So, you’ve decided to crowdfund. This is where the fun begins! Keeping the market saturation in mind, it is crucial to make your project stand out above the rest, otherwise you could face getting lost in a vast ocean of campaigns. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach here. Every project is different, and as such will need an integrated approach and tailored strategy. Getting this right from the beginning will maximise your chances of success — but it’s important to bear in mind that due to the nature of crowdfunding, it is not guaranteed.
Before you launch a project, plan plan plan! Efforts should be placed into the following areas:
Spread the word about your project far and wide. Build a community around it. Having a captive audience when you launch will drive the crucial first wave of pledges and help the project gain momentum. Launch with no audience and you’re likely to end up flat on your feet. Also take the time to scope out partnerships, as well as ‘warming up’ media and influencers.
As the saying goes, you need to spend money to make money. I’m not saying you should blow the bank, but make sure you set the cash aside to cover costs your project will incur. This could include, for example, any events you host or attend during the campaign, social advertising, content creation and third party support such as a PR agency.
Think about how you’re going to tell your story, including on your campaign page. Ensure it’s compelling and resonates with your target audience. Set out the reward strategy for your campaign — do not underestimate its importance.
In addition to the above, reach out to the team behind your crowdfunding platform — they will be able to provide feedback on your campaign page setup. And make sure to start any relevant marketing activity to help generate awareness.
I cannot stress enough the importance of time investment at this stage. This is building the foundation that your entire campaign will sit on, and hurrying to get it live may hinder the overall campaign.
During the campaign, communications are key! Post regular updates on your campaign page to keep backers in the know — after all, they have put faith (and money) into your project. Even if it’s not the best news (such as production delays), be transparent and let them know. Dishonesty will not only break trust with backers, but will likely blot your reputation going forwards. In addition to updates, maintain the campaign momentum across all communications channels, such as social media, press, e-newsletters and networking. If you don’t talk about your project, no one else will!
Make sure to measure results throughout — decide which metrics to use, frequency of measurement and so on. Checking progress versus targets regularly will allow you to make key decisions, respond rapidly and refine your strategy to focus on what’s working.
Following a campaign you might expect everything to calm down. But don’t get too complacent — crowdfunding is just the beginning! Whether you are successful or not, thank your backers for their support and let them know what your next steps will be. As an audience backers are essentially your core fans — if you keep them engaged then you may well see them convert into loyal brand advocates for the future.
Looking at all the activity areas in a campaign, it’s easy to see how time consuming it can all be. If you plan to do everything yourself or within a small team, the campaign will likely turn into a full time job with a relentless workload. Before you even start planning — and I say this without bias — do consider how third party support could benefit. For example, a marketing and PR agency could provide specialised crowdfunding support — such as social media strategy and an established media contact database to help drive PR efforts.
In most cases, the results of working with an agency will far outweigh the costs involved — think about what you would achieve with no support. Would it match the results that an agency could produce? If you do decide to collaborate, make sure this happens at the initial planning stage to optimise the whole campaign. Waiting until you’re halfway through a campaign will leave little time to produce results.
To wrap up, here are some best practice tips for your campaign.
- Timing is key — avoid launching during the ‘tricky’ months. In August the majority of people are on holiday and in January there’s generally less money to spend after Christmas. December is a double edged sword. Money is spent left right and centre on Christmas gifts, but might not be spent on your product!
- Keep it short and sweet — many platforms allow up to 60 days for a campaign, but don’t be tempted! 30 days is best as it creates a sense of urgency and buzz. Drag it out, and it’s easier for people to say “nice project, I’ll pledge next week”.
- Teamwork is essential — team campaigns raise on average three times more than a solo mission. Fact.
- Ace your video pitch — campaigns with a video raise around four times more than ones without. Make it visual, showcase your product and introduce the team. Get this done early, listen to feedback and perfect the video before your project goes live.
- Go global — try not to limit your campaign audience too much, but at the same time consider your marketing and PR plans for each territory, and try not to do too much. The top five crowdfunding countries are the USA, Canada, Australia, UK and Germany.
Final words of wisdom — above all else, don’t forget transparency!
Written by Andy Little, Marketing Associate at T/F/D.