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Hear ye, all you who are interested in raising capital but are sick of trying to convince the rich people to invest in your idea. Try tapping into the masses instead. Besides raising money, crowdfunding also serves a marketing purpose. It’s another way of getting the word out on your idea and to test your concept.
Here’s a 10 step guide to running a successful crowdfunding campaign, with some insights from Daryl Arnold of Newton Circus. I’ve included step zero as an introduction:
Step 0: Choose the right platform
The most well-known platform is, arguably, Kickstarter, the mother of all crowdfunding sites. Unfortunately, it’s only open to people in the US or UK. Loring Harkness, project manager of Newton Circus notes that platforms should be chosen based on the project – some platforms focus on creative projects, others on startups, and some on charities. A few of the sites are international, and others local. Newton Circus chose to use Indiegogo to crowdfund for Silverline for three reasons:
- They were launching an ongoing business (sites like Kickstarter and Pozible only fund projects)
- They wanted to reach an international audience
- They wanted to work with a trusted brand (Indiegogo is one of the oldest and largest out there)
Once you’ve chosen your platform, get signed up, and get into gear.
Step 1: Perfect your pitch
With every sales pitch, it’s important to get your unique selling point clearly across. Don’t forget that you’re here to convince people to part with some of their money as well, so let them know how much you need (the end goal) and where that money goes. Offer incentives and rewards that make sense. Package it so that it sells. Better yet, tell your story through a video – who reads long copy these days? Whip out your creative hats. Make it human. Make it emotional. Get these visitors to swallow it, hook, line, and sinker.
Step 2: Find supporters
Supporters come in three broad categories – media, business partners, and friends. Leverage on these to create awareness of your crowdfunding campaign by spreading the link; if they are unable to contribute in monetary terms, convince them to advocate for your project.
Step 3: Prioritise outreach
Prioritise outreach by choosing influencers who are relevant and have a sizeable reach. Work on the current relationships you have. Six degrees of separation makes it easy to reach out to influential people as well. LinkedIn is a great initial resource.
Step 4: Template everything
Template everything, from outreach emails, to social media posts, thank you notes, and campaign updates. This means that planning has to be done in advance. Know exactly which touch points you want to have, and have a template done up so that execution can be fast and painless. Daryl shared that they prepared at least 10 outreach email templates for different people – whether they were friends, media, or business partners. They’d also planned their “thank you” video way in advance.
Step 5: Schedule emails and posts
Once you’ve gotten your templates pat down, it’s time to plan when you’d like to send out your emails and posts. On the launch of your crowdfunding campaign, make sure you send something out to tell people it’s up and to check it out, as well as to call for support. It’s also important to keep those who have pledged updated on what’s been happening, or any major milestones you’ve hit (“We’re 40 percent there!”). Make use of tools available to make your life easier. (Daryl cited Boomerang as his tool of choice for email scheduling).
Step 6:. Throw a launch party
Everyone loves free booze and pizza. Choose a date and venue that’s convenient and accessible and invite your friends down. Offer a brief introduction to your campaign and encourage them to whip out their laptops, smartphones or tablets to share it on their social networks. It’s a great way to seed content and to convince more advocates to come on board.
Once launched, it’s time to go all Energizer Bunny and go full speed ahead.
Step 7. Non-stop updates
As mentioned, keep your followers updated on your progress.
Step 8. Non-stop outreach
Never stop reaching out to influencers.
Step 9. Non-stop self-promotion
Daryl has about 10 shirts with Silverline’s crowdfunding URL printed on it. He’s printed name cards with that too. He’s also programmed auto-reply emails that encourage senders to visit the URL and to support the campaign. Shameless, but it gets the word out.
Step 10. Goal achieved? The real work begins
You should have had a roadmap on how you’d use the money raised through crowdfunding. Now you’ve got the money, it’s time to see your project to fruition.
In essence, it’s really important to plan, and not be afraid to ask – over and over again. It doesn’t hurt to be rather thick-skinned. All the best!
This article by Stephanie Phua originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.