If you operate a crowdfunding platform similar to Kickstarter or GoFundMe, your marketing strategy is very different than someone who is running a crowdfunding campaign.
You need to understand the needs and desires of project creators who are trying to build successful campaigns. It all starts with the platform. If you as the platform owner provide an easy-to-use Crowdfunding Platform, that’s stable and provides all the functionality your creators need then you’re nearly half way there already!
In this article, we’ll cover the marketing details to hit in order to drive value and interest for your project creators.
The Platform that Serves
People don’t care as much about a solution or a platform as the community supporting it.
If you’re familiar with the WordPress project, you probably know that the thing that sets WordPress apart from its completion is the collaborative nature of its community. It’s the people!
With the above in mind, how do you position your Crowdfunding Platform that’s an indispensable resource that your platform creators can’t stop talking about? Do you have the right people to support the various aspects of your platform? Do you have adequate support personnel? Do you have development help? Do you have marketing support?
Understand what your project creators care about
What problems do project creators have? What motivates them to build? Why does someone choose to use your platform?
I challenge you to list what makes your platform different from a Kickstarter or a Fundrise. Most likely, you have a shared passion for a given topic.
How can you be the platform that serves its project creators? If you exist to serve a community of people who share a common interest that’s a great start! You can build solutions that help those people accomplish what matters to them.
Understand your project creator’s needs
What support do your project creators require beyond the technical features that your platform provides? Do they require help marketing their projects? Do they need logistical help for planning and executing successful Crowdfunding Campaigns?
You can certainly send polls via email. Or you can use a service to gather feedback, such as Canny, which helps you easily allow your creators to easily add issues that matter to them and vote on them.
As you build up a database of issues important to your userbase, you can begin planning and implementing the things your users care about, which in turn makes them happy and excited about your platform—people love sharing their favorite tools and hacks. Be one of those things!
Host a weekly office hour over Zoom.
Set aside some time every week or month where your project creators can drop in and shoot the breeze with their fellow Crowdfunding Entrepreneurs.
You can also use that time to lead specific discussions that matter to your creators. Topics could include how to plan your next great Crowdfunding Campaign. Another idea is to host a topic and discussion regarding how to plan out a Crowdfunding campaign before, during, and after.
Yet another idea is hosting a discussion regarding various available resources to them or that will help elevate their campaigns.
Be the Crowdfunding Platform that helps your creators identify potential issues, solve problems, and succeed. Serve your creators!
Building A Crowdfunding Community aka Community Marketing
Sometimes the best way to serve your community is to build the community they’ll flock to. Community marketing is an important channel for marketing your products.
Providing a community that your customers can access provides them greater access to you and your team, if you have one. Think of it as a digital watercooler. It’s a great way to bring together similarly minded people to help one another within your community’s walls, so to speak.
Getting involved with your community
The best way to market your crowdfunding platform is to get involved with the community you serve. For example, getting involved with startup events and meetups about specific topics related to your platform if you are trying to serve the startup community. Get involved with art events and meetups to serve the artist community. You get the idea here, right?
Finding where your customers live on the web is not always easy. I recommend looking up related topics on Reddit, Discord, Twitter, and Facebook Groups to find relevant Crowdfunding conversations.
Search specific hashtags (#your-topic-here) keywords and phrases in these various social media platforms. Even do some Google Searches to see what results come back; you’ll find your related communities in no time at all!
Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman, of Stacking the Bricks have a method that helps people identify the sort of product they should build. They call it Painstorming.
The idea of Painstorming is that you go into various only communities to share a problem that you think other people (your potential customers) might have. This helps you validate (and invalidate) your assumptions about your customer’s problems.
This knowledge helps inform what platform you build and what kinds of resources to provide your customers that they’ll care about.
You create conversations or participate in existing conversations, to identify potential problems that you can solve.
Several years ago, I took this Painstorming approach for a potential product build that I was trying to validate. I was validating whether or not freelancers and agency owners actually had problems getting content from their clients. It turns out, it was a common frustration and stumbling block.
Through my Painstorming conversations, I discovered the many ways that people approached and solved that problem. I also discovered ideal situations folks wanted to see or whatever made the most sense to them.
Crowdfunding Community Tools
There are tons of tools to use that do the job well. None of them are perfect, but I’ve seen them in action! Any of the following tools are suitable for your needs.
- Circle.so – A recent entrant into the community space, Circle.so is aimed at brands and creatives for creating an online space to host and manage their communities. You can host private group chats and member leaderboards and provide a space that integrates with several membership platforms.
- Slack – You know it, love it, or loathe it. It’s the de facto standard in chat-based community applications. Large organizations like WordPress use it to engage their community, foster focused conversations with the ability to create public and private channels and assign multiple admins to ensure the conversation is positive.
- Discord – Primarily used by Crypto and Gaming related communities, Discord can be used by anyone for any reason. Discord is primarily used for online communities, which can be more wily and unruly. Whereas slack is primarily used (and optimized) for business
- Bulletin Board or Forum software – Yes, standard forums are still a thing, looking like they’re right out of 1998.
Social media can be difficult to find your tribe, which is why I recommend taking some time and being patient when digging through various platforms.
As you dig into hashtags related to your topic of interest, also take note of the conversations that are happening. Participate in those conversations by asking questions, share your opinions, deliver value where ever you can.
Different platforms lend themselves well to differing communities so you don’t need to participate in all social media communities—participate in those communities where you notice the most interactivity with your accounts and conversational touch points (comments, DMs, content produced, etc.).
That said, I encourage you to spend time in as many social networks as you can and take some time, maybe two to four weeks in each one (maybe more, you gotta go by feel) and see what’s picking up traction or not.
Reddit, for instance, is a hodgepodge of a social network. It has live streaming content, forum/discussion type content and people sharing images and short-form video. Posting to different Subreddits can get eyeballs on your platform but only if you engage and add value to conversations. Try to find Subreddits that center around a larger topic of your specific platform niche. Maybe it’s woodworkers, maybe it’s personal finance, maybe it’s performance artists. Try to find the larger conversation and start to participate from there.
You can do the same thing with Instagram or Facebook Groups. The important thing is to be patient. If a particular network isn’t working out for you, don’t be discouraged, no progress is progress. You’re eliminating what doesn’t work.
Clear Messaging: Setting Your Crowdfunding Platform Apart
Another great way to market your crowdfunding platform is to offer something unique and different than your competitors. For example, if you are the only crowdfunding platform offering equity to backers, highlight that in your marketing materials.
One way you can make your platform stand out is by highlighting key differences in how your platform operates. If you’re leveraging a Self-Hosted Crowdfunding platform like IgnitionDeck, you can sell the fact that there are lower fees for your platform creators.
Distinguishing your platform by talking about your terms of service may sound boring, but certain details help folks make a decision whether your platform is right for them and their business.
A strong mission or positioning statement helps clarify your message for would-be project creators. You’ll gain fans and signups if you clearly communicate what you do and who you support.
Be the platform that supports local gardening. Be the platform that crowdfunds after-school programs. Be the platform that crowdfunds authors writing their next book. Be the crowdfunding platform that helps neighborhood students get into college. Be the crowdfunding platform that connects investors to real estate investment opportunities. You get the idea, right?
An example of positioning your platform would be this:
CommonGardens is a platform for urban city gardeners who build sustainable food-sources for communities to they can responsibly grow produce for themselves and their neighbors where they live.
General structure of a positioning statement:
We are a niche platform that provides niche support/service for niche community so that they can do something valuable
Approaching your platform messaging this way makes it crystal clear what you support, who it’s for, and why they want it.
Leveraging Email Marketing and Automation to Engage Your Community
Email Marketing is still one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to generate interest and deliver value to your audience. Done well, Email Marketing helps keep your business in peoples’ conversations about your platform.
Using email, you can deliver laser-focused value to very specific customer segments, which means your messages are more likely to achieve their desired outcome. What outcomes? A visit to your website, signup for a trial of your platform, purchasing membership access. You name it.
There is no shortage of Email Service Providers that provide excellent marketing tools to broadcast your message to your customers.
My personal favorite is ActiveCampaign because of its powerful automation tools and integrations.
However, Bento is an emerging platform that ties many marketing pieces together, such as email marketing, automation, SMS marketing, and more.
It’s not just the tools, though. You need to find a tool that you’ll use and one that makes your marketing efforts easier.
Segmenting your audience
It’s enough to blast your audience random information, sure. But do you want to know what’s better than that? Laser-focused, timely, specific messages for segments of your audience.
An audience segment is a group of people who share some specific piece of information. Maybe they live in Southern California. Maybe they like to create art. Maybe they’re into environmental conservationism.
You need to work to figure out how your audience is segmented if you want to get the most out of this marketing channel.
Send out the occasional survey. Talk to them during your office hours meetings. Set up a poll in your preferred community chat space.
The more time you put into understanding how your customers differ will help you create emails with greater value, which means that your recipients are more likely to take the actions you want them to take.
Building a Crowdfunding Platform that serves your community is a daunting task regardless of the platform you choose.
The best thing you can do to ensure you have a thriving platform is to be a participant in your community and be a presence in the digital neighborhoods they exist within. Sometimes these are platforms you control like forums or FB Group you manage, sometimes they’re communities you don’t control. Both are critical to building a following and generating interest.
Be present, listen to your community’s needs, understand the pains they have and think about how a Crowdfunding Platform helps address those needs.