When it comes to business funding the topic of crowdfunding almost always comes up at some point. It seems easy, straightforward, and low risk, but is more complicated than it seems at first.
If you're considering crowdfunding to raise money for your new business or next expansion, this blog post will walk you through the ten key steps you need for success.
The podcast version of this blog post can be found at the Adventures in Marketing podcast here.
Validate Your Product or Idea
Your friends and family are usually your best supporters, but they may not be your ideal audience. Once you’ve shared your idea with people you know, make sure you go outside of your immediate community to get solid feedback and suggestions.
Be prepared for people to not like or understand your idea. That is completely normal. Take the best suggestions and ideas from those who are your idea customer and let the rest go.
Pick Your Platform
Although Kickstarter has become almost synonymous with crowdfunding, it isn’t the only platform. When you’re looking at options be aware that each crowdfunding platform has its own pros and cons including different fees, processes, and payment schedules for each one. Here is a quick breakdown of the different platforms and how they compare to each other.
Most crowdfunding platforms have some kind of onsite training to help you be successful on their platform. If you’re looking for a crowdfunding site with a robust support and mentoring system, IFundWomen is a terrific crowdfunding platform that also includes a grant program that is free to apply for and a division to support women of color.
Nail Down Your Messaging
If your audience isn’t clear about why you are crowdfunding, what your plans are, and why they should support you - you’ll lose them.
No matter how excited and invested you are in your new product or service, you still need to be able to communicate the details to your would-be backers. Your messaging is more than your tagline or promotional video - it will run throughout every piece of your crowdfunding campaign, so dig into what you are creating and why.
This is another place you’ll need feedback from strangers and those who don’t know you, It is important to remember that, if things go well, you’ll reach an entirely new audience during your crowdfunding adventure and you’ll want to make the best possible first impression.
Make Your Rewards Pop
Let’s be honest - You’re backers want to support you, but they also want something for themselves. Once upon a time a $60 t-shirt was a fine reward, but those days are long past.
You’ll need to get creative to come up with rewards and reward packages that both entice and reward your backers.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
66 Killer Indiegogo and Kickstarter Crowdfunding Reward Ideas
How to Design Great Crowdfunding Rewards
10 Crowdfunding Rewards for Your Backers
96 Reward Ideas from the Kickstarter blog
Plan Your Promotion
Crowdfunding for success means you need to take time to plan and prepare.
When done well, crowdfunding can feel like an extra job - so treat it like that from the beginning. Set regular times to prep, launch, and promote your crowdfunding activities.
Make any graphics you’ll need ahead of time. Write copy, create videos, gather early testimonials, understand your rewards - all in advance so you don’t feel as if you are scrambling to get things done or miss deadlines because something else came up.
Giving yourself extra time means you’ll have time to expand your reach by sending press releases, connecting with press, and others who can help you share your crowdfunding project.
Gather Your Team
All of those friends and family who swear they are ready and willing to help you? This is the time to put them to work.
However, don’t expect them to be mind readers or understand how they can best help you. Unless they have a marketing background or experience in crowdfunding they likely won’t know what to do beyond sharing a link.Don’t be shy about putting them to work!
Treat your biggest fans like your mini army by giving them clear instructions about how they can support you, exactly what you need from them, and when you need it. Some may prefer to have you provide them with copy or talking points (especially if they are shy or nervous) while others may want to do it on their own.
Build Interest Pre-Launch
A big piece of succeeding in marketing something is showing up. So make sure you are talking about your upcoming crowdfunding adventure frequently.
Build a buzz and keep it going by sharing the journey along the way on social media pre-launch. Let your potential backers see how excited you are to share this new product or service you are launching.
Resources for building buzz pre-launch:
Create Your Crowdfunding Success Plan
As excited as crowdfunding can be in the pre-launch and launch phases, it can be a stressful sprint to the finish line.
If you’re feeling fatigued, you aren’t alone. Even when your crowdfunding campaign is humming along and doing create, promoting one thing so heavily when you’re not used to it can be draining. This feeling isn’t unusual and is why pre-launch prep work is so important.
If your crowdfunding campaign has stalled, don’t give up! Here are ways to help revive it and get you back on track!
How to Give CPR to Your Dying Kickstarter
Six Steps to Revive a Stalled Crowdfunding Campaign
What to Do When Funding Stalls
Get Your Second Wind
You’re almost to the finish line - just another week or even a few days to go, but you’re exhausted and you’re convinced no one wants to hear even one more word about your project.
What do you do? Find your second wind and keep going to help push your campaign to success!
Reach out to all of your supporters, make a final campaign update, get everyone excited one more time and the last hours and minutes tick by.
What to Do in the Last 24 Hours of Your Crowdfunding Campaign
The Final Push of Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Celebrate the Outcome
You did it! You made it to the end of your crowdfunding project. Hopefully your planning, promotion, and hustle paid off and you reach your goal. If you don’t, know that you aren’t alone. Only 22% of crowdfunding campaigns reach their goal.
Whatever the outcome, celebrate the wins and successes along the way. Don’t forget to celebrate yourself, too. You’ve done something unique and challenging and put yourself and your business out there in a brand new way.
However, you’re not quite done yet. You still need to wrap up your campaign, thank your donors, and plan your next steps.
How to Wrap Up a Crowdfunding Campaign
23 Lessons Learned from Crowdfunding