It might seem compelling to try an approach that explodes on the scene from an elusive puff of smoke, but the truth is, shock-and-awe crowdfunding campaigns rarely work. Most successful fundraising campaigns get their public gears turning well before they launch.
As Danae Ringelmann told Entrepreneur.com, “You can’t launch a campaign, go on autopilot and expect money to come rolling in.” In other words, you can’t just build it and hope they will come. That’s something only Kevin Costner can do.
If you want to launch a campaign, it’ll take a bit of work, but if you follow these six steps, you’ll knock it out of the park.
Develop Pre-Launch Inertia
Before you ever debut a campaign on Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding platforms, start spreading your message early. You want to begin to educate people about your project and to cultivate a base of supporters well before you launch. Think of it this way: If you’ve created a strong network of 300 people who know and support what you’re doing, when you do go live, you’ll have instant movement, immediate shares and substantial fundraising traction.
Even the director of research at the University of California, Berkeley’s Program for Innovation in Entrepreneurial and Social Finance found that campaigns that raised $100,000+ spent at least 200 hours preparing for a crowdfunding effort and an average of 136 hours managing it (Entrepreneur.com).
Build a Community
Make people feel like they’re a part of your campaign. Start building a community early. Consider launching your project first on social media platforms to begin to grow a base of early adopters who can start spreading your idea through word of mouth. Social media become more ubiquitous and accessible in 2016, and you ought to use it.
Engage your community to generate excitement for the oncoming fundraising campaign. Build an email list and begin to keep people updated about your project both as it develops and as you near your launch. Something to the tune of an “it’s coming!” campaign will grow the exciting feeling of urgency.
Hone in on an Audience
Figure out who is your lowest hanging fruit. If you’re selling a technical gadget that only engineers will use, you probably don’t need to target Pinterest fanatics. This will help you think about how you talk about your project and where you reach out to garner support. This will also mean you’ll need to target places where your audience is consuming content. Perhaps there are some social media groups that have a specific interest that aligns with your campaign. Let them know what you’re launching, and you’ll engage a whole new cohort of predisposed fans.
Create Clear but Compelling Content
When you’re excited about your idea, you could probably talk about it all day long. With crowdfunding, there’s a sweet balance between sharing your passion and making things super simple. With a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll want to show passion but also clarity. Communicate your excitement and dedication to your project, but do it in a way that will be accessible to the audience you’re hoping to reach.
Get Personal (Because People Invest in People)
This all started with you or your team, and that’s what people want to hear about. Why should they believe in you? What is your story? Why are you compelled to make this happen? And even cover why they should hang out with you on a Friday night. Seriously, people want dedicated, knowledgeable and excited people to invest in.
Make a Badass Video
How can you best capture your passion project? Video is a great way to communicate your excitement and bring your crowdfunded idea to life for your audience. Demonstrate your product or service here, and show the world its applications. Many people will start with the video, but they’ll leave your page if they’re not compelled. Keep your video short and make it as high quality as you can. The good news is that there are more video tools available than ever, so everyone should have the resources to knock this one out of the park. If you have the time and funding, dedicate a lot of energy to making this a homerun. It is hugely important to your success.
Plus, Ray Kinsella would be proud of all of these baseball puns.
What ideas can you add to the list? We’d love to hear them in the comments.