Attention creators! What is so exciting in a card game about kittens, laser beams, explosions and sometimes goats, and what has it to do with you? In case you missed it, it is a model for successful crowdfunding—right from pre-launch. Crowdfunding success may mean a flurry of different things to different creators and projects, but consider what Exploding Kittens, the name of the game, has accomplished.
Exploding Kittens has accomplished:
the number of backers pledged
comments from followers on online crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter
number of updates made by Exploding Kittens
successfully raised this amount of money to fund the project.
As a matter of fact, the average crowdfunding campaign raises about $7000, according to industry experts.
Notice that we’ve put backers pledged, comments and updates stats ahead of the amount raised. We’ll discuss that in a minute.
Elan Lee, the creator of Exploding Kittens, is still dazed at how they overshot their initial funding goal—by 87,825 percent to be exact, as at February 20, 2015. This is crowdfunding success at its finest. But you are a smart creator, and you do know that something smart must’ve been done not only during the crowdfunding campaign but, more importantly, before Elan Lee and Co. tried to launch their funds drive.
Marketing your crowdfunding idea starts long before you try to launch it. The most backed crowdfunding campaigns in history didn’t start on the day they launched. As such, to the keen observer, great achievements in crowdfunding are hardly surprises. They showed the right signs for success that were observable from a mile off.
In fact, crowdfunding campaigns that net about 5% of their crowdfunding goal pre-launch, have a 50% chance of reaching their crowd funding goal. On the other hand, those that launch with 0% have a slim 15% chance of nailing their goal. Contrary to popular belief, a good number of those successes don’t involve fat pre-launch marketing wallets, large start-up teams or out of the ordinary viral marketing tools either for their pre-launch campaign.
Given, your pre-crowdfunding marketing budget will determine what length you can move to ensure your idea becomes a reality. So, how do you conduct successful pre-launch marketing on a tight budget, before your crowdfunding campaign kicks off?
Pre-Crowdfunding Marketing Tools for a Barebones Budget
You want to rally support from like-minded or interested people for your cause, product, service, anything. So that they can flood “the scene” with powerful messages about what you are about to launch. Here are free, cheap and affordable resources to use to drum up support before launching that crowdfunding campaign.
A. Education tools
Knowledge is power. Getting the right information in advance sets you on a course with fewer mistakes. Check out the crowdfunding tools below to quench your thirst for peer funding knowledge.
1. The Ultimate Crowdfunding To Do List by Nathaniel Hansen
This comprehensive guide to crowdfunding (starting from pre-launch prepping) was put together by successful filmmaker Nathaniel Hansen. Nathaniel has also written a detailed guide on the 7 things to consider before launching that Kickstarter funding campaign.
2. Kickstarter Blog
The largest and most popular crowdfunding platform by projects funded has a detailed guide/blog on everything crowdfunding. From big advice on how to draft your crowdfunding budget estimates to lesser details such as how to take a break from campaigning, the Kickstarter blog has seen a good number of crowdfunding successes and failures and posts great information on there.
Quick Tip: Use this tool to study up on the competition and what they did right to succeed, or what they missed and failed.
3. Digital Tutors
Are you totally green to crowdfunding? Want custom crowdfunding lessons to help you launch a successful campaign from scratch? Learn exclusive insights, techniques, and what-not for a small fee from the pros. Their basic plan goes for $29 per month and the Plus plan for $49 per month.
B. Pitch Content tools
To help up your pitching ante, check out these supporting tools:
Use them to prototype your product to show to your potential clients. Arqspin will help you make 360-degree renderings of your product to feature as part of your pitching content.
Create 3D rendering of your product through cool and effective animation. The tool can help you make a great pitch video.
An absolutely free tool for sharing crowdfunding video with like-minded people. The YouTube of crowdfunding videos.
7. Universal Media Consultants
Amplifies your messages to reach 10,000 people. Have your messages establish your online presence as an expert and attract support from online networking websites by using UMC.
Use this freelancers’ platform to hire an expert copywriter, scriptwriter, pitch video creators and editors for an engaging copy to improve your pitching—for as low as $3/hour. You can hire freelancers as need rises so that it won’t hurt your budget.
C. Pre-crowdfunding Tools to Spread the Word of Your Project like Crazy
In marketing, the least expensive tools don’t necessarily offer raw deals—far from it. Neither do the most expensive marketing tools or agencies make the final cut. Check out the following tools.
9. Social Media – Content Marketing Tools
Social media is the best tool to use to market your crowdfunding campaign like crazy, coming only second to your pitch message. Social media networking is an integral tool for your outreach phase of pre-launch marketing.
You can do all your crowdfunding campaign with practically no budget at all. The catch, though, is that you need to start early and be persistent in your clarion calling. We urge starting about 1-3 months before the crowdfunding campaign, depending, of course, on your current people network and tools you have at your disposal for an all out, guns blazing pre-launch marketing campaign.
Because what you are trying to build is a community of ardent backers and potential buyers too, it can take time for others to get to know and trust you.
Smart and effective use of social media is the primary reason at the beginning of this post we put the number of backers, comments, and updates by Exploding Kittens ahead of the almost $9 million amount raised for the game. The more people you engage and develop a rapport with, and attract to visit your social media pages or landing pages, the higher your chances of converting them from just being interested in your idea, to committing money to your venture.
Understand that not all people that visit your sites will be willing or able to commit monetary benefit to your campaign. Typically, 1 in 5 interested people will be willing to invest any amount of cash—but one is better than none at all.
Social media hosts multifaceted possibilities to grow a niche community:
- Chat rooms
- Online forums
- Facebook groups
- Twitter groups
- Google+ groups
- YouTube follows
- Blogging and commentary
- LinkedIn groups
- Membership-only websites and so on.
How to choose the best social media account for your crowdfunding campaign, is an interesting and hot debate that’d require an entirely new article for itself. But what Facebook can do for your funding drive is different from what LinkedIn, or Instagram, or YouTube, or a WordPress or Blogger niche blog will help accomplish.
Again, depending on your project campaign’s scale, you can go in and update your status, tweet, link with and comment and share on multiple platforms by yourself. Alternatively, if your friends want in, you can let them help hit up social media engagement by sharing your story, what problem you want to solve and how your product could change the way they do things.
If you have and are willing to spend some money on professional social media management services, here are some to review:
If managing multiple social media accounts feels like too much work, HootSuite brings all your social accounts together in one place. From your free HootSuite account, you can read, respond and share to multiple accounts easily and conveniently at any time to keep your audience up and bubbly.
- Sprout Social
D. Intensifying Your Crowdfunding Goal
To help intensify your crowdfunding goal, emphasise on making your pre-launch activities event-like. Update followers on social media and project-oriented blog on progress and upcoming events before you launch the actual crowdfunding drive.
Associate and involve backers and potential customers in the creation process of the product and they’ll love you for it. It is what they want. It is what you need. It will go a long way in securing both short and long-term backers.
To achieve this end, here are more tools you can use to ease and supercharge your pre-crowdfunding marketing on a low budget.
10. Guest posting
This is one (financially and legally) free, but impactful way to get yourself out there. Industry knowledge is your greatest asset here, and Googling around for the latest happenings in your product niche will make you wiser.
Guest posting is the art of sending quality write ups to niche websites or blogs, or other influential publisher avenues. Ideally, the quality content effectively articulates your take on current issues that relate to your product. This is content marketing, and it positions you as an expert. An industry opinion shaper. A leader to follow. It works, but it can take a bit of time.
You’ll want to be well informed on whose blog or niche magazine you need to feature on. This means you’d have to follow the owners on social media too, and consistently leave sincere, thoughtful or light moment comments, so they get to notice you over time.
Says it can connect you with over 20,000 journalists to pitch your idea to. You can use MuckRack to receive alerts and pitch to journalists after they’ve tweeted something relating to your product. Costs start at a monthly fee of $199.
Use this database of journalists and media correspondents for your press outreach. You can then go on to establish a specific reporter’s location, contact information, social media handles and their niche or areas of interest.
Do this in advance and that popular blogger in your product niche, opinion maker, journalist, industry insider, radio or TV personality, etc., will mention your campaign (ideally, vouch for you too) severally. Could be in one or more of their posts, email blasts, broadcasts, or better still, invite you to, or give you the nod if you want to write a post on their blog. This is when you have the chance to highlight your product and how it is just funds away from helping solve the readers’ problems.
E. Say it with Imagery
The artists over at 99designs will design for you an appropriate, appealing and professional logo or campaign graphics. Hiring a dedicated graphics artist can be a major expense when you are working on a barebones budget. 99designs provides a cheap, custom art solution.
Alternatively, if you have an artistic bone in you, use GIMP free of charge for graphics design. The tool features almost all the bells and whistles of Photoshop but is absolutely free. You can always use an effective alternative tool to the mainstream, especially when it’s free.
6. Say it with Video
You can record short videos to feature your project idea in a visual demonstration. You can even use your phone to do so before you’ve built a budget for an all-out campaign if you choose to spend more. A video is more engaging than text and photo content combined. Video brings motion and realistic edge to your pitch. Whether you decide to sign up for a free account on YouTube, or send the video to friends on your phone’s contact list via WhatsApp, or to a viral network, the choice is yours. In addition to the above, here are more tools to help create those engaging video commercials.
This tool helps edit all your video content and video commercials. iMovie for Mac users features resourceful functionalities for $14.99 per download.
16. Adobe Premiere Pro CC
This is premium video editing software from Adobe that hosts a great deal of features, functionalities, and great customization options, but at a premium price. Go for it if you are willing and able to splash some cash on it.
F. The Tech Side of the Crowdfunding Game
17. Product Website
Every successful crowdfunding campaign before had a website, a landing page where interested supporters can get to know more about you as a person and also more about your project. Where you can also net email addresses to create a crowdfunding contact list to update supporters later on.
Details such as rewards (for rewards-based crowdfunding), explanations on technical aspects of the project and product are best detailed here. It is a one-stop shop for your campaign that’ll help you build credibility with supporters.
A product website will help you build momentum for your pre-launch crowdfunding by providing almost free website hosting. They’ll also take care of the technical details and charge on a month-to-month basis.
WordPress will provide you with a framework to build your website to help with your crowdfunding outreach goal. The firm provides both a free plan and paid-for plan, which you can switch to when you have outgrown the (not so) limited free plan. If you are not into the technical technology behind websites, blogs, and blog optimization, WordPress is a more than enough tool to fast-track your pre-launch crowdfunding marketing from day one.
Also, the following web tools can help further your online presence:
Improve your search engine marketing (SEO) by utilizing back linking and pitching bloggers for product marketing. Use it to research bloggers by niche, name, certain keywords, location, gender, Klout score, etc. The basic plan goes for just under $400, and there’s a 2-week trial period to test things out before committing your money.
Get the experts tool to market your product online for as little as $29 per month and up to $249 for the ultra premium package.
The company will help you to have a mailing list of up to 2500 emails for absolutely free. So when you are building your crowdfunding campaign contact list, MailChimp will come in handy. The firm will help you integrate with social media (where your potential supporters are), provide technical support and is easy to use tool with a cool, easy to operate user interface (UI). MailChimp has both a free to use and paid (different levels costing up to $25 per month) version.
If you want, you can check out Aweber—a great alternative to MailChimp that charges a monthly fee of $19.
G. Legal and Accounting
Helps protect your patents by incorporating you as a new company in the US. You can also use LegalZoom to run your campaign from another place other than the US.
23. Kickstarter Budget Tool
Use Kickstarter’s budgeting toolkit to help assess, analyze and fulfill you promise for rewards to backers after a successful campaign.
The Executive VP and GM of the Small Business Segment of the CT Corporation, Raja Sengupta, has some advice for budding entrepreneurs seeking crowdfunded success: You’d do well to ask yourself what drives some ideas to pull millions in funding—even more than their initial pledge amounts—while others fail to reach a few thousand dollars despite both having credible ideas.
What drives some ideas to pull in millions in funding is because they emphasized on pre-crowdfunding marketing. As detailed above, you can work with a low budget to no budget at all to achieve outreach that causes ripples in the pond of supporters you are targeting. The above listed pre-crowdfunding tools and ideas for a barebones budget are just some of many others you can use to meet your crowdfunding goal. Test them, tweak them and apply the best ones to your pre-launch crowdfunding campaign the soonest you can.