It’s human nature to look for the shortcut, but sometimes there simply isn’t one. Crowdfunding has become the shiny object in fundraising, with brands and entrepreneurs being under the delusion that they can get through a cash-flow crunch or fund their next production run by throwing something up on a crowdfunding site. It’s simply not that easy. There is no crowdfunding money tree just waiting for you to show up with your campaign and take the cash you need. Crowdfunding campaigns are not magic—success requires a lot of effort. At the end the day, these platforms provide a marketing outlet and payment processing, that’s it. A clever video and a bunch of social sharing does not equate to success—that is going to require good old-fashioned low-tech hard work and networking.
There’s no shortage of crowdfunding platforms, but regardless of the platform let’s be clear—the platform is not going to raise the money, the campaign is. This may seem like semantics but the distinction is crucial and can separate success from failure. These platforms have become the go-to resource for entrepreneurs and startups, so they are oversaturated with ideas. Success is not a given—60 percent of campaigns do not meet their funding goal.
So how do you set yourself up for crowdfunding success?
- Do your research. Don’t go about launching a campaign half-cocked. Remember as an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable asset, spend it wisely. There’s no shortage of resources available, and learn from other people’s successes and failures. Some crowdfunding specific resources worth a look: Crowd Fund Beat, Crowd Crux, Crowdfund Insider, Crowdfunding Hacks.
- Have a plan. Run the numbers and be able to ad context and perspective to the funding goal. Running a crowdfunding campaign is content intensive. Carefully craft your story, get your creative assets in order (videos are not optional). Have a communication and press plan. Discovery of your campaign is not going to happen organically—you need to make it happen.
- Create a marketing tool box. Stack the cards and use tools for management, measurement, and amplification. Some to consider are HARO, Anewstip, Krowdster, Buffer, and referral campaigns. The tools can help find the right journalists for your press outreach and amplification efforts.
- Work your network. Ask for financial support for your campaign. Keep close contacts updated on the campaign and funding goal. Inspire contacts to share other support of your campaign to their network. Technology isn’t going to raise the money you need. The funding is going to come from mobilizing every connection in your network, even the weakest ones. Brainstorm, dig deep, and don’t leave any rock unturned.
- Engage your investors. By design crowdfunding campaigns have removed the human element to fundraising. You never have to see your backers face-to-face, but in traditional fundraising investors gain comfort in looking you in the eye and listening to exactly what you plan on doing with their money. You need to recreate that connection in the crowdfunding world by staying in constant contact with your backers so they know they have made a wise investment.
- Say Thank You. Again and Again. Don’t be stingy on the thank-yous and be sincere. Reach out personally to each and every person that contributed and don’t forget them after the campaign ends. Build on success and set the stage for the next round of investment or simply allow them to advocate on your behalf by keeping them engaged by sharing your progress.
It’s true technology is constantly changing the way we create, market, and sell products, but there are some analog basics that will forever remain the foundation of success. Go forth and crowdfund.
Photo: Hannah Rodrigo via Unsplash