- Identify your target audience early
- Define your marketing / PR strategy
- Establish a landing page and social media accounts
- Allow for time and effort to build momentum before campaign launch
- Engage with and utilise bloggers and influencers
- Drip-feed info and engaging content to maintain the buzz
Creating a buzz and getting people to know about your crowdfunding campaign is no easy task, but generally it can be boiled down to these 3 simple steps: ‘Early preparation’, ‘Managing your campaign’ and providing ‘Behind the scenes access’ to engage fans.
Your first step is to figure out your target audience at least a month before your campaign is scheduled to go live. This focusses your campaign and gives you a vastly expanded reach. Campaign owners often try to target everyone around them (friends, family, co-workers, etc.), and waste valuable resources trying to engage the wrong people, because they don’t take the time to identify their target audience…
In order to determine the target audience for your campaign stop and think about WHO your product or your service will appeal to most. Then focus in on key demographics of this audience by considering the age range, gender, income, and education level (as applicable) of the pool of potential crowd funders who could or would back your project.
It all starts with the product itself. How does it disrupt the status quo? Your new product should be destructive and creative. It should eliminate an older way of doing something and offer a new, innovative means of achieving the same goal. If you begin from that framework, you can start your preliminary advertising about the product by honestly saying that it will change the way people live and/or do business. That’s sure to generate some publicity and put your company in the spotlight. Make notes on the core features that are 100% unique. That will be important later.
You don’t want to brag about the product’s features. You want to share how it will make life easier for people who use it. Think about the last time you saw one of those ‘But wait! There’s more!’ TV commercials, advertising some clever new gadget. Those commercials offer a great formula to follow for building buzz about a product before its launch. Companies like Apple are the undisputed pre-launch product buzz kings. You may not be as big as Apple, but you can still build online suspense and anticipation. The trick is to keep an element of mystery while hinting at great things soon to come. Tweet tantalising clues. Put up a great big ‘Coming Soon’ message on your website and Facebook page. Share sneak previews without giving away too much. Post teaser videos on YouTube. The possibilities are endless. If you do this effectively, you’re much more likely to make a big splash when you do actually launch.
Another great way of spreading the word is to get bloggers to talk about your upcoming product. If you pick the right bloggers, you’ll amplify the buzz by tapping into their audience. Again, don’t tell them everything, keep the suspense going, but give them exclusive tidbits that they can pass on to their readers, thereby ensuring that you are continually ‘in the news’. If you give each blogger the same ‘exclusive’ scoop, they are just going to get annoyed and lose interest, so try to come up with half a dozen unique angles and send a different one to each blogger. Almost all popular bloggers know how to use social media to promote their posts. As a result, word about your product will find its way on popular social media sites.
And do not forget to ask these same people to come to your events!
Managing your campaign
Are you planning on launching your product with a bang or with a whimper? If you’re just thinking to just make the product ‘available for purchase’ on a certain date then you’re not building excitement. Why should people believe that your product is a big deal if you don’t even believe it’s a big deal?
Most people think about crowdfunding as a way of raising money. It is, but it’s much more than that. A crowdfunding campaign is a great way of building an army of enthusiastic supporters. When people put their own money into a crowdfunding campaign, they’ve already bought into your product concept. They’ll go out of their way to tell friends, family and colleagues about what you’re doing. In many ways, it’s like having a free sales force. When you do that, you’ll find that eager customers will want to be among the first people to get your product.
Most of your campaigning will undoubtedly be via social media so make sure you choose the right tools from those that are available (e.g. twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.). Create a landing page that will direct potential supporters to take no more than three actions: Share on Facebook, tweet and watch the campaign video. With three simple clicks, people on your landing page should be able to share your campaign among their own social networks (and invest once your campaign goes live). Always have a way for people to submit their email on your website or Facebook page. Start compiling your mailing list sooner rather than later so that you can maintain contact with your potential funders.
If you want to generate some free PR about your upcoming product launch, advertise that it will offer a radical change to the way people live or do business and then keep them guessing.
Run ads that drop clues about how your product will benefit people. Be sure not to disclose complete spoilers, though. Give them just enough information to want more.
Another great way of maintaining buzz is to give funders (or prospective funders) exclusive pre-launch access to your product. This works particularly well if you are launching an information product or service or can provide limited access to a beta site.
Behind the scenes
To get people really engaged in your product’s story, give them a behind-the-scenes view of your creative process as it progresses. Don’t give away too much. What you need is a set of teasers that make potential customers eager to know more. Don’t just focus on the product itself. If you pay attention to the human angle then you’ll create a real relationship with your audience. For example, produce video interviews with staff, where they talk about how they feel about the product and why they’re excited about its launch.
To create buzz about your product before it launches, define and implement your tactics so that you can have people talking about your product and excited for its release date. Recent research of 100,000 campaigns by Indiegogo tells us that ‘42% of funds are raised in the first 3 days and last 3 days’ of a campaign, so don’t underestimate how important it is to be prepared to start strong.
Sustainable success of the crowdfunding campaign relies on the right and effective strategy of maintaining momentum throughout the whole campaign duration. Usually the mid-campaign is followed by decreasing amount of contributions and interest into the project. To maintain the momentum include tactics in your strategic plan to try to spread the word actively; share photos and videos about the project’s progress regularly; reveal new perks when the project reaches a particular percentage of the goal; build excitement; create a story about the project.
The need of boosting contributions is essential during all crowdfunding campaign stages and requires focus and effort on your part. Running a crowdfunding campaign is a permanent job. It requires the full attention of people behind the project at all campaign stages. It is important to support the project every single day by various actions in order to maintain the momentum.
For effective achievements of actions, especially during the mid-campaign period there are several simple activities recommended to be followed.
- To maintain the momentum try to spread the word actively… share photos and videos about the project’s progress regularly; reveal new perks at strategic intervals, reveal limited-time rewards, create a story about the project progress.
- During the mid-campaign lull insist on asking the crowd for support, don’t avoid bringing in big contributors, try to run a special campaign or competition, post news and updates when reaching the milestones.
- Designing a Q&A section on the campaign page will make it more attractive to contributors. Keep in mind the offline actions too. Try to make the best out of special days to keep the momentum.