8 Tips for launching a successful crowdfunding campaign
Being successful in most aspects of life requires dedication and hard-work.
I am sorry to have to break the news that crowdfunding is no different.
Focusing all of your energy into building a pretty campaign story and leaping to publish it is unlikely to succeed.
It is a bit like registering for your first ever 20k race. You go out and buy all gear so you look the part on race day. With your new lycra number and pair of Nike top of the range trainers, you wouldn’t expect to win the race without having put in the training.
So if you are serious about launching a campaign to help your new startup get off the ground, or to help your existing business grow, we have set out below 8 steps to help you get campaign fit.
There are no guarantees – but research and experience have shown that following these steps significantly increases your chances of success.
1. Pre-launch – Create a Coming Soon Page
Before you actually launch your campaign we recommend that you launch a Coming Soon Campaign Page or Coming Soon Landing Page as part of prepromotion, particularly if you don’t have a website.
This is where you will be sending people to learn more about your project and importantly, collect the contact information (usually email addresses) of people that want to learn more.
You can choose to display your campaign page publically on your crowdfunding platform with a countdown showing how many days til launch. Interested visitors can choose to ‘follow’ your campaign and share the link with others.
You can choose to setup a single page on a website (landing page) on a unique domain with an email signup and information about your project, as well as contact details.
Schedule a date for this page to go live and decide how long it should be visible before your live campaign launches.
The duration of how long your “coming soon’ page should be showing before launch depends partially on your existing online presence. 3-6 weeks is a general guide, depending on your prepromotion strategy and how many followers you want to acquire.
2. Be Seen On Social Media – but don’t forget other ways to pitch
With social media you cannot start soon enough. Do not be fooled into thinking the only thing that matters is the number of followers or “Likes” you can get. It is all about quality not quantity.
Today social media is so much more than selling a product through 140 Twitter characters.
It is about making meaningful connections, thinking how you would feel in the audience’s shoes and what it would then take to get engagement and encourage your target to actually transact.
People turn off from spam so make sure you are delivering valuable and interesting content. Consider who your audience are and which channel is best used to connect with them.
Do not choose Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram without considering first where you audience hang out. For your campaign it may be that focussing on one or two channels will be most effective.
Do you know the key influencers in your sphere of interest or industry? Try to connect with them and comment on their stories. Act like a real person and build real connections.
We often advise campaign creators not to forget email as a means of getting your story out to your connections and network.
Create brief, compelling personal emails to yours contacts to drive awareness.
And lastly, do not not to get too wrapped up in social media to the exclusion of all other methods of connecting and engaging – face to face matters too.
3. Brainstorm Your Rewards
It is worth spending some time to research and brainstorm the types of rewards that will appeal to your audience.
Create a variety of rewards with different pricing points starting from $5-10. This level typically offers supporters some type of personal recognition for their support such as their name on your website.
$20-$25 is a popular price point. In total we would suggest that you aim for around six price points.
Rewards may range from discounted pre-orders of your product or service to an experience. The types and array of rewards on offer are limitless … get brainstorming with a few friends.
Consider where you will need to deliver the rewards and any postage costs. Will you deliver internationally? Can you create digital rewards such as vouchers? What is your timing? When will you be able to deliver the reward? How will you manage the expectations of pledgers?
The type of rewards you offer will have a degree of influence on your campaign type – that is will you be running a “flexible” funding or an “all or nothing” campaign? To choose a flexible campaign you need to ensure that you can deliver your rewards even if you do not meet your target.
With ReadyFundGo you have the choice of creating a “flexible” campaign or an “all or nothing” campaign. Read more about choosing rewards.
4. Craft a Strong Compelling Story
Your story or your campaign pitch is the written outline of your crowdfunding campaign that will be visible on your campaign page. It is one of the most important elements of your campaign and should be written to hook your audience.
Make it personal and tell them concisely what you do and how you came to get there, how much money you need and what you will do with the funds. Aim for a compelling narrative of 400-600 words and include images, video and drawings of any prototypes.
We advise to get started on the narrative early – get a rough draft down on paper and then spend most of the time getting feedback and refining it. Make the first three sentences punchy and interesting … you need to get the audience to want to read more.
Importantly, avoid large blocks of text and include compelling images, infographics, and video. Read more on creating a strong campaign story here.
5. Time Your Video
Your campaign video is probably the most effective tool you have available to engage with your audience. You do not have to spend thousands – but you do need to ensure that you tell your story in an engaging way and that the sound and picture quality are high.
People’s attention spans seem to have shortened over the years so keep your video short and sweet. It is widely held that after 1 minute around 50% of people will have stopped watching and that this number rises to over 75% by 2 minutes.
We recommend keeping your video pitch to 60-120 seconds and make sure you present the most exciting or compelling information in the first 20 seconds. Here are some more detailed crowdfunding video tips.
6. Find Launch Day Pledges
One of the benefits of creating a “Coming soon” Page is that it gives you time to ensure you have your launch day pledges lined up.
Aim to secure pledges from family, friends and partners who know when your launch day is and are ready to dive in as soon as you go live.
When your targets come to look at your campaign page and find that it is already partially funded this will increase the chances of them actually transacting. If you would like to have any chance of your campaign going viral early pledges are a must.
7. Set Your Funding Goal
Although everyone’s campaign is different there is a list of items to consider in creating your Funding Goal.
At a simple levelyour equation will look something like this:
Funding Goal = The cost of completing your project + the cost of fulfilling your rewards + platform & processing fees (plus any sales taxes) + PR & promotion costs + 20% cushion + taxes and legal costs
Once you have a number you need to then do some testing. Is this number realistic? Very few crowdfunding campaigns for example raise more than $100,000 and those that do often started with a lower target. Will too an ambitious goal will deter backers? Can the project be broken down into bite sized chunks or not?
One strategy is to start with a lower number and aim to achieve this in the first 10 days before attacking your stretch goal.
8. Set-out your PR and Promotion Strategy
PR and a strong promotional strategy can help you reach an audience outside of your personal network and enable you to develop brand awareness.
Today, a crowdfunding campaign in itself is no longer necessarily newsworthy – so an interesting angle to your story is crucial.
You will need a well written press release and a good media list.
We find that many of our campaign creators cannot afford to spend several thousand a month on a glossy PR agency to help them. Finding a budget marketing or promotion expert within your budget can be a better choice.
At ReadyFundGo we partner with PR experts such as Handle Your Own PR run by guru Jules Brookes.
For a fraction of the price of the large agencies, smaller agencies can provide training, review press releases, advise on strategy, and valuable media lists.
Ensure creating your PR and promotion (and prepromotion) strategy is included early in your planning process alongside starting to identify and engage with bloggers and influencers in your space.
To here is to wishing you good luck – now go get crowdfunding fit!
You can also join our free webinar series to learn more about running a successful campaign.