me. She of all people should know that having Hank around isn’t going to help me. He’s fucking married to the love of his life; he doesn’t have a fucking clue about the shit that I’m going through.

Of all things, Hank wants to go camping. I’m sure he thinks that getting away will help. He doesn’t understand that moving rooms has helped me realize I could go to Antarctica, and things wouldn’t change; the distance isn’t going to make the pain any less.

When we get camp set up, Hank opens a cooler and passes me a beer with a giant, shit-eating grin, like we’ve just overcome a huge hurdle. Deciding that I shouldn’t rain on his little douchebag tea party quite yet, I accept the beer with merely a grimace before taking a long swig. Before long, that single swig becomes a chug, and then a guzzle as I consume more alcohol than what three people probably should.

I sit by the fire and close my eyes. My mind automatically reaches back into that locked and forbidden drawer to pull out the image of Ace, striving to recall the sound of her laugh, the feel of her touch. It brings me back to our camping trip last September, when Jameson announced that was what he wanted to do for his birthday.

Couple on beach.

LH Banner

Author Info:

Mariah Dietz lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and two sons that are the axis of her crazy and wonderful world.

Mariah grew up in a tiny town outside of Portland, Oregon, where she spent the majority of her time immersed in the pages of books that she both read and created.

She has a love for all things that include her sons, good coffee, books, travel, and dark chocolate. She also has a deep passion for the stories she writes, and hopes readers enjoy the journeys she takes them on, as much as she loves creating them.

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Author

Happy Cover Reveal Day! “Beneath The Layers” By Mia Rivers

I’m thrilled to announce the cover reveal for the debut contemporary romance novel by Mia Rivers, “Beneath The Layers,” which launches in March 2015.

This fast-paced, sexy novel will keep you wanting more and just wait…when you think it can’t get any hotter, it DOES.

Boom! The ENDING.

Seriously. I gasped.

Synopsis

I have a secret.

A secret that no-one besides my boyfriend, my mother and I know. A secret from my past which has me trapped in a relationship from hell.

Refusing to tell a soul, I’ve kept it balled up inside for the past few years, trying to seem composed for the world while my reality was the complete opposite. I gave up on any hopes of a different life. A life where love and happiness existed. Alex, personally saw to it himself. He made sure it was drilled deep within my brain. This was the hand that life had dealt me. The life I learned to accept.

Until the day I bumped into Nick.

A gorgeous man who’s haunted my thoughts and awakened my desires. A man, whose persistence turned my world upside down, more than it already was. The same man who also happened to be my boss and had a secret of his own. A secret that I couldn’t decipher, even when it stood right in front of me. A secret that would blow me away.

My name is Tara and this is my story.

full-for-cover-reveal

 

Add it to your bookshelf on Goodreads

About The Author

Mia Rivers lives in sunny south Florida with her super-cool son. She channeled her deep-rooted passions for reading and writing into the creation of her very own fictional world. You’ll rarely see her without her treasured Kindle, especially when she’s getting her daily coffee fix at Starbucks.

Find Mia on Facebook Twitter Instagram

See A Need, Fill A Need

Yes, I stole the title from the movie “Robots.”  But I just credited them, so we’re good.  It’s a powerful statement, one that begs a question…

Are people going to pay for your idea or service?

This is the very first question you need to ask yourself as an entrepreneur.  And answer it honestly because if you don’t, you’re going to spend a lot of money chasing down market share that you will never be able to capture.

Something needs to set your offering apart from the rest, otherwise it will become noise.  And people tune out noise.

When my best friend and I created our first handbag collection, we foolishly thought high quality leathers and hardware in vibrant colors would set us apart.  And if that didn’t do it, we always had our little “story” to fall back on.  Krina handbags were designed for the “thinking” woman.  So we included a penny hidden in the lining of each bag.  It was our cute little thing.  Guess what?  Nobody cared.  We loved that design element but it didn’t sell the bags.  It was different, but alas, not different enough.

Ever hear of the Butler bag?  I wasn’t a fan, because the styles didn’t do much for me. Plus, I’m too much of a handbag snob to carry a non-designer bag.  But the utility is what captured the hearts of women everywhere, proof positive that a large chunk of my target market was more concerned with function than fashion. My pennies couldn’t hold up to Jen Groover’s clever way of compartmentalizing life into a structurally-sound handbag.

 

 

 

 

She identified a need and created the solution.  It’s made her a raging success.  Her prices were competitive early on and she was able to claim her market share.  As time has gone on, the pricing increased but her fan base hasn’t wavered.  Kudos, Jen!

Jen Groover addressed a major pain point for women struggling for some degree of organization in their busy lives.  And that’s the name of the game.

Please Brand Me Now!!!!

Branding.

Argh.  Sooo challenging…and so permanent.  It needs to be just right.

Identifying your “brand” is kind of like going to college, where the goal is trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  But at eighteen, who really knows THAT?

You have to pick a major but what are the odds that in a few years you’ll even be interested in pursuing a career in the field?  Your scope of interests expands, you identify and refine your skill sets, you grow as a person. So at the end of the four years, are you where you thought you’d eventually end up?

Haha, not me!

I started out pre-law then decided to become a biology major with grandiose plans of becoming a patent lawyer.  That didn’t work too well, so I tried psychology next, then political science.  Finally, I landed on accounting.  Never used my degree, and the extent of my accounting knowledge is limited to distinguishing a debit from a credit.

The point is, we aren’t the same people at 18 as we are at 25 and then at 40.  We develop and expand our horizons.  So while it’s important to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition, you don’t always know out of the gate who and what you will ultimately become.  The reality may be vastly different than what you imagined.  And that impacts your branding.

I can tell you from personal experience I’ve branded and rebranded myself many times over the years, trying to figure out how I want the world to know me.  This became even more challenging for me as an author because at the end of the day, I write romance novels.  But I am much more multi-faceted – how can I reflect that in my platform?  I finally figured it out, but it was a journey.

I first did an exercise where I created a word cloud.  I wrote down every single interest and skill I have.  It became a little unwieldy, so I narrowed it down.  Way too much for a tagline and nothing of real value popped out.

More introspection followed.

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

I’ve blogged for years, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother with three kids.  Maybe that would be a good platform.  But what’s the hook?  How does that differentiate me from other romance authors?  I’m not the only one with kids and a lot of angst.

It may make me relatable but…it doesn’t set me apart.

I consulted with the experts, read books and articles, searching for inspiration.  I created a bunch of different taglines using the thesaurus app on my phone.  I blogged some more.  I made notes about themes from my books.  Nothing, nothing, NOTHING.

Fast forward a few months.

As I prepared for my upcoming book launch, I realized I needed business cards….and a tagline.  Darn it!  Back to the drawing board.  There was no way I was ordering business cards without a logo from Fiverr.  That site rocks!  And I couldn’t get a logo unless I established a BRAND!

So how can I tie my interests to my books?  I write romance…set in Silicon Valley.  Think venture capitalists, startup CEOs and IPOs…

And now I blog about innovation and entrepreneurship and…IDEAS!  My own personal business experiences combined with interesting startup concepts.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I finally figured myself out.  I am “The Idea Mama, Vogue Entrepreneur and Author.”

It was a good day…and my business cards look fabulous!

The Flower Power Entrepreneur

Do you know what I absolutely hate spending money on?

Greeting cards.

I spend tons on cards for people that may be displayed on a counter for a couple of days and then casually get tossed into the trash.  Even the “discount” cards are still around $2.99.  And let’s not even discuss the dollar store cards.  Much cheaper but…scary-looking!  You know what I mean?  If you’ve ever seen one, we’re on the same page.

But a friend of mine recently formed a business that fundamentally changes the lifecycle of a card.

Channeling her passion for photography, she creates high-quality greeting cards featuring removable photos of exotic florals.  So not only are you presenting a card, but a photo that the recipient can display and enjoy long after the occasion.

Her website, www.flowerpowerphotocards.com, displays 13 different designs, reasonably priced at $2.75 per card plus shipping. The 4″ x 6″ photographs are mounted on fine card stock. The blank card measures 4.5″ x 6.25″ and an envelope is included.

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Nobody in their right mind would throw THESE cards away!

It Can’t Just Be Smart…It Needs To Be Vogue

It can’t just be a “smart” watch.

Because Apple would effectively eliminate and alienate every style-and-label-conscious consumer in its target audience.

Common objection to an iDevice gracing my wrist – Why do I need a smart watch?  I’d rather sport a Chanel J-12 or my Cartier Balloon Bleu.  I have an iPhone…with a super blingy case…I’m good.

Well, I guess Apple got the memo because the company recently added some big designer names to its payroll – Burberry Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts, Yves Saint Laurent’s Paul Deneve, Nike’s Ben Shaffer and now Marc Newson.

And the designs?

Let’s just say Apple should definitely see a positive ROI under the direction of their recent hires.

The watch designs combine fashion and function.  A selection of elements – from bands to faces to color, textures and metals – will certainly satisfy varied tastes of the masses.  Your watch can emulate your personal style – and still deliver on the smart part.

Check out Apple’s website for all of the combinations.  You can go as high-end as you want and select leather complimented with an 18 karat gold finish.  Or maybe you’d prefer something more sporty – go for the space gray aluminum and a more modular face.  The customizable possibilities are extensive.  There really is a style for everyone.

2015 should be a pretty lucrative year for Apple.   =)

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