Crowdfunding. For the past few years we’ve been hearing about it as the new frontier in marketing and funding. The concept, when you think about it, is phenomenal. There’s no middle manning through investment firms or loans. Just place your product out in the wild and let prospective fans spur their own interest and generate funds to begin your sales flow.
But after the initial buzz has settled – and certainly, it was a massive buzz – crowdfunding isn’t as widely popular and exciting as it used to be. So what went wrong?
The fact is, crowdfunding is amazingly successful – if you can hit the requirements. If you’re sporting a revolutionary gadget, video game, or film, you’ve got a better chance of hitting your target than, say, a new brand of underwear. With the overwhelming competition for donation dollars, your product has to have an undeniably different flavour from the rest. That means artistic, or mechanical ingenuity provides huge funding sway because it instantly stands out as a completely unique product. The idea of “if I don’t donate, this product may never be made,” is a fledgling company’s best friend during this time, as these generate the amazing million-dollar success stories you’ve surely read about online.
Most failed campaigns have already lost before the posting was even made, and here’s why. Where most of the potential in a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign falls short is the video. So many new companies overlook this fact. Yet Kickstarter even once stated just by having a video you increase your chances of reaching your goal by 50 percent.
Beyond just having a video, you need to be sure it’s an effective video. Simply because your product isn’t made public yet doesn’t mean it’s too early to have some marketing strategy. In one video you have a few minutes to convince a prospective buyer to pay in advance for your product, and more importantly to invest their time and money in you. A crowdfunding video has one chance only to hook the viewer in a single pull – campaign time is just that short for a crowdfund. You need to reel them in, and make yourself appealing enough to tell all their friends about.
First of all, no matter what content your video shows, or how clever it is, that’s all washed away if you don’t have the right video and audio quality. You don’t necessarily need the highest-grade camera along with the newest drone model. However, if you’re using a smartphone to shoot, definitely consider options like a microphone extension that can plug in to your phone for less hollow sound. Even better, for an exceptional video, consider turning to a production company or agency to produce your video for you.
Another tip for your crowdfunding video is to take the time to introduce the collaborators behind the project. Backers tend to support the people over the idea. There’s a story behind why you’re trying to get this product out there, and that’s what the viewers want to see. They want their donated dollars to go to good products, and to good people. Be humble, and set a lower target funding. If your product is truly worth investing in, fans will donate beyond the cap.
Make every second count, but don’t drag the video out. If you’re using rewards-based funding (and you absolutely should), only mention the top two or three rewards if you choose to mention them at all. Your video should only include the best of you, your product, and your campaign.
Most importantly, learn from others. See some of the successful videos out there and why they’re successful, and note what went wrong with the unsuccessful ones. For example, COOLEST cooler was a product campaign from two years ago that took Kickstarter by storm, garnering over $13 millions USD from over 60,000 backers. Their original pledge was $50,000. As you can see, the video doesn’t stretch itself too far for high production value, nor does it try to shove incentives in the backers’ faces. It shows a single founder explain his own values and why he made his product, and his simple desire to share his product with the world.
Sometimes, you just need to know when you’re fighting a losing battle. If your product has similar competitors on Kickstarter and none of them are being funded, maybe crowdfunding isn’t right for you. The power in crowdfunding lies in its inherent ability to generate attention. “This product is so amazing that fans are willing to pay money months before its formal production.” That’s the sort of buzz that floats on news sites, and acts as “auto-publicity” online and through word-of-mouth. But it works both ways, there’s huge disappointment in knowing that your direct consumers aren’t interested in investing in your product.
You’ll need to support this product like it’s your own child. That means 24/7 support. 30% of your donations will most likely come from family, friends, and other close connections, and you should never hesitate to draw from these points and continue marketing to them. These donations will also make up the main force of your starting campaign, and will dictate the momentum that your product progresses with as you continue accumulating donations. Backers want to support a product that is likely to be successful, and need to see a certain amount of investment already made before taking the plunge to donate.
And like a child, you can never leave your crowdfunding campaign alone. Retweeting, sharing to different sites, calling people about the product, that’s just the start. Today’s crowdfunding platforms aren’t ATM’s where you can sit back and see money coming in. The point of Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and all these other sources is to put you, the business, in direct contact with your intended audience. This is an opportunity that never existed before the Internet existed. These sites seat you right in front of the buyer, but you still have to make the pitch and sell your product. It’s truly a chance-of-the-century, and with the right tools, it can be yours for the picking.