What do you do if you have a great idea, but you don’t have the ability to get face time with important investors? One of your options is to start a crowdfunding campaign. In fact, many new ventures have gotten their start thanks to crowdfunding. Unfortunately for every business or project that’s successfully used crowdfunding to get up and running, many more have failed. That doesn’t have to be the case for your project. Check out these six savvy crowdfunding tips to ensure that your project gets massive community and financial support.
1. Validate Your Product Idea.
First things first, before you start hitting others up for money you’ll need to validate your idea. You can start this process by simply sharing your idea with others and getting feedback. Just be careful about who you approach. You don’t want the advice of the perpetually negative, but you also don’t want to seek out the opinions of those who are just going to tell you that you are brilliant.
Find people that you know will be honest and who will play the devil’s advocate. You may want to consider a patent search to find out if someone else has already invented your idea. You could reach out to a professional organization such as InventHelp. This is a very tough part of this process because it is quite possible that you are going to find out that an idea that you’ve fallen in love with already exists. Of course if you have to deal with failure, it is much easier at this phase than later on.
2. Scope Your Competition And Similar Campaigns.
If your product idea passes muster, your next step is to scope your competition and to see how similar campaigns are performing on crowdfunding platforms. If you go to market, who will you be up against? This requires some leg work. Go to Amazon and see if there are similar products already on the market. Can you disrupt them by offering up something that is better or less expensive? Are there companies in your niche who could potentially come to market and disrupt you? These aren’t necessarily deal breakers, but you do need to be prepared to prove that your product can stand up to stiff competition.
Next, take a look at other projects on the crowdfunding platforms you are exploring. If they are full of other products and services that are similar to yours, that could spell trouble. Even if you are the only one offering up your specific product, it is going to be tough to get attention or investment dollars if there are lots of similar products in your niche. For example, if you have a sports-related startup that you are trying to launch and there are dozens of other sports-related campaigns on a crowdfunding platform, folks might just scroll right past yours.
3. Consider Alternative And Less Crowded Platforms.
If you are worried about getting lost in a sea of other projects, you might look into alternative platforms or platforms that are niche specific. For example, if you have an idea for a new invention or if you have created a working prototype of an invention, you might look into Fund an Idea which is a crowdfunding platform specifically for inventors. There are also specific campaigns for open-source software projects, funding your college education, environmentally friendly startups, social justice causes, entertainment industry projects, and funding that focuses on members on the LGBT community.
Another option that you have is to start a self-hosted campaign. In this case, you would create a website for your project and find ways to draw in traffic and convert visitors into investors. It’s a risky bet to take, but it would mean that you will not be going up against hundreds of other projects vying for attention.
4. Invest in Creating Attractive Visuals And a Unique Storyline.
Think of the crowdfunding ideas that you have seen go viral. Most of them had two things in common. They told a compelling story and they used attractive visuals to get that story across. If you have money to spend, this is where most of it should go. First and foremost, what is your story? How did you come up with your idea? Who has you helped so far? What are your dreams and goals? Finally, who are you trying to reach out to with your crowdfunding campaign, and what will appeal to them? You might consider pulling at their heartstrings or making them laugh.
Once you know the story you need to tell, you have to decide how to get that story across. Video is always a good option as are presentations or infographics. A combination of visual elements might be the best choice. Whatever you choose, don’t skimp. Production values are extremely important. If you aren’t up to the task, you might need to bring in a professional. If you can’t afford a professional, choose a visual medium that you are capable of working with. Remember that a nicely done powerpoint presentation is going to work better for you than a mediocre video.
5. Work on Your Social Media Presence or Find Ambassadors.
Creating a presence on a crowdfunding site alone isn’t going to get your project funded. You have to have a full blown social media presence and a website for your project. This is where you will direct people from your crowdfunding page who want to engage with you and learn more about what you are planning to do with investments. You’ll want to keep people excited about your project by posting updates, sharing images, and even promoting your followers’ own projects and content.
Once you have a following, you’ll want to identify the people who you believe will act as your ambassadors. Reach out to them. Offer them incentives for not only investing their money into your campaign, but for helping to spread your message to others. You can do this by offering up a cut of future revenues, giving away freebies, or simply by forming a mutually beneficial relationship with them in some way. If you’ve got samples of your product available, these can make attractive gifts for potential spokespersons.
6. Be Strategic With Your Press Outreach
You should be promoting your campaign on your social media pages and getting your friends and family to do the same. However, that isn’t going to get you the traffic that you really need to get launched. You’re going to have to reach out to the media. This begins with creating a press kit. Your press kit should be easily accessible on your website. It should contain all of the information that members of the press might need to know if they choose to do a story on your campaign. Of course, your initial outreach won’t necessarily be to media outlets per say. Your press kit will be useful to anybody who wants to talk about your project. To get started, you might consider reaching out to bloggers in your niche and then building up to speaking to people in the media.