A Crash Course in Advertising a Crowdfunding Campaign
Or we can just call this a crash-course in advertising.
When there is no advertising there are no sales. The greatest product ever designed, the single biggest breakthrough in medicine or the best bottle of wine or most delicious food cannot be sold without advertising.
This naturally applies to advertising a crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t get the word out about a crowdfunding project to enough people there’s virtually no chance of a crowdfunding project succeeding.
When you pay for advertising do you get any sort of guarantee? No. That’s why if you Google the term “guaranteed results from advertising” you won’t find a single serious website offering you guaranteed results from the advertising you pay for. They’ll guarantee more eyeballs, broader awareness of your brand, product, service or cause (or crowdfunding campaign) but they don’t run guarantees most consumers relate to; an expected result from purchasing the product or the service.
Such examples of consumer-based guarantees we’ve all come to expect over the years:
“Our carpet cleaning service will make all of the carpeting in your home as good as new – guaranteed.”
(The carpet cleaning company is sure they will get your carpets the cleanest they possibly can or give you a refund. This sort of assurance gives customers the confidence to pay for these services because there’s no risk to them in doing so.)
“We guarantee your pizza will be delivered hot and fresh to your door in 30 minutes or less or its free.”
(the marketing angle here is designed to drive more pizza sales while, yeah, once in a while Domino’s had to hand out a free pizza when the driver was late. The net result is that Domino’s sold a lot of pizzas with their guarantee.)
“Our product is guaranteed to give you the results you’re looking for or you’ll get a 110% refund!”
(This is a similar tactic designed to drive more sales — the company will sell LOTS more of their product while their refund rate might creep up just a little bit. Net result? Sales go through the roof, profits explode and the refund rate barely moves an inch.)
Results-based customer guarantees are impossible to apply to the world of PR and advertising on any medium or under any conditions.
That’s because results from advertising are impossible to guarantee. Who can predict human behavior when putting out an ad that reaches thousands upon thousands of people? The financial impact to any advertising company offering such a guarantee would be catastrophic. Even Google would go broke in no time at all if they issued refunds to every Google AdWords customer that didn’t hit their sales goals using Google AdWords.
Why? Because the forum that allows advertising to exist — search engines, print newspapers, radio airtime, TV commercials, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds – you name it – all cost time and money to be developed, maintained and grown to attract and maintain a steady flow of people — the audience.
As mentioned earlier, does Google offer money-back guarantees to anyone using Google Adwords if they didn’t get the sales results they were looking for? No.
Facebook? No. The New York Times? No. Radio Station WOI in Des Moines, Iowa? Nope. WCBS Channel 2 in NYC? Nein. What about the leading newspaper in Twin Falls, Idaho – The Times-News? Golly, no!
That’s because they can’t. For lots of reasons. Chief among them is the simple fact that not a single company in the business of advertising can guarantee or in any way know in advance how the public will respond to any particular ad they see promoting any product or service. I scoured the web looking for any document, book, blog or website that clearly explains why advertising guarantees are impossible and haven’t been able to find a single one.
The only conclusion I’ve been able to draw from this utter absence explaining established reality is that it’s generally understood that money-back guarantees, refund policies, etc. simply cannot exist in the advertising world at all because not a single ad agency or advertising platform can promise that their audience will respond in a favorable way to the ad. They can’t even begin to guess. That’s why nobody tries; it can’t be done.
Most businesspeople already know this in advance. It’s understood. It’s assumed. It’s been a fact of life since the day the first ad of any kind graced the earth.
Crowdfunders are businesspeople too (whether they know it or not) and are just as responsible for grasping this basic commercial concept.
Whether you’re advertising a crowdfunding campaign globally or a local car dealership in Bend, Oregon or a BBQ joint in Memphis, Tennessee you’re paying for ACCESS to people. You – as the advertiser – are paying the provider of the medium access to their audience with word of your offering – be it a service, a product or a crowdfunding project. That kind of access costs money and consumes resources every day of the week.
Newspapers need to buy ink and paper then pay people to write interesting things to print on that paper to attract readers. Radio and TV stations need to pay producers, reporters, editors and a dizzying array of other people to run the station day by day to give listeners and viewers what they’re tuning in for. Websites need to be constantly maintained and updated – not just with fresh content for readership – but updated against hackers looking to take them down and steal people’s private information. Even with Twitter and Facebook – money and time is spent advertising to the world to draw in more fans and followers to Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as time is spent on creating and sharing new content and newsworthy information as well engaging the audience to keep people interested and the audience growing.
All of these activities spanning every sector of the communications world takes time and costs money. All of which is devoted to building the audience you can reach with the message you want to share with them. What the audience decides to do after they get the message is anybody’s guess.