Crowdfunding Campaigns Aren’t Lottery Tickets

Crowdfunding Campaigns aren’t sure things either and nobody should treat them that way.

With three years in crowdfunding promotion AND crowdfunding consulting under my belt, you’d think that nothing could surprise me in the world of crowdfunding campaigns. The fact is, I am endlessly amazed by the totally casual attitude most people take towards crowdfunding campaign management. In a similar fashion, the cavalier attitude too many people have towards promoting a crowdfunding campaign never fails to boggle my mind.

Here’s the perception most people have about running a crowdfunding campaign:

  • Build crowdfunding project with very little information.
  • Set a very high funding goal.
  • Launch the crowdfunding campaign.
  • Do little or nothing else on the project – ever – and just wait for all of the money to roll in.

Anybody running a crowdfunding campaign needs to understand that this is NOT reality.

Here’s the reality of creating, running and promoting crowdfunding campaigns:

  • Start planning the crowdfunding campaign at least three months before your target launch date.
  • Begin marshaling initial support from existing customers and/or fans, buttress your social media presence and line up initial backers.
  • Set a realistic crowdfunding goal, backup your numbers with a clear budget and price out your perks to help you hit your goal profitably.
  • Set secondary crowdfunding goals such as building audience, increasing public awareness, inviting customer feedback into the product creation process, etc.
  • Establish a crowdfunding promotion budget and research your best methods of crowdfunding marketing.
  • Check everything over twice as your launch date approaches.  When you’re ready – launch.
  • After your crowdfunding campaign is live, watch it like a mother hen watches her eggs and her baby chicks.  Give it constant  attention and take action daily towards your goal.
  • Take corrective action as much as needed.  If your existing approach to promoting a crowdfunding campaign isn’t working, change your tactics and do something else to attract more potential backers.  If your gallery updates aren’t resonating, try more status updates.  If your Tweets and Facebook posts aren’t getting any action, switch up your social media messaging and try to engage more people to get them talking about your project.

What fired me up to write this crowdfunding article? A number of recent crowdfunding campaigns that had me banging my head on my desk…

The crowdfunding campaign seeking $2 million to order a brand new ship to be built and delivered for cruises.  The entire project was two very short paragraphs and had no serious budget, business plan, proposed sailing itineraries, NO PERKS OF ANY KIND and not even a picture of what the boat would look like when delivered.  It’s as if someone just had an idea to raise $2 million to buy a fancy yacht and wrote it up and launched it in 30 minutes flat. What was this person thinking? That hundreds or thousands of people would just be so nice as to fork over money for a boat they could never sail aboard?

The aspiring singer running the crowdfunding project with a modest goal of $2,500 for a new EP.  She had the brilliant idea to buy a totally worthless email list and SPAM thousands of people she’s told are proven Kickstarter backers. I know. I was one of them.  Out of curiosity, I checked out her project.  There were no samples of her prior work.  No videos.  No sound clips.  No way to even hear her voice.  Maybe her voice sounds like fingernails across a blackboard or maybe she has the voice of an angel.  There’s no way to know.  Her campaign amounted to “Give me money so I can live my dream whether I have talent or not.” Her campaign also had cobwebs all over it due to lack of access and she did absolutely no other form of crowdfunding promotion. If her campaign succeeds it’ll only because enough friends and family backed her.  And she’ll be paying Kickstarter and credit card processing fees totaling roughly 9% of what she takes in.

The bubbly young lady who is doing nothing to promote her project on Indiegogo except for posting on free Facebook groups with a post that says “ready to start my own business! Please help me reach my goal to make my dream come true! ” That’s bad enough – until you click through to the project and see a ONE PARAGRAPH project looking to raise $50,000 so she can open a candle and soap business.  One paragraph.  $50,000.  Nothing but free and useless promotion.  She’s raised ZERO dollars in two days.  No surprise there. I won’t be surprised if that number is still zero about twenty days from now….

The aspiring entrepreneur in New York City that actually did everything right in building an impressive Kickstarter offering a new take on cotton panties.  She even scored epic media coverage in Vogue magazine.  But her campaign stalled two weeks ago with no serious amount of new backers since.  She remains about $40,000 shy of her goal and she’s taken no action in the past two weeks to correct course and get her project back on track.  Her good idea and her superior product may truly die on the vine.  And that’s a shame.

With cases like these is it any wonder the crowdfunding failure rate is high? If anything, with crowdfunding campaigns like these launching every single day I’m surprised the crowdfunding failure rate isn’t actually higher!

There’s no magic to crowdfunding campaigns.  They require total commitment in providing the time, work and resources to help them succeed.  There’s no other way crowdfunding success can possibly be achieved.