Reality Check 101: Crowdfunding is a $16 billion industry now, and it is just beginning to take shape. But while crowdfunding money can give that extra push you initially need to launch your idea and make it a reality, it’s your pre-crowdfunding marketing that can make or break your campaign.
How successful your crowdfunding campaign turns out to be is a question of strategy—especially what you do before you have tried to launch your idea. Positioning your project for success is integral to your pre-launch marketing, and vice versa. So, what do you need to know about generating traffic pre-crowdfunding?
- That it isn’t as much of a no-brainer as it may seem, so do not quit before you start;
- That it will also involve some work since you’d be doing business with only an idea, before you have the actual business in operation;
- That you may not know what exactly needs fixing and at what time and state.
Surely, backers are not idiots with a good heart and bags of money to throw around at anyone with a close-to-good idea. They know that if you can’t make some impact from the pre-launch stage of your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll probably never make better initiatives, and no one wants to associate with failure—you probably don’t too.
Of course, you may not have thousands of dollars for marketing in multiple backers’ circles. If you did, then turning to crowdfunding wouldn’t make sense. Like most start-ups, you may be doing your very first gig, but lacking loads of experience, a high-flying network of backers, or even many friends to spread the word of your newest invention around. So, what do you do to beat these odds?
Avoiding Pre-Crowdfunding Mistakes that Make You Look Bad
From the get-go, there are a couple of things to straighten out and take notice of—and avoid the crowdfunding mistakes most people commit. After which you can gain your pre-launch audience.
1. Having an Active Rather Than a Passive Marketing Plan
Apparently, all you need for a great start is to have a great personal, charity or for-profit idea and vroom, you are off to a great start and finish. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Granted your idea is the core engine of your campaign, the sideshows that include the pre-launch buzzing and ensuing support from multiple platforms, are also almost equally vocal for your crowdfunding campaign success.
These are the very reasons why an underwater drone attracts more funding dollars than another envy-inducing idea—well, not to mean an underwater drone is a goofy idea at this point. But it means that an afforded and efforted pre-launch marketing, where you are actively involved in pushing your idea may heavily impact your success rate.
Back up your crowdfunding idea with action. Let others learn from you why yours is the next big thing. Let them know why they need to get involved. Pre-launch marketing is a great way to power your crowdfunding goal in advance.
2. Use This Time to Plan and Start Executing
Now that you know that you need to back up your idea with a decent pre-launch marketing plan, how do you create the buzz to win over backers’ support, considering that you may not have a pot-bellied marketing pulse?
The main purpose of a proper pre-launch campaign is to plan for the actual crowdfunding campaign. For example, where do you source the money to conduct marketing from when the crowdfunding drive goes live and beyond?
Here is one way to go about it. Out of all hardware projects that raised from $100,000 and beyond on the internet’s largest crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo, about 70% did a pre-launch gig where they added angel investors and VC backing on board before launch. This helped them to net money for marketing their idea during the actual launch phase on whichever platform they chose, and even better, backers who could stick with them to the very end.
Do not be fooled by the hardware projects that just come up and sweep all the funding and seem to gain traction with backers immediately, according to Sally Outlaw, CEO, and Co-founder of PeerBackers and Crowdcast Network. Combining planning and execution before embarking on the actual journey of netting that money, cultivates these types of crowdfunding success stories
Some pre-launch planning to set your house (and mentality) for the big launch, as well as executing that very plan will benefit you immensely.
3. Figure out Who You’d Want to Work With and Only Invite Those
Quick quiz: Who is your ideal crowd funder? Who do you prefer backing your venture? Who do you not want to have backing your idea? Would you rather work with equity or non-equity based backing?
The first step to meeting your crowdfunding goal is to figure out what type of funding you need and who you’d be willing and able to work with.
This way you know whether you’d have to relinquish a percentage of your venture to the investors as return on investment (ROI), also called reward-based crowdfunding, or you’d rather go with donation-based funding, where you have no future obligations and keep full rights to your idea, product or business.
Most starting projects don’t want to go the angel investor way due to the ROI question. But the good thing about angels is the effort they bring into the drive.
Marketing 101 teaches that if you need anyone to buy your product or service, you’d need to demonstrate clearly to them what they stand to gain in return for supporting your cause. Ones they view your cause as theirs, there is not a distance and effort they wouldn’t put in to get you firing on all cylinders.
It is a catch 23 situation. Angel investors and rewards based crowdfunding donors will invest in you and your idea. Both bring the power of insider networking, deeper pockets for marketing, and access to professionals such as lawyers and accountants, and committed backing from the pre-launch stage. In one way or another, this can help a creator avoid both obvious and not-so-obvious mistakes. Moreover, AIs make other big investors want to associate with your polished, “industry-connected” and “next big thing” image. The connection gives the idea that you know what you are doing. Others will think: if the angel investors chose to back you through thick and thin, they could as well go ahead and back you too.
On the other hand, personal or non-profit ideas may not work well with reward-based backers. After all, there’s nothing to give back as a reward. A donation-based campaign would better suit the latter.
Evaluate your idea. Can it offer products and gifts in exchange for backing? Or is yours a personal dream that may not necessarily offer ROI. Based on your answer, you’ll tell who to start with.
4. Work on Your Pitch Message
As a matter of fact, one of the most important factors is a powerfully emotive pitch. The pitch message of any pre-crowdfunding campaign determines whether people want to follow and back you. And how to create a killer crowdfunding marketing pitch should be the first thing you do before marketing your campaign out loud. Be human about it. Facilitate an emotional connection and let your potential audience want to associate with you. Want to create a successful pitch? Here are some attributes of a winning pitch you could use:
- i. Make it look and feel like a revolution in the making
Almost everyone wants to associate with the next big thing. We all need to satisfy that deeply seated need to belong. Appealing to this basic human need is one of the core lessons of any marketing class, and it works in crowdfunding too. If you have a sales and marketing bone in you, then you don’t need to hire an offline marketer or enlist digital marketing services.
To do this, be concise and specifically tell the readers what your product or service can do for them and how it could be the next innovative disruptor in the market. If you can prove that your product works, let the people know how. But keep the privy details on how it works exactly to yourself and inner circle. You want people to follow your lead and want to find out more by following your project progress and spread the word to friends and colleagues.
Every revolution needs to have a sense of purpose, a cause, inclusivism and measurable progress. So do include your passionate take and vision for your product to motivate people to get going. You’ll create rapport and rally long-term support this way. After all, these people are giving their money to you, and they need motivation and know that it is all worth investing in you and your project.
- ii. Propose value
Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them. In return for backing, will you offer gifts, special offers, or what type of return on investment do you propose for your backers’ efforts?
If you are offering anything in return, let the target people understand what it is and what plans you have in place to ensure that they do get what you say they will.
- iii. Induce a sense of urgency
Last minute support works. Call it sympathy vote or by any other synonym, but some of the most backed crowdfunding campaigns got ahead thanks to regularly reminding potential backers to hurry and join, and not miss an investment opportunity of a lifetime. Include power phrases in the message such as “limited slots available”, “9 days to go”, “last chance to”, “we are almost done”, and so on. For example, check out this killer pitch phrases that Exploding Kittens used, “Last chance to get” and “we’re almost done.”
[lieck”]iv. Focus on Benefits rather than just features
No one cares what tech specs the product you are creating harbours. Contrary, everyone cares if it helps improve their life, work, finances, convenience, time, energy use and so on.
So instead of your script telling the world about how more advanced than the competition your to-be printer is. Let them learn how the advanced features make yours a better investment and purchase.
Check out an example from BitPiggy, a crowdfunded piggy bank for bitcoin: “BitPiggy makes getting started with bitcoin fast, fun and easy. You’ll love the (user interface). Save, receive and use bitcoin all in one device.” Three sentences, but powerful nonetheless.[/li]
Nailing your pitch message is the first step to creating interest and follow-through from curious and smitten prospects.
5. Have a Landing Page
One lesson to pick from app marketing is that it’s crucial to have a landing page for your audience, well before launch. Your landing page could be your responsive and project-focused website, great explainer video on YouTube and engaging social media pages.
A landing page legitimizes your project and gives backers and anyone who’s interested in your idea, a place to learn more about you. An analysis of data from Kickstarter indicates that 100% of fully funded projects had a landing page for their campaign.
If you are wondering where to start:
It is imperative that you reach out to as many potent backers as possible in a professional, yet engaging and lively spin. A great press release can announce to backers of your existence, help in the product description and ready your audience for a crowdfunding campaign launch.
ThunderClap is a great primer for a crowdfunding campaign and can help creators nail crowdfunding basics before the actual, big campaign. This, by increasing your social reach and attracting supporters by offering tools to help authors, agencies, artists, even politicians and other creatives produce actionable messages and spread the word from wherever they are. Even White House used ThunderClap for its #NowIsTheTime to Act campaign.
At pre-launch, use a Thunderclap placeholder link that you can swap with a crowdfunding project link when your project is ready for the major campaign.
Start a great landing page that highlights and evolves with your project’s development stage. This will help backers to understand your vision, mission, and progress. Potential customers can know how your product will better their life experience when ready as well. From the landing page, creators can gauge interest, collect emails, subscriber support and have control in managing the project or service before the major funding drive begins. If you are a pre-orders type of firm, it’s a chance to collect orders and contacts for later.
6. Announcing your Crowdfunding Campaign Launch Date
Attract last-minute support by showing messages that indicate only 2-3 days to go. It’s a well-documented fact that human beings respond positively to last-minute pressure, so rein in this ‘weakness’ by only displaying your actual launch date 48 to 72 hours before kickoff. You’ll be surprised by the support you can drum up via such a strategic announcement style.
And when it comes to announcing your actual product or service launch, make use of intuitive online tools such as the Pro and Storm plans where a creator can embed a video on the product/service overview pane on the campaign page, other than simply posting/publishing the dates directly.
Then, using such a backdrop, fuel enthusiasm by letting your audience know your exact launch date when it’s only a few days due.
7. Be Social
Social media is the best tool to use to market your crowdfunding campaign like crazy, coming only second to your pitch message. It 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 marketing campaign. It takes others time to get to know and trust you. What you are trying to build is a community of ardent backers and potential buyers too.
Fact is, 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.
Social media hosts multifaceted possibilities to grow a niche community: chat rooms, forums, Facebook groups, Twitter groups, Google+ groups, YouTube follows, blogging and commentary, LinkedIn groups, membership websites and so on.
Again, depending on your project campaign’s scale, you can go in and update your statuses, tweet, link with and comment and share in 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.
To help intensify your crowdfunding goal, emphasise on making your pre-launch activities event-like, update followers on social media and project-oriented website (or blog) on progress and upcoming events before the actual crowdfunding drive launch. 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.
The more people you engage and develop a rapport with, and attract to visit your social media pages or blog landing page, the higher your chances of converting them from just being interested in committing their money to your venture.
8. The 3 Fs – Family, Friends and Fools
What your close family and friends can do is to broadcast passionately your intentions among their other circles and associations. These are people that know you personally and most likely than not, will vouch for you and your product. We all need undying support from close-by. Your inner circle of family, friends, colleagues at a local meeting spot, fellow innovators, and if you do have them, backers you know, can help you get noticed and cause ripples far and wide. You have to involve them.
Utilise your inner circle to rally a successful pre-crowdfunding campaign.