“I highly recommend trying and failing. And if you get the other one, success, well, that’s great too”, says Kerwin Lumpkins. Funny guy, I must admit. Nowadays, people can crowdfund almost anything. But not every crowdfunding campaign turns into a success. So, there must be some secrets that need to be unveiled. Well, I would not call them secrets, but things you need to be aware of. The one thing I hate the most is to see something that will not accomplish its goal. Because, you know, time means money.
I love plans, I love lists, I like things being organized. Let me show you how you can also run a successful crowdfunding campaign.
[ Credits: Money‘s flicker]
Start your campaign early
Time is essential when you’re trying to raise money.Elena Mikhaylova, CEO at Crowdfund Productions, says that “The higher your funding goal, the more time it takes to prepare the campaign”. Most of her clients spend up to six months preparing a campaign. In her opinion, lack of preparation is the number reason of crowdfunding failure.
Target your audience
Which is the target audience for your product? Who would be the people most interested in it? Make their profile, including their age, interests, and the main channels on which you can get to them. The research will allow you to identify the perfect marketing strategy for your campaign. Also, take a look at your competitors.
Define your product
The more information you give about your campaign, the better. A poorly defined product will definitely not meet its goal. People are willing to invest money in what it is you’re crowdfunding, so they need to know what they’re getting into, and if it will be worth it. Explain what will be the benefits, if the project reaches its target. Even if you are someone that has a ton of money, you still want your investment to pay off.
Make a story around it
OK, you explained what your product is all about. But that is not enough. You need to create a story around it, and make people feel like they’re connected to you somehow. I’ll give you an example. The Rubber Band Machine Gun did not meet its crowdfunding goal, while a similar campaign, Rubber Band Gun, managed to raise over $100K. Why this difference? The first campaign had no story to back up their product. To quote Nathaniel Hansen, “Your story is everything. People aren’t so much getting behind the idea as they are getting behind your passion to produce it”.
Now that you have the defined product, the story, you need to let people know about it. Talk to your friends about the project. Ask them what they think, and whether they would invest in it or not. Go to events, and promote it there. But what is most important: promote it online, on communities, on social media. Try to gain as much visibility as you can on popular sites. It’s also good to have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Solve a problem
It would be ideal if your crowdfunding campaign would solve a real problem, and actually help people. It might be an idea for a product that you decided to improve. These types of campaigns raise the highest amount of money, so do some research to find out what is the problem that you would be able to solve, and if it is appropriate enough to raise interest in a crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t have a solution to a problem, that doesn’t mean you won’t get any funds. You just need the right idea.
Have a lower goal amount and make a plan B
A lower goal amount gives you a more realistic feel of how much money you can raise. Let me tell you how I see this. Presumably, my goal is to raise $1000, but as it turns out, my campaign was very successful and managed to raise around $10 000. Just wow! Of course, you don’t have to set such a lower goal amount. This also depends on your product. But what’s most important, is to make a backup plan. The best case scenario is that you raise much more money than you thought you would. That will allow you to invest in some extra materials for your project. Think about all the possible scenarios that might take place.
Post updates from your campaign
Now that your campaign is running, you should let people know how it’s going. You can post at the end of a week, or even twice a week, and let people know what is the progress you made so far. That way, people will not only see that others are investing in your campaign, but they will believe in your cause, because they will see that you’re active. Communication and transparency are the key.
Adapt on the go
Sometimes, even if you’ve prepared your campaign ahead, you may notice that it’s not as effective as you thought it would be. The effectiveness lies in traffic and conversion rate. If you have good traffic, but you don’t seem to be getting any backers, maybe you need to change the message. If you don’t get any traffic, you should focus your attention on getting people to find out about your campaign.
Your crowdfunding campaign should last 30 days
According to Kickstarter, “Shorter projects set a tone of confidence and help motivate your backers to join the party”, and also have a higher success rate. A shorter time-limit gives people the feeling of scarcity. Personally, if I see a campaign that lasts for two months, I would be inclined to postpone donating for it, and possibly, I would just forget about it.
Make a video
We all know how incredible the power of visual content is. There is no need to stress that out anymore. But I will tell you this. Because we are so busy, and there’s so much written content, we find it easier to watch a video that explains something. Making a quality video has the potential of becoming viral, because it’s so easy to share it anywhere on the Internet. Some people will understand without any effort your campaign, if they hear what you have to say, or see your idea of the product in action, instead of reading about it. It’s best to keep the video short, somewhere under 3 minutes.
Reward your founders
To make people engage into your campaign, you should offer them something in return for investing money in your product. Crowdfunding platforms have different policies regarding rewards. Depending on what platform you decided to run your campaign, you choose the type of reward you want to give to donors. Make it affordable to ship, make it fun, and creative.
Deliver your product
Congratulations! You made it! Now that your campaign turned into a huge success, it’s time to actually deliver the product to your backers. This is the time to repay them for believing in your project. If you promised to deliver the product at a specific period of time after the campaign ended, make sure you suit the action to the word. Your job doesn’t end when the campaign ends. Stay in touch with the people that helped you raise the money. Follow up with the trajectory you’re going to take. Build a connection with them.
The dynamics of a campaign
In the first few days of the campaign, you need to bring your own crowd to pledge. If this first step is done well, then this will attract crowdfunding communities, and consequently bring media coverage for your campaign. So don’t sit around waiting for a miracle to happen. Zero pledges won’t bring any attention to your campaign.
And if it doesn’t work out, embrace failure with grace
Sometimes bad things happen, even if you think you’ve done it all right. But that’s OK. A crowdfunding campaign isn’t a competition. It’s a challenge. What you actually learn from it it’s more important than the amount of money you managed to raise. No matter what went wrong with your campaign, it counts as a good experience that you went through failure. That means you are more experienced for what the future is holding up for you.
A crowdfunding campaign surely isn’t an easy thing to do. There is always the chance of failure, even if you do everything by the book. But sometimes you just need to do it according to your situation. What worked for other campaigns, won’t necessarily work for you too. Always stay with one eye open, and learn to adapt along the way.
What are your tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign? Have you ever made one? Let me know in the comments below.