How to Market Your Crowdfunding Campaign

By:Roy Morejon Date posted: September 11, 2014,

crowdfundingOne billion dollars and counting — that’s the total amount pledged to crowdfunding site Kickstarter by almost 7 million supporters. And that’s just one site. Indiegogo, Tilt, and RocketHub are other popular platforms among a growing number of sites, proving the viability of crowdfunding as a means for raising capital.

But it isn’t easy: Roughly 50 percent of crowdfunding campaigns succeeded globally in 2012, according to Massolution’s 2013 Crowdfunding Industry Report.


Why the sobering statistic? David Boyce, founder at Fundly, told Forbes, “The biggest mistake I see social entrepreneurs make with crowdfunding is to underinvest in marketing their campaign.”

Sidestep such a costly blunder with the following tips.

1. Plan Ahead
This advice might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how often it’s overlooked. At minimum, build in three-to-four months of prep before launching a campaign. At the very least, that time will allow you to build social media relationships, as well as a press list if you want coverage.

Most outlets (especially print publications) use editorial calendars to schedule their articles and blog posts, so it’s best to reach out to editors and writers before beginning your efforts. Also, you can use the time to begin alerting your network about your upcoming campaign.

2. Do the Math
How much will it cost to manufacture your product? Are you ready to shell out for a campaign video, or do you really think you can learn Final Cut Pro in a week? What’s your budget for shipping Kickstarter rewards overseas? (If you don’t plan to ship overseas, tell would-be global backers so they’re not angry when their reward doesn’t turn up.)

And how much time can you spend on the campaign? Filmmaker Ryan Koo tracked the hours he spent on his — it totaled 345 — for an average of eight hours per day over six weeks. In the end, he raised $125,000 in funds. Will your schedule let you spend that much time on a campaign?

Koo also calculated how many potential supporters he would need to reach to meet his campaign goal if only 1% responded, as well as the minimum or average amount each backer would need to donate. Determine similar figures, and be ready to crunch numbers as you factor all the costs needed for making your campaign a success.

3. Inspire and Delight
Once you’ve got a schedule and budget, it’s time to tackle content, which is another way of talking about creating a story. Why is your project, business, gadget, what-have-you worth funding? “Because it’s cool” isn’t an answer that’ll work unless you can inspire or delight your audience.

People want to be uplifted. They want to know their money will fund something meaningful, be it a documentary about sex trafficking crimes or a widget that teaches 5-year-olds how to read. You need to communicate what’s important, and sometimes (not always) your passion alone can do the trick because it’s easier to fund someone who demonstrates her own conviction in a project or product.

People also want to laugh or be otherwise amused. Think of what you see most often on Facebook: BuzzFeed quiz results, videos of cats doing something LOL-funny, children being adorable. Consider what will make people laugh, cry, or form an emotional connection — even if it doesn’t involve cats or cute babies.

4. Keep It Short and Sweet
In 1997, the Nielsen Norman Group released research showing that users seldom read web pages word for word. Instead, they scan text.

These findings have stayed the same over the years, so be sure to keep your copy and messages to the point. Use bullet points to aid scanning, subheadings to break up text, and don’t fear single-sentence paragraphs.

You don’t have much time to capture donors’ attention so offer copy should help them understand your message quickly and guide them with calls-to-action that indicate what to do next (donate, share with friends, etc.).

The same holds true for video. Unless you already have high levels of engagement, short videos — two-to-three minutes — are more likely to be viewed.

5. Know your audience
The email you send to friends and family you know will support your campaign shouldn’t be the same as the message you craft for stakeholders twice removed. You also need a different pitch for bloggers or other press.

Divide your networks into different groups, and consider which messages are most likely to resonate with each. Help them spread the word about your campaign by drafting an email they can send to their Rolodex.

6. Test, Retest, and Then Test Again — and Again
You’ve written jaw-dropping, persuasive copy bookended by eye-candy galore. Too bad the font is in 30 different sizes, and your email was sent to an audience of exactly one: your wife’s boss.

Mistakes like that are best avoided by testing your campaign page or email on various devices — tablet, smartphone, and desktop (PC and Mac). How it looks on one screen may not be how it appears on another, and it’s smart to double-check before publishing the page or hitting the send button. For added security, have someone proofread your copy for typos and other errors.

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