Successful crowdfunding campaigns usually have several elements working in tandem: a strong product, a capable team, and a track record among them. But even in cases where all three of these factors are present, it’s rare for a business to reach its fundraising target without the addition of a well-organised marketing attack.
That said, what is the best way to promote your crowdfunding campaign? Every business has different needs, but there are common rules which dictate play. A sophisticated marketing plan takes time – as well as some venture capital investment – to execute, so be patient and don’t press ahead before you’re ready.
Identify your investor
No marketer worth their salt would rush into a promotion without first identifying the group of people most likely to buy in. Market research, then, is your first port of call. This needn’t be an exhaustive process, but it pays to nail down your ideal customers, because in crowdfunding it’s possible they will also make up a large share of your investor pool.
Discuss the following ideas with your team:
- Who is your best customer?
- Where can you locate them online?
- What kinds of benefits would they enjoy?
Now look at other brands in your market that have taken the crowdfunding route. Where did they succeed and fail – is it possible to uncover information about what marketing methods worked for them?
Create your video
Not all successful crowdfunding campaigns include a video on their page, but these days it’s considered standard practice. More importantly, videos are proven to draw more eyeballs to crowdfunding pages and to help convert browsers into investors.
Take a look at some live campaigns and you’ll see an array of different promotional films, from ultra-high end to cheap and cheerful, professional to amateurish. Some businesses spend tens of thousands on their video, especially if their money target is high enough to warrant the spend.
But, as with everything else, you can reduce the amount you fork out by spending time on planning and execution. In general, people want to see your product or service in action, plus some information about the market, including your sales projections. If you can present this information in an attractive, professional way, then the amount you spend is irrelevant.
It’s important to give members of your team speaking parts in your video, so people can get a feel for who they’re dealing with. You should also make clear how the money will be spent and how investors will be taken care of if they decide to contribute.
Social media and forums
Social media is the ideal channel to promote your crowdfunding campaign because it is direct, personal and, best of all, free.
Ideally, you will have existing accounts on the major platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and maybe newer ones including TikTok, Snapchat and Discord. If not, the best approach might be to open one or two accounts – perhaps Facebook and Twitter, depending on where you audience spends their time – and gently start building a following before you begin crowdfunding.
Along with audience, messaging is ultra-important. Social media is filled with direct sales messages that go unanswered, so cementing relationships and creating valued content is key. Social media strategy is worthy of a guide in itself, but the bottom line is you must tread a fine line between creating entertainment and promoting your campaign.
There is also a handful of online forums, catering to both businesses and investors, that could help you shine a spotlight on your crowdfunding endeavours. Crowdfundingforum.com is one, Kicktstarterforum another, while there are also a few subreddits on Reddit which cater to the theme.
You could also try generic UK forums dedicated to entrepreneurs, including Business Advice Forum. People posting regularly on these will welcome a well-crafted introduction to your business. Don’t spam with an advert though, instead ask a question and get the conversation started.
PR (professional or DIY)
PR is all about getting your voice out there, either in print, online or via the radio and TV. It’s possible to pitch your business to individual media titles, but the intensiveness of this process means it’s may be more efficient to work with a PR agency.
For a fee, an agency will hook you up with publicity opportunities on multiple shows, publications, and events. The idea is to get as many people as possible to hear about your business, so that you’ll reach your funding target quicker even if only a small percentage of the audience end up investing.
The fees for a PR agency vary, but you should expect to pay four figures for a basic campaign over the course of, say, one month. Whether this is worth the spend will depend on your fundraising target, as well as other details like whether or not your product is unusual or has an interesting story behind it.
If you’re looking for PR company, seek out specialist agencies that are practiced at dealing with fast-growth businesses on short-term contracts. There are plenty of PR firms specialising in crowdfunding specifically, and these usually have special rates.
If you’d prefer to eschew the cost of an agency and want to go it alone, there are some low-hanging media fruit to target. Local newspapers and websites are more likely to run your story than nationals, and the same applies to radio stations.
Tap into your personal network and ask for your friends and family not only to invest, but also to recommend and promote your crowdfunding within their own networks of contacts.
YouTube is full of business and money related shows that need a regular churn of guests; the same applies to the thousands of podcasts which focus on enterprise, start-ups, and growing businesses. Research these and get in touch with them.
Lastly, many crowdfunding businesses host events with potential investors to try and drum up support for their campaign. Usually this takes the format of a drinks reception with a few speeches, a questions and answer session, plus time for networking.
In many cases the crowdfunding platform itself will send along a representative to speak about their offer and why they think your business has strong potential. This adds kudos to your pitch and should increase the number of people willing to back you.
Friends and family
It’s important to understand that crowdfunding campaigns are all about momentum. There’s nothing worse than launching your campaign, only for it to slide quietly into obscurity.
One way to hit the ground running is to secure investment ahead of time. Many crowdfunding businesses will let you build up an early investment pot from friends, family, and other contacts, before you formally go live to the public.
Starting your campaign with 30 or 50% of the investment already secured will give the impression of demand and suggest to would-be investors that they need to get in quick before your target is met and you take the opportunity offline.
The greater the percentage you begin with, the more it will be perceived as a winning idea. This is good marketing because investors like the assurance of throwing their money in with others, so the more your can do here the better.