What is this Sandpit all about?

Can you remember way back when you were a wee, never exhausted smiley child?

You would go out and affront the world with no concern, all humility and do your best at every shot, whether it was building the most stunning sand castle in your sand pit, or an incredible drawing for your mother. Then came along Mr opinion, closely associated to you – a friend or sadly, maybe a parent that came down on you and your  creation giggling and said “what’s that?” in a condescending tone. From there on in, the story built a sad ending on the marvels of your creativity. You are never simply bad at drawing or finding solutions, you have simply conditioned yourself repetitively, to remember that you are just “not good at it”.

Shame isn’t it? Just think, there could have been the eradication of some really serious social issues if this were not the case.

So, how does this relate to what we do? For your campaign to be successful be yourself towards a member of your tribe without driving your service at every opportunity. Establish authentic ways to engage with your communities online. Firstly take pride in your creative thought and secondly,  don’t let other people and their judgmental selves dictate the real you.

E is for Evangelism (and Brand Ambassadors)

We’re going to be a little loose with our definitions here, but in this context I’m going to lump evangelism and brand ambassadors together. Ultimately they do the same job; both terms have been adopted by marketers and refer to individuals (paid or unpaid) who promote your company, product or service at every given opportunity.

You could argue that evangelism comes first, bringing a business to the market and brand ambassadors help to spread the word. But for now, if you think about the word evangelist for a moment, normally associate with the preaching of the Christian Gospels – ‘good news’, you can see why it’s been appropriated by the branding world; it’s a potent word that seeks to place brands on a level with the spiritual, the Godly, the great.

Evangelists and brand ambassadors are key to any business success. Without people talking positively about what you do, either formally or informally, you will struggle to sell. For small local businesses, the activity of ‘word of mouth promotion’ is still regarded by most as the best way of getting your messages out there; think of it in the same terms as a personal recommendation (a technique increasingly used by social networking sites such as LinkedIn).

If for example I recommend you to my networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., you instantly gain an element of regard, people who trust me are more likely to trust you and use your services or buy your product. If I can say something positive about your business it’s probably the case that there are others out there who can do the same. You need to find these people and encourage them to speak about your business. It’s not necessarily about technology, instead it’s about individuals talking to others, either one to one, at a conference or a trade show. That face to face time is essential, it’s good marketing practice and it works..

Assuming you want your business to be sustainable and perhaps grow, gaining customer trust and enthusiasm are the first steps to gaining the evangelists and brand ambassadors you need. Your USP may be price, quality, capacity or any number of other attributes, what’s important is you get this across to your customers and get them to talk about it. Every customer is a potential evangelist, if they believe in your product or service enough they will recommend it to others. One final point for now; both your evangelists and brand ambassadors need to be nurtured, they are an extension of your work force, probably unpaid but non-the-less key individuals who care about your business and will help it to grow. Communicate with them, let them know what you are doing and above all, keep them happy.

Next up: F is for Flexibility

D is for Draining….!

We hear lots of hype about successful crowdfunds – but what we don’t hear is the behind the scenes work involved and actually how draining it is, it can be relentless.

Because most people tend to only crowdfund once, they are not prepared for the ongoing madness that just can’t let up until the end. Moreover, you’ll probably be trying to fit the crowdfund around your job, which means you’ll be putting in twice as much work, time and effort.

Speaking from experience here though we supported projects on our original platform, it wasn’t until we actually carried out a live crowdfunding campaign did we had any idea of the commitment, energy and early mornings that were involved. So, here are some tips to manage the drain.

Work out exactly how much you are trying to raise and over what period of time. We chose 80 days for the Nucoco campaign. That’s 80 days of tweeting, facebooking, writing thank you emails and updates to donors, very draining. From one SoLoCo account alone, over 3000 Tweets were sent during the campaign.

Ensure your Comms plan is flexible. If you’re getting fatigued with your messaging you can be sure that your followers are too. Early on we could see the tell-tale signs of boredom and worked out how we could change our messaging; putting out a photo campaign, focusing more on filming, doing a series of funny tweets, conversing more with our donors (that always made us feel better!)

Have lots of people to help out. Share the load. Be aware if one of the team is burning out.

Have a laugh. Don’t forget, its about engaging people and humour is often a great way to get your messages across.

Have team bonding sessions. Go to the pub. Go out, let your hair down, have a laugh.

Book some time out after the crowdfund. This is vital, you’ll need it. We were up at 7am every morning tweeting, including Saturdays and Sundays. It might be draining – but the pure adrenalin at the end is worth it.

Next up: E for Evangelise