While a lot of crowdfunding projects are successful, a much bigger number fail. Looking at the Kickstarter stat page shows that of their 340,154 projects, 119,828 have been successfully funded while 215,694 haven’t reached their goals. While these aren’t lottery ticket odds, it highlights the importance of having a good strategy. To help you reach your crowdfunding goals we’ll talk about content marketing and how it can help your project.
I want you to imagine 2 different scenarios and afterward, we’ll compare them.
In the first, you’re walking down Main street in your hometown and a random guy approaches you, his name is Steve. Steve has a great idea, but he needs money to fund it. His plan for funding his project is to approach random strangers and ask them for money. In return, he promises a great product in six months. How likely are you to give Steve your money? Depending on how much he wants, you might risk it.
The problem is you don’t really trust Steve and only gave him money because it was a small amount. This means you’re not excited about his project and won’t be a promoter. Also, Steve will end up working much longer to reach his goal, and won’t benefit from the free marketing an excited audience could bring to his project.
Steve’s situation is pretty glum, right?
In the second scenario, we have a guy who’s working on a different project, his name is Max. Max decided on a different approach for his crowdfunding project. Instead of randomly approaching people, he’s setting up an information booth. He will spend 20 minutes with anyone who is interested in improving their life, by explaining how his product will help.
After Max explains the problems that inspired him to make his product and how these problems affect them he mentions his project. He shows how he has created an affordable solution and that they have an opportunity to be one of the first to support it. After all, one of the draws of a crowdfunding project is to be one of the first to try a new product.
Which one of these scenarios do you think is more likely to be a success? I would choose the second. Max obviously has a strategy. He focuses on a common pain point so his audience realizes they would like a solution. Then he makes his pitch to an audience that cares.
A crowdfunding project is like starting a business. If you were going to start a business, would you leave out the marketing strategy? That’d be like going to the bank for a business loan with no business plan. They would reject your loan before you even started.
How can you avoid marketing like Steve and achieve crowdfunding success?
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can implement a successful content marketing strategy, how it affects your campaign and how you can get started.
Content marketing is the creation and sharing of online material that generates interest in your products and services. But unlike many sales and marketing tactics, you’re creating content that answers your ideal client’s questions and provides a real solution to their problems as it relates to your field.
Your content marketing plan is centered around teaching your audience and establishing your brand as an expert on the subject.
When we think back to the first 2 scenarios, why were you more willing to invest in Max. For three reasons: first, by teaching instead of selling he established himself as the expert. Naturally, we like to buy from people who know what they’re doing.
Second, by teaching and giving away his time for free Max started to build a relationship of trust with you. He showed you that he has your best interests in mind. Finally, he solved a problem. No product is truly enticing unless it solves a problem.
So, let me ask you, will being recognized as an expert, building trust with potential customers, and solving their problems help your campaign?
Of course, it will!
There are two steps you need to take before pumping out content. First, you need to understand your motivation. Second, you need to understand your ideal customer.
You may be thinking, that’s obvious; who doesn’t know why they do something? Unfortunately, a lot of people! A helpful tool for understanding our motivation is Simon Sinek’s golden circle. It helps you answer the question “why,” which he points out is what people buy. We tend to buy with our gut and our feelings a lot more than we’d like to admit. That’s why it’s so important to understand our motivation. When we understand why we do something we can use it in our message and give customers something to get behind.
If you’d like to hear the full TED talk watch How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek.
Next, you need to define your ideal customer. This is referred to as a buyer persona in the marketing world. You’ll create a profile for your ideal customer which will include a real name, age, occupation, education level, worries, etc. By being as specific as possible you can create ultra-targeted content that your persona will enjoy. Hubspot has a great template that will help you create effective buyer personas.
All this research might not be as glamorous as you imagined. But, if you put in the time to research and collect data, you’ll be able to create effective, and engaging content.
Before you put the pen to the paper, there is one more thing to decide. Figure out what kind of style you will be communicating with. The work we did on buyer personas will help us with this.
Why is this important? Imagine your ideal customer is a hardcore biker. But you wrote all your content in a chill surfer dude style. While you might appeal to some who secretly long to be by the ocean catching the perfect wave. The majority will mentally check out right away, significantly reducing favorable responses to your content.
Here are some questions that can help you pick your style and then fine tune it after you’ve produced your content:
- What kind of person would my audience respect?
- What kind of person would my audience find interesting?
- Does my message sound natural when a friend reads it out loud?
- Would I be interested in this content?
- Can I visualize a real person behind my message?
This is where you get to solve your customer’s problems by answering questions. We’ll be discussing 4 ways you can do this, but there are a lot more.
1. Blog Posts
Blog Posts are the backbone of most websites today. They’re versatile content tools, that can be written in long or short formats depending on your audience. This article is an example of a long form blog post. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a blog post?
Blog posts are one of the cheapest forms of content to produce. They are also easy to update as your company changes. Remember how Max did a good job teaching people about his product and generated interest for his product. Blog posts are excellent teaching tools. Some popular formats for writing blog posts include the ‘how-to’ post, the ‘why’ post, and the ‘list’ post. All of these are great when solving customer’s problems and generating excitement.
A study by ResearchNow says that 84% of people base their buying decisions on blogs and another study by Technorati says it’s 31%. Whether it’s 84% or 31% or somewhere in the middle, do you want to lose out on half of your potential market? Of course not! The numbers tell A story, and that story shows us that blogging can make A big difference for your company.
But don’t just write posts willy-nilly. The quality of your writing influences how people feel towards your brand. Paying attention to your grammar, the usefulness of the info, and avoiding useless words are ways you can improve the quality.
2. Bait Piece
A Bait Piece is an incentive for potential clients to give you their information, resulting in a lead. For example, if you wanted to create a bait piece for your photography business you might create one titled “5 tips for taking better pictures with your smartphone.”
But even when your audience connects with your message, they’re not always ready to pull the trigger. Your bait piece helps you build a list of leads, which you can use to keep in touch and stay on your customer’s minds. We all hope no one will forget us, but no matter how memorable you are, real life is distracting.
Some people shy away from the time investment required for A great bait piece. But imagine that you try to go fishing without bait. You’d be hoping that A fish will accidentally wrap its mouth around the hook. While that could happen, it’s extremely unlikely. People, on the other hand, are much smarter than fish, and A lot harder to catch. If you don’t provide something of value to attract people to your product the odds are against you.
3. Email Newsletter
An Email Newsletter is a regular article or collection of interesting articles that you send to people who have opted in by email.
Like the bait piece, a newsletter gives you the opportunity to stay on the customer’s mind. But, not all newsletters are created equal. I have unsubscribed from a ridiculous amount of newsletters over the years. Ask yourself if you’d be interested in reading what you’re writing. If not, then your customers won’t be either.
Do newsletters really work?
A while ago I signed up for MailChimp, A service for email marketing. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to use their software yet. But, because of their interesting newsletters, whenever I talk about email marketing MailChimp is in the conversation. In fact, when thinking of an example for A great newsletter, they were the first to pop into my head. It’s clear that A newsletter does keep your product on people’s minds. It can be an incredibly useful tool especially when you’re planning for the long-term success of your crowdfunding project.
This type of content requires a regular commitment, which can be a turn-off. But you can set own terms, some companies send newsletters weekly, while others only send them every couple of months. Find out what your readers want and meet those expectations. Although with a crowdfunding project, it’s a good idea to send something regular because of the time constraints of a campaign.
Videos are another powerful content marketing tool.
How much do people read today? Honestly, not as much as they should, but most won’t complain about watching a short video. Especially if it’s something they’re interested in. The saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ comes to mind here. If a picture is worth a thousand words then, how many words is a video worth?
With stats that high it’s hard to see why anyone would pass up on this effective method.
What holds some people back is that videos can be difficult and time-consuming to create at a professional quality. Fortunately, there are companies dedicated to helping crowdfunding projects produce effective videos and as the numbers show the investment is often worth it.
By now we’ve talked about what content marketing is and why it’s important. We’ve also discussed what you need to do before you get started, and different methods you can use for this type of marketing. So, what’s next?
Remember when we compared your crowdfunding project to a business. We did that for a reason, once your campaign is over you don’t want to lose all your support. The goal is to give your project the push it needs to be a successful business.
Your crowdfunding campaign and content strategy have a symbiotic relationship. As your campaign gains traction, your content strategy helps you capture customer data and add it to your list. Meanwhile, as your content strategy draws in an audience they’ll be directed to your project page.
This can be summed up in this equation: crowdfunding campaign + content marketing = successfully funded project
But let’s add one more thing.
You now can delight those customers. Imagine that a month after your customers receive your product you send them an article titled 10 ways you can use [your product] that will blow your mind. In that article, they find super practical ways to use your product. You just went above and beyond their expectations and now they can’t wait to tell others.
Now you’ve turned success into this: crowdfunding campaign + content marketing + delight = brand loyalists
Now you’ll enjoy the ease of selling to fans instead of strangers.
Content marketing makes you more adaptable as a business. Because of the extra customer interaction, you get the opportunity to collect a lot of data. When done right this data helps you learn your customers likes and dislikes.
With this information, you can make changes to your project that will give you a more favorable reaction when it’s developed. It can also help you develop the next version and build complementary products.
It’s like your customers are doing the work for you and giving you the building blocks for the future.
Don’t wait until your projects almost over to create a content strategy, start today and get funded.