Choose the right platform.
The first step in raising funds via crowdfunding is to choose the right platform. While Kickstarter is more well known, that platform is primarily intended for creative endeavors. Business would be better suited to use IndieGoGo, as this platform has a specific forum for small businesses.
Bring your own friends to the party.
Once you’ve chosen the right platform, as you initiate your campaign, you’ll need to bring your own audience. Despite the popularity of your crowdfunding platform, the likelihood of your campaign going viral is very low. As a result, having an ingrained base of support is critical. This audience should not only support your campaign financially, it is also necessary for them to act as product champions for your effort. Persuade this group into helping to spread word about your campaign.
Provide constant updates.
After launching your campaign, the work has only just begun. You’ll need to send out ongoing updates to your audience. These updates must be disseminated across multiple platforms. Aside from the crowdfunding platform, it will be necessary to send out multiple e-mail updates to your newsletter database, spread the word via social media, and use other networking resources, such as LinkedIn.
The updates themselves can be as simple as alerting your audience of the progress of your funding efforts. On a weekly (or daily) basis, tell your audience the progress you’ve made in raising funds. If these simple updates aren’t enough to command the attention of your audience, it may be necessary to conduct more comprehensive messaging. Launching a “campaign within a campaign” effort means that you’ll have to create multiple messaging points and themes you present to your audience. Moving beyond your initial campaign, you’ll need to create new taglines, incentives, and marketing schemes to keep the campaign fresh. Acting in this manner is more likely to keep your audience engaged as more likely to be receptive to new messaging, as compared to re-reading the same old updates on a weekly basis.
Involve the press.
Your crowdfunding campaign shouldn’t be a standalone effort. Make sure to involve the help of the media in order to spread your message. If you have a stable of press contacts, reach out to them in hopes that they will cover your story. If you don’t have press contacts, simply seek out journalists who cover your market sector. It may take repeated efforts (and not everyone will be receptive), but over time this type of cold calling can be effective. The trick is to make your story attractive.
The hardest part of any crowdfunding effort is the realpolitik element of the campaign. Unfortunately, human nature dictates that few people want to be involved in an unpopular campaign. People are more likely to become involved in your crowdfunding effort if they see other people are involved. Thus, there is an irony that a crowdfunding campaign will become most popular if it seems popular. In order to create an heir of popularity, it may become necessary to play parties against each other.
One way to play politics is to face small groups against each other. For example, if you have a group of 5 to 10 supporters who know each other, appeal to them directly and tell them how one member of the group has not only voiced their support, but also contributed financially to your campaign. In other words, try to guilt the rest of the members into participation. Once you have had success with a small group, move on to a larger group, highlighting how you were able to convince a group of 5 to 10 supporters to come up with several thousand dollars of funding. In other words, make it competitive. By positioning the small group of supporters as early adopters, and highlighting how the campaign is gaining steam and becoming more popular, you may be able to convince a larger group to support your effort. Like any political campaign, this effort must be done on a grassroots basis appealing directly to the individual, with each individual receiving a specific tailored message.