How to Validate Ideas Using Crowdfunding
There’s nothing more exciting than the spark of a great idea. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, that idea will keep you awake at night, fuel your creativity, and dominate your thoughts. However, as great as the idea might sound in your head, it’s not until you share the idea with others that you can get a true perspective on it.
Will anyone else share your passion? How great is this idea anyway?
Despite what most people think, crowdfunding isn’t just about raising money, it’s also about sharing and assessing your ideas, looking at them from new angles, in different lights, and dipping a toe into the waters of the real world to see just how far you might be able to go with your project.
When you approach your campaign in this way, and a funding shortfall doesn’t have to equal failure. Using the feedback you get, consider retooling your product or promotional materials to better appeal to the masses. Is there a better way to convey your passion for the project to your audience? Are there tweaks you can make to your idea that make it more attractive and more useful?
Once you begin to view your crowdfunding campaign as a litmus test for the idea, the importance of campaign marketing and public relations strategies come into sharper focus. At its core, your campaign stands or falls on the strength of the central concept, but you can give it the best chance possible with the right promotion. Even if you do have to abandon the project at the crowdfunding stage, at the very least you’ve saved yourself a substantial amount of time and money investing an idea that lacks broad market appeal. It may be cold comfort at the time, but you can move on to the next stage from a better position. You may not have all the funding you were after, but the amount of knowledge and market expertise you’ve gained will be invaluable.
If you already have a product or near-product, consider building buzz through a pre-order system, effectively used by the biggest bands and movie studios on Amazon and iTunes and a host of hardware manufacturers. Encourage questions and feedback on your idea, and if appropriate open up a virtual suggestions box you can use to gauge people’s thoughts on your project.
Use the campaign not just to show off your idea, but also to put across your message: what your company believes about why the project is important and how it can have a positive impact on people’s lives. Provide an easy way for users to share the project on social media, and see if you can get any mentions in the online press (then keep a close eye on the comments sections).
When the crowdfunding campaign comes to a close, you may or may not have the funds you were after. What you will have, if you’ve done the preparation correctly, is a wealth of helpful market research that you can utilize to tweak your idea or get started on a new one.
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