The last post within this series on How to Crush it with Crowdfunding (Part 1 of 3) started by recognizing that crowdfunding has really leveled the playing field by allowing anyone to potentially bring their ideas to market. Crowdfunding platforms have the added bonus of infusing both funding and buzz to help your potential project gain momentum.
Therefore it’s no surprise that crowdfunding has really become the ultimate muse testing platform for validating your products and ideas.
But starting a crowdfunding campaign alone does not translate into seed money and automatic buzz. These require serious work, tons of preparation and a plan to get your project out there to the masses.
This is where our series on crowdfunding comes in…
In this post we’ll cover the following elements of a successful Kickstarter campaign:
- Connecting with your potential Backers;
- Step-by-step Communications Action Plan, including:
- Press release (free template available – see below!)
- Social media
Recall that this series on crowdfunding was written with Kickstarter in mind, however, the principles and action plans are equally effective when used on any of the other crowdfunding platforms (i.e. IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, etc.)
Connecting with your Crowdfunding Backers
If you’ve read this far, you can see that crowdfunding is not for people who are uncomfortable reaching out to friends, family and strangers about your project – asking them for their financial and social media support.
You may feel reservations about reaching out regarding your needs – but your passion for completing your work should hopefully overcome any intimidation to network.
Although you may have reservations about reaching out for help, you’ll be surprised at how many people will genuinely be interested in what you’re attempting to do and will respond positively to your requests.
A sure-fire way to overcome any hesitation you may have towards contacting your network is to (a.) be genuinely passionate towards your project and completing the work for backers; and (b.) be prepared in advance of launching your campaign.
This post is all about being prepared well in advance of launching your campaign.
The following is your step-by-step communications action plan for engaging with your primary backers, including evangelists:
Communications Action Plan
In Part 1, we outlined how to identify your “primary backers” – essentially a list of your own personal support system, from family and friends, to teachers and co-workers, etc.
Use this Communications Action Plan as a guide on what, when and how to reach out to those backers.
1st Email – Primary Backers
This first email goes out to your primary backers (not including the Evangelists) and sets the foundation for your crowdfunding campaign by:
- Outlining the project and detailing what you’re trying to do;
- Educating your primary backers on the Kickstarter platform and the overall crowdfunding concept; and
- Clearly indicating that “I need your help!”
Although you might know these people very well, remember that some within this group may have zero previous experience or knowledge of crowdfunding or Kickstarter.
If you want them to support your project, it’s not enough to simply tell them that you need money for this “awesome idea” you have, and that they need to “click this link” to help fund your project. This may raise red flags for those who don’t fully understand your project or crowdfunding.
The onus is on you to potentially have to bridge the knowledge gap – give them a behind the scenes into your campaign, and they may be more likely to support, financially and in getting the word out.
Your primary backers are very different from the fan base you may gain directly from existing users on Kickstarter or through your social media campaign. Primary backers may require some additional hand-holding, and you should happily oblige.
Be upfront by informing them that you’ll be providing updates during the project, and give them the opportunity to opt-out of future emails. Let them know that you can remove them from the list if they aren’t interested in getting updates.
When sending emails to your list, enter recipients in the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) section – not to hide anything, but rather it can make the “ask” from you more personal. It also removes the nuisance of having everyone’s inbox filling up when people use “reply all” to respond.
A key point to remember here is to be gracious and humble in your request for support, because crowdfunding is nothing without the crowd – and the people receiving this first email IS your only audience at this point.
Also recall from Part 1 that we specifically identified a core group of people from your primary backers who could potentially be your “evangelists” – or your personal “champions”. These people are the most likely personalities to aggressively promoting your project to new audiences.
2nd Email – Evangelists
This second email is just for the Evangelists. It’s essentially the same version of the email described above (it’s acceptable to cut and paste your old message into a new email for your Evangelists), but it should also outline specifically how you believe they could help your campaign – whether via Twitter, Facebook, Blog posts, article comments, email, etc.
The net result you’re after is to have these people share your campaign with their external circle of influence (which is currently outside of your own). Don’t be afraid to be bold in your request, but be clear about your “Why” – the passion you have for this project, and what’s in it for them. Give them a reason to be your backer.
Make sure your Evangelists aren’t also on the contact list of your primary backers (from the first email). You don’t want to send them the same email (more or less) twice – it appears sloppy and makes you look unorganized.
Believe it or not, regardless of how small your project/campaign is, you need a press release.
Remember, apart from your project’s campaign page on Kickstarter, you’re still just relying on your primary backers and Evangelists to help get the word out. These still just represent people you know.
If you want your project to be a success, you need to do everything you can to extend beyond your own personal sphere of influence. Broadcasting to people outside your network is critical to getting your project funded, and a press release is an effective tool to help generate buzz about your campaign.
Remember, you’re attempting to build a fan-base and raise money for your project through crowdfunding; therefore, the more people you can reach, the better.
Thankfully, media outlets, news sites and various publications need constant content.
More and more, these sites rely on independent journalists and external sources for their material. This has become particularly evident with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle (fueled by the internet) and other outlets such as blogs and social media.
A well written press release is a great way to provide these outlets with content they can repurpose and/or distribute.
Social Media Campaign
If you don’t already utilize a multitude of social media outlets, it’s time to start.
You can narrow it down to a couple, rather than trying to tackle all forms of social media. At a minimum, you should likely utilize Twitter and Facebook, while also posting your pitch video (detailed in Part 1) on YouTube. These are the best ways to distribute information about your project to a larger audience, and have other people help share that information with their contacts on your behalf.
If you already have personal accounts, it’s perfectly acceptable to use your own personal accounts to talk about and spread the word about your campaign. In many ways, it could be to your advantage. It humanizes your project, putting a face to the campaign and allows potential backers a view into your life and passion for this project.
Alternatively, you could setup new separate accounts specifically for your campaign. Remember to always invite people from your existing network to Like, Follow, Share, etc. this new account – this helps boost the social proof of your campaign.
The potential benefit of setting up a separate account/profile for your project is that it may appear more professional, as more effort is needed; it separates your private life from your campaign; and, if your campaign is to succeed and get fully funded, you already have these elements setup to utilize once your project is up-and-running and you need to begin really trying to market your product (rather than just fundraising in support of the “idea” you have).
Remember to always start with the end in mind – and work backwards from there. It may require more work upfront, but it can save you time and effort in the long run.
In addition to increasing your social media presence, it’s a great idea to start a website for your project.
It’s not 100% necessary, but there are very little barriers to starting one, especially with easy do-it-yourself drop-and-drag sites like Weebly. Having a dedicated project website helps show fans that you’re serious about making it happen.
If Kickstarter is your official “Campaign Headquarters”, this is your personal “home base” – a place where you can inform your fans about your project, highlight your crowdfunding efforts and archive everything related to your campaign – all with the purpose of funneling traffic to your Kickstarter campaign (where the fundraising is taking place).
On your website include your press release, product specific information, images and campaign/project-related video. Use this site as a conduit to allow people to connect with you, linking to your social media accounts to follow your campaign.
A static website for your project is fine, but a Blog format would be recommended if you intend to update it with campaign activities regularly.
A Blog style of website can also encourage interaction with your potential fan-base. Use the blog as your online diary to narrate the process, comment on your project, how your campaign is going, or anything else you want to share about the campaign.
Again, the purpose of this website is to document what is happening so that people can connect and learn more, but most importantly, it should serve to funnel people to your Kickstarter campaign to support your project.
One alternative to having your own website is to register a domain for your project (i.e. using the name of your product), and have this domain re-directed to your Kickstarter page during the fundraising campaign.
Looking forward to the next and final post in this series, Part 3 of 3 on How to Crush it with Crowdfunding, where we’ll outline how to begin:
- Reaching out beyond your current network;
- Step-by-step Outreach Action Plan;
- Rewarding your Backers; and
- Campaign timeline/schedule (another free giveaway!).
Until next time!