How to Crowdfund Like a Marketer (For Creatives)
Crowdfunding. Everyone’s doing it. Your grandma. Your hairdresser. The cab driver on Canal and Bowery… (OK, maybe not everyone).
But the industry has grown 1000 percent since its mainstream popularization in 2009, according to Entrepreneur.com. At this rate, crowdfunding will generate $3.2 trillion in economic value per year by 2020. Yes, you read that right: Trillion.
And it’s easy to see why. Crowdfunding is an easily accessible platform where any artist or creative can take his/her idea directly to the people and have them “vote” it into fruition with their dollars.
Never before has bypassing “the gatekeepers” been so easy. Whether you’re producing the kind of films you want to see, making the kind of music you want to hear or inventing the kind of products you wish existed, crowdfunding can take you from pipe dream to reality, and FAST. That said, crowdfunding is crowded, and great ideas alone do not guarantee success. In order to succeed, you need to stand out amid all the noise online.
The good news –– even though crowdfunding is still in its early days, you can take advantage of the same time-tested techniques utilized by professional marketers and entrepreneurs alike. Here we’ll discuss the three primary steps to standing out in a crowded digital space.
1. Create a Brand
“A great brand is a story well told,” says, Julie Cottineau, former VP of brand at Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. A brand can be many things, depending on whom you ask. But, in terms of crowdfunding, it’s most useful to think of brand in terms of storytelling. Translation: You’re explaining the heart of your project using words, images and sounds.
Unsurprisingly, branding consistently rates as the biggest pain-point among small and large businesses alike. Though often good at what they do, businesses executives often lack an innate sense of “what makes something compelling.” You know who does have an innate sense of story? Artists like you!
Approach your campaign the same way you would any other creation by highlighting a “core message” or theme to your project. You can get there by asking yourself questions like:
What is “universal” about my project? What message am I trying to convey that other people can easily relate to?
Why is this project especially important to me?
What is my personal story and how does it relate to the project?
Why do people need or want this?
Distill your message into a few talking points, a core message, that can easily be repeated over and over again. From now on, any and all decisions related to the brand (design, content, structural details) get filtered through the question: How can this best illustrate my core message?
2. Build a Community
Community –– your community consists of your friends, your family and the people who would care about what you’re doing, if they knew you were doing it. According to Fundable, one’s probability of success dramatically increases (from 10 to 20 to 40 percent) for every magnitude of increase in Facebook friends (from 10 to 100 to 1000). Translation: The “real work” of your campaign begins many months before you launch.
Which begs the question: How do you build a community? Though you’re only limited by your creativity, there are a few techniques you can borrow from the online marketing world:
Build an Email List
Create an email newsletter updating your community on the stages of your project, things that inspire you and anything else you think would be of interest. Then, place an opt-in for the newsletter everywhere. Tell everyone to sign-up every chance you get.
Choose Your Social Channels Wisely
Ever seen the sad sight of a social media account turned ghost-town? This is usually the result of someone becoming overzealous and committing to too many things at once. Solution: Pick 1-2 social channels for engagement and stick with them!
Create an Editorial Calendar
Do you think the editor of Vogue wakes up each morning saying, “Crap. what are we going to write about today?!” Nope. She has a content plan for every public-facing aspect of her brand. You can do the same with your tweets, status updates, and newsletter topics.
3. Create Your Campaign
You’ve crafted your brand. You’ve built your community. Now, it’s time to launch! Again, you can borrow the same techniques used by direct response advertisers for over half a century to convert prospects into investors.
Create Eye-Catching Headlines
On average, five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. Accordingly, if you don’t “sell” the product in the headline, you’ve lost 80 percent of your prospects.
Sell The Sizzle, Not The Steak
Translation: Discuss how the project will benefit your prospect first. Features and details are important, but they belong later in any body copy or video footage.
Tell Your Story –– Vividly
In most cases, investing in high-quality video footage is worth the expense. Things to remember: Keep videos short + snappy; cut out extraneous verbiage; tell your prospect exactly what they can expect after they invest.
These three aspects of your marketing strategy will get you well on your way to standing out amongst “the sea of crowdfunders.” Also check out our popular post “10 Secrets of Highly Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns” for a synopsis of some of the most commonly used strategies by recently funded projects.
This the first part of a four-part series on how creatives can build successful crowdfunding campaigns by leveraging direct response marketing techniques. The next part in this series is called “How to Brand Your Crowdfunding Campaign.” Read it HERE.
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