B is for building relationships

On starting a crowdfund it is very easy to fall into the hard sell. But before you’ve hit the ‘publish profile’ button you need to ask yourself, what is it that you really want to get out of the crowdfund. Is it just the cash? Is it more customers? Is it a greater following?

If you are pre-selling a product, you are less likely to need to build a personal relationship with your customers as they are more interested in the product than in you. However, if you want to build a following of engaged consumers then you need to genuinely build a relationship with them.

Building relationships is a two way thing. It’s not simply about telling people what you do, it’s about conversing with them, paying them attention and genuinely listening to what they have to say. It’s about engagement.

Crowdfunding can be way less formal than a corporate website might be, you can chat to your followers and have fun. Twitter is great for the creative amongst us, with so few characters you need to be inventive especially if your campaign is going to last for months. The more fun you have the more fun your followers will have. This takes time, thought and flexibility. No Comms/marketing plan should be rigid, more a fluid document that will change and develop in time, but it is absolutely worth it in the longer term.

Not wanting to state the obvious but Twitter and Facebook are very different ways of engaging existing and new customers. Facebook though very visual is also a passive medium, users don’t have to do very much and inevitably don’t. Twitter on the other hand is a hugely powerful channel for engaging people. Users are prepared to converse and that is where the power and energy lies. We found Twitter to be by far the most effective method for attracting new customers, engagement and ultimately selling. On Twitter alone we sold approx £12K of product in 3 months.

Another great method for cementing your relationships is by creating micro-films and posting them on Youtube or Vimeo, they’ll allow you to update your followers and they’ll feel closer to you and your proposition. They don’t need to be super professional either, creating them on your phone is sufficient. And finally for this post, don’t forget offline engagement, go and meet your followers if possible, go to networking dos, events and to the street if you can; take every opportunity to further develop your relationships; these are your ambassadors, the folk who care about you, your business or project and will help spread the word.

Next up – C is for Creativity

A is for Aaaargh

A is for Aaaargh!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be writing the A-Z of crowdfunding. We want to give you some top tips, some of the pitfalls, the ups and downs of creating and delivering a crowdfunding campaign and attempt to unravel why some campaigns are successful and others are not. Our blogs will focus on the donations-based model, the space we’ve lived and breathed for the past 18 months. So, A is for Aaaaaaagh….should I, shouldn’t I??

The first question to ask yourself is: do I really have something that people want or can use or can buy into; if it doesn’t have the “wow” factor or a hook to engage micro-philanthropists how will you persuade me to give you a little of my money? Perhaps you think your proposition is great but have you checked with anyone else, do your customers or users think your idea is great too? I think you need to be completely honest with yourself, if you’re not there’s a strong chance you will waste a lot of time and resources going nowhere. Remember, an overwhelming number of crowdfunding campaigns fail, we hear about the successes but not so much about the failures.

Something else we’d recommend in the first instance is to have a look at all the major platforms, see how other people have done it, see what makes something work or not work, you don’t have to dig too far to find projects going nowhere, languishing on crowdfunding websites with no chance of raising funds. Spend the time to research propositions similar to yours, take it seriously, use sites like ‘social mention‘ or ‘topsy‘ as a guide to their social media presence. Be aware of the commitment that a successful campaign requires. It maybe that after some serious research you decide crowdfunding is not for you, on the other hand you may just be inspired to go for it.

Next up, B is for Building Relationships