With sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo heading much of today's world of e-commerce, crowdfunding is fast becoming a viable channel of fast financing, and not just for small businesses.
Indeed, I have literally attended endless meetings with clients around the world, asking for ways to achieve their financial and marketing goals by focusing on crowdfunding channels alone.
But, even as medium to large organisations are seeing the advantages of using crowdfunding platforms, some fail to change their marketing approach to the crowdfunding process as a whole. The difference between funding and marketing through crowdfunding and traditional means has been covered in-depth by other blogs such as articles on Wealthhow.com (https://wealthhow.com/crowdfunding-vs-traditional-funding), or those on modern day communities such Digital Doughnut (https://www.digitaldoughnut.com/articles/2016/july/digital-marketing-vs-traditional-marketing).
So what's the secret to a good crowdfunding campaign?
To put simply, it's all about engagement, being able to listen, understand and converse with potential consumers, or in crowdfunding terminology 'backers', in a very real sense.
With this in mind, I have developed a suggested framework of 'steps to crowdfunding success'.
2: Market Research
3: Pre-markup Warmup
4: Campaign Design and Launch
5: Campaign Flow Engagment
Many organisations I have dealt with failed to understand their own products, goals or even themselves, before launching a crowdfunding campaign.
Knowing yourself is vastly important when engaging consumers, as today's markets are much more in tune than ever before. They have become bloodhounds, and can sniff out a company who isn't in earnest, who doesn't know their own products inside and out, and those who display a lack of overall knowledge of the industry they are selling to. What's more, the average consumer can spread both positive and negative experiences alike, faster than a company can work to correct them.
So Ideation is the time when you must know your own company, what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it, and who your consumers are. Vision and mission statements along with a set of goals are fundamental in keeping focus, and show the world that you possess the passion to achieve.
Know your product, know its strengths and weaknesses, and be prepared to defend both. Know what your product is offering to the consumer, what features they are asking for and how your product delivers, and what benefits other than the product itself await those who help you succeed.
Know the message you wish to convey and make plans of communication with your target markets.
2: Market Research
An obvious step, but one that many companies overlook as they feel that putting up a campaign and launching a PR outreach program is more than enough to get the backers they need.
Research itself can be laborious and time consuming, and can cover many aspects of price points, features, industry, competition, market trends etc etc.
The issue is, that the average crowdfunding campaign will only run for around 2-3 months, including a 1 month live time, on the crowdfunding platform itself. Because of this, shortcuts have to be taken to ensure enough time is given to establish the desired community which are hungry for the product, prior to the launch.
This is why research in this instance revolves around finding the most effective communications channels for your audience, to discover which result in the greatest reaction to the launch.
Usually it is taken for granted that the product your company is launching fills an industry 'need', thus getting the message across in the shortest amount of time with the highest response is the key.
3: Pre-market Warmup
Now you know who you are, what your product is inside out, who your target markets are, and how to talk to them effectively... it's time to build a community hungry for your product launch.
The art of Digital Marketing is key in this instance, as it is required that you focus on emails, newsletters, paid-for digital advertisements, groups, bloggers, journalists, social media and general chat to get the word out as much as possible.
This is also where much of the PR is performed, contacting relevant journalists and trend leaders in the field.
Be prepared to answer any questions that are put to you from your target market, and to justify your products existence with passion.
Post information on social media, broadcast links across the board of usual platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit etc. Advertise these posts regularly, engage groups and forums based around the product and industry in question, and send all traffic to an established landing page.
Better yet, make more than one landing page covering a range of campaign styles, and run them on an A/B test to see which is more popular.
Instapage is wonderful for this, and allows you to build up email databases for early-bird backers.
4: Campaign Design and Launch
This is where the real 'meat' of the campaign is prepared, and where you will use what you discovered in the Ideation and research stages to their fullest.
Hopefully by now you will know all there is to know about your product and market, and the style in which the campaign should be presented. You can now use your design skills (or hire a designer) to lay out the campaign to match these revelations.
Be it humorous, technical, lifestyle, fantastical or a mixture of them all, make sure you always work to tell a story. Explain why you have designed the product, why you want to make it and launch it, why gave you the idea and why it is so important that others help you succeed. Tell the story that you have, tell the truth, and respond to any feedback over the course of the initial launch.
5: Campaign Flow Engagement
Finally is the engagement, which is performed over the course of the live campaign.
Oddly enough, this is one step many companies either ignore completely, or give the smallest amount of time to. This is because the most important days of any campaign tend to revolve around the first and last 2 days of it going live. This is because it is usually the time when the backers get in early to snap up all the discounts, or react in panic the last minute not to miss the opportunity. As such, most campaign traffic comes in over this timeframe, and thus the bulk of any engagement is focused on these times.
At first this may seem logical, but it is a strange phenomenon simply because backers themselves are usually up for a bargain at any time. Indeed, campaigns that tend to make the most money are the ones who make effort to engage the community on a day to day basis.
Flow engagement takes the idea one step further, in which traffic is watched carefully after each communication effort, to see where the most active results come from.
If traffic to the campaign pages drops, send out more engagement efforts to boost it back up again, keep it up for a month and you will help the ensure a steady flow of backers coming to the site.
Well, I hope this framework is useful to set you up on the road to a better crowdfunding campaign. What steps have you taken that you recommend?