This is the first in a mini-series of posts by crowdfunding expert Hannah Forbes. Hannah will be offering illuminating insights into successful crowdfunding campaigns, all based on her own original research. This series is perfect if you’re looking to kickstart your own #FemaleFounded company. Read on for solid gold advice.
Have you ever considered launching a crowdfunding campaign? Have you considered the importance of marketing your campaign? In this post, I introduce the concept of crowdfunding, dismantle some common misconceptions about crowdfunding and explain the number one rule of crowdfunding: warm up your network.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding has exploded in popularity in recent years to become a serious investment option for small businesses and start-ups. While crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo triggered an exponential increase in use of the term (see graph below), crowdfunding, and its potential, goes beyond just what these sites offer. Crowdfunding is defined as “taking a project or business, in need of investment, and asking a large group of people to supply this investment” (H. Forbes, 2017). You can therefore crowdfund a new product but you can also use crowdfunding to raise money for individuals, charities and, most recently, businesses.
A quick google trend search shows that the of awareness of crowdfunding has increased with awareness of Kickstarter
Why should I consider using crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is such a powerful tool for small businesses because, unlike traditional investment forms, it gives you an opportunity to test your idea with consumers before you go to market. With this, comes brand exposure, early adopters and feedback for your idea. This means that after a successful crowdfunding campaign you have a great platform on which to continue to grow your business.
Why is marketing my crowdfunding campaign so important?
Crowdfunding is such a powerful tool for small businesses because, unlike traditional investment models, it gives you an opportunity to test your idea with consumers before you go to market. With this, comes brand exposure, early adopters and feedback for your idea. This means that after a successful crowdfunding campaign you have a great platform on which to continue to grow your business.
When should I start marketing my crowdfunding campaign?
To answer this question in detail, I’ve broken it down into the important phases of your campaign and why marketing in each of these phases is so important.
Phase 1: Pre-Campaign Marketing
This is the most vital stage in the entire crowdfunding process and the reason for this is due to something I call “crowdfunding momentum” (H. Forbes, 2017). Having crowdfunding momentum, simply defined, means that having a lot of pledges at the beginning will spur more pledges as your campaign progresses. Consolidating funding vs. time graphs from my research demonstrates the value of having crowdfunding momentum (see below).
Expected trend graph for total funding vs. time. This graph shows how more funding at the beginning of your campaign significantly and positively alters the amount of funding you continue to receive throughout your campaign.
Pre-crowdfunding campaign tactics to try
To help you get the most out of your pre-campaign buzz, we’ve got two quick-fire marketing tactics for you to try:
- Social media fan-building: Find out which platforms your ideal audience are on and engage in spaces they’re already in. Identify key influencers to help spread the message of your crowdfunding campaign.
- Pre-launch email marketing: You want to speak to fans throughout your campaign and one of the best ways to do that is to stay in their inbox. Make sure you entice potential funders with a valuable download or campaign bonus before you even start crowdfunding in order to capture their data and keep them involved in your work.
Phase 2: Marketing Throughout Your Campaign
Providing you have marketed you campaign effectively before launch, this is a (relatively) relaxed period of marketing. The focus here is on engaging with consumers and potential consumers. Your backers want to know that you’re active, you care about your campaign and you care about them (H. Forbes, 2017). This continues to build a positive picture of your brand and encourages pledges.
One important way to engage with your backers is through the crowdfunding site. This is an example from A Better Backpacks’ Kickstarter Campaign
Marketing tactics to try during your crowdfunding campaign
With the initial interest in a campaign dropping off drastically once crowdfunding has begun, your next biggest challenge is to keep funders engaged. People aren’t starved for things to distract them, so it’s vital you offer them value throughout.
- Funding total updates; pushed through your social media channels, seeing funding updates reminds people of what they engaged with. If you’re able to couple this with a human story about how the crowdfunding money will impact the people involved, even better.
- Press coverage; If your campaign is validated through independent sources, such as news sites and relevant blogs, people will not only be reminded they were smart enough to be there from the ground up, they’ll also be inclined to share the news with their network furthering your campaign’s exposure.
Phase 3: Post-Campaign Marketing
This phase is definitely the “forgotten-land” of crowdfunding (H. Forbes, 2018). Most creators forget about this important phase and most crowdfunding consultancies terminate their services before completion of this phase. At The Funding Crowd, we put significant effort into ensuring you are capitalising on the benefits of crowdfunding. A successful crowdfunding campaign will give you hundreds and potentially thousands of new followers. Continuing to invest in an effective marketing strategy ensures that you take advantage of this new community and convert them into loyal and long-term customers (H. Forbes, 2017).
Post-campaign marketing tactics to try
Raised your money and smashed your target? Great job! Make sure you don’t neglect this often ignored area of campaign marketing. Here, you want to keep your funders feeling special and remind them that they have spent their money wisely.
- Personal thanks; Have you got the budget to allocate personal messages of thanks? Sometimes, this can be as simple as a shoutout on social media or an email with a personalised message inside. It’s small touches like this that make funders feel involved and worthy.
- Video update; Nothing engages like video online, so providing an update for your funders through a compelling piece of video content achieves two things. First, it gives your campaign continued coverage with its engaged fanbase and it’s a valuable asset you can use again and again once your project is underway.
Want support with your own crowdfunding campaign?
To hear more about how The Funding Crowd and J&R can assist in each phase of the crowdfunding journey, get in touch! We can’t wait to hear about your brilliant project and help you smash your funding target.