One way to figure out how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign is to analyze other successful campaigns. There have been some wild and crazy campaigns that have actually succeeded. Probably the most notorious of these campaigns was Zach “Danger” Brown’s campaign to raise $10 for potato salad. His introductory story tickled viewers’ funny bones, and they willingly shelled out a dollar or two to pay for the laughs. As a result, Zach wound up with what could have been an embarrassment of riches – and a need to deliver “a bite of potato salad” to a lot of different people. Although even successful campaigns rarely reach such a wild level of success – he raised more than $50,000 to make potato salad – the best ones start off with something that he did very well: he told a good story. It was a little crazy, and it caught people’s attention. Not only did Zach raise funds, he also appeared on CNN, and was featured in both Forbes and Entrepreneur. If you have a great story – especially one that makes people laugh – your campaign in more likely to succeed.
Catchy videos are another great way to promote your crowdfunding campaign. One of my personal favorites is the video for Battle Roll, a fast-paced, table-top game created by a guy who works with teens. The game is designed to be played in about ten minutes – just the right amount of time to get a bunch of teen agers settled down or distracted when waiting. The video starts off with a fanfare of martial music, a flaming logo, and then cuts to a guy named Luke who is explains the game concept with both clarity and enthusiasm. Luke lends credibility to his campaign by adding that his game has been player tested, and all it needs is manufacturing.
A little drama never hurts when catching contributor’s attention. Whether you are trying to create a new presentation for Burning Man, invite an audience to a live theatre presentation or sell the idea of converting an old motel into a Wild West museum, seeding your Kickstarter campaign with some eye-popping action or an air of the mysterious isn’t a bad idea either.
Not every story needs to be dramatic, however. If your product is simple, practical and appealing, you can almost let it speak for itself – you just need to attract your audience’s attention so that they will be able to see it, and hear its promise of quality for themselves. A good example of this is ZumZum, a child’s balance bike that has a clean, simple design guaranteed to appeal to kids and parents alike. A simple picture of the bike, coupled with diagrams and an explanation of how it was made, were excellent selling points.
Once you have the audience’s attention, you need to keep the excitement rolling. One of the features of Zach “Danger” Brown’s campaign was his zany series of “thank you” videos posted on Youtube. Battle Roll announced, “Day one is over, and it was AWESOME!!! Thanks so much for your support.” Kickstarter has a comments page that can be used to keep contributors and other viewers in the informed about what is happening with the campaign. You can use that to make brief announcements that build excitement and keeps bringing people back to see what is going on.
Once your goals are achieved, you will need to reward your contributors. Desirable rewards can make a huge difference in viewers’ desire to become contributors. Some campaigns are easy ones for which to plan rewards – small games, items with multiple options make good rewards. Some things are a little harder to develop rewards for, however. If you are trying to put together money for a business or public building, you might have a harder time developing rewards. If you can manage at least a postcard with your concept sketched on it or a poster, you are likely to be ahead of the campaign that offers contributors their name on a brick.
A name on a brick, however, if you will be able to follow through on it, is better than promising something that you don’t have on hand and have difficulty getting completed. An important part of your successful crowdfunding campaign is making sure that all of your rewards actually are created and then sent to the contributors. That means that if you have promised t-shirts with your company logo, then you should have arrangements already made with a shirt company before the campaign even begins.
Responsible follow-through for sending out rewards is another important area. Done just right, your crowdfunding rewards can lead right on into gaining loyal customers for future sales. This means actually having the promised reward items, and getting them mailed out. Kickstarter provides a handy little area for posting milestones in the reward preparation area. Eager fans who boot up the website can check on progress toward their reward level.
Email newsletters (no more than once per week), are another way to keep in touch with your supporters. Through these you can announce changes, exciting plans and general progress. You can even foreshadow new events and new products. The key is to inform, entice and titillate – not to over-whelm your fans with so much mail that it begins to amount to spam. Give them reasons to keep reading your newsletters and checking back with your company or product.
Social media is another place where you can spread the word about your product or service. Keeping up with it can be a real chore, and knowing what words to say or use on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin to appeal to that particular audience takes some thought. One way to work with this is to get some professional help, such as www.best-crowdfunding-websites.com. Consultants can help promote your crowdfunding campaign by writing articles about it and posting them to frequently visited websites. They can also develop and publish press releases about your product, service or company. They deal with hundreds of campaigns, and know what it takes to get the word out. You can bet that they know all the good crowdfunding tips.
The Internet is an odd sort of place – you never know what will strike someone’s fancy. Some of the silliest things can wind up going viral, while sane, sensible things like a new stove hood for a restaurant that is established and doing well or help for cancer treatment can fail to raise a single penny. It is difficult to present either one of those things with humor. Pathos occasionally will sell a product – but for the most part, people want to be entertained. They want to forget the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” If you can make people laugh, if you can give them a way to look away from their troubles for a while, you just might have a winner.
The potato salad crowdfunding campaign was never intended as a serious effort to raise money. But friends and family commenting on Zach “Danger” Brown’s campaign, note that he knew how to tell a good joke. When his joke succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, he even found a way to turn his cash over-flow into something good. Kickstarter has a standing rule that money raised through their platform cannot be used as charitable contributions. Zach used his money to throw a huge potato salad party as a fund-raiser. A local restaurant donated their kitchen and created the recipe that was served at the party. In this way, he was able to give a crowd of attendees “a bite”. The money from the fundraising weekend went to charitable organizations that focus on solving world hunger.
Finally, be sure to say “thank you” to your supporters. Whether they gave a dollar or sent thousands of dollars, almost everyone likes to be acknowledged for their participation in a fund-raising effort – whether it is for potato salad or whether it is for a technological invention that will change the face of manufacturing. When you say “thank you,” and when you follow through on your crowdfunding campaign promises, you pave the way – not only for your own next crowdfunding campaign – but for many crowdfunding campaigns that will occur in the future. Your follow-through on your event creates ripples that can drive the success or failure of many crowdfunding campaigns that will be held in the future.