By now you’ve probably noticed the proliferation of crowdfunding platforms, such as the perennially popular Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Sites like these provide inventors, musicians, and artists with the tools they need to reach out directly to the people most likely to support them.
So successful are these platforms that it would be understandable to assume your success is assured simply by initiating a campaign. Unfortunately, every crowdfunding success story is accompanied by another dozen campaigns that never get off the ground.
So what’s the secret to crowdfunding success? Let’s take a look at some best practices that might just help your Next Big Idea achieve the funding it needs.
1. Do Your Homework
One of the biggest mistakes made by entrepreneurs in the crowdfunding world is a simple lack of preparation. It might sound too obvious to point out, but if you enter into an initiative like this without copious research and preparation, you’re going to have a bad time.
Claire Merquita, representing Australian company Pozible, drives home this point:
“People [should] build their networks before they launch, go to relevant events, build up a social following, and let everyone know that the campaign is coming.”
In other words, actually launching your campaign online should be preceded by quite a bit of heavy lifting. Do market research. Make some friends. Be sure there’s a market for your product or service before you start seeking out funders and investors. When you do get around to launching your campaign, you’ll already have a fan base in place, ready to leap into the fray with you.
2. Know How to Engage the Imagination
There’s a very simple lesson we can learn from the most successful companies on the planet: the Googles, Apples, and Teslas of the world know exactly what it takes to grab and hold onto their customers’ (and would-be customers) imaginations.
So what does this mean for your campaign? It means you need a sense of style. It means you need to know what it takes to speak to your target market. In practical terms, it means great iconography and photography. But probably most importantly, it means you need to have a story. To put it bluntly, a great product isn’t enough; you also need some great PR.
Remember: what you’re building here is a sense of community; to that end, you need to build a relatable story around the product you’re offering. People don’t part with their money easily, so the burden of proof lies with you to convince them to invite your company, and your products, into their lives.
3. Choose the Right Platform
Finally, and this probably goes without saying as well, it’s hugely important that you choose the right crowdfunding platform for your product or service. Kickstarter might have the best name recognition right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for what you’re offering.
Take, for example, Crowdrise. Crowdrise distinguishes itself from its competitors by focusing on charitable donations. So if you’re trying to gather the funds it would take to launch a mission trip to Papua New Guinea, Crowdrise might be what you’re looking for.
If you’ve got a clever idea for a new kind of wallet or gadget, Kickstarter might be more your speed. And for the aspiring musician, IndieGoGo boasts an excellent success rate for artists looking for their big break.
This point circles back to the first point above: do your homework. Know which tools are the right ones for your company.
But most importantly—and here’s your bonus tip—remember the follow-through. If the planets line up and your campaign is a success, never forget the backers who got you that far. They expect just as much transparency and communication after the campaign wraps as they expected while it was ongoing. If you remember these suggestions, everything else will follow.
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