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.
The typical crowdfunding campaign has a duration of about 30 days. Take that one month into perspective by placing it alongside your business. Do you plan on only running a business for 30 days? What happens after your crowdfunding efforts? Where will people find you?
When you do create a website make, sure that it is a stand-alone website and not an extension of your crowdfunding campaign. I have seen too many websites that are merely 30-day placeholders attempting to add credibility. If you think that your crowdfunding page has everything that people need to know about your business, then you have either overloaded the page or don't have much of a business idea. The crowdfunding campaign page is supplemental to your business idea--the Reader's Digest version--icing on the cake.
In short, your website is your identity and the crowdfunding campaign is a catalyst to monetize that identity.
Let's begin with the obvious one--social media. You didn’t think that you could have a website without social media did you? Social media is one of the best ways to engage with your target audience. It is also a free way to drive traffic to your website and, yes, crowdfunding page.
It is a true statement that you have to start somewhere when creating a following. It is also true that it could take some time, months or even longer, to have a sizeable and interactive following. One of the worse things you can do is to launch a crowdfunding campaign when your social network is fragile. For one, a Twitter account with only 40 followers is not going to amplify your voice. Likewise, potential backers will see right through the new account with only 40 followers and 10 tweets.
Social networks are not a check in the box. It is a group of real people who benefit or take interest in your business.
Now for the human network. Yes, believe it or not, living people have a role in this online landscape. When preparing to launch your crowdfunding campaign, you will need to expand your network to reach as many people as possible. Have you ever head of the concept that we are all separated by only six degrees? It is basically a theory explaining how the whole world is connected to each other in a he-knows-her-who-knows-him fashion through a line of only six people.
Your personal network is powerful and if aligned on your business, it can make and sustain momentum for your crowdfunding efforts. Read about Key Connectors for more information on this topic.
This leads us to the core team. This is not to say that these people have to be part of your business, but they should be people that you can trust and count on. When you launch a crowdfunding campaign you must have a team at your disposal--do not try it alone. As the business owner, you have to keep your sights on the future, while delegating several crucial tasks to your core team. Let me list some tasks that you may need to delegate to your core team: campaign management, communication with backers, social media updates, PR and outreach, logistics (perks/shipping), manufacturing, and accounting. As the business owner, you will be involved in these various roles, but you cannot possibly do it all by yourself. This is why you have a core team of capable and qualified people.
In review, your best chances for success in crowdfunding is to have a presence, a network, and a core team before you launch your crowdfunding campaign.
Best of luck to you!