Few people in the world can claim they have run a $1m crowdfunding campaign. In fact, less than 0.2% of all successfully funded projects on Kickstarter.com reached that threshold.
So, if you are an innovator or company founder willing to go big, you probably can’t help wondering: what do I need to do for my project to join the 7-figure crowdfunding pantheon?
Jill Storey, the CEO at ReadyFundGo, decided to check-in with Bojan Smiljanic, one of the world’s crowdfunding gurus and product designers to look for the answer to that question.
The last crowdfunding campaign that Bojan led was for the Obsidian 3D printer which raised $1.6m from over 6,000 backers around the world. If you take a closer look at the campaign, you might believe that this outstanding project couldn’t be anything but hugely successful.
It would be wrong to think that it all magically happened, however. A lot of work — planning, community management, public relations — was required for weeks before the campaign went live. In this post, we look at what was going on behind the scenes and discuss some essential lessons you can apply to achieve crowdfunding success.
Lesson #1: Have a truly fantastic project
Here is the harsh truth: backers do not support campaigns only from the kindness of their heart. They pledge products which they believe have the potential to challenge existing industries or even create new markets entirely. Bojan knows the market well and was confident that the Obsidian 3D printer offers many benefits among which: excellent value for money, comprehensive functionality, and non-proprietary firmware.
Figure 1 — Obsidian vs. competitive products
Serious crowdfunding campaign creators need to create a video explaining the core aspects of their project. Where your crowdfunding project involves an innovative new product, it is better if you already have an advanced prototype developed or at least a clear idea about how you’re going to make things work so that potential backers can get a good understanding and a clear picture of what you are creating.
Lesson #2: Do your campaign homework
According to Bojan, crowdfunding success happens “much before a campaign starts. There are 30+ days before you launch which you should dedicate to communicating with bloggers and posting on relevant forums, spending some budget on ads, and generating signups on a landing page.” It’s indeed crucial you bring as many eyes as possible to your page leveraging influencers, authority websites, social media, newspapers, and magazines.
Bojan advises to “send out as many samples as possible for third parties to review your product and, if they like it, announce your campaign.” Bottom line: extensive preparation is a must do and is likely to be the equivalent of a full-time job for weeks before your campaign goes live.
Lesson #3: Build a community
Backers do not materialize all of a sudden. It’s true that crowdfunding platforms can bring some traffic to a campaign help to connect fundraisers with supporters, but that’s usually not enough — especially when you’re aiming for an ambitious 7-figure funding target. “Campaigns should have a funding goal and potential backers committed from day one,” says Bojan, “it helps you start amazingly well and attract more people later on.”
A technique that typically works well to build a community of buyers is to offer early-bird versions of your product as rewards. Supporters are generally excited to be among the first to purchase an innovative item at a discount from the expected retail price. And if you’re wondering about the market potential of your innovation, pre-orders represent an outstanding opportunity to test the waters and build demand.
Who doesn’t dream to run a $1m campaign and become a crowdfunding guru like Bojan Smiljanic? Easier said than done, though. The good news though is that there are some best practices you can follow to boost the success of your crowdfunding efforts such as developing a fantastic project, preparing your campaign carefully, and building a community of backers.
Jill Storey, CEO, ReadyFundGo
ReadyFundGo is Australia’s crowdfunding platform for business.
If you have a truly amazing product to crowdfund and have a question for Jill or Bojan please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org