Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Ben Flowers who’s been generous enough to share the secrets of crowdfunding success he learned after his Indiegogo campaign handily exceeded the crowdfunding goal they set out to achieve ending up with 120% of their target.
Who is Ben Flowers? He’s the content creator at MakerClub: the home of 3D Printed Robotics. His recent eBook – The Family Guide to 3D Printing, is available for free on MakerClub’s website.
Without further ado – let me pass the mic to Mr. Flowers…
It’s been a fun & bumpy ride, and at the time of writing this we are 114% funded with 4 days left – a great win for us! Not only has it given us the beginnings of a great customer base, it’s allowed us to test the market and narrow down our demographic. We’ve received a huge amount of help from a lot of people, so to give back I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to pass on to the next generation of crowdfunders – I hope they help you!
Plan your Press:
If you don’t get the word out, no matter how good your idea is, people won’t know where to find you. So look at your campaign and work out where you can produce the best content: press releases, guest blog posts, news articles, fun viral videos, or engaging infographics. Play to your strengths and produce a plan of what content you want to make and who you intend to outreach to.
Don’t forget to create a huge spreadsheet so you can keep track of email addresses, who you have contacted, and with what content. I know it can get really tedious, but you really want to be contacting 100s of blogs, news websites, forums & social media channels in your target area.
We were lucky that we had an idea that a lot of techies were really excited about, so even though we entered the campaign underprepared we got some pretty good results press-wise, including recently Wired and Forbes. But I know if we’d planned our content better we could have raised a lot more support with the public themselves, rather than just the press.
Start your Community:
Crowdfunding is all about community and bringing people together, and it essential to create strong relationships with your contributors. Not just because they are placing a great deal of trust in the fact that you’ll deliver your product as advertised, but because they are the people that, 5 years down the line when you are rich and successful, will be boasting to their friends that they knew about you before you were cool.
Send out updates & friendly newsletters, give them something for free that makes them feel special if you can, or offer them opportunities only available to “your most loyal supporters”. It will prove impossible to personalise every single message you send to every contributor, but at least personalise it in the sense that they can tell it is coming from a real, group of actual, real-life people & personalities rather than a soulless, corporate PR-obot.
Remember a community involves listening as well as telling, so ask people for feedback, give yourself plenty of time to answer questions on your crowdfunding pages (because you’ll get a fair few), and encourage people to actively engage with you through competitions or meetups. For example we recently had a great time meeting local Makers at our meet up where we discussed FabLabs with Ande Gregson and the setting up of our own Makerspace.
The best place to start a community is social media. It’s easy to use, all the worthwhile ones are totally free, and everyone’s already scrolling through them obsessively every moment of the day. Make sure you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pintrest, Instagram, Imgur etc and a load of relevant forums. It’s important to try and stay on top of all these accounts, as each will contain a different slice of your community. Also each site has their own pros, cons, style and etiquette, so be sure approach each one in it’s own special way. This quick presentation (all credits go to author) should give you plenty to think about.
What’s equally as important as communicating with your contributors is forging relationships with your fellow startups. Look on crowdfunding websites and find either: companies running campaigns that coincide with yours, or, companies in a similar field to you that had great success in their campaign, and give them a bell. Be nice, polite, humble; ask for advice or just express interest in their upcoming campaign. If it goes well, offer to tweet4tweet or even guest blog for them.
Before launching our campaign we contacted a whole range of like-minded businesses asking for advice on crowdfunding. We were delighted by how happy to help everyone was, and much of the advice they gave us we are passing on to you in this post.
Perfect your Pitch:
Unfortunately, as I was not directly involved in the making of our video, so my advice on that is limited. What I can say is that it’s important to remember that many people will focus entirely on the video and not bother reading the rest of your page. It needs to be reflective of what you stand for, and show the core facts about your business.
Don’t try and overload it with all the info however – aim to hook the viewer in, and hopefully they will refer down to your landing page for further details.
If, like me, you don’t have the movie making skills, it will definitely be worth getting some one in to help. But a video doesn’t have to have a high budget to be effective – it just has to be shot well.
Here’s Makey Makey’s Kickstarter video – in my opinion the best example of how to show off your project brilliantly with a low budget that I’ve seen:
The composition of your crowdfunding landing page is essential. There is no perfect layout formula for your page, but make sure you take time to consider:
What is the most important information we need to relay?
What is the most concise and compelling way we can word this information?
Do we have enough subtitles, gifs, videos and infographics to break the wall of text?
Remember you can go on for as long as you like with your pages, and it’s important you get every single piece of relevant information down. However, most people are going to stop reading a soon as they get an overview of what your campaign is about, so make sure you topload your page with who you are, what you do and why people should fund you before going into any details.