Crowdfunding is a marathon, and most of our clients hit the wall halfway through.
Actually, crowdfunding is more like two back-to-back marathons, one leading to launch, and one leading up to the deadline. Executing a sustained 7-step marketing strategy is very hard work, and halfway through, it can feel exhausting – even futile.
This is exacerbated during marathon two – the month of the campaign – because backer behavior makes the middle of the month feel like even more of a slump. This data from Kickstarter shows that most pledges are made at launch and deadline, leaving an anxiety-inducing doldrums in the middle.
There is no fighting human behavior. So our advice to our clients if they hit the mid-campaign stall-out is simple:
Go ahead and take a vacation from your campaign when few people are likely to be pledging to it anyway.
Stop the incessant hitting of the refresh button on the browser window showing your campaign. Turn off social media. Log out of your email. Put all electronic devices down, and go do something that fills your heart up. Two or three days away is not going to sink your campaign. In fact, your buoyed spirits are far more likely to propel your campaign forward than frantic, exhausted tweeting ever could. Walk away and come back refreshed – and potentially, with some fresh ideas.
If you would like a personalized analysis of your crowdfunding plan, please fill out our questionnaire. A detailed report – a $125 value! – will be delivered for free in two weeks.
Ideally, the buzz about a crowdfunding campaign builds during the months leading up to launch. We recommend our clients use the “Rule of 7” to their advantage – to share their campaign in seven unique and engaging ways. If all goes according to plan, this seven-part communication strategy leads to an increasing level of enthusiasm among their prospective backers that peaks at launch.
You may read more about the “Rule of Seven”, a core marketing principle, in this post.
But what to do if, instead of feeling like a thrilling countdown, the Rule of 7 feels like a forced march? If social media posts are getting fewer and fewer responses, emails are met with “unsubscribe” clicks, and it feels like the message isn’t being heard – or worse, ignored?
Check the internal enthusiasm meter. Sometimes, our clients’ natural anxiety about their crowdfunding campaign (it’s a big deal!) can spiral into dread. This is untenable, since aversion is contagious, no matter how carefully the words are chosen – the campaign owner’s feelings about their campaign will seep out and influence others. So if you find yourself feeling afraid of your campaign, it’s time to take a time-out to love on it. Do your best to extend your warm feelings about your project to the process of funding it. (This can be hard. You can do it.)
Share your message in your own voice. Sometimes our clients get very awkward when they start conversations with their networks about their upcoming crowdfunding campaign. Friendly banter is replaced by stilted pronouncements. It is off-putting. Remember, you are just working your key message – “Preorder my [genre] [title] on [platform] [date]” – into the conversation. You can say that in your voice.
Don’t bury the lead. When our clients draft their first Facebook post about their campaign, it is, on average, four paragraphs long. Worse, often their key message – “Preorder my [genre] [title] on [platform] [date]” – only shows up at the end. It’s natural to want to explain, tell the whole story of the project, and attempt to cajole enthusiasm, but boredom never won any backers. Get to the point.
Improve the call to action. On a related note: most communiques about the campaign should have a call to action beyond “wait for my campaign”. This could be to sign up for a newsletter, help with a campaign event, give feedback on draft cover art or a poster. Make it clear, with each communication, what you want the recipient to do. And if you make sure that it is something enjoyable and within their capacity, they are likely to actually do it.
Include images – especially of faces. People respond to images nearly 10x more than text, and to faces nearly 10x more than other images. Including a picture of your face in a social media post or email means it will likely be 100x more effective than without. Our clients often reject this idea. We tell them to get over it.
Get personal. No successful campaign was built on mass communications alone. No tweet or newsletter will engender enthusiasm like a one-on-one coffee date. Make time for individual conversations – via text, Skype, phone, or in person. More often than not, these people you’ve told about your campaign in person will be the people who go on to like and share your message in other ways.
Marketing your campaign is work, but it shouldn’t feel like a slog. Slow days are fine, but if the trend is toward getting stuck, back up and review the tactics above to get your message back on track.
If you would like a free personalized diagnostic of your crowdfunding idea – a $125 value! – please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks.
People willing to pledge over $500 to a crowdfunding campaign don’t grow on trees. It takes hard work for the average campaign to line up a handful of individuals, who, with $500+ pledge amounts, typically represent around 40% of the total funds raised.
You can read more about these campaign ‘Benefactors’ in this post. An important reminder is that Benefactors are typically not strangers who show up at launch with surprise big bucks, but rather are known individuals or organizations courted during the months leading up to the campaign.
Sometimes our clients come up empty when they reach out to affluent fans, clients, community, friends, and family, apply for grants and seek other pools funding for their kind of project. What then?
Brainstorm Benefactor candidates again to expand the list. Sometimes going back to the drawing board after actually having prospective Benefactor conversations leads to new names. Was there anyone left off who should get an invitation to be a producer of the project?
Issue a second invitation to every prospective Benefactor that didn’t issue a hard “no” in the first round. Talking about money is hard. Many of our clients give up after one email or voicemail that went unanswered, assuming that no reply yet must mean a ‘no’. While it’s important not to become a pest, or harangue people who did clearly say ‘no thank you’, it is worth finding a new way to reach out to prospective Benefactors at least one more time. Sometimes, they’re just thinking it over or busy, or simply didn’t get the first invitation.
Reduce the target funding amount – and draft prospective Benefactor Stretch Goal communiques for when the campaign surpasses the 100% funded mark. If suggestions #1 and #2 above are not yielding results, it may be that prospective Benefactors just do not want to stick their necks out for the project before it is funded. In this case, consider approaching them again after the campaign is funded. This removes their “reputation risk” of looking foolish for backing a campaign that doesn’t fund. To maximize time, it is best to set an initial target that can confidently be over 100% funded within the first 24-48 public hours of the campaign. This allows a full month for ongoing Benefactor conversations about Stretch Goals – what the additional funds raised will go towards.
Dedicate additional time to one-on-one conversations with smaller prospective backers. The nice thing about Benefactors with deep pockets is that only a handful of conversations can lead to the campaign being funded – it’s efficient. However, time is money, so an alternative to having a few select conversations with big money is to have a lot of conversations with smaller money, the median ($25) and average ($70) prospective backer. The math is tough – it takes 10-30 smaller backers to make up for one Benefactor – but we have seen campaigns fund with no Benefactors at all through sustained communications with smaller backers.
Ramp up the VIP Soft Launch prep to encourage attendees to back the project in the $75-$150 (rather than $25-$70) range. With some good event planning and compelling perks and rewards, it’s possible to ramp up the success of your VIP Soft Launch party by bumping your early backers up to the next tier. Be sure to feature these premium rewards specifically, both as part of the party invitation, and during the event itself.
While the path to crowdfunding success often includes a handful of Benefactors who pledge $500+ to the campaign, it doesn’t have to. If you are having a hard time recruiting them, don’t give up! Change some tactics and keep up the good work.
For a diagnostic of your crowdfunding idea, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire – you’ll receive a personalized report (a $125 value, free!) within two weeks.