Essentially, it goes without saying that the pre-crowdfunding period is the most critical period before taking your campaign online. It is the time when you’re supposed to be drumming up support for your project and building momentum – especially considering that there is not much time for creators to do this during the 30 or 40-day crowdfunding campaign.
If anything, you only need to consider the high failure rate (60%+ of all crowdfunding campaigns posted to date) to understand the significance of ensuring you give your project an ample head-start. If there is a time when the proverbial saying of, “make hay while the sun shines” can come in handy, it’s the few months or weeks before the big day.
That being said, there are several issues that can make your pre-crowdfunding efforts less effective. And there is nothing more disheartening than seeing your pledges totally flat-line while your campaign period is quickly ticking away. Read on and look out for solutions to some of the common mistakes that creators make while growing their audience pre-crowdfunding.
1. Insufficient Market Research
As much as you may have a flourishing business or several high flying backers on your speed-dial, you may want to resist the impulse to be overconfident in the research you have done so far. And this is why: One of the major perks of having a well-orchestrated pre-crowdfunding strategy is the fact that it calls for one to re-examine their current marketing strategy as well as other areas of your business. In addition to raising funds, you may just uncover several pitfalls in your business plan that are holding you back. Talk of killing two birds with a single stone.
Research both successful and failed projects related to what you want to initiate. Determine their funding targets, how many supporters they got as well as the average money donated. Also, find out which rewards they offered and what tangible or emotional needs they addressed. After researching previous campaigns, consider contacting the actual creators personally for advice or even get lucky and get a targeted list of would-be backers.
Also, find out where your target audiences hang out online. What are their hobbies and what forums do they use? The end goal regarding audience related research is finding out as much information as possible about your target audience to achieve two things: join the respective communities and target advertising.
- Use Moz Open Site Explorer for finding people online that mention or link your product or cause
- Use Topsy for finding people online who retweeted links related to similar campaigns
2. Underestimating The Power of Visual and Audio Media
It’s a well-known fact that a majority of consumers respond better to powerful imagery than extensive customer testimonials or engaging written content. In fact, visual mediums, whether photos or videos, are the best ways of telling a story about your product. These are the major elements that help driving demand and interest towards your pre-crowdfunding campaign. That’s also why we love Tumblr more than Facebook!
You must consider investing in professional product photography. Regrettably, your simple iPhone camera, however amazing it may be, and your friend with an amazing account on Instagram will not be enough. (Even though you will also need Instagram as part of social media tools for pre-crowdfunding!) Instead, what you need to do is find an expert photographer after developing a clear idea of the way you would like your photos. From the angle of photography, props, whether or not to use people in the photos and other factors must be determined in partnership with an expert to ensure best results.
Likewise, if you are planning on using a video, ensure you have an engaging story planned out before shooting. Have a relatable and memorable founding story and showcase some beautiful photography before wrapping things up with a call-to-action at the end. Make sure to include some external testimonials from your friends, advisors or even press to give your video a credibility boost. If you do not have funds to develop your music, consider the numerous royalty-free songs online to assist in giving your video more emotions.
3. Delaying the Onset of Important Pre-crowdfunding Campaign Stages Unnecessarily
A common mistake many creators make in the critical pre-crowdfunding period is leaving public relations till the last minute. Remember that even with extensive support from your family and friends, you will still require reaching more people who don’t share any prior relationship with you. One effective method of doing this is through garnering online coverage about your project. You will need to plan and do this work months or weeks in advance for more effectiveness.
Having a clear pitch list will help you avoid this pitfall of leaving PR to the last minute during pre-crowdfunding. You first need to determine what publications you want to cover your project by researching similar projects. A simple trick is finding similar projects and using the images they used to run a Google Images search to see what everyone is saying about that subject matter.
From the search results, you can easily identify your target writers and media publications. You can then start searching for intros. Even though these targeted people would not mind a cold pitch about your project, a warm introduction from a colleague or friend would be most effective. Start looking for mutual connections or friends on LinkedIn or Facebook and see if you can get some intros. It is important to form genuine friendships with bloggers for a more honest covering of your project and getting the much-needed message out to the right people.
4. De-emphasising your Family and Friends
Your family and friends will make up an important part of your pre-crowdfunding efforts. It is not surprising that most of us at times shy away from asking help from their close family members or friends. It is important that you maximise all the help you can get to ensure the critical early momentum. Besides, more often than not, your friends will be glad to support you in any way they can to assist you to achieve your dreams.
One effective suggesting of maximising the support from your close friends and family is starting with analysing your email address. You can begin by exporting your email contacts into one spreadsheet and then delete any contacts that you don’t have any meaningful relationships. After that, divide the remaining email contacts into three groups: acquaintances, in-the-know, and influencers.
You can use Klout to identify quickly who your influencers are. Klout easily connects with your social media profile and enables you to rank your friends based on how influential they are. Anyone who gets a Klout score of above 60 should be considered as an influencer. The aim of having the influencer group is to ensure you can count on them to constantly share your content and thus help reach more people.
5. Ignoring Your Supporters
Among the worst mistakes that you can make before launching your crowdfunding campaign officially is ignoring your earliest fans and supporters (however insignificant they may seem). Many creators have since experienced how tough it can get when supporters feel unheard and turn into vocal enemies. Thus, it is better always to make certain that you keep your supporters happy before launching your crowdfunding campaign.
Send regular updates and share about how the project is coming along. Share some cool images on Instagram, company updates on Twitter, project development progress on Reddit, cool facts on Facebook and any other relevant content to your supporters. This will greatly enhance your pre-crowdfunding strategy as supporters expect to hear about progress at least several times per month.
Also, consider the fact that Kickstarter reports that nearly 80% of crowdfunding projects get delayed. It is likely that your project could also encounter some hiccups along the way as is expected when creating a new product from scratch. However, it is crucial that you communicate changes as they arise. Your supporters will be more forgiving provided you ensure that you are in continuous contact. Thus, quickly responding to messages or comments is necessary.
6. Lack of a Landing Page/Poorly Designed Landing Page
If you do not have a landing page for your cause or product, you are doing a lot of de-service to your pre-crowdfunding efforts. Build a website early in advance to showcase your project and have a section where your supporters can leave their contact details for future updates. After collecting email addresses on the landing page, start communication immediately and create buzz and excitement about your imminent launch. This way your supporters will be more compelled to support your campaign in the most important first week.
An effective tool that you should use for building your landing page is Prefundia. With Prefundia, the simple to use website allows creators to build a customised landing page for collecting the contact details of potential supporters. If you do not want to use Prefundia, another highly effective platform for pre-crowdfunding, LaunchRock offers a suitable alternative with visitor analytics and good customisation features.
You can also use CrowdfundingPR for promoting your landing page and inform people of your pre-crowdfunding campaign. This press release website has both free and paid options, depending on the kind of reach you want. The generated press release is easily shareable, and you can share it with your supporters, friends and even journalists and bloggers.
WordPress is yet another suitable solution for a pre-crowdfunding website. You just need three basic pages: About, the Blog and Contact. The advantage of using WordPress is that it is cheap and easy to use. Resist the impulse to start paying for services or plugins just yet. Nevertheless, you should post informative content on your blog regularly. Blogging is very important for pre-crowdfunding for two main reasons: by researching informative content, it makes you look like an expert in that field and builds a strong online presence from the readership, improving the likelihood that more people will find your project when searching online.
7. Not Appreciating the Immense Power of social media
Pre-crowdfunding would not be complete without sufficient input from social media. It is important to build a community around your project. Having an active online community in place through effective pre-crowdfunding makes raising funds a lot easier when you finally launch. Nevertheless, social media will require lots of work and must be done correctly.
You must set up pre-crowdfunding campaign social profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Instagram and any other relevant online platform. You will be using these profiles to share website updates and blog posts and ensure you also share the same on your personal profile. While you should regularly check and respond to feedback on your profiles, check in after several days as it can be a massive time suck to keep checking incessantly. Consider using social media managers like Hootsuite to help keep track of all your profiles. If you have a business, consider being on an online forum dedicated to potential customers and another one for similar business owners.
8. Not Pre-fundraising
A key part of pre-crowdfunding is raising some money from your current community even before the launch of your crowdfunding campaign. Reach out actively to your established network and request for their support. This way, you can either get financial support or volunteer work instead of a direct no answer. You can hold a small special event and invite people who are passionate about the project and discuss the campaign. Getting your close network of supporters together is an excellent method of building enthusiasm for effective pre-crowdfunding.
Experts recommend that you should only launch your crowdfunding campaign after you have had at least 10% of your funding goal already pre-committed. Also, raising a significant capital through pre-crowdfunding also forecasts whether the project will gain momentum after the launch. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo report that crowdfunding campaigns that launch with zero funding have less than 18% chance of achieving their goal, whereas those with 5% – 10% pre-funds have more than 50% of reaching their funding targets.
The real crowdfunding work starts long before you launch your campaign. It is the foundation that you lay down during pre-crowdfunding that will determine whether you raise enough money or not. Thus, it is not enough to have a great product; rather ensuring that you have the right pre-crowdfunding strategy that will determine your success.
Ultimately, there is no single solution that will help in generating buzz for your pre-crowdfunding campaign. You will need to use a combination of proven pre-crowdfunding solutions to build interest in your project. Work smart and hard to create relationships with influential people within your industry. Do not expect people will find you now that you have an innovative project. Look for ways to take your business or project directly to the target audience.