The crowdfunding concept has revolutionised access to startup capital, making it possible for relatively unknown startups, charities and artists among others to raise necessary funds to launch their project, as well as raise awareness of their project on a global scale. From the most well-known platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Crowdfunder, to specific non-profit platforms such as Hubbub and StartSomeGood for social enterprises, there are many different crowdfunding sites to choose from.
And whilst it’s relatively quick and easy to launch a crowdfunding campaign, the ones that succeed are those that have put time and energy into carefully crafting the right message at the right time to the right audience. Regardless of how amazing your product or service promises to be, your venture probably won’t succeed unless what you’re offering is liked by or seen by enough people. So to help you avoid the common crowdfunding pitfalls, we share 5 ways you can prepare for your crowdfunding campaign to be a success.
Build your tribe
You need to start to build a tribe of people aware of and interested in your project – crowdfunding donations tend to come from people that already know about a project. You’ll need to start this exercise way before setting up your crowdfunding activity, so to do this, brainstorm who is already in your network, for example friends and family, your school’s alumni network, student and local press, local incubators, professors and institutions and organisations in your field.
Then think long and hard about who the target market for your product or service is and whether your current network fits this. If not, plan how you will reach out to more of the right audience for your product or service. This exercise forces you to focus your efforts on the right people – you don’t want to spend hours promoting your campaign to find it only receives a few (kind) donations from your mum and your next door neighbour! Plus, it will also give you a better idea of how to communicate your project more effectively.
Warm up your audience (before asking them for anything)
All good comedians know it’s important to warm up the crowd before the main act, and the same applies to your project. Before you start your crowdfunding activity, tell as many people as possible about your project and what you’re trying to achieve, without asking anything from them. Share your story about why you started your company, how it has grown so far as well as your vision for the future in order to win people’s hearts and minds. Best-selling leadership author Simon Senek famously said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
Then, when you have an engaged group of fans, you can pitch them your crowdfunding proposal to help you achieve your goals. Ask your tribe to write a personal email to 5 – 10 people in their network asking for support, either by sharing your project with their networks or by making a donation. Your community will therefore share your story on your behalf, to help give your campaign momentum.
Keep it personal
It’s important to think long and hard about how your product or service will benefit the lives of your target audience, because this will influence how you communicate your project. It will also impact the types of incentives you will need to offer to convert people to support your project. Think about how your project provides your audience with convenience, time-saving, entertainment or personal development, and then make your messaging so compelling, it’s impossible to ignore.
Prepare how, what, when and who you will communicate with
There are so many ways that startups can promote their message with little or no budget, from creating funny shareable social media campaigns, to flash mobs, to getting a celebrity behind your campaign. Crazy ideas are great to spike exposure, but you also need to maintain regular communication with your audiences across a range of different channels. To get the maximum exposure for your crowdfunding activity, create a plan for the entire duration of the crowfunding campaign, detailing who you’ll contact, when, with what content, over which channels. Share it with everyone working on the project so everyone is on board to work together to make the campaign a success.
Plus, plan what new content and updates you will communicate throughout to keep the campaign fresh and top of mind. Put aside the necessary time and resources to create new interesting content throughout the duration of your project, such as personal thank you videos to donators, interesting infographics, photos, funding milestones, and behind the scenes content.
Show your gratitude
Saying thank you is one of the simplest and most important parts about crowdfunding. Before you even start, think about how you will communicate with and show gratitude to people that support your project, whether that’s through shout outs on social media, a personalised letter or email or something more personal to your brand. And don’t forget to follow up with your supporters about the progress of your project and what their generous donations were used for!