The decision to run a crowdfunding campaign isn’t one that you should come to lightly. It’s a great way to raise money to bring a new product to the market, but you’ll need more than just a good idea in order to succeed. Having a marketing plan in place is absolutely necessary- just be aware of the obstacles that you may run into because of the nature of a crowdfunding campaign.
1 – Lack of a Prototype
Often times, creators choose to crowdfund because they simply don’t have the means to bring their product or idea to the market. Crowdfunding platforms are an amazing solution for these people- Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer the potential to reach a huge audience and allow project creators to raise money to prove their concept and manufacture it. However, when it comes to gaining press coverage, pitching without samples to share can prove very difficult.
Pitching a new product from an unknown company to the media is difficult in its own right- combine that with lack of a physical sample to share with reporters and it’s even worse. There are a few things to do to get around this.
First, it’s necessary to have at least five working samples to send to the media. Since there won’t be enough samples to send to everyone, prioritize which outlets are the best fit and have the largest audience, and offer them samples.
Second, offer a virtual demonstration. Record an engaging product demonstration that shows what the product is, how it’s made, and what it does. Send this out to reporters, share it on social media, and feature the video on the project page. If reporters and potential backers can’t test a product out for themselves, a video is the next best thing!
2 – Lack of Initial Audience and Brand Recognition
How often do people buy the newest iPhone just because they’re loyal to the Apple brand? If they’re anything like me, the answer is probably quite a bit. That goes to show how far brand recognition and loyalty will go.
Having a cool, new product is GREAT, but it’s necessary to bolster brand support and find the right audience, otherwise it could be difficult to successfully fund. It’s not impossible to get the necessary brand support before a crowdfunding campaign begins though, just make sure to increase visibility and credibility.
First, a brand and a project creator’s name should have significant online presences. Start by having a decent website. Have (at the very least) a page that describes the product that will be raising money through crowdfunding, why it’s worth backing, and the team that has developed it. To increase credibility even more, add a page that includes a blog. Whatever space the product is in, write about issues that are relevant to this. This will not only add a layer of credibility to the brand, but when done correctly, will also help with SEO. Becoming a guest blogger is also a great way to leverage credibility- ask around to influencers in the space, and if possible, become a guest blogger on their sites. This will help increase brand awareness and drive traffic to either the campaign page or a website.
Lack of audience is another obstacle that is necessary to overcome. The website will help a great deal, but it’s imperative that a landing page is set up to collect email addresses. This way, the project creator can connect with interested consumers and reach out to them once the campaign is live to ask them to back the project. Facebook ads are a great way to direct traffic to the landing page. Facebook ads can target people who are likely to be interested in the product and direct them to the landing page.
A product giveaway is a great incentive for people to submit their email addresses. Share the giveaway on social media and explain that everyone who submits their emails will be entered to win a free product once the crowdfunding campaign goes live- this is a great way to grow an audience and spread the word about an upcoming campaign. For email marketing, I personally recommend using MailChimp, it’s user-friendly, customizable, AND free for the first 2,000 subscribers.
3 – Strict Timeline
Most crowdfunding campaigns run for around 30-45 days. This may not seem like a short amount of time but it really doesn’t allow for much error. Adequate preparation before the campaign begins will eliminate headaches once it begins. Building up the email list as discussed above is definitely a start but there’s much more to do to be fully prepared.
Have a plan for any stretch goals and updates that will need to be published during the campaign- this way, when it’s time, the updates can just be quickly sent out instead of wasting valuable time writing them. Also, being prepared to answer any questions from backers will be extremely helpful in the long run. Try to answer the questions before they are even asked by being as clear and concise as possible in the content of the campaign page.
The 30-45 day timeline also doesn’t allow for much time to negotiate a deal with a media outlets, or for influencers to write an article on the product. To offset this, begin pitching an exclusive a few weeks before launch. That way, if some details need to be worked out or the deal falls through, there is still have time to move on and secure exclusive coverage with another outlet.
Quickly driving traffic to the project page is extremely important due to the strict timeline. Luckily, this isn’t too difficult to accomplish. There should be links to the project page on the website, the landing page, and all social networks. Consider spending some money on Facebook ads- they’re just as useful in directing traffic to a live campaign page as they are to the landing page.