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22 Crowfunding Tips

To Make Your Campaign A Success

When it comes to crowdfunding, there’s a lot to learn. That’s where these crowdfunding tips come in.

In any endeavour it pays to look for the “80/20” – the 20% of actions which produce 80% of the results. It’s not always a matter of pushing harder – it’s better to figure out exactly where to push. 

So, do you want to learn the best crowdfunding tips that the biggest, most-successful campaigns use?

You’re in the right place.

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Even the best marketers in the world will find it difficult to sell a poor-quality product. If customers don’t really want what you’re selling, it is always going to be an uphill battle. 

This may sound like common sense, but a surprising number of crowdfunding creators do the opposite – they make their product first, and only start thinking about marketing *after* the product is already finished. Their thinking goes: ‘I have got this product. Now, how do I sell it?’

As Ryan Holiday wrote in Perennial Seller: 

“… the better your product is, the better your marketing will be. The worse it is, the more time you will have to spend marketing and the less effective every minute of that marketing will be.”

How do you know if you have a great product? People will easily see a need for it, without needing to be convinced. It will address an existing pain point that they already feel.

Of course, it would be disingenuous to pretend that creating a great product is easy – if it were easy, then everyone would do it. Great ideas are not brought to life overnight. Rather than expect a perfectly-planned straight line to the perfect product, you must welcome wrong turns and mistakes as they show you which way to go next. This means finding your crowd, listening to them, and making what they want.

2. Identify Your Target Demographic

Everything is so much easier when you are talking to the right people. Knowing who your product is for saves effort, because it means you do not need to reach everybody. It also saves money, because you can be much more targeted with your outreach. 

You know your product best, and who it will be of most interest to. Deliberately go where those people are, and get your offer in front of them.

Knowing your target demographic will flow through to many important details within your campaign. For example, if you determine that most of the people who are interested in your product will be college students, then it will be more effective if your marketing collateral displays college-age people using the product and enjoying it.

3. Co-Create With Your Crowd

As soon as you have a prototype, it’s time to get it into the hands of people and get them to tell you what they think of it. 

At this point, you don’t need hundreds of opinions – you just need a few really dedicated ones who are an exact match for your target demographic.

What do they like? What don’t they like? What is missing? What is superfluous?

Creators that listen are rare, and are therefore valued. Most creators don’t seek out this kind of feedback in the course of putting their product together because they feel too busy… but crowdfunding requires *both* developing the product *and* building community for it. The best way to do this is to give people a sense of ownership over the product, by building it along with your audience – from the ground up.

PLANNING FOR CROWDFUNDING TIPS

4. Create A Budget

The budgeting side of things is often overlooked by creators – a big reason behind why so many of them run into trouble later. Projects often cost more than expected to bring to life.

Budgeting cannot eliminate the risk of cost overruns, but it can significantly mitigate it. Take into account:

  • marketing expenses
  • production costs of the rewards
  • shipping
  • import duties
  • crowdfunding platform fees
  • taxes

And remember to leave in a margin to make the exercise worthwhile for you as well! Without profit, you will not be able to sustain yourself. Also, know your breakeven point – this is the minimum amount you need to raise for the exercise to be worthwhile.

A budget is never really done – it should be constantly revisited as more information comes to light. Costs are always fluctuating, and as you start doing your research with the suppliers, you will discover new costs and savings.

5. Plan Ahead With An In-Depth Timeline

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Successful crowdfunding requires a strategy. As in – what needs to get done, in which order, and by which time?

Many campaigns make the mistake of trying to do everything “on the fly” – but when you are always reacting to circumstances, you never get the chance to see the bigger picture and how each individual action fits into it all.

You need to have a strategy, a timeline, and the ability to stick to it.

This is one of those crowdfunding tips which is much easier to say than to do – there will always be modifications to your timeline – but it all starts with laying out your intended path so that you can be much more capable of hitting deadlines.

6. Choose The Best Crowdfunding Platform

Campaign creators must get the platform selection choice right. It affects everything that follows. This means asking the hard questions about the various platform’s capabilities, and what they can do for you. Remember, the crowdfunding platforms are taking a fee from all money successfully raised, so make sure to get value for this.

The platform selection question is a big topic in its own right, but in this article on crowdfunding tips, here are a couple of key questions to think about:

  1. How large is the platform’s audience? 
  2. Is their audience a good match for your target demographic?

All of the crowdfunding platforms will claim to be the “best” by some measure or another – but none of them are the “best” in every case. What really matters is which one of them is objectively best for you and for your campaign.

The real value-add of a crowdfunding platform is their ability to bring new people to back your campaign – beyond those that you bring on your own. So get clarity over what access you will have to the platform’s backer database.

If you don’t already know the differences between the different crowdfunding platforms, either educate yourself or ask for outside expert assistance.

7. Give Your Campaign Your Full Focus

Crowdfunding is intensive, and you’ll definitely want to devote as much attention to it as you possibly can.

While it is admittedly hard to put everything else on hold – do not attempt to run your crowdfunding efforts when you are already stretched for time, such as during an intensive period of staff growth, or when trying to open a new office location.

If your crowdfunding campaign doesn’t get enough of your attention, you won’t be able to do a proper job of it. You will only succeed in burning yourself out if you try to do everything at once.

BUILDING YOUR CAMPAIGN TIPS

8. Borrow Ideas From Other Campaigns

Crowdfunding has been around for many years now. Chances are, there have already been a multitude of campaigns that you can learn a lot from.

Pull up at least a dozen campaigns which are both:

  • Successful
  • Similar to your category

…and take notes about how they structured their page. You will surely get lots of ideas – there’s no need to re-invent the wheel!

Of course, balance this with your own voice and creativity. You don’t want to just be a copy of a copy of a copy. You can take someone else’s structure, but weave your own personality into it.

9. Show Your Traction & Social Proof, However You Can

As you are browsing through those other campaigns, you will surely have noticed that the most successful ones make a big deal of showing off their credentials. This is no accident. 

The biggest hurdle that most crowdfunding campaigns need to overcome is *trust*. A visitor to your campaign page cannot touch the product you are promising them, and may not have even heard of you before. So, why should they trust you? Weaving plenty of social proof into your page is one way to do it.

But what do you do if you don’t have much social proof yet? After all, you are crowdfunding – trying to get something off the ground, not selling an already-existing product. One of the hardest things about starting a new project is getting initial traction.

You might need to be creative if all you’ve got is a prototype, and no actual users yet. Here are some ideas:

  • Past experience
  • Media mentions
  • Positive feedback from prototype beta testers

Better to have someone else saying great things about you, than self-promoting yourself.

This traction and social proof should be used everywhere – in the written copy, the video, images, as well as in the e-mails.

10. Call In The Experts When You Need Them

Successful creators know what they are best at, and seek out help when something is outside of their competency.

When you are considering raising money online, one of the best crowdfunding tips is to get help. You don’t need to do this all on your own!

This outside help needn’t be overly expensive. Crowdfunding strategists can provide guidance and direction at an affordable price. They have seen multiple crowdfunding campaigns up-close, and direct your efforts in the most effective way – like a personal trainer in a gym.

At the other end of the scale – there are also full-service crowdfunding agencies which can provide “done-for-you” execution of certain aspects of a crowdfunding campaign. These agencies are more expensive, but are great for ambitious campaigns which want to make the big time.

11. Do Media Outreach Far In Advance

Media publications can often have a long content pipeline – especially the big, well-known ones.

If you contact media in the middle of your crowdfunding campaign asking for them to feature you immediately, you will be likely to be disappointed. Take into account the fact it might take them some time to respond to your outreach request, and then even longer to find space to put you in their publication.

Press coverage is very good for social proof. Your crowdfunding page needs to be setup for converting visitors into backers. Being able to say you have been featured in well-known press outlets helps build trust, especially with visitors who are discovering you for the first time.

Reaching out to media is partly a numbers game, but writing a single generic press release and firing it off to every journalist whos e-mail address you can get your hands on is likely to get what it deserves: instant deletion from the e-mail inbox. You have to do at least some customization if you want people to respond to your outreach and feature you.

12. Simple, Compelling Reward Tiers

One of the most frequent crowdfunding mistakes is to have too many reward tiers. It only serves to confuse would-be backers if there are over a dozen reward tiers – and confusion is bad for conversion!

Even though Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow you to have lots and lots of reward tiers, it is better to be simple.

So here’s the crowdfunding tip: focus on the product you’re offering, without getting into too much frivolous customization. This will also save you a lot of headaches down the track when it comes to delivery!

13. Better Terms For The First Backers

Early backers provide social proof to those that follow. Backers follow other backers. This means that the earlier a backer commits, the more beneficial it is for you, as the creator. But most campaigns give backers absolutely no reason to commit earlier than the last possible moment. 

If no-one has backed you yet, why should they be the first?

Take a lesson from conferences, which offer special “early bird” pricing to encourage people to sign up as soon as possible. Perhaps you offer one tier of pricing to people who back you on the first day, a slightly lower tier for people who back you in the first week, and a third tier beyond that for everybody else. 

14. Build Your Crowd – With Paid Advertising

Crowdfunding tips often say you need to grow a crowd in well in advance of launching a crowdfunding campaign. But how do you actually build a crowd?

There are lots of ways, ranging from reaching out to friends and family, to press outreach, to going to events to meet people in person… but the experts agree that there is one method that trumps them all:

Pay-per-click advertising.

That’s Facebook Ads, primarily.

The level of targeting that can be achieved with Facebook Ads is incredibly granular. Do you want your campaign to only reach women, aged 25 – 40, with a college degree, in New York City? With Facebook Ads, you can!

The specific strategies behind Facebook Ads are constantly evolving, but one thing that has always worked (and always will work) is: test a lot. If you try many images and headlines, you will surely find wide variations in which ones are most effective.

By conducting PPC advertising before launching the campaign, you get to figure out which images, headlines and targeting works the best, so that by the time the campaign launches, you can double-down on the most effective ads.

15. Regularly Engage With Your Crowd, Before Launching

Keep in contact with your crowd through regular e-mailing before your campaign kicks off.

You cannot expect your crowd to be maximally engaged in your project if you haven’t taken the time to build a relationship with them beforehand.

Get creative by running surveys, asking questions and inviting other interaction with them. Through familiarity and responsiveness, they will become much more likely to back your campaign once it launches.

16. Favor Images & Animations – Not Large Bodies Of Text

A picture tells a thousand words.

While your campaign needs to have the written content too, it will be made much more effective if you can show how it works with diagrams and gif animations. It will allow would-be backers to visualise the product in their hands and imagine exactly how it works.

17. Invest In The Video Production

The crowdfunding video is the most important asset in the marketing toolbox. 

Most people prefer to watch things rather than read them; therefore, your video is the first thing they will watch. You need to capture their attention within a few seconds so they will be interested in taking the further time to read more, and do not click away from your page, never to return.

If the video is too short, too long, unprofessionally done, or leaves viewers feeling bored or confused, they will bounce from your offer page almost immediately. Look at videos from past crowdfunding offers, and try and jot down the common factors about what made them stand out.

A professional videographer should be used if you have the budget for it. You should come up with a storyboard and a script for the video. Start the video with an emotional “hook”: a statement of the problem that your product. Above all, make it easy to understand! The later parts of the video can go more into details, but make sure people understand the fundamentals of your product, as quickly as possible.

Most importantly, you – the creator – need to appear in the video, to build trust and show the passion that you have for your project. 

DURING CROWDFUNDING TIPS

18. Expect The Mid-Campaign “Lull” – And Have A Strategy To Combat It

Data from Kicktraq confirms that most campaigns experience a slow period in the middle. This is known as the “Mid-Campaign Lull”.

  • At the beginning, a lot of momentum gets generated from the launch efforts and potential early-bird incentives for the first backers, and;
  • At the very end of the campaign, urgency is driven by the fact the campaign is about to close – so it’s the last chance to get in.

Even so, there needs to be a plan in place to combat it. Try to get money coming in throughout the campaign by running flash sales, more paid ads, and continual incentives to drive pledges sooner, rather than later.

19. Update Your Page During The Campaign

The image, headline and written copy that you launch with does not need to stay the same throughout the entire lifetime of your campaign.

As your campaign reaches certain milestones, you can add extra badges for additional social proof. For example:

  • Fully Funded In 24 Hours
  • Kickstarter Staff Pick
  • New Media Mentions

It’s one of the hottest crowdfunding tips – keeping the campaign page fresh will improve your convestion rate. It uses your achievements to help convince even more backers to come on board.

AFTER CROWDFUNDING TIPS

20. Redirect Your Campaign Page

Although the campaign is “over” once the timer hits zero, the campaign page will still be there. That means there could still be people visiting that webpage, and you don’t waste that traffic. It’s one of the best crowdfunding tips which not many campaigns bother to do – and it only takes a few minutes!

Provide a new call-to-action to direct them to somewhere useful – perhaps to your own website, or to Indiegogo’s InDemand service.

21. Communicate With Backers & Deliver On Promises

If the fundraising campaign succeeded, tell them that you will be in touch with frequent updates as you get closer to delivering. 

If you end up delivering on time, everything will be great!

But the reality is that – despite best intentions – many crowdfunding efforts end up delivering late. Some project creators make the mistake of going into their shell if they encounter delivery problems, but this only serves to exacerbate matters – backers get even more frustrated when they encounter radio silence. Instead, explain what caused the problem as forthrightly as you can. People tend to forgive honest mistakes when they are admitted frankly.

When there delivery delays, backers most of all want to hear about the new expected delivery date.

Here’s one of the best crowdfunding tips in this situation – when giving the new date, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. If the delivery date gets pushed back repeatedly, backers will stop trusting what you say and may turn nasty.

22. Do A Post-Mortem

One of the very best crowdfunding tips (regardless of whether the campaign succeeded or failed) is to take the time to record what happened. 

Crowdfunding is an intense experience which contains many lessons. It’s vital to record these lessons, so that they stay with you. This means writing them down, while they are still fresh in your memory. Perhaps you will become a serial crowdfunder, in which case you will be able to directly apply them for next time. Even if you never do crowdfunding again, the lessons will still be useful for the next time you do a product launch.

You will have tried many marketing strategies, some of which will have worked better than others.

In particular, jot down the answers to the following questions.

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What surprised you?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What would you do the same next time?

Next Steps

If you want to know how to run a successful rewards crowdfunding campaign of your own (with even more great crowdfunding tips), check out this step-by-step playbook! It explains rewards crowdfunds – from start to finish.

The New Book - Rewards Crowdfunding.

Launching 14th January 2020

  How Rewards Crowdfunding Works

  Learn From Rewards Crowdfunding Success Stories

  How To Build Your Crowd, Even If You Don't Have One Yet

  The Differences Between Kickstarter vs Indiegogo

  Everything Else You Need To Launch Your Own Campaign!