With trust in banks falling and interest in social entrepreneurship rising, crowdfunding has fast become a popular way of gaining financial backing without turning to traditional institutions. But with its rising popularity, there’s an increasing amount of competition on the platform. Getting noticed (and getting funded) can be tough, though these five tips will help you to market your crowd funding campaign more successfully.
Make Your Product or Idea Clear
If you’re asking people to part with their money, it’s important that they understand why. While funny, clever or emotive descriptions can be a great way to catch people’s attention and stick in their memory, the most important element is the idea or product itself, so you need to make sure your description is clear about exactly what you’re building and how any investments or donations will be spent.
Think back to your school days and apply the four Ws to your description (for anyone who’s forgotten, that’s: what, who, why and when).
First and foremost, what is it? Lay out exactly what it is you’re trying to build. Try not to get bogged down too much in speculation and potential future developments; focus on this particular project and the ultimate end result.
As well as knowing what they’re investing in, the investors/funders would want to know who. Tell them who’s behind the business. Is it a solo venture? Do you have collaborators? Are you partnering with a bigger firm or company? Make sure they understand who will be in charge of handling their investments/donations so that they know that it’s a trustworthy recipient.
Next up, think about why you’re developing your idea. What gap in the market are you aiming to fill, or what need are you trying to meet? Put forward clear, concise reasons why your product is different to what is currently on the market, and more importantly, why your investors should care about it and want to see it come to life.
Finally, tell them when you can expect to see it launch. While your idea might be theoretical at the moment, your potential investors will need more solid promises in order to be convinced. Set yourself clear deadlines and make sure that you stick to them, so that your donors will know that their money is indeed being put to its intended use.
A great product example would be Kickstarter’s Pebble Epaper Watch – with the runaway success product, Pebble Technology sought a targeted funding of $100,000. Imagine, when it rolled over to collections of $10,266,845! Truly a breakthrough product, very well-defined, presented with crystal clear, targeted marketing. As Pebble Technology proudly displays: 68,929 backers pledged $10,266,845 to help bring this project to life. Love it!
Engage Your Audience
Of course, while the essentials must come first, there’s still plenty of room for creative license in your pitch. After all, if you want people to invest financially, you have to get them invested emotionally. Once you’ve made sure that all the key information is included in your description, think about ways to further engage your audience by bringing some personality to your product.
How you go about this will largely depend on the audience you’re trying to reach, the type of idea or product you’re trying to launch and your personal brand. If you’re looking to engage business investors, you want to make clear the benefits to them as well as inspiring them to get involved in what could potentially be the next big thing. Think about your motivations for starting your business and channel that sense of excitement into a compelling, comprehensive and engaging pitch. It’s important to show that you’ve put serious thought into your idea, so make sure you cover areas of concern as well as development timelines.
If you’re looking for support from smaller companies, individuals or family and friends, you may want to take a more emotive approach – particularly if your idea falls into the social entrepreneurship category. Again, consider your own motivations behind founding your business, but give more personal insight into your thought process and your hopes for your company. Tell the story of how you came up with the idea, or talk about the people that inspired you to create it. As well as helping bring people onto your wave length, it will give your investors a sense of being more personally included and may just match up with interests of their own.
Getting people invested also extends to getting them excited about your product. Give them an idea of how it could be used. Real life scenarios make it easier to imagine your business in action, and make your venture seem much more realistic than a simple idea put down on paper.
I really like how Ponomusic went about it. Video marketing-wise, they broke all the rules of short and sweet, did not even display the product properly, and got THE Neil Young – the Creator of Pono – as the celeb-owner protagonist doing sincere interviews with a bunch of high-profile musicians like Pearl Jam, Norah Jones and others. Social proof with influencers, sort-of was the idea behind it, and it worked. Pono went on to raise $10,266,845 (10,266 percent of their goal)
Take a look at the vid:
Introduce a Sense of Urgency
Once your audience is engaged and invested in your idea, the next step is to encourage them to actually donate. Crowdfunders often struggle to persuade their supporters to go beyond liking or sharing a post to add their own funding/donation, even with the most compelling pitch or innovative idea. This, most of the times, sucks.
One way to encourage donations is to introduce a sense of urgency with a clear deadline. Having an end date helps overcome that “I’ll remember to do it later” sensation that can be so frustrating with campaigns, and make visitors to your page more likely to sign up there and then. Set a reasonable end date and give reasons for starting and finishing your launch at particular times. Of course, for this to be effective, you need to make sure your investors feel compelled to be involved and give them a reason to not miss out on being a part of your company.
This also helps investors feel more assured that your idea will in fact come to fruition. An open-ended campaign has the potential to run indefinitely without ever producing concrete results. By setting fixed dates, you show that you’re serious about following through on your idea and product.
When setting your deadlines, be realistic about what you can achieve and when. Don’t give yourself too short a time to raise funds in the name of creating urgency, but don’t leave your deadline so far away that it seems like it can be easily put off. Similarly, think about your timeline for creating and launching your business. How much time do you realistically need? Have you left yourself enough leeway for potential problem? Is there an upcoming holiday or occasion that would best suit the launch of your business, such as Christmas or school holidays?
The Nikola Tesla Science Centre at Wardenclyffe was taken to Indiegogo for pledge funding to restore Tesla’s forgotten lab at Wardenclyffe and raised $1,000,000 in nine days. What earlier was meant to be a mere restoration is now about to be a science center and museum honoring Nikola Tesla!
Offer Incentives and Rewards
While a creative and compelling pitch may help get others invested in your business, you have to allow for the fact that they won’t be as invested as you are – so you need further incentives to encourage them to get involved. After all, an idea is much more exciting when you’re a part of it than when you’re watching it from a distance.
With this in mind, consider incentives that allow your investors/donors to become a part of your business. For example, crowdfunded film projects often offer to include generous donors’ names in the credits. New products might offer early prototypes to their investors. Not only does this make your investors/donors feel more involved in your business, you might be surprised at the additional benefits to you, such as feedback or suggestions that you can incorporate into your finished design.
Incentives usually include the product or business being pitched in some way – such as free or discounted memberships or samples. However, other small gifts can also be a great option, particularly for smaller, more personal businesses. Thank-you cards and chocolates are old classics that are often well received, particularly by friends and family. Other ideas include regular updates, so that your investors can see how your project is developing, or gifts from a partner company.
The above example of the Pebble Epaper Watch on Kickstarter is a good rewards-based crowdfunding campaign. A donation of $100 for that crowdfunding campaign earned you a promise that you’d receive the watch when they were done. Different donation amounts had different rewards attached. You could even donate – and some folks did – $10,000 for 100 watches! Had the $100,000 goal not been met, the donors would get their money back, of course, and the campaign would have fizzled out.
Cast a Wide Net
Once you’ve written your pitch and set your incentives, it’s time to get the word out there. While many marketing campaigns focus on quality rather than customers, with crowdfunding one of the most important aspects is to have your campaign seen by as many people as possible.
The easiest place to start is your personal network. Make the most of your social media as well as your offline contacts – and don’t be afraid to ask them to share it with their own network. Share your campaign, and remember to tailor your message for each platform. As well as reaching your personal friends and family, make the most of tools such as hashtags to reach a wider audience. Think about the kind of people that might be interested in their idea, and look at their typical social media activity. For example, if you’re targeting travellers, you might do well with inspirational pictures on Instagram. If you’re launching a parenting product, you might gain traction using the “mblogger” hashtag.
If your idea is particularly innovative or it’s a social or charitable venture, you might find it’s of interest to news outlets and interest sites. Featuring on a popular platform can be a great way to boost your campaign’s profile and get new investors interested. Often, city news outlets will be interested in local interest stories, so this could be a great place to start.
The Veronica Mars Movie Project crowdfunding was a classy social media blitz in quite a few ways. To quote Hootesuite: The campaign’s social media efforts were key in not only meeting, but substantially exceeding their goal of $200,000. Although working with a very limited marketing budget, the Veronica Mars Movie Project became the fastest on Kickstarter to raise $1,000,000 and $2,000,000, respectively. The latter goal of $2,000,000 was the highest goal ever set on Kickstarter and was surpassed in just one day, becoming a single day record for the site.
To make this happen, marketing company Big Fuel led social media efforts including:
A Twitter Q&A Party attended by writer Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell using the hashtag #VeronicaMarsMovie (which earned 2,400 mentions in just 20 minutes, and saw over 850 mentions per day for the remainder of the campaign)
A Facebook page was created to accompany the Kickstarter campaign, which achieved 24,000 fans in one week
An Instagram account was created which had over 11,000 followers in less than a month
No paid advertising or media
With this monumental success, the Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter became one of the most discussed and publicized social media crowdfunded campaign in history (eventually, “91,585 backers pledged $5,702,153 to help bring this project to life”)
See the vid here:
The global crowdfunding market potential is estimated to be between $90 and $96 billion by 2025. That’s no small number – especially considering that it was just $2.7 billion in 2012. Have you launched a successful crowdfunding campaign? What are your top tips for spreading the word and gaining investors? Share your ideas in the comments below.