You’ve got an amazing product idea, and you’re looking to get it funded. You’re going to need at least a million dollars in capital to make it happen and finding that choice group of investors who’ll back your dream in exchange for a slice of equity will be a daunting task. Luckily for you and many other ingenious entrepreneurs, however, there’s another way.
Through crowdfunding, you can get the support of thousands of investors, not just a few. What’s more, these investors may not even be interested in acquiring equity in your company. It’s likely they’ll happily fund you simply because they’d really love to get their hands on your product. In fact, they’ll be so eager, they’ll pay for your product months before it’s available. These days, sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are boasting crowdfunding campaigns that exceed over a million dollars in funding. From family robots like Jibo, to Skully, the world’s smartest motorcycle helmet, there are tons of cool new products out there that are finding significant support through crowdfunding.
But how do they do it? Well, here are the four ways to ensure you’re creating a million-dollar crowdfunding campaign:
1) Make them fall in love
When we see an amazing product on Kickstarter that’s being created by a smart, charming, relatable individual, we become inspired. The crowdfunding movement has us head-over-heels for amazing products made not by The Man, but by the incredibly talented girl next door who you can now live through, vicariously. All you have to do is throw in some money and BAM! you’re part of something bigger. We open our wallets for crowdfunded campaigns — essentially paying for a product that doesn’t yet exist — not because it makes financial sense, but because we want to share the creation of something amazing made by someone we believe in.
Your crowdfunding story should dazzle your viewers and let them know your product is going to change their lives. The best crowdfunded videos are those that have the power to move an audience to tears and then text all their friends and colleagues about it. This is more than a product you’re offering. Crowdfunded campaigns offer an experience, and research shows that buying an experience goes farther in making people happy than buying stuff. Your crowdfunding donors will feel like a part of something that is exceptional. They’ll bond as a community and share your campaign with others in anticipation of celebrating together, once your product is successfully and magnificently funded.
2) Find the right partners
If you want people to believe in you to the extent that they can’t resist funding your campaign in a big way, you have to show them you’re extraordinary. Communicating your story in the cleanest, most aesthetically gorgeous way possible is key. Having a high production value for your campaign will automatically situate you in a more professional echelon, which will attract serious donors to your cause. Don’t cut corners. We recommend you leave the following tasks to the pros:
- Video Producers – The world needs your product. It satisfies a huge need, and once it sees the light of day, people will ask themselves how they ever managed without it. Every great product has a compelling story behind it, and your video is the perfect vehicle for sharing that story with thousands of investors. Your video is the face of your campaign. Don’t sell yourself short. Hire a team of video producers to help you. Video producers are experts at passionate storytelling and that’s what you need to maximize your video’s impact. Your video should captivate viewers, as it reveals the inspiration behind your product and the ways it will change your investors lives. It’s more than just explaining how your product works and what it does; it’s about making an emotional connection with viewers and conveying your dedication to a product you truly believe in. It’s about moving people to a place of wonder, sharing a conviction that your product will light the world on fire.
- PR Campaign – Public relations firms are campaign launching champions. They make it their business to get the timing right and create optimal buzz about your product. Proper exposure is paramount and should not be left to chance. Only about 10 to 20 percent of donors will find your campaign organically, (because they know you personally, are fans, or are simply interested in your project). So, a good PR firm is essential to make up the difference in terms of attracting an audience. Engage a good PR firm and contributions will materialize faster than bunnies in springtime. You can breathe easy while you stand amazed at the sheer volume of exposure, and continued fast-paced growth of your campaign. Where are all these bunnies coming from?
- Marketing Agency – Work with a team savvy in technical marketing. Such teams are experts at conducting the product messaging that will keep your campaign on target. They’ll test with surveys, focus groups and competitive analysis, all scaled perfectly to best manage your crowdfunding endeavors. They’ll also create a user-centric website and excellent mobile experiences for your product, whose design and content will focus on telling your story in the most compelling way possible. Finally, they’ll advertise your product with a focus on making sure your audience has a proper understanding of its features.
3) Factor in advertising
Build advertising into your budget. We recommend about $50,000. It’s essential that you get people to love your product, the more people, the better. That’s why proper advertising is crucial. Advertising is what makes the difference between holding your breath while hoping for funding, and creating a campaign that builds on itself and generates funds in a way that’s actually predictable.
4) Focus on long-term marketing
Crowdfunding doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. It’s more like planting seeds that will predictably grow and renew if you give them the right amount of sunlight and water. Take the time to do testing and figure out what you need to get one new customer, then extrapolate this number to 10 then 10 thousand, etc.. Test various methods, different types of media and ad channels, until you’re spending the right amount on each customer to make money for your business in the longer term. If you put in the time and energy to test and re-test, you’ll be creating not just a viable, but ultimately a profitable business.
Remember, it’s not just a crowdfunding campaign. It’s about capitalizing on your campaign and taking advantage of every avenue toward enduring success. Use your campaign as a marketing vehicle that will drive your business into the future. Develop your product and your customer base simultaneously by using your campaign to create a marketing platform for your business. Use your campaign site as a hub to collect money and simultaneously link to your own site, so that you have an additional online location collecting cash, which will eventually function as your company’s Ecommerce engine and storefront. Crowdfunding is the beginning phase that gives you the structure, stability and visibility to grow the seedlings that will be transplanted to your own storefront where they will continue to thrive, becoming hearty maples, oaks and pines.
Sandeep Sood is founder of Monsoon+RainFactory, a visionary product house that conceptualizes, designs, develops and markets mobile and web applications that help business thrive in a connected world. Monsoon+RainFactory have launched several crowdfunded products, including Jibo and Skully, two of the most highly funded products to date. In addition, Monsoon has worked with companies such as HP, Cisco, Novartis, the Academy Awards and the NBA to help them get their ideas off the whiteboard and onto people’s devices.