Deciding to start a crowdfunding project is a big idea that requires proper planning. Launching into a project without proper thought or an action plan can leave you left staring at a big fat zero in your crowdfunding account and a dream falling flat. With a little preparation though, you can be certain that you are giving yourself a great chance at crowdfunding success.
A key part of your crowdfunding campaign, whether you are a new or long-established business, is the marketing and advertising you undertake for this. There are a number of popular crowdfunding sites out there but simply posting a project and sitting back to wait for strangers to dip in their pockets for you, will get you nowhere fast.
The most lucrative crowd-funding projects have a number of key points in common – and the common denominator in all of these is compelling copy. The words you use and the approach you take with them will very much dictate how well you collect supporters and funds.
Here is a list of some of the things you should consider, prepare and get going with when planning a crowdfunding campaign.
Know your audience
Whether you are a start-up, charity or a business launching a project, knowing who you are aiming your campaign at is crucial. You need to know the likely age group, gender, location and interests of your ideal customer as a bare minimum. You can get this information from looking at similar projects, competitors or your existing sales market. With this in mind, you then need to:
Build your audience – in advance!
Don’t launch blindly into a campaign and expect the internet to work its magic. The web is a big old place and being ‘out there’ is not enough. Anyone can do that - just imagine all the rubbish floating around in space. It is true that only the brightest stars get noticed (I know, cheesy but true) so make sure you stand out.
You need to spend at least a couple of months building a social media presence through Facebook and Twitter in order to gather the attention of your customers. Once you have established a platform, you will not only know how viable your idea is (if you can’t get a Facebook Like, you are unlikely to get money out of people’s pockets) but you will also be able to gather comments and feedback to feed the planning of your campaign. Listen to your audience, nurture them (keep up the social media regularly – people get bored quickly and unfollow quicker) and show them that you are serious. Even if you don’t have much to say about your project at this stage, you can keep up to date with news and relevant information in order to learn and prove your credibility.
Treat your Facebook posts and tweets as mini-adverts - use correct copy by enlisting a copywriter. They will be able to establish your tone of voice to ensure it is relevant and believable as well as make sure your posts are flawless. Errors and spelling mistakes will make you look both unprofessional and untrustworthy – and one thing you need to earn is your audience’s trust. No one wants to invest in someone they do not trust.
Make a video
The vast majority of successful crowdfunding campaigns have one thing in common – a video. Videos on your campaign page will make your project real – be it launching a new business idea or raising funds for a local charity. Whilst the internet has the power to connect people who are worlds apart, it does give us all the ability to hide behind a screen or at the least, seem a little unreal to one another. There is a lot to be said for human skin and flesh – put a face to your project and show them who you are. By explaining your project and presenting it honestly, you can engage your audience by personalising your requests for funds. Plan your script – you need to be inviting, exciting, factual and most of all: build a relationship. No one night stands – you are building for the future and this is for the long haul. Think attract and convince, not bore or deter. More marriage proposal than chat-up line.
Think about your rewards
Small rewards work best as they ensure you don’t lose too much revenue whilst also trying to create it. However, a pen and a badge isn’t going to get you very far. Small doesn’t have to mean worthless. Gifts should be quality and unique, services should be deliverable, discounts should be exclusive and experiences should be exciting.
Your crowdfunding campaign page
There is no way around this one; you need someone who is good with words to write this for you. Not just someone with a strong command of English but someone for whom writing is their business. You wouldn’t use an unlicensed driver for your taxi service, nor a ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’ type for your chef, so ensure that your copy is professionally written. A copywriter (cough, cough...me?...cough) will know how to grab attention, gather leads and generate sales through words. Your copywriter should keep that same tone of voice developed from your social media but cut the waffle and make sure the facts are included. Testimonials, if you can get them, work wonders for adding weight to your copy and explaining why a supporter should invest in you, so try to gather these in advance.
Tweet it, post it, blog it, email it – even WhatsApp it! Get the word out there – you should already have an audience established so now is the time to tell them. Adapt the copy so it is relevant for your medium but keep it consistent. Don’t use automatically generated posts or bland copy and paste. It shows when thought hasn’t gone into a post or advert. Use your copywriter to market your launch – when you consider how many times posts can get shared, re-tweeted or forwarded you will realise how important the copy for this is. Think of each launch message as a little voice speaking up in a crowd – a voice for which you want to create a strong echo.
Once you have launched, don’t get lazy either – timelines and newsfeeds change every minute and once something drops off, it’s quickly forgotten. That is not to say you want to post or tweet all the time – this can be annoying and for good reason as it is considered spam. Don’t do it, it makes you look silly.
Thank your backers
Celebrate the first, praise the next, tweet the third. Let them know you are aware of their support, thank them and make them feel special. Make other people who are yet to invest, also want to be part of something special.
Again, you need to consider the copy of this carefully. What may have worked with your audience on Facebook won’t necessarily be suitable for getting the attention of big backers or organisations. Ensure that you mention your USP or the cause you are striving for straight away – the benefits to the reader are more important than where you were when you dreamed up this idea. You also need to be clear why you are different to other campaigns. Present all the key information as succinctly as possible. Consider adding an info sheet with key points for ease.
Keep an eye on your project
As the end nears and you get close to your target, gear up your marketing futher using the resources and information you have gathered so far. Go for one last push. Don’t let people miss out on the chance to be part of something special!
If all these ideas have you thinking about how you would like to launch a crowdfunding campaign, grow a business project or simply start up - drop me a line and let’s chat about how to make it happen.