A Check List of 13 Items to Work on Before Launching that Crowdfunding Campaign
Crowdfunding has become an integral way of launching products which have gone on to become world beaters or companies in themselves. For example, The Pebble Smartwatch. Entrepreneurs do not have to struggle to get inventory out of their own pockets and fund the mass production of a product that will probably not make it out there. Instead, platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have come up to fill the space, allowing founders to launch their products backed by several investors in only a few days.
The surprising bit is that even on Kickstarter which is probably the biggest crowdfunding platform around, only 36% of 405,754 projects launched on the site were successfully funded. These are about 145,299 projects. The numbers are much lower on other platforms.
This means that as you work on your crowdfunding campaign, nothing is guaranteed. You have to fully prepare. Aside from creating a unique, problem-solving product, you need to follow this checklist before launching that campaign:
1) Pick a Platform
The first thing to do is make a choice on the platform you will use to run your crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, SeedInvest, StartupValley are among some crowdfunding platforms for startups today. It is important to understand their terms and conditions, rates and what percentage they take from the raised funding.
2) Legalities and Taxes
You need to read up on crowdfunding laws. It is essential to understand what laws and taxes apply to your campaign before setting out to begin raising funds. This is critical to avoid unnecessary visits from government entities related to your taxes.
An even better situation would be to consult a lawyer, who will guide you on what to rules have to be followed and how to do that.
3) Determine Required Budget
You have to find out how much you need to run the campaign. This goes from project costs, to shipping costs, promotional expenses, etc.
There are free tools like this one to help you round up the figure. Once you have your required budget, you know how much needs to be raised and it will take to get that done.
4) Research Previous Campaigns
You have to take a look at previous campaigns similar to yours. Check out for them and why they successfully raised the funds they needed, or why they didn’t. Understand their campaigns to be able to discern what worked from what didn’t. This allows you to go into the next phase of the campaign with the strategies that you need.
5) Media List
The media is a very important part of your campaign. You need your crowdfunding campaign to be seen by as many relevant people as possible. It is not easy to do that without having a plan. First, you need to use platforms like Pressfarm to build a target media list for your outreach to journalists.
You will be looking to contact journalists who have written about previous crowdfunding campaigns in your niche, or on a broader range, journalists who are interested in your niche and would be willing to listen to your story. If you want to understand how to build a media list that works and what to look for, read the Advanced Growth Hack Guide to Startup PR: Everything you need for Media Coverage.
Additionally, take a look at Crowdfunding: Definitive Guide to PR and Marketing for Kickstarter Campaigns.
6) Your Story
Having an interesting story about how you got inspired to build your idea, and why you are pursuing this cause is very critical especially #1) to get people moved enough to want to fund you, #2) to get attention from the press.
A moving story has one major determinant: it has to be an issue other people have faced and continue to face, and would like it solved. The strength surrounding some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns is all in the story told and the problem solving. Capitalise on this and create a story that is so moving and easy to relate to that other people want to support your goal.
7) Elevator Pitch
If you were to explain to a 10-year-old boy or girl in the simplest terms what your product does, how would you do it? Or to a grandma or grandpa about 80 years old. Your elevator pitch has to be honed, precise, and easy to understand in the easiest way possible. We have discussed about how to refine your elevator pitch and what elements it should have.
One thing about today is that if someone can watch a short 2-minute video about your product, story, and goals, they do not have to read all the campaign copy. Video has become a very important visual. Invest in a video that showcases your story and captures the problem, shows the problem-solving process, and captures the solution in all its glory. It should be short and sweet.
9) Professional Graphics
In terms of other visuals aside from video, invest in appealing graphics. Put some effort into the photos you take of the product, team, and any other illustrations. Professional graphic designers will go a long way in helping your crowdfunding campaign have a strong first impression. First impressions matter and sometimes determine whether people have time to check out your campaign page.
10) Campaign page
From beginning to end, your campaign page has to flow. You have to design and plan how your page will look. The most important reasons for this is that the content will be expressed in various forms from video, to written paragraphs, and photos. You have to plan it in such a way that it flows together, and ends in a Call-To-Action for the participants. This is also known as the landing page – it needs to be great as a whole composition.
11) Social Media
As you build some fire for that campaign, you need to invest sometime in doing the same on your social media pages. If you have several hundred followers or more, start to post and prepare them for the upcoming funding campaign. These are your very initial fans and if you do a good job ramping them up, they will be your very first investors once you share that crowdfunding link.
Determining the timelines that need to be followed, and how long your campaign will last is important for two reasons. If you choose a very short timeline, the campaign period could end before you have raised the amount you needed which means you don’t get funded and all your efforts are a waste of time at this point. Secondly, if you choose a long campaign period, your costs and promotional expenses could eat so much into your budget that you end up losing some money at the end of it all.
Minimising losses and perfecting your timing is key. You need to end your campaign at the right time. Determine your timelines and how long your campaign will last.
You need to make a decision on what type of rewards you are giving your investors in the campaign. For example, Kickstarter will have you reward at different levels of funding depending on how much someone contributed. You will send the actual product to the investors that put in the right price. Determining these rewards and prices that the crowdfunders will have to part with is needful.
If you are reading this and it has come a bit too late, here is how you can relaunch your failed kickstarter campaign.
Having known this check list and the important parts of execution before launching your crowdfunding campaign, what are some other things we may have forgotten? Let us know in the comments section.