Part 2: Pre-Launch
As part of an ongoing series on Crowdfunding, this week, we take a look at the steps of launching a great Crowdfunding campaign, including pre-launch and post-launch strategies. Today we talk about the steps to take before you launch your campaign.
In Part 1, we introduced you to the concept of Crowdfunding and provided you with ways in which to analyse whether this form of fundraising would be the best fit for raising capital for your product or service. In Part 2, we look at preparing a crowdfunding campaign, if you decide that crowdfunding is indeed the way to go.
The following 10 strategies should be borne in mind prior to the launch of your crowdfunding campaign. The first five are general pre-launch strategies and the last five are marketing strategies that are an integral part of successful crowdfunding campaigns:
- Have A Clear Goal In Mind: You are pitching to investors and to customers. Your audience will not be able to trust someone who does not know what they want. This means having a clear goal in mind and knowing what you need and what you want. In every pitch (no matter how big or small) the ‘Ask’ is the key aspect that many fail to address. Be clear and direct in your ‘Ask'; if you need $500,000, state it clearly and elaborate on your reasons in your pitch as to why you need it and where the money will be strategically used.
- Create A Compelling Story: Once you understand who your audience is, you need to create a story that engages them and compels them to support your cause. Something that would draw them to participate in your cause. Start by getting them to relate to the problem, many people face similar problems and would be more keen to listen. Offer them your solution as to how it can be solved, and then explain what needs to be done to solve it.
- Crafting Videos And Visuals: The success of your pitch will depend on your delivery. Having entertaining, persuasive material will assist you in telling your story and will engage your audience more effectively than a lackluster presentation. That being said, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars crafting a blockbuster video – just ensure that you are able to tell your story to your audience passionately and genuinely.
- Research Similar Crowdfunding Campaigns: Something that no one will tell you is that it is always better to have an advantage. This means you should do some research, and analyze successful and unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns. Some questions to bear in mind: Where did they do well? Where did they fail? What rewards did they give to potential customers and investors?
- Have an information HQ: Secure a location (online or other) where people can follow and get updates about your campaign. This may be on a website, Facebook page or through an email group. Having a central location for your campaign will provide potential customers and investors with a venue to convene to look at the progress of their investment. It also helps them participate in the campaign and will quell any fears they have about you running away with their money! This platform in turn becomes an arena for future sales.Remember, your journey does not end with the end of the campaign – if you want more customers and future sales to build your business, you would need to continue driving traffic to your site.
- Discover Top Supporting Communities And Referral Sources: Half the battle is won when you have the support of the people. By participating in forums and communities, you will be able to gather support, either in the form of contributions or with help in spreading your message. These communities and referral sources scatter the online world – in blogs, websites, forums. Do your research and remember, every small bit counts so you should spread the word as much as you can.
- Find A Target Audience: This may sound obvious but it is an important, if not central component of your campaign. Identifying and understanding your target audience will allow you to pitch your product and gain support in the most effective way possible. Your target audience may include your family, friends, friends who are top-influencers (you know, those hyper-active friends on social media communities), potential customers, peers with similar interests (from blogs, forums, interest sites, hobby sites etc.). You should also identify the best referral targets.
- Think Through Your Marketing Strategy: You must be thorough in canvassing your marketing strategy so that you can choose the best marketing approach for each of your market segments. Your single message may not be able to tug at every heartstring. Strategise which are your best segments and try to tailor your message to cater to them. It would be best if you could cater to all – but that is rare and only happens in a perfect world.
- Differentiate Rewards according to level of Contribution – Band Rewards In Tiers Based On Amount Of Contributions, Limit Awards And Craft Unique Rewards For Influential Sponsors: It is human nature to feel appreciated. Thank your contributors better by giving them specific rewards for those who are more influential. Differentiate the tiers of rewards well, so that those who contribute more feel that it is worth it, to do so.Certain tiers could have limited rewards, creating a sense of urgency to contribute to that level(before it can finish). This will encourage more people to take the plunge for that special reward. For example, offering limited editions of certain rewards push people to pick up that reward earlier, rather than waiting to get closer to the end date.Influential sponsors can really take you to a higher level. They may do so by contributing the most or even helping to spread the message to the right people. It may be best to have special rewards for such sponsors. This could be in the form of a company visit, to meet the founders, or something special, just for them.
- Think About How Long The Campaign Needs To Last: People don’t have long attention spans anymore. If your campaign lasts too long, people could start getting impatient. At the same time, you may need a good period of time, especially if you need to raise a large sum of money.Periods of funding can be usually from 1-60 days. Usually an effective campaign can last for a period of 30 days. Any shorter, it can be ineffective and any longer could possibly drain resources, which may also take you away from the actual project at hand. In this case it is good to look at past successful campaigns, especially those in the same category and with similar goal levels. This would help you gauge the best timing for your campaign.
As it is not easy to start and run a campaign, the communities around such platforms can be very helpful. It might be good to drop a couple of messages to people who have ran past campaigns, seeking their advice to guide you along.
Stay tuned as we will discuss launch and post-launch strategies over the next few days.
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