So we’ve carved ourselves a niche as one of Australia’s only crowdfunding specialist agencies and the phone is ringing hot. That’s cool. But the thing is, many of the people we’ve been speaking to lately have already started their crowdfunding campaign, things aren’t going well, and now they want our help. That’s kind of asking us to jump into your sinking boat and start bailing out water.
The reality of crowdfunding campaigns is they need careful planning and strategy, well in advance of any given campaign.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TIMING
We suggest people get in contact with us 4-6 weeks prior to their planned campaign. You should also give consideration to the launch date. Is it in the middle of a holiday break? For instance we’ve been gearing up for some US launches and have had to give careful consideration to the Thanksgiving break, which isn’t just a day in the US. Many people take this opportunity to travel and have a few days with family.
Similarly, historical data shows that campaigns through the Christmas period don’t tend to perform as well. But that depends on the product you are promoting.
Recently I chatted to someone with a campaign that was targeting supporting homeless people. A Christmas campaign could work for her given people could be feeling charitable at this time of year. Or, conversely, they could be feeling self indulgent and off having a good time and eating and drinking up a storm, and not even checking out crowdfunding campaigns or any marketing about it.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH & MORE RESEARCH
Before you even look to launch a campaign you should have thoroughly canvassed the major crowdfunding platforms, and Google, to see if there have been any campaigns like yours. If there haven’t, this may not necessarily be a good thing. Maybe there hasn’t been one because it just wont work as a crowdfunding campaign. If there have been campaigns like yours, study them deeply. What tiers or perks did they have? What was their video like? What media coverage did they get? What was their target? What did they achieve? How many backers? Prepare a spreadsheet of this to present to us. Trust us. It’s a lot cheaper than us doing this part of the process for you. And shows you’re a savvy, serious crowdfunding prospect.
It’s not just a case of throwing up a website, some social networks at the start of the campaign. These should be up in advance of the campaign, and where possible you should build interest through anticipation marketing tactics of ‘it’s coming’, using countdowns, and constant messaging to gather a crowd before your big launch announcement. A good number to aim for is 1000 likes on Facebook and whatever other relevant networks for your market i.e. Instagram if a young demographic, Pinterest if a female market aged 25-45 etc, pre campaign and as big of a database as you can muster.
Get your images together, even if it’s searching and downloading a bunch of stock images. You’ll need them for ads. Get a good video together. Spend on that, it really helps.
THE ALL IMPORTANT DATABASE & THE POWER OF PARTNERING
Remember how I just said you need as big of a database as you can muster? I’m saying that again for a reason. The bigger your database, the more successful your campaign will be. So export your Outlook contacts. Download your client contacts. Think of anyone you know who would be worth letting know about your campaign.
Partner with complimentary people to leverage their databases and social networks i.e. get them to do shout outs to them in the lead up to, during and post campaign (they’ll unlikely hand the database over, that would be illegal). This extends the reach of your campaign massively. The bigger the partner and the more clout, the better.
Why do you need databases so bad? Because you can upload them to Facebook and Google Adwords and do what are called custom audiences which provides awesome segmenting and insights into who is interested in your campaign and product, which helps refine all your other marketing. You can tell what age they are, gender, location, interests and a whole lot more. But if you only have a handful of likes or audiences to analyse, well, you’re a bit stuck.
BUDGET FOR THE CAMPAIGN
Then there's the people who ring up who want help, but have no budget. Soooo let me get this straight, you thought your campaign would just get 'found' without any marketing? Hahaha! Dude, you need some budget for marketing, and if you want it done right, you need to pay someone to spend some hours on it. How much? Well as a rough ball park I'd say if you were to engage us for one service related to your crowdfunding, let's say just small PR campaign or just a little Facebook advertising, you're looking at around $2500. If want a few services, say $5000. If you really are serious and want to go gangbusters - $10,000 - $20,000 is a good budget to allocate. If we really like what you're doing, we may even invest and do a hybrid model which means you pay us for some services, and we get a percentage on the results of the campaign. But the people we offer this to are few and far between.
GETTING MEDIA COVERAGE, THAT'S EASY TOO RIGHT? WRONG!
Several people I’ve spoken to lately have also got it all wrong with the pitch to media. They’ve whipped up a sorry excuse for a media release, and shot it to the handful of media people they’ve scraped off the internet, who have no idea who they are. This is a dumb idea for a few reasons:
1) You’re not a PR expert
2) Your press release will probably be all wrong
3) You don’t have established relationships with these people. They’ll be all like ‘who the hell is this’
4) Doing your own PR makes you look less professional. It’s better coming from someone else.
5) There’s a bunch of techniques to get media coverage you probably haven’t even thought of, like needing to send high res images, a crazy good cover note with the press release, sending it from an emarketing system so you can track opens etc. Oh and did I mention you have to follow them up like a zillion times to get coverage? You hadn’t allocated time for that now had you?
I could probably write a book on all the things you should do to make a crowdfunding campaign successful. In fact, we have! Here’s a link to a free downloadable ebook you can check out.
But the short of it is, don’t just throw a campaign up, cross fingers, hope for the best, wake up every morning and see you’ve had no more sales and feel deflated all day, the mid campaign call in the experts. We can’t bail you out of a sinking ship.
Call us while you’re getting set to sail!