You’ve completed your design, you have your samples in hand, and now you need the funds to start that minimum quantity order (MOQ) with your manufacturer.
You’ve decided to go the crowdfunding route.
Good question. I just completed my first crowdfunding campaign, and though I didn’t set any records, I reached 150% of my goal and now have over 150 customers eagerly awaiting my product.
And frankly, I’m eager to do it again.
The process wasn’t exactly easy though, and I spent a tremendous amount of time researching, reading, and listening to everything I could in order to learn from the mistakes of others, and to make sure I gave my campaign the best chance of success.
Here’s how you can set yourself up for crowdfunding success.
Build Up Your Social Media Accounts
First and foremost, the #1 thing you need to start doing now is to create a social media presence by sending out interesting (and related) articles, photos, and links via Twitter, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Ideally, you should start this 2-3 months before your campaign launch date.
Building your social media accounts is relatively easy, but it’s probably not the best use of your time. There a lot of people skilled at social media, so consider instead hiring an inexpensive virtual assistant, enlisting a college student, or even hiring a friend’s teenager. Concentrate your time and effort on the important things that only you can do.
Target your audience carefully. Know who your backers are and spend the majority of your time finding and reaching out to them. They will be your most enthusiastic fans and will help you the most in your campaign.
Contact and Develop Relationships with the Media
Your best media contacts will be bloggers in your product field, national media outlets that have covered similar campaigns, and even local reporters who like to showcase successful new businesses.
Find a “champion” – someone who really believes in your project, who has a wide reach of contacts, and who is willing to help you succeed. Your champion will do a lot of the heavy lifting on your marketing in a way only he/she can – all because they believe in you – so treat them well.
- Don’t “pitch” your product to them – present them with story angles to choose from that will appeal to their particular writing style and audience. You want them to have to do as little work as possible. Give them a story and headline they can get excited about writing.
- Mention one of their articles and why you liked. Share their links, and comment on their work to let them know you’ve been following them and that you are familiar with the kind of material they put out. Prove you’re interested in their work and not just contacting them out of the blue because you want something.
- Be friendly, funny, and make it clear you’re looking for long-term contact. Ask how you can help them.
- Be willing to send them product samples if possible. If it’s not possible, send them the pre-launch link so they can see your idea in action.
- Keep in contact with them after the campaign ends. You’re developing real, long-lasting relationships, not just tapping them whenever you need something.
Organize Your Project
Your campaign will consist of the elements below, in the order a potential supporter will see them:
- Thumbnail – Use an image that you want to be the face of your project. It should be eye-catching because this is what your backers will see first when searching through projects.
- Title – Come up with a title for your project that immediately grabs your backer’s attention.
- Short Description – Write a 1-2 sentence description that summarizes the most important benefits of your project. They should make your backer want to know more.
- Video – The video is a vital part of your campaign.
- Show what problem your product solves.
- Show the product in action – the video needs to show your backers what’s your product is like since they can’t see, hold, touch, smell, or taste it.
- Show why viewers want your product. What will it do for them?
- Call to Action – Don’t forget to actually ask them for help. This may seem obvious, but never assume they know what to do. Tell them exactly what you need and how to support you.
- Rewards – Keep in mind that most backers just want your product.
- Offer your product at the lowest possible price, or potential supporters will just wait until it’s available elsewhere. And if they support you now and find it for less money later, you’ll lose their trust – and they won’t be coming back for your future campaigns.
- Offer something for free. This is highly appealing to backers and they’ll be more likely to share your campaign if they receive something for free.
- Offer a low $1-5 reward as well, for those who just want to help and be a part of the process.
- Try to keep one Reward around $25, since this tends to be the sweet spot for crowdfunding campaigns.
- Have a high-end reward – just in case someone really does choose it. Make it worth it and someone will.
- Figure your shipping costs carefully, especially for international backers. State the shipping costs up front so backers aren’t surprised AFTER they’ve pledged.
- Put a lot of thought into your Rewards. You can always add more Rewards later, but you can’t change or remove a Reward once someone has selected it.
- Only offer a few Rewards, and keep levels simple and clear. The more complicated or confusing they are, the more potential backers you’ll lose.
- Infographic – Place one in the copy so backers and quickly and easily see the rewards and can make their choice faster.
- “As Seen On” Section – Put logos of media outlets who have showcased your project – those are your best and most trusted social proof examples for backers.
- Testimonials – Include some quotes from people who have seen, used, experienced, and approve of your project. If possible, include links to where they were seen/posted/tweeted, etc.
Tell Your Story
This is the area of the campaign copy/description where you’ll include information not covered in your video. Tell the story behind how you came up with your project. Show early prototypes and sketches. You want supporters to understand the amount of time and effort you put into it. Give your project some character, some sense of you, your outlook on life, your sense of humor. Don’t be afraid to also show your failures, and how you resolved them to make your product even better than before. Have fun with it. This is your chance to shine and to get people excited about your project.
Some other tips for the body of your campaign text:
- Keep paragraphs short.
- Include a lot of images.
- Include extra, short videos.
- Use bullet points to break up the text and highlight main points.
Be Open To Suggestions
You want backers to comment on and interact with your campaign since active backers affect a crowdfunding site’s algorithm, which helps boost your ranking on the site. Because backers and potential backers can be very verbal about what they do and don’t like about your product, this is a vital time to consider changes or improvements to your product – before the manufacturing process begins. Take it all with a grain of salt, and stay true to your style and vision, but be open to ways to improve on your creation and how to satisfy future customers.
During the campaign, send updates when you have something important to say, when you reach milestones, when you need help spreading the word, and when it’s the “last call” push at the end of the campaign. But don’t spam them.
After the campaign, send updates regularly to keep backers included in the process. Attach a lot of photos of the process whenever possible. Backers can get very unhappy if you keep them in the dark, don’t fulfill your promises, and don’t meet your deadlines.
Build a List of Followers
Even if your campaign fails to reach its funding goal, you’ll have the chance to link it to a capture page for those who missed the campaign but are still interested, or for those who want to know when you’ll try again. Use it to help potential customers find you, and stay in touch with those who supported you.
I didn’t know about some of these campaign elements until just before I was planning to launch my own campaign, but I scrambled like mad and was ultimately successful.
So plan your steps, take it one step at a time, and just keep moving. Good luck!
Other advice for startups seeking funding:
Alexandra Wolff is a mompreneur of 3 and a serial problem solver. A proponent of organic foods, natural solutions, and alternative energy, Alexandra founded her company, A Diva Difference, in order to provide families with smart, non-toxic, and entertaining toys. She completed her successful campaign on Kickstarter in June and is anxious to do it again