Faitt Media recently had the pleasure and honor of conducting our first-ever crowdfunding campaign with The Clyde Fitch Report. We provided the marketing strategies for the online political and arts journal looking to grow. The CFR was phenomenal and ultimately successful at meeting and exceeding their goal of $19k.
Here are 10 key points we learned along the way.
1. It’s never too early to start planning. While talks originally started in mid-2014, the campaign itself launched in late March 2015. Decide early on what platform is right for you – Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub, MicroVentures, AngelList, GoFundMe, etc. With thousands of platforms to choose from, it’s crucial to understand which platform is right for you or your product and what they require. Some are more geared towards the “crowd” while others focus on angel investors or donations. Understand what cut each one earns form your campaign, start learning the platform and plan for each phase.
2. It’s essential to discuss what your goals are and what funds it will realistically take to reach them. Consider consulting with trusted mentors and valued colleagues. Review and reach out to successful campaigns. You can read every article covering the psychology of crowdfunding and setting high goals, but without careful consideration and transparency for the crowd to see and understand what you need and why, all of those articles will not console you if you don’t meet your goal.
3. Before your launch, sketch out your marketing plan, outreach tasks and PR. While this will help scheduling various tasks (social media, emails, PR, etc.), keep in mind that the schedule will morph. Get comfortable with taking on a great deal of work and emotional energy. Consider your audience. What’s the size? How qualified is it? Are you prepared to start asking them to back your campaign? If you need to grow your audience, plan for 3-6 months prior to launch to do this. Create your marketing calendar and consider outreach such as email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. Can you afford to purchase any lists, budget for marketing ads (not boosts) on Facebook or other community sites or blogs? If you can’t afford it, what about a trade or other arrangement? Get creative. Are there any industry or community groups you can count on reaching out to? Can they reach out to their community on your behalf? Post an ad? Can you sponsor ads on their sites/social media groups for publicity or another trade? Can you add local radio, TV, print PR to your plan?
4. Create an amazing, sincere video pitch and photos. This is the single-most viewed element of many campaigns, so dedicate careful time and consideration into making it the best you can. Spell out exactly who you are, what your goals are and what you need to make those goals a reality. Connect. People want to connect to the cause/product/vision/individuals that they’re giving their money to. Review successful campaigns on various platforms in your industry and others for inspiration. Be original. Be sincere.
5.Consider your rewards. Get familiar with your platform’s rules surrounding rewards. Do they appeal to your audience? Are they valuable or junk? Make them amazing. No one wants junk, so take time into creating backer-worthy rewards that you yourself would want to put money towards and receive. Tap into industry partnerships. Don’t forget to plan for fulfillment - the costs you’ll incur to create, ship and track any tangible goods. Consider digital fulfillment. Know that many will want to support you, but will not choose a reward. How can you thank them? Adjust as you go.
6.If you have a team around you, make sure they are all on board, willing to commit to outreach, pitching, posting, etc. – it’s crowdfunding. Know that for some traditional thinkers, asking for money is incredibly poor form. They won’t be comfortable asking, or they will do it in a more personal fashion or on a smaller scale. Provide your team with examples of what you’re emailing, saying to friends/family/colleagues, but do be clear with what you expect from everyone. Accept that everyone will do it his or her own way. Get your expectations straight.
7.Don’t rely solely on digital and social media. Get comfortable with “the ask.” Make a list of those who may be able to make more generous donations, and set some clear intentions around meeting with them. Pick up your phone. Set lunch dates. Be sincere and honest if you’re asking someone for support. Don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face meetings, sincere phone calls and outreach. Social media and digital outreach is only one element of the campaign.
8. Once you launch your campaign, buckle up and prepare yourself for an ego check. Crowdfunding campaigns can be a rollercoaster, starting out slow, then gaining speed and taking off. However, it takes constant nudging, outreach, asking, promoting, etc. Do not plan for others to do your work. Do not plan for the platform to do your work. In addition to any regular job you might have, plan on dedicate times each day (or night) for outreach, and this should be mapped on your marketing calendar from the beginning.
9. During your campaign, make sure you communicate with your audience on the platform you choose, on social media, with your email newsletters. Keep people engaged, connect with them and show them you’re a human. Share your emotions, and talk about your product or vision. Tell them how the campaign is going, how much the crowd has raised, what you need, why you need it. Connect. Connect. Connect. As best you can, be prepared for some to give more than you expected, less than you expected and none at all. While it never feels good, there will be some in your network who either show up to the party late or not at all. You may not be able to plan for the emotions, but know up front that some will surprise you and some will let you down. Swiftly move on from the negative feelings of disappointment, and actively focus on and show gratitude towards those who are showing up to support you. Let that feeling carry you forward.
10. Don’t forget to plan for the after-party. Once you reach your goal, celebrate! Show everyone who helped out or backed you no matter how big or small how thankful you are. Then quickly shift into high gear in order to fulfill your backers’ rewards. Make sure this is a fun event for your team as you would not have reached your goal without them, without your community showing up for you. Fulfilling these rewards should be a fun event, revisiting the real magic of crowdfunding, the validation you received and the start to you moving forward with your project. During fulfillment and as you move forward with your project or product, continue to communicate with your supporters, giving them updates on what they helped build.