Is there a one-size-fits-all approach to crowdfunding success? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Is there a top secret code to crack that’d guarantee you of winning backers support? There’s none either. You’ll have to do the legwork.
The number one lesson learned by most Kickstarter campaign creators is that they should have started marketing their idea pre-launch, according to Salvador Briggman of CrowdfundingPR. “I would drive marketing as hard as you can now,” he says.
Nailing preparation, planning, and execution are the only sure way to crowdfunding success. Therefore, if you want to supercharge your funding drive, attract and gain a first class crowd or potential buyers, these three are the Victoria Secret of crowdfunding success.
As we have covered before here, as an aspiring entrepreneur the world is your kingdom. You can indeed conquer it, but you’ll take no land without preparation and strategic planning of the mission. Think of crowdfunding success as your to-be kingdom. Now, what are you willing to do to conquer it? Will you let the chance slip by, or will you make the choice to do your best and achieve crowdfunding success? Entrepreneurship is about this mentality.
The unspoken truth is that you’d need to think ahead and strategize your move before your crowdfunding campaign goes live. You’d need to be able to, for example:
- Ask yourself and decide what your project idea can do to help others solve their problem. Target to solve someone’s problem.
- Have an estimate of how much you’d need to raise
- Determine what type of funding you need. Do you want reward-based, donation-based or equity-based crowdfunding?
- Determine what ways you can use to market your project pre-launch
- Budget for the actual funding campaign
- Decide where to launch
- Decide which partners to work with
If your idea is compelling, exciting and its true creative innovation shows, then you’d need to engage the masses in feeling the same way, or better than you do as well. A great idea is the engine of every successful crowdfunding drive. The following eight pre-launch steps to crowdfunding success are the fuel that drives that engine to its destination.
Crowdfunding creativity starts here. Here is your time to develop your idea, map out your project idea implementation and target, and assemble your team.More About Step 1
This is an extremely important phase of pre-crowdfunding, and probably the hardest part of any crowdfunding campaign. Even personal dreams can be expensive. Therefore, factor in the costs of every detail you can nail. If you need help, again feel free to seek it from a resourceful source.More About Step 2
For you to have come this far means that you are now getting to the heart of a crowdfunding campaign. As such it is time for switching gears, raising the stakes and going all in. It is time to pre-launch.More About Step 3
Starting your pre-crowdfunding campaign means that you are now implementing all the plans you’ve been patching together from above. It is time to reach out and gain your crowd of supporters.More About Step 4
Expanding your pre-launch campaign is another most crucial part of pre-crowdfunding. Ideally, you probably already have 30% of your goal covered by your personal network—mostly this works in the 7-14 days after your message has gone out to it.More About Step 5
Using PR and press pitching tools doesn’t automatically qualify you for crowdfunding success. While you can automate some tasks using the tools, and save time for running other important tasks, you’ll need to analyse the measurable results these tools help net for you.More About Step 6
The 48 hours before and after your funding drive goes live are crucial. Just before launch, ensure your team and personal network, and netted contacts are aware of your launch event. Urge them to be part of the launch.More About Step 7
The 7 Pre-Launch Steps to Supercharge your Crowdfunding Campaign
You do have the ability to succeed. Now create the time and willingness to plan out your offensive. There is no stopping a great plan. Also, remember to enlist support as need be.
Without further ado, here are the major steps to take before immersing yourself in the funding campaign.
Step 1: Your Crowdfunding Project’s Background
Crowdfunding creativity starts here. Here is your time to develop your idea, map out your project idea implementation and target, and assemble your team. Think of your crowdfunding background as the foundation to your goal. As such, here are some things to take into consideration, if you may.
What’s your story?
Even Isaac Newton had one. A fruit came off its attachment to its parent tree and thumbed his head while he sat underneath. He thought a force was at work. So he got to work and discovered the Law of Gravity.
Your crowdfunding narrative is indispensable to your pre-launch and main campaigns.
- What spark lead you to your Aha! moment?
- What is it that you thought needed fixing and how did you find that out?
- Were you raging mad when you kept running around the city with no affordable places to eat a real meal, did those hunger pangs bite you so badly that you thought you can open up a mobile food truck business at the park?
Your story makes your audience stop and wants to listen. They feel they can relate to you. It emotionally engages your targeted support and clientele. A great crowdfunding narrative will attract specific people who are willing to be part of the creation process to solve a problem they feel they have wanted to be part of the solution too. Only that you were the most creative and bold to have come up with the idea.
Your story is so important that it is the very first step to crowdfunding success. Be sincere, don’t build up a fake story just to sound cool or attract some people—it’ll likely not last.
If you are first in the field, look to what earlier models or projects even a bit similar to yours have done regarding pre-launch prepping and marketing and then unleash your unique creativity on top of that to boost your campaign. C4All is a crowdfunding database website you can use to gauge competitor past and present performance, as well as prospects.
Step 2: Pre-Launch Preparation
When you decide to get to work, here are further steps to take pre-launch.
Determine the Costs and Be Realistic
This is an extremely important phase of pre-crowdfunding, and probably the hardest part of any crowdfunding campaign. Even personal dreams can be expensive. Therefore, factor in the costs of every detail you can nail. If you need help, again feel free to seek it from a resourceful source.
Such things as viral marketing tools, rewards (for reward based crowdfunding), specialized support such as PR agency services, time, and effort all cost money in one way or another. Take pre-crowdfunding time to make estimates and come up with your crowdfunding budget and target. If you can find a crowdfunding mentor to share the figures with, by all means, do so. They’ll help rectify any misappropriations they find in your rough estimates and hopefully help you put together a fitting, custom budget.
Decide between Equity or Non-equity based crowdfunding options
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finalized the Equity crowdfunding and corresponding laws on October 30, 2015, under the US JOBS ACT. Some 180 days after the new rules incorporation into the Federal Register, creators should be able to enjoy lawful support while offering and selling shares online.
This means that any investor can fund your venture by up to 10% of their yearly income or net worth (if either exceeds $100,000). Humbler investors doing less than $100,000 in yearly revenue will be able to pump in up to 5% of their net revenue or yearly income as well.
As the creator, it means you can source funds from the public without having to walk the IPO path, and enjoy specific federal exemptions as specified in the new regulatory framework. Investors would buy shares in your venture with your express permission. As for loan-funded ventures, investors extend loans to the creator, and it’s up to the latter to accept the terms and conditions or pass. But, you’ll be required to offer full disclosure under SEC’s framework regarding financial statements and provide funds’ use reports for investors.
Alternatively, creators can try non-equity crowdfunding, which includes rewards based crowdfunding and donation/contributions crowdfunding. Rewards-based crowdfunding invites backers to make valuable contributions as the creator promises (and ensure delivery of) gifts, samples, the first batch of products or service, exclusive rights, and licenses, special offers, etc., in return. Donations are the opposite of rewards-based crowdfunding. Creators are not obligated to offer any rewards in return for backers’ support. And backers are aware of this and contribute on their accord without expecting anything in return. Donations are more or less like contribution charity events.
Tap into your personal network
This is a time to let your close family, friends and colleagues know what you’ve been on to lately. From this point, you’ll have a lot of cheese, and you’ll need some extra plates, hands, and mouths to munch it all. If you are not into involving family and friends in business undertakings, seek professional friends instead.
If you have some money up for use, you may want to use a marketing agency that has the right experience with projects of your type and scale. The last thing you need is to spend a lot on an apparently great crowdfunding marketing agency, only to find out that they don’t have what it takes to take your funds drive to the top of the hill.
Step 3: Pre-Launch
For you to have come this far means that you are now getting to the heart of a crowdfunding campaign. As such it is time for switching gears, raising the stakes and going all in. It is time to pre-launch.
Prototype your product(s) before launching your crowdfunding drive. You’ll need to show a real, or high-res imagery, or an animation of your product to induce credibility among pre-supporters.
Sort out the tools and resources
There are so many tools and resources to use to kick start your funding campaign, some of which we’ve covered in this blog already. Each of these tools has its pros and cons. Going over the benefits and limitations of each will help you determine which ones best promote your agenda. Choose not to scatter yourself too thin, though, and settle on just a couple of these. Just to remind ourselves, these tools to grow your crowdfunding crowd and organic traffic includes
- Facebook Page and Facebook groups,
- Indiegogo Playbook,
- Kickstarter Budget Tool,
- CrowdRise advice,
- PeerBackers, etc.
Start engaging your personal network at this stage. Your family, friends and fellow innovators will play an important part in developing rapport, interest and credibility in your project to other people, as Sally Outlaw, CEO, and Co-Founder of crowdfunding platforms, PeerBackers, and Crowdcast Network advises.
Furthermore, your friends have friends and those friends also do have friends. It is a potentially large network of important people to tap. According to the CEO of the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, you need to source a third of your crowdfunding campaign goal from your personal network and then seek to gain the rest from other sources.
Start Your Engines
Studies indicate that, as much as it receives little to no coverage, a significant margin of creators find it difficult to get started with the major phase of pre-launch activity. So much so that they skip it all together, end up starting the main campaign out of the blues, fail badly and get hurt.
Fear of failure is mainly to blame for this, and can freeze just about any genius and even the most assured innovators out there. If you’ve come this far, you can do it all the way. There’s no point in skipping the little details only to sink the ship not too far off from the harbour.
Step 4: Outreach
Starting your pre-crowdfunding campaign means that you are now implementing all the plans you’ve been patching together from above. It is time to reach out and gain your crowd of supporters.
Get ahead and be pre-social. It makes your campaign authentic and purposeful and passionate. These are the buzzwords supporters need to read in your crowdfunding story to want to get involved. You don’t want to scrap hurriedly together a LinkedIn profile with days to the main campaign.
Step 5: Expand your pre-launch campaign
Expanding your pre-launch campaign is another most crucial part of pre-crowdfunding. Ideally, you probably already have 30% of your goal covered by your personal network—mostly this works in the 7-14 days after your message has gone out to it.At the expand phase, you’ll be trying to catch the attention of strangers, people you know nothing about and who probably don’t care about you either. Statistics indicates that winning over this group is no easy task, but you can. It’s been done before, more times than you can care to count. This is the time to send out emails, invites, flash updates and reminders to prospective supporters.
Be sure to utilize those press release blasts by CrowdfundingPR and similar digital crowdfunding promoters with good traffic and significantly high daily, weekly and monthly page views.
Hire a Digital Agency
Depending on your budget, you can hire an Internet marketing services provider to achieve a broader reach and help you establish a unique, credible and professional online presence. You’ll want a digital agency that can back up its mantra from past successes.
A digital marketing agency will utilize its connections in the industry to have you featured on various digital content and multimedia outlets to increase organic traffic to your landing page, and improve click-through rates for free and paid-for ads. Such firms as Command Partners and Crowdfund Mafia can help with professional social media management and PR blasts management to move your pre-launch campaign beyond your personal network.
Alternatively, Manage Things In-house
If you are a techie or have a tech-savvy cum sales and marketing team, or if you are a little cash constrained, you can opt for do-it-yourself, in-house solutions by using the likes of MailChimp to manage bulk email marketing and HootSuite to manage your social media accounts from one user interface. Those emails you netted in advance from your landing pages can do the trick here.
Fly out Your Banners
Fiverr, Upwork, 99designs, and DesignCrowd are some places you can outsource your graphics and logo design tasks for your funds drive. It could be for promotion content on your Facebook page, graphics and illustrative imagery for your Instagram handle, or video and animation clips for your website or blog landing page and YouTube channel. Note that campaigns that utilize video and animation clips stand on a 60% chance of reaching their funding goal as opposed to 34% for those that don’t use video in their campaign.
Fiverr and Upwork, for instance, are freelancer platforms where creators can choose from a myriad of freelancers’ bids, each showcasing the freelancer’s expertise, experience, and service rates (per hour or project). The competitive bidding process helps sort out the best and most affordable artists to bring on board.
From the same platforms, you can hire virtual assistants and internet marketers to spread your message across the web and in their personal networks on a per-needed contract basis.
The average successful peer lending campaign on Indiegogo has about 70 backers. The main quest in the Expand stage of your pre-launch campaign is to bring together interested parties and keep them interested long and well enough in converting them to backers. They don’t have to be 312,567 backers, only a good enough number of passionate supporters to meet your funding goal.
Step 6: Gauge and Measure Results
Using PR and press pitching tools doesn’t automatically qualify you for crowdfunding success. While you can automate some tasks using the tools, and save time for running other important tasks, you’ll need to analyze the measurable results these tools help net for you.
Not all online marketing channels will turn out successful with or interesting to potential supporters. Liking your project’s Facebook page may not appeal to a section of some backers than a post on LinkedIn groups’ campaign would. Video augers well with almost everyone, and a one-time social media blast from ThunderClap.it may not cut it—after all ThunderClap will only send out the message if you’ve already raised enough for your campaign to kick start.
Your landing page will help capture honest, and barebones feedback concerning your project from both known and anonymous viewers. Take the criticism and compliments in tow to improve both your product and pre-crowdfunding campaign. Also, using a service such as the ones from PitchFuse and C4All (relatively new websites where you can measure support, engagement levels, page views and campaign momentum before the actual launch), can help you analyze progress.
For example, Crowd Egg will help you detect where people are visiting the most on your website. These heat maps can help you understand what backers are most interested in and then sculpt your campaign in that particular direction.
What most creators and start-ups do not do, however, is consider backers fatigue syndrome. Where creators hamper morale and campaign momentum (mostly unintentionally). Take extra care not to seek support one too many times, with no end in sight. For example, asking backers for pre-launch support and then following up on the same backers and seeking further support for a second, grander, main campaign may exhaust supporters, some of whom may exit your bandwagon.
Step 7: Launch Main Campaign
Everything you’ve done in the past couple of days, weeks and months culminate here.
The 48 hours before and after your funding drive goes live are crucial. Just before launch, ensure your team and personal network, and netted contacts are aware of your launch event. Urge them to be part of the launch. Heck, phone calling them is a better idea than just sending that urgent email they’ll probably not have read by the time you launch your crowdfunding campaign.It is time to invite people to sign on early. Let them know that if they do this, they’ll be first to benefit from the rewards phase. Let them know in your newsletter, email message or social media messages, that the sooner you all hit the target, the faster they’ll get their gifts, rewards, exclusive rights, product, service or special credits.
It is time to appeal to supporters’ vested interest in your product’s success, according to crowdfunding expert Joseph Hogue, CFA. Start analyzing your rewards phase, and the tools to use to deliver on your promise to give back to backers.
Forty-eight hours after launch, the big deal is to keep the campaign momentum bubbling over. Schedule and release to supporters, news, trends, and other relevant updates to keep them excited, interested and engaged.
This is a good time to release campaign-progress data too. There’s power in witnessing progress that stagnation just can’t beat. So include amount pledged so far, the number of current supporters and the rate of growth of this number by the hour, etc. Post, comment, remind, share, like, invite, blog, pin, Instagram, call out and sign up. It is time to answer backers’ questions using real-time, crowdfunding campaign launch CRM tools. It’s time to optimize your customer service arm while continuing to publicise your campaign.
Step 8: Post-Launch Phase
The main agenda at this point is to determine direction as far as the campaign’s success rate—or failure—is concerned. This is also a good time to back up earlier promises. Use backers’ fulfillment tools such as Backerkit and Fulfillrite. These two crowdfunding rewards fulfillment services can help automate the surveying, ascertaining, streamlining and shipping of backers rewards perks as per earlier agreement.
Finally, and just to look at both sides here, if your campaign doesn’t hit that important crowdfunding goal, at least you’ll have learned a great deal. “Should you choose to re-launch in the future, you’ll have all the backers you’ve accumulated up until then and can let them know about the re-launch in the future,” says Briggman, who also runs Crowd Crux.
. Final Note
Crowdfunding is a systematic process. Be systematic about it and utilize your creativity to give room for flexibility. You may learn new things to implement in the way, hence the need to leave room for creative flexibility in your execution plan operations. Hopefully, this step by step guide to a winning crowdfunding campaign helps you achieve your funding goal.