Here is the thing that most startup entrepreneurs don’t get: Platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter simply traffic amplifiers, and they should be seen as just that. Which, of course, implies that if one has a project and can raise a reasonable amount using his own methods of traffic generation, Kickstarter and Indiegogo will generously help them amplify the potential reach of their project. In short, you need an audience before even thinking of approaching these avenues.
Which begs the question: What does it take to accrue a sizable audience?
1. Know Who Your Target Customers are
Have a list of a majority of the segments of the people in your niche that your idea is likely to have a direct impact on. The idea here is not to be too general and also not to be too specific with those who you want to be your customers.
On that note, it’s no secret that the best way to test the waters is by analyzing the relevance of your idea in tandem with the various emerging issues. If they happen to be a worthy correlation between the issues addressed by your project and your audience’s prevailing problems, then you can consider yourself to be on the right track.
2. Create a Presentable Landing Page
Arguably, among the most effective pre-crowdfunding strategies that anyone can make use of, is having a landing page to inform, educate and gather as many subscribers as possible even before the initial campaign launch.
And you don’t need an overly sophisticated page to get the job done. Just a presentable, eye-catching one will do for the campaign. If anything, the “money” here is, as usually in your mailing list. So you might want to think of ways of making sure that people click on that ‘subscribe’ button, in as much as you want a classy landing page. The more people you sign up early, the more support you will receive when your crowdfunding campaign goes live.
You can try the services offered by platforms such as MailChimp, (free for only 2,000 subscribers). But depending on the scale of the project, it would probably be a good idea to bump up your initial subscriber base to around 5000 to 20000. Before I forget, make sure you have something in the offing for your audience in exchange for boarding your ship. If not that, offer an enticing incentive in return. We all know that most of us will gravitate towards seemingly ‘free’ things any day.
Other than that, make a point of having a bunch of informative and interesting follow-up emails to be regularly sent to your subscribers as soon as they board your ship. Not only does this help to reinforce your idea to your audience, but it also gives them a chance to share your upcoming project with close friends and associates.
3. Start a Blog
It may sound unusual/strange, but setting up a blog can go a long way in adding legitimacy to your campaign and also serve as an extra means of capturing interest. Other than that just outlining the contents of your crowdfunding campaign in your blog, (which can be boring or repetitive if overdone), provide articles that appeal to the needs of your audience too. Articles that motivate them, and articles that give solutions to their problems. Document the research and prototyping part of your product, use videos and images to build up anticipation.
4. Try Guest Blogging
Other than having your own basic website you can also contribute guest content to the blogs that your target market reads, and invite bloggers to contribute to your blog – especially if you don’t already have a formidable audience.
Once you’ve established a bit of an online presence via the above tactics, you can start reaching out to them by engaging them in useful content related directly or indirectly to your campaign.
5. Building Marketing Collateral
One of the aims of any pre-crowdfunding venture is to make it clear to investors that your startup/idea has momentum and growth potential, and it’s not a waste of time. Part of that confidence comes from seeing polished, well-produced materials like product mock-ups or photos, a corporate identity with your logo and branding, photos of your team and location, and maybe a short, interesting video.
Really, you got to show the big guns that you’re darn serious about getting this idea off the ground. Speaking of which, a short video is perhaps the most effective and powerful way to tell your business’s story and sell your audience the value of your product.
And this strategy can work for you in two major ways: First of all, it is a good bait for an audience that has a short attention span. And secondly it can be used as a traffic anchor that you and your audience/followers are going to share on social media to attract even more people on board.
A well put together video should at least feature your company’s founder or core team, explain the unmet need that sparked your idea. You can also go ahead to detail your product and how it’s different than anything else out there, show (honestly) where your business is at right now, and hint at its bigger, long-term potential. In short, explain where you came from, what you need now, and how you’re going to change the world.
Alternatively, put together a flyer and a brochure that people can use. Actively ask people to print your materials or email them to others. You can use all these marketing resources in the future so the upfront cost will be spread out.
6. Leverage your social networks
Social media — when correctly leveraged — is the most powerful marketing and brand amplification strategy.
For starters, chances are, you’ll need to use social media, email marketing, and other communication tools to drive your community to your project on a crowdfunding site.
Remember to pick the networks that best match marketing and content strategies and where you can find your potential supporters. Don’t forget to customise your promotion to suit each platform. You can have the best campaign in the world, meant to support the best project in the world, but if you don’t have a way to spread the word, it won’t matter.
7. Maintain a superb media outreach list
Media plays a very vital role in our world today, and it should be pretty obvious that you wouldn’t miss informing both journalists and influential bloggers about your project. Both journalists and bloggers wield an under-exploited influence and can help to broadcast and boost your project to a mass audience within a very short timeframe. You can start by using online tools such as Klout and Followerwonk to scour for influential personalities and bloggers within your niche.
8. Don’t Forget To Help Them Not Forget!
Before you kickstart your crowdfunding campaign, it goes without saying that you will have to provide enough content so that your audience can fully understand what your campaign is all about. But even then, you’ll still need to keep your audience updated with posts on the project and its progress now and then. People have a short attention span, and if you don’t keep on drumming up your support, you might as well find yourself alone on the dance floor when the launch day comes.
That said, a few days or weeks to your crowdfunding launch, be sure to update your site and landing page to reflect the date of the big day – just to make sure! Besides, this is also going to attract lots of traffic especially in response to your audience anticipation.
. Final Note
Your pre-crowdfunding campaign is what gets your niche in the market. But the urgency of a campaign (once the real crowdfunding starts) might force you to go into marketing hyperdrive. So make sure that your plan is completely transparent to your target audience and you have the whole internet holding you accountable to get your goal. After all is said and done, preparation is the key here.