How to succeed at crowdfunding: Pre-launch Communication

If you wait until launch day to start telling people about your crowdfunding campaign, it’s too late. On average, a person needs to hear a message 7 times to act on it (what’s known in marketing as “effective frequency” or “the rule of 7”). That’s why advance communication makes or breaks a campaign – there’s not enough time to get your message in 7 times once it’s launched.

blog images- effective frequency

We typically work with our artists for a minimum of three months prior to campaign launch on their communication strategy, which contains the following elements:

  1. Key project visual. Your album or book cover, play or film poster, or another key image coupled with your campaign dates and Kickstarter or Indiegogo logo is something you will use time and again. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. If there is one area that I encourage my clients to spend money prior to their campaign, it’s on a designer. A small amount spent on a professional draft is an investment that pays off. (More on this on our post on Campaign Design.)
  2. Elevator pitch. You only have 135 characters – about a dozen words – to hook someone’s attention. You will use this pitch again and again – including as the headline of your crowdfunding campaign – so this is a bedrock of your project’s success. Writing a blurb is hard. Get help. Brainstorm. Write. Rewrite. Distill your project down to its irresistible essence.
  3. Day 1 Backers. We craft a 1-2-3 script for your Day 1 Backers: 1. Inform. 2. Engage. 3. Ask. Your Day 1 Backers are VIPs. They don’t get a mass email that starts “Dear Friend…”. They get invited to coffee, a Skype, or a phone call. In the first meeting, you share your key project visual and your elevator pitch. This is a good practice audience because they are already cheerleaders of you and your work. The next meeting, you request their feedback, advice, ideas, and input, and you consider it seriously. The third meeting, you ask them to be a Day 1 Backer. With an exchange of texts, messages, and emails in between, you’ve racked up your “7,” so your D1B’s are ready to roll come launch day.
  4. Influencers. We craft a 1-2-3 script for your Influencers, as well. Just like your D1B’s, these are VIPs who require individual communication. These folks have a large platform for communication – and almost certainly a schedule. You’ll want plenty of time to get them images, interviews, samples, descriptions, and whatever else they will need to support your project launch.
  5. Benefactors. And, we craft a 1-2-3 script for your Benefactors. These are the quintessential VIPs. They’re helping produce your project at the $500+ level, so they, too, will require individual attention.
  6. Email list. People open almost 100% of their emails. Facebook and Twitter may be sexier, and they’re helpful for awareness, but social media generally does not prompt action. People only see approximately 5% of what is in their feed – and they are typically just scrolling through, commenting, and “liking.” Email prompts action. Most of our clients start out with their email address book scattered across multiple accounts, written on scraps of paper, in a stack of business cards stuffed in a desk drawer. For fast, effective group communication, this needs to be organized. It can take a while. Getting all email addresses correct, correctly labeled, and all in one account – or on a service like Mail Chimp – is a big undertaking. Start early.
  7. Social media. This comes into play closer to launch. Social media is blurb and image driven – and it’s called Facebook for a reason. People respond to faces! So in the months leading up to your campaign, get plenty of pictures of your smiling face doing your project, and craft catchy captions. T/W/Th before breakfast/during lunch/before bed are peak times. It’s easy to burn out your audience on social media, so plan out 2-3 posts per week. We’ll be doing a separate post dedicated to social media.

Realistically, how much time does this take? If you have twelve weeks between now and launch, you have 30 VIPs, and they each get three hours of your time, one for each 1-2-3 meeting, that’s 30 x 3 / 12= 7.5 hours per week. Add to that, time to work with your designer, time to work on your elevator pitch, and time to draft mass email and social media materials, and you’re realistically looking at a 10-hour per week commitment for the three months leading up to your campaign. Sound like a part-time job? It is! That’s how you make money.

A note on how effective communication feels while it is happening: Most of our clients feel message fatigue several times leading up to, and during, their campaigns. Many of them express that this is the hardest part of the crowdfunding process. They feel self-conscious promoting their own work. They feel like they’re shouting into the wind, saying the same thing over and over again, and meanwhile, nothing is happening. It is very hard to trust the cumulative effect of sharing your message 7 times. It is very hard not to take it personally when it feels like no one is listening. It is very easy to give up. When our clients are burnt out, we encourage them to take a day off, go do something fun, and forget about their project for a day or a week–to regain the perspective that life is, of course, about far more than a crowdfunding campaign. The artist can then come back to their tasks with renewed energy,  with more focused attention to the process and not the outcome, and the ability to keep up the good work.

For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

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