You have launched your crowdfunding campaign--way to go--now you need to drive the traffic to fund it. There are so many ways to get the right people in front of your project but it does take work. You will need a specific strategy for reaching your desired target market.
The purpose of this post is to save you the hassle of scouring the internet in search of these promotional outlets. Please give back by adding sources that you have found. Just paste the link and add a note about it in the comments below.
You started your business with a successful launch. Now what?
As an entrepreneur you have great ideas. As a business owner you bring those ideas to fruition. But unless you get customers to validate these ideas via purchases your business won't last long. I have been receiving questions concerning marketing your business so I wanted to share three services that I use for my websites that have helped with my marketing. Each of these three services has a viable free option as well as paid options with more functionality.
"The Easiest Graphic Design Tool You'll Ever Use". If you don't have the Adobe Creative Suite or
Updated 24 April 2017
Hey Freshpreneurs! I am so excited to announce to you all that we have opened Freshpreneur Marketplace. This blog post is intended to explain all the ins-and-outs concerning it. I encourage our readers to ask questions in the comments section below.
You may want to bookmark this post for future reference as it will be updated to provide you with the most relevant information.
What is it?
It is shop.freshpreneur.com--a marketplace for all things crowdfunded. And like a true marketplace it is created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs--or as we like to say "Freshpreneurs". The ecommerce site brings like-minded individuals together to list, browse, purchase, review and connect with crowdfunded product and their creators.
Every crowdfunding campaign should plan for at least one stretch goal. For obvious reasons it infuses the campaign with more cash. This enables better and higher performance for the company, cause, or product on the outset of the campaign. Stretch goals also provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose as it signals a close of the base goal and directs attention to the extra features, tweaks, and/or improvements to that base. But how does one go about selecting a proper stretch goal?
I will walk you through the stretch goal process of my crowdfunding campaign for a charity in Vietnam.
"A new way to fund creative projects" and "democratizing the way ideas get funded and realized across the globe" are the two mantras from the crowdfunding behemoths Kickstarter and Indiegogo respectively. Crowdfunding has come a long way since Indiegogo launched in 2008, shortly followed by Kickstarter in 2009. Yet there is still plenty of room for growth within the industry. Fortune, referring to studies conducted by Massolution and the World Bank, expects the global crowdfunding market to exceed $90 billion by 2025 or nearly two times the size of the current global venture capital industry. As crowdfunding unyieldingly enters the financial landscape, more and more entrepreneurs and business hopefuls will too. Odds are, if you are reading this post, you are one of them. So the question is not whether or not you will use crowdfunding, but rather which platform would provide you with the best results.
Not interested in either Kickstarter or Indiegogo? Check out other crowdfunding platforms
I want to explain how I was able to raise 33% of my crowdfunding goal within its first 24 hours. I will focus on three areas: Key Connectors, team network, and pre-campaign pledges
If you have not read my previous post on Key Connectors, please do, so that you know what they are. In this section I will merely explain how I utilized them.
40 days prior to the launch of my campaign I sent a personalized email to the few people in my network that I felt could be a Key Connector. It was on a Sunday, and I asked them to confirm or decline within one week, which would inform me of who was on board, with just over one month to go before launch.
In the email I included several key points:
You have managed to run a successful campaign, reaching your funding goal (maybe more) within a set timeframe. Your hard work, from the original idea, to the final prototype, to figuring everything else out in between (or so you think) has finally paid off. You have managed to convince a set number of backers to believe in your idea and most importantly, your passion. But, this is just the beginning! Once you have thanked your backers, it's time to make your dream a reality by producing the promised rewards.
If you thought raising enough funds was challenging, you're going to get a big wake up call when it's time to produce the goods. As we have seen, the more successful a campaign is (speaking about those that raise over a $100k), the higher the risk of running into unseen issues along the way. Manufacturing can become a nightmare to deal with, as it's mostly out of your hands. However, It's natural to run into problems, and if you communicate appropriately with your backers, they'll understand.
Think of a person in your network that seemingly knows everyone. You know the type, the host of the get-togethers, the one that remembers everyone's name from high school--and what they are currently up to, the neighbor that sends Christmas cards to 300 friends, family members and acquaintances, or the coworker who always drops a name for each problem, concern or comment that you make. These are Key Connectors.
Key Connectors are gregarious people who thrive on social interaction. They remember names and they are ever-seeking to extend their influence. Perhaps you are familiar with Malcom Gladwell's definition of a Connector, as found in his book The Tipping Point. In this book, he explores how epidemics are spread through word of mouth. Key Connectors are wonderful for word of mouth and even more so for crowdfunding.
While running my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, I attributed much of its success to my Key Connectors.
In the previous Communicating with Backers segment, we discussed the notion of setting expectations in regards to communicating delivery dates of your rewards. In this feature, we'll be focusing on another critical component of a campaign: Updates during the campaign.
Once a campaign takes off and the backing community joins in, it's important to keep your backers updated along the way. For new crowdfunding project owners that are unfamiliar with what updates are, each platform, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, provides the capability for you to communicate with your backers throughout the campaign. Updates provide the opportunity for you to share what has been and is taking place behind the scene. On a normal basis, most updates revolve around and/or include one or more of the following topics:
Cost is cheap
When creating a campaign to showcase your idea to the world, your out-of-pocket costs are nothing. Crowdfunding platforms make money when you make money, so there are no upfront costs. In fact they want you to be successful because the more you raise, the more they make and the better their reputation (so more future users). Most crowdfunding platforms even supply you with a template to fill out helping you create a compelling story for potential backers.
If you have a small budget, then there are plenty of third-party services that can help you create your pitch video, advertise, create your story, take product photos--really anything that you can think of. In a future post I will explain some of the resources available to you.
Networking. This is perhaps one of the least understood concepts among budding business owner hopefuls. This is especially true with today's bombardment of social media. Its noisy, often valueless, and there is no navigation roadmap. In this post I will share with you the basics of networking, some ways to network and why your network is vital to your crowdfunding campaign.
Why is networking vital to your crowdfunding campaign?
It is not about you, but the value added
There has to be a mutual benefit among parties, otherwise the relationship will not last. An author needs to find people who want to read his work, not people who want to support an author. A software company needs to solve people's existing tech problems, not hope that people will flock to their company just because they are new. The same is true with networking. If you are using social media to spam the world with your posts or to direct message/mention big companies and industry gurus, are you adding value or are you asking for a handout?
Do you live for the weekends, because you no longer have to work or do you live for the weekends because you can finally get to work? I am talking about your other job--the nights and weekend job. If you don't like your day job, then that is a good thing as it means that you are like most people in the world. If you are actively pursuing something else outside of the weekly 40, then that is fantastic and you are now unlike most people in the world.
It is easy to not like something, but it takes concentrated effort to do something about it. If you are one of the few attempting change, I applaud you. Likewise, I have some advice for you as well.
Before you launch your crowdfunding campaign you need a presence, a network and a core team. I am currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and it is eye-opening--read about it here. I have been blogging about crowdfunding for over a year-and-a-half now and have reviewed many, many campaigns and spoken with the entrepreneurs running them. The three things that I am about to share with you are crucial and need to be established before you launch your crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding is an online tool. If you do not have a website then you should not be running a crowdfunding campaign. This is not me being harsh, rather it is me stopping you from making a short-sighted decision. Sure, crowdfunding is cool and sexy and we are seeing more and more million dollar ideas being backed by the masses. However, these uber-successful campaigns are not happenstance. They are calculated, thorough, and have an existing online identity.
Being an entrepreneur is no easy task. In fact it is not at all comparable to a task. Entrepreneurship is a characteristic so ingrained that it is an inescapable way of life; a calling that is not sought after, but has chosen you. That being said, the path to prosperity is neither easy nor sure and requires specific qualities.
If you browse around for the best qualities of an entrepreneur, you will find plenty and certainly they each have merit. However, I would like to focus on only one of the many--failure--or that is to say, the drive to continue after experiencing failure. The big breakthroughs almost explicitly come about on the coat tails of failure.
To better illustrate this attribute I will focus on three mega entrepreneurs: Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs.
Crowdfunding: share a cause, set a goal, and raise money. That's the simplified version and yet it can be overwhelming when selecting a crowdfunding platform. The general segmentation of crowdfunding is reward-based, donation-based, and equity-based. The below list is to aid you in exploring some of the available options.
Kickstarter is the largest crowdfunding platform on the market and focuses on bringing creative ideas to life. The Kickstarter name is synonymous to crowdfunding and has the highest traffic volumes of its counterparts. It uses fixed funding (all-or-nothing) and backers are rewarded with perks (campaign products or SWAG).
We have all heard the expression "Under promise and over deliver." For many Freshpreneurs (new entrepreneurs) that are approaching reward-based crowdfunding, this thought mentality can get a bit muddy if not careful. With the abundant of tasks at hand when planning a project, it is important to set realistic expectations, specifically when it comes to delivering the final product.
What we have seen too often, whether backing projects ourselves or reading frustrated backer comments, is that the majority of projects fail to deliver on time. The scope of reality is that unaccounted-for headaches can and will happen when running a project. The two most common examples are manufacturing and shipping issues, and the more successful a project becomes, the higher potential it has of missing its targeted delivery.
Communication, in all aspects of life, plays a major role in achieving [insert goal]. Regardless of how you communicate with others, such as a spouse/partner, family and friends, colleagues, customers, etc. it's obvious that how you communicate with them plays a factor of how well the conversation goes. Unfortunately, too often do we see communication, or lack there of, create unappealing end results for all parties involved.
As most crowdfunding project owners realize, hopefully sooner than later, is that communication with their backers is one of the most essential components of running a campaign. We, as project owners, do our due diligence while preparing, planning, and executing our project(s). For majority of us first timers (or as we like to call it, Freshpreneurs) running a campaign from pre-launch, to launch, followed by delivery, can be a very overwhelming, yet thrilling experience. However, some of us get so lost in all of the work, that we forget about the main reason we have achieved a successful campaign. Sure, the product/rewards that we're introducing are innovative and unique, but without backers, they're just ideas.
I’d like to take pause and reflect upon America, the land of opportunity. As we have celebrated our Independence Day these past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how grateful I am to be a citizen of the United States of America. Here, people can define who they are. Here, people can determine their own destiny. Here, people can fulfill that great American Dream.
Lately I’ve been reading the book “John Adams” by David McCullough. After the Revolutionary War, Adams lived in London for a time in an attempt to build a relationship with Britain and get trade going between the two nations. One thing that struck me about this time in history was that it was widely believed that America as an independent nation wouldn’t last, that it was only a short matter of time before America’s government would fold and it would come crawling back to the king. Obviously, we know that didn’t happen, and that America quickly rose to great power on the international stage.
The world of entrepreneurship is an exciting one. It involves a roller coaster of emotions, more failures than successes, and the constant worry of whether or not you’re moving in the right direction. This world is definitely not for the faint of heart. But, it’s not without its rewards: the thrill of seeing your idea become something tangible, the satisfaction of bringing solutions to people’s problems, and the courage of overcoming great challenges. It’s a world of opportunities, risks, and challenges. But more important, it’s a world of passion, dreams, and creating.
As a former public accountant, the topic of the JOBS Act in relation to crowdfunding intrigues me. Going through the twenty-two page Act (yes, I actually read it all), I may have slightly geeked out and dusted off my old SEC Handbook from college to follow along some of the references in the new law. H.R. 3606, or more commonly known as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. The JOBS Act was signed into law on April 5, 2012 by President Obama, as a fairly bipartisan vote with 390 yeahs and 23 nays in the House and 73 yeahs and 26 nays in the Senate.
So then, what is the purpose of the JOBS Act? In a nutshell, it has to do with providing greater access to capital. The Act changes some of the SEC rules (Securities & Exchange Commission) with the intent to provide leniency on “emerging growth companies” (which the Act basically defines as companies issuing stock with revenues less than $1 billion in a fiscal year), specifically when it comes to accessing capital. There are a couple aspects of this law that has interested me the most.