Biz Ladies: 9 Critical Questions Before Promoting Your Crowdfunding Campaign

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Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from Nicole Delger is the author of Get Funded: A kick-ass plan for running a successful crowdfunding campaign. As a brand advisor, Nicole works with companies who are in the early stages of development or looking to expand their offerings. She has a wide range of experience including social media, internal communications, digital marketing, public relations, advertising, and production. While she calls San Francisco home, she works with companies throughout the US to build their business and maximize their potential. Today, Nicole shares her expertise on planning for your crowdfunding campaign. Thank you for sharing your insights with us today, Nicole! –Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

I specialize in working with indie brands—artists, designers, and visionaries who are the individual driving force behind their business. Whether you’re operating your company under your own name or you’re heading up a business that was inspired by a personal passion, you are your brand.

For indie brands, the allure of launching your own crowdfunding campaign— whether to jumpstart your latest business idea, passion project, or collaboration—is incredibly appealing. And why wouldn’t it be? Most crowdfunding campaigns for creative pursuits are, by nature, personal. And the good news for indie brands is that’s just another day at the office.

But, alas, if it were as simple as throwing up a campaign video and sending it to a few friends, we’d all be doing it. The fact is, generating a great idea, researching what it will take to bring it to life, and planning and executing a campaign is a huge undertaking. Yet if you are truly passionate about your big idea, crowdfunding is an amazing way to bridge the gap between your dream and your reality.

I recently wrote a step-by-step guide called, Get Funded: A kick-ass plan for running a successful crowdfunding campaign. In it, I map out from start to finish how to plan and manage the promotion of your crowdfunding campaign.

There’s only one thing missing: It needs your great idea and your passion for what you want to accomplish in order to bring it to life. And what’s more, you have to craft your message in a way that connects to your audience and moves them to take action.

But before I dive in with the critical questions, I am going to make a few assumptions about you, gentle reader.

The first is that you’ve done your homework and made sure that crowdfunding is the right option for your idea. There are hosts of alternative funding options (everything from grants, to loans, to investors), so do a little research.

Crowdfunding is great for all kinds of different endeavors, but here are a few that seem to do well in the competitive world of crowdfunding:

–      If you serve a niche market or a specific community of people

–      If you already have an audience or group of loyal fans

–      If you have a product with digital distribution

–      If your product can be presold

–      If you are embarking on a creative venture (rather than selling something) and want the support of friends and fans

The second assumption is that you’ve settled on the right crowdfunding platform. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, RocketHub, and Fundable are some big ones that come to mind, but more and more are popping up every day. Crowdsourcing.org keeps a running list you can browse here. I suggest you create a list of pros, cons, and comparisons on each like the one here.

The last assumption is that you’re really clear about your project, end product, or creative endeavor. You’ve researched what you need to do to make it happen, what it will cost, and who is on your team. It Will Be Exhilarating is a book by a company called Studio Neat. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at their own campaign and is full of great anecdotes and honest insights. I recommend it for anyone who really wants to know what it will take to pull off creating a new product from idea, to prototype, to production.

Remember, there is planning for what you will create and then there is the planning of the campaign itself. Now that I’ve made four big assumptions about your planning (the fourth being that you are a rock star with a gorgeous head of hair and killer smile), we’re going to move on to the promotion. Oh yes, that “Hey, look at me!!!” moment that makes most of us cringe.

So before you dive in to the (time consuming, competitive, demanding) world of promoting your crowdfunding campaign, you must ask yourself these nine critical questions. The answers will help unlock key messages that will be a critical component to your campaign message and to your ultimate success.

(1) Why are you making this project?

In my own business, whether I am working on a big campaign, taking on a new client, or pitching a story, I tell clients to start with their passion and what truly compels them to get behind their project. Author Simon Sinek delivers a powerful TED Talk called Start with the Why where he talks about the connection between what you do and who you serve. (I encourage you to bookmark it for future inspiration.) As I said before, crowdfunding is personal. So go deep and really dig into what it is you love about what you do.

Ask yourself: “What motivates me? Why am I passionate about this? What gets me up in the morning and compels me to work on this dream?” And believe it or not, “because it’s cool” is actually not a terrible answer. Let’s just make sure to expand on what makes it so dang cool and what is new and different and never-been-done about it.

(2) Why does it benefit the world?

Okay, okay. Benefit the world may be a tall order. But the point I’m getting at is who is the community of folks you’re serving and why do they love your product? If how your project is serving the greater good is clear—like a nonprofit or social justice campaign—then awesome. If the campaign is for a new product or a gorgeous piece of art, the benefit is still an important part of the equation. Push yourself a little deeper and find the emotional connection to the consumer. How does it make her life better, easier, or even just a little more beautiful?

(3) What research, planning, and preparation 
have you done to make sure this campaign will 
work? (4) What of your own blood, sweat, tears, and 
resources will go into making this project even better? (5) Why do you need their money?

If you’re asking me for money, then you need to let me know that you’ve done your homework. What have you done up until this point? Get technical, get nerdy, get detailed. Have you put up your own cash to secure an element of the project? Have you spent hours, months, or years prototyping and testing? Will you promise not to stop working until this idea comes to life?

Don’t be afraid to say “I’ve been planning for months on X, Y, and Z. All the parts are in place. I just need a little cash for _____.” Is it a production budget? Marketing budget? Supplies? All of the above? You don’t have to be overly specific, but you will need some general details. “Back me” isn’t as strong as “We’ll be using the money to buy source materials like wood, paint, glue, and garbanzo beans.”

(6) Who is your target audience for this campaign? (7) Why do they care about what you’re doing?

Depending on the size and scope of your campaign, you’re going to want to be VERY clear on who your target audience is. While it’d be great to sell your dream photo book to all your Facebook friends, the reality is that most crowdfunding campaigns serve a pretty niche market. Do some homework and figure out the kind of person who would love your product.

Once you have an idea of the kind of person you’re looking to connect with, you have to take it one step further and start asking some detailed questions to get a clear picture of not just what they like but what they value. What do they care about? What do they read? Where do they go for inspiration? How might they learn about your campaign?

Crowdfunding depends on the kindness of strangers, so do some homework and be clear on the person you’re looking to connect with and make sure that your message will resonate.

(8) What are they going to get out of becoming a 
part of this project?

Now this question has two answers. There is the literal: the amazing rewards you’ve created that your backers will get with your campaign (and they better be pretty sweet). And there is the figurative: the community of people your backer is identifying with by supporting you.

Great brands know that it’s more than just a product; it’s a sense of identity. Buying an Eames chair, identifying with a cool new band, or being the first to a new trend—the brands and products you use send a message about you as a consumer. And cool-factor aside, supporting a brand, person, or cause can also just be about being likable. I mean, how many times have you bought something because you liked the person who made it as much as you liked the product itself?

(9) Why should I back you?

Always. Be. Closing. This is the part where you need to be clear with yourself and with the world that you’re the man for the job. If you’re thinking about a crowdfunding campaign to create something really amazing, then there must be a reason you’re the person to bring this to life. I often say to clients who are on the start of a new initiative, “You’ve worked really hard and the world is looking at you—so own it.” A crowdfunding campaign is the place to show your enthusiasm for the (big fat) project ahead of you.

That’s it. Nine critical questions you must ask yourself before launching into your crowdfunding campaign. There are tons of books, blogs, posts, and forums about planning your crowdfunding campaign. Heck, I even I have my own. But all the planning in the world won’t get you very far if you haven’t made an emotional connection with your audience and made the case for your amazing, innovative new product.

When you answer these nine questions, you’ll have tons of material for your campaign video, page, emails, social media promotions, and media outreach.

Good luck! I am sure whatever you do, you’re going to be amazing at it.

If you’re looking for more inspiration to build your brand, you can find me at NicoleDelger.com

 

Betsy

This is awesome, Nicole! I hope to launch a Kickstarter next year and your questions give me the perfect starting point to begin contemplating my goals and making a plan. Thanks for sharing your expert insights and advice!

Lisa Anderson Shaffer

Great advice as always Nicole! You have a way of getting to the point and down to business in no time, plus you are wickedly funny and a joy to work with. You’re book will soon become part of my small business must have library.

Simon Kwan

Just a quick correction on the link to Nicole’s website, it SHOULD be: nicoledelger.com/crowdfundingplan, with the “/” replacing the “:” as it is currently published.

Great content otherwise. Even though I’ve already successfully Kickstarted a project, I’m tempted to buy her guide. You can never learn enough, and crowdfunding is still so young that the rules keep changing and the bar for project excellence keeps being raised. It certainly keeps things challenging and interesting :-)

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