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The Anatomy of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

At lunch the other day, I was on Facebook checking out my News Feed.  I use Facebook regularly to stay in touch with friends, and the regular reminders of my last viewed items on Zappos.com are nice, too.  A dear friend in Canada posted a new campaign, OKIINO: Surf Yoga Leggings for Sea.Street.Studio, and mentioned that her cousin was involved in the fledging startup as the artist.

Living in a state where you can find gorgeous weather year ’round, I’m always looking for fashionable exercise gear. My skin fries during water sports so OKIINO intrigued me. Yoga pants that you can wear in the water without feeling like you’re wearing clothes? My interest was piqued. Combine that with the product’s ability to protect my fair skin from the sun, its beautiful maritime-inspired designs, and the company’s charitable cause, and I was a supporter in the first few hours. By late that same night, I saw that the company had raised $8,000—impressive.

I started tweeting out the campaign and shared with my Facebook friends, because I wanted my two pairs of the yoga pants. The campaign had fixed funding, which meant that unless the target amount was raised, no one would be wearing these beautiful pants.

I have no affiliation with OKIINO, but the organization’s campaign reinforces the steps to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Step One: Find Your Crowd

Do not instantly gravitate to the biggest platform. Look for similar and successful campaigns in your genre. For example, products work on Kickstarter, but films are big on Indiegogo. Sometimes a smaller niche platform will aggregate more of the crowd to support your particular project.

Step Two: Plan

If your campaign is planned for 30 days, you should take at least three times as long to create and promote it before your launch date. You cannot toss up a video and some rewards over a weekend and expect to raise thousands of dollars.

Bonus tip: A successful Kickstarter user recently advised conducting a campaign shorter than 45 days, because maintaining a campaign for that long is hard work. Not only does a campaign take monetary and human resources, but the majority of the activity takes place in the first and last week.

Step Three: Prime the Pump

Set a goal to have about thirty percent of your target poised to contribute on day one. Not only will you increase your chances of success but you also may be featured on the site’s hot campaigns.  By trending, you’ll leverage the success with people you know to attract other backers. The OKIINO campaign hit the thirty percent target in the first day and was featured on Indiegogo site. That kind of impact can produce exponential results.

Step Four: Be Realistic with Your Target

Coolest Cooler and Pebble Watch were outliers—multi-million dollar, eight-figure outliers. These are not the norms, and you shouldn’t base your amounts off them. Instead, look to the targeted amount to get your company to the next level. Whether you’re funding a prototype, event, or idea, create a budget and target what you need to execute.

Step Five: Do the Math

When you’re planning the campaign, remember to account for all the costs of fulfilling the rewards. I’m talking about those often-forgotten shipping, production, and labor costs. Pay particular attention to the funds required to satisfy your supporters when raising money using the flexible funding option. All Kickstarter campaigns are “all or nothing,” but Indiegogo and other platforms have options to keep what you raise, even if you do not hit the target. Make sure you have the funds to create the promised reward, especially when it’s your product!

Step Six: Create a Compelling Video

While having a catchy title for your campaign is a good start, the campaign is ultimately all about the video. A word of caution, though: be careful with the pictures, clips of others’ videos, and music you use. Ensure you have permission to use that which is copyrighted, and search out free resources, such as these.

The best videos that I’ve seen, which include OKIINO’s campaign, are short, professional, and end with an “ask.” Here’s a tried-and-true format:

  1. State the problem.
  2. Present your solution.
  3. Describe any social impact.
  4. Ask for what you need. Never, ever forget to “make the ask.”

Step Seven: Communicate

Backers want to hear all news—good or bad. Tell them about milestones and targets hit, but also keep them informed of product delays or campaigns unfulfilled.

Happy to report that OKIINO hit its target in just five days. Put these steps to the test, and hopefully, you can reach your goals, too. Have you run a Kickstarter, too? What did you learn, and what tips can you share? Comment below!

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