9 Steps to Launching a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

If you're looking to get attention and funding for your business idea, crowdfunding might give you the initial push you need to make your dreams a reality.
9 Steps to Launching a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
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The following excerpt is from Entrepreneur's book Finance Your Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

If you’re looking to get attention and funding for your business idea, crowdfunding might give you the initial push you need to make your dreams a reality. Launching a successful crowdfunding campaign can essentially be broken down into the following nine steps.

Related: 5 Niche Incubators and Accelerators That Could Be Good for Your Business

1. Share your story

Let your potential funders know how your product or business idea can benefit them. Share who you are, what you’re planning to do, where the project idea came from, what your budget is and why you’re passionate about it. This shows you’ve actually put some thought into the idea, which helps prove the legitimacy and credibility of your project.

A basic outline of this information is also available in Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook, which is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to use crowdfunding to get money for their business. Communicating your story through visual imagery is of particular importance.

Make sure to create a great-looking project-header image as well as a compelling video. You have to have a stunning video pitch. Make sure the video quality is crystal clear, your story is compelling, and your product shines. Show you’re credible by speaking clearly, outlining the concept and the benefits, and demonstrating exactly how it works. Connect emotionally with a personal story in a way that a potential backer will be able to relate to. Finally, talk about why the product is unique. People need to know what problem you’re solving that will be appealing to consumers.

2. Offer great rewards

People will back your project if they think it’s worthwhile, but it’s always good to have great perks for your pledgers, too. You’ll likely want to refer to the aforementioned Creator Handbook to figure out what you can and cannot offer, as there are some restrictions you’ll need to be aware of.

You’ll also want to be fair with your rewards in terms of price points, and make sure you can actually fulfill them. It’s fine to promise your pledgers big rewards, but don’t forget that delivery can take considerable time and effort. Be realistic.

3. Set a funding goal

If you’re launching your campaign on Kickstarter, be aware that it has an all-or-nothing funding model. If you meet or exceed your funding goal, you get to keep the money. If not, you don’t get anything. Platforms such as Indiegogo work on a slightly different model, where you get to keep the funding regardless of whether you reach your goal.

At this point, it’s important to think about how much money you need to get your business up and running, and how many people you know might be willing to pledge. Although you may attract the attention of new people with your campaign, most of your support is going to come from those who already know you. Be realistic. Also keep in mind that you can’t change your funding goal once you’ve initiated the campaign.

Related: Joining a Pitch Fest for Business Financing

4. Promote your campaign

There are many different ways to make people aware of your crowdfunding campaign. Here are a few tips for getting the word out:

  • Use social media to spread the message.
  • Reach out to the media and bloggers to get coverage for your cam­paign.
  • Host a live event to drive up interest and engagement.

Your campaign is unlikely to succeed without a 100 percent commitment on your part. You need to think of it as a full-time job while you’re driving toward your campaign goals. Leverage every relationship and marketing channel available to you.

5. Update your backers as your project progresses

You need to keep your project backers in the loop as you move forward with your campaign. If you don’t share regular updates with them, you could lose their interest and might not be able to attract as many pledgers as you’d like.

Crowdfunding platforms generally have built-in tools that allow you to update your project backers and send messages to them. Take advantage of these tools and keep everyone in the loop.

Be honest and regular with your updates. If things aren’t going exactly as you hoped they would, be transparent. Backers want to know that you can actually deliver on your project and the rewards you promised them.

6. Fulfill your promise

Your crowdfunding campaign isn’t over if and when you reach your funding goals. It’s over when you’ve fulfilled your promises. This means completing your project, delivering on your perks or rewards and making sure you’re communicating with your supporters every step of the way. Only when fulfillment is complete can you truly say you had a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Don’t forget: Your backers are of primary importance. When you show them that you care, they’ll be more willing to trust you and may even reach out to friends to share your campaign with them.

7. Find a viable means to monetize your pain point

Fundamentally, the purpose of creating a new product is to solve a problem and alleviate a pain point. For a crowdfunded product to be successful -- and for any product to be successful -- people must believe that it can alleviate one of their pain points.

“You need to be able to convey the value of the product if you want them to support your crowdfunding project,” says Chalmers Brown, a serial entrepreneur and the cofounder of Due, an online invoicing platform. “If they don’t believe it will work, they won’t back it.”

8. Find a manufacturer you can work with

When you begin your campaign, your investors are going to want to know when they can expect to receive the product you’ve made them crave. The only way you can provide them with a reliable answer is to have a manufacturer ready to produce your designs.

Several factors can contribute to the length of time it will take to pick the perfect manufacturer. You need to decide if you want your product built locally or overseas, then find a company with business goals that mesh well with your own. Be sure you can easily communicate with your chosen manufacturing outfit.

You also have to make sure you can deliver on shipping promises. This is only possible if you have a firm grasp of what the entire manufacturing process will entail from start to finish -- and that begins with finding the right manufacturer.

Related: The Most Essential Things You Need in a Business Accelerator

9. Make changes based on feedback

One of the most important things you can do before you try to crowdfund your product is make sure you’ve taken the time to have people test and review your product. Getting that feedback is essential to making any necessary improvements before launching a Kickstarter campaign. You must take consumer and backer feedback seriously. You may have an amazing product, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be even better with a little extra work.

It’s no secret that crowdfunding campaigns can be a lot of work. But with the right structure in place, you can meet and even exceed your funding goals.  

Edition: March 2017

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