Post is part of my collection: EntreFEST 2015

How to Win at Crowdfunding

-- Alex Lavidge of GIGTANK.

Crowdfunding fascinates me. From my last post, I talked about how hard sales is as you are trying to persuade someone that you idea is amazing and they want to give you some of their hard earned money. With crowdfunding, it is all sales and persuading. You are trying to get someone to believe in your idea so much that they are willing to give you a "pre-order" of the product before you even begin on it.

I do enjoy crowdfunding and I hope to run my own campaign at some point but I try to avoid it as much as possible as I have a good feeling of how tough it is and the session that Alex gave explained this exactly. It is really a full-time job running a Kickstarter campaign.

Alex was part of a very successful Kickstarter project that raised over $26,000. The owner of this campaign asked Alex to help him out with the project. Alex knows that the campaign was a success because people knew George, the owner of the campaign. He had a following that people knew and trusted.

Treat crowdfunding seriously like a venture capitalist. It might seem like magic because they make it easy to create. If you do it right, it is not a joke. So going along the same line, create a crowdfunding project after you gain traction with your MVP product. Venture capitalists like traction and others do as well.

So because traction is so important, Alex will hype up his campaign before he even starts it. He told us about this new project he is working on so when it is launched it is much easier to market as it already has some traction and a following.

6 Steps to a successful campaign:

1. Gather feedback on brand and idea.
  • Your personal brand is important here.
    • How influential is your social media presence? (try out Klout to help)
    • Do people know who "Levi" is and do they trust him?
    • Do you publish content online?
    • Ask others, "what is your impression of me after doing a web search on me?" (surveygizmo to help run this)
  • Map out competition. Search crowdfunding sites for ideas similar to yours. Use Google Shopping. Ask your local library for resources such as market research as they more then likely have them for free.
2. Validate value.

What does this product do for someone? Does it...

  • Make meaning? Have a special purpose to the person they just must have it.
  • Save them money?
  • Save them time?
  • Make them money?

So essentially, validate idea if it has a market and a need.

3. 3 Tiers of pre-launch support

You need to get pre-launch support to make your campaign successful. Use these people to get it off the ground.

  • Family, friends, and fans.
  • Friends of friends and acquaintances.
  • Develop a connection to the "crowd". Do this via social media.
4. Promote campaign for pledges before the launch

Another way to gain pre-launch support.

  • Do you have a website?
  • What is your digital marketing strategy?
  • Ready to build a team behind the project?
5. Launch.

There are a ton of crowdfunding sites out there. Check out what one would suite you best depending on what industry you belong to.

Your campaign page. It needs to include all of the following info:

  • Product hook
  • Key benefits
  • Website
  • Social proof. Testimonials from people from Twitter or whatever.
  • Risks and challenges.
  • Perk packages.
  • Story
  • Video!!
  • FAQ
  • How funds will be used.
  • Team behind project.
6. Scale.

After launch, you will spend all your time on this campaign. It is like a full-time job. Community relations responding to questions on campaign page, email, whatever. Respond within 1 hour after someone asks a question. If you need to wait, 24 hours at the very latest.

Be a rock star with your schedule. Appear on news sources, write blogs, whatever it takes to get the news out there campaign is live.

Other notes:

  • Alex big fan of Facebook ads. LinkedIn, Google AdSense.
  • Book: Hacking Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
  • Podcast: Funding the dream.
  • People always back out at the last minute. Don't count chickens before they hatch.
  • If you need 10k to fund project, set your goal at something lower like 5 or 8k to help. Make sure that if you get the 5k you will still be able to complete the project or else you will get yourself into big trouble, but don't set the bar as high as it can go. Set it at 8k and then just try to raise it to 10k.
  • Connect with others who do crowdfunding campaigns and support each other.

Thank you very much Alex!