So you’ve decided to crowdfund your next project, but what exactly do you have to do before you build your campaign page? A pre-campaign strategy is often overlooked and can catch new companies off guard when their campaigns don’t meet expectations.
Your pre-launch strategy can make or break your crowdfunding campaign and shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s a lot of work involved paving the way for your campaign launch, and it’ll likely be the most stressful part of the crowdfunding process.
Let’s take a look at exactly what you’ll need before you build your crowdfunding campaign page.
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Deciding on a Voice
Having a consistent voice across communication channels is tantamount to your success. You’ll have to figure out who your target audience is, how they communicate, and choose a voice that suits them.
If you have a serious campaign, like raising funds for a natural disaster, you’ll want to take a more serious, empathetic tone. If you’re launching a product, you can leverage the voice and humor of your audience.
Whatever voice you decide on, make sure you use that voice across your email marketing, social media, and on your campaign page.
Set up your Inc or LLC
If you’re not already incorporated, you’ll want to set up a regular corporation or Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) for your crowdfunding project. This lets you apply for a business bank account and to pay taxes on your campaign donations.
Luckily there are services like Clerky that make setting up your Inc or LLC a breeze. Clerky handles all of your legal paperwork like non-disclosure agreements, employee contracts, and much more.
LLCs are relatively simple to set up. For a quick guide on how to set up a LLC, check out this guide by Nolo.
If you’re confused whether to create a regular corporation or LLC, check out this great breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of each by BizFiling
Pick a crowdfunding platform
Next you’ll have to decide what crowdfunding platform you want to use. The two biggest names in crowdfunding are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Be sure to read our Kickstarter vs Indiegogo article to see which platform is right for you.
If you’re raising money for a charity or cause, GoFundMe is a popular platform for personal fundraising. The company has seen explosive growth over the last year, and its momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
There are plenty of other crowdfunding platforms to choose from so be sure to check out our article about The Best Crowdfunding Sites.
Have a Content Plan
You should have a solid content strategy well before your crowdfunding campaign launches. You’ll need to set up your company site and blog, which serve as a destination for people learn more about your product and to be redirected to your campaign.
You’ll want to populate your site with regularly scheduled content to show everything from the development process of your product to fun content that’s relevant to your followers. Having regularly scheduled content will keep your product in the minds of your backers, who will be your most vocal advocates.
Content strategy extend way beyond having your own blog. You’ll need to set up your social media channels and decide how to promote content to generate buzz consistently. We’ll go into more about social media below.
All content should be created to keep people interested in your product as well as establishing your company as experts in whatever product category you’re inhabiting.
For more about how to come up with a content strategy, read our article about How to Create an Effective Crowdfunding Pitch.
Set Up Your Social Media and Have a Strategy
Your content and social media strategies will go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. Sure, you can generate a lot of quality content about your product but no one will see it if you don’t share it across social media.
The first thing you’ll want to consider for your social media strategy is to decide on which platforms make the most sense for your product. While Facebook works well for just about every product category, you can leverage more niche audiences on social platforms like Pinterest or even Snapchat.
Build Your Community and Create an Email List
Once you’ve built some moment with your social media strategy, start compiling contacts for an email list. You should have a newsletter sign up on your website to allow interested parties to receive updates about your product. The people who sign up for your email list will be more likely to back you when your campaign launches, so engage with them throughout your pre-launch campaign.
You can use an email list to invite people to various events and to provide feedback throughout the product development process. This lets your fans stay engaged and feel like they’re having a direct impact on the design of the final product.
Having an email list also gives you more data about the demographics that are interested in your product. You’ll find your most vocal supporters from early signups and can leverage them to help you spread the word about your crowdfunding campaign.
Perks might seem like neat little additions to your main product, but perks are actually important drivers of campaign success. Indiegogo research shows that campaigns that offer perks raise 143% more money than campaigns without perks.
You’ll want to highlight your main product as a Featured Perk for added visibility. This immediately draws people to the product and the perk that you think will be the most popular.
Other perks to consider include personal perks like personalized thank you notes, calls, or other gifts. This lower tier allows those less committed to be able to feel like they’re involved with your project.
You can also add experiential perks like a weekend trip to meet the founders or a guided tour around your city. This lets your most dedicated fans contribute to your campaign with a one of a kind reward.
Indiegogo research shows that rewards priced at $25 are claimed the most, and $100 rewards raise the most money. Obviously not every product category can meet these budgets, but it’s data you’ll want to consider when pricing your perks.
Last but not least, make sure to do the math on all of your perks to ensure you’re not losing money on shipping costs.
Create Your Story and Draft Your Campaign Page
With everything above taken care of, you’re ready to start telling your story and building your campaign page. Telling your story will be a challenge, as you have to grab people immediately with your product and a compelling story.
We have a full length article about How to Create an Effective Crowdfunding Pitch, which you should definitely read to help nail your story.
The main takeaway is that your crowdfunding story and pitch need to answer the important questions like who, what, when, where, and why. “Why” is the most important question to answer, as your product needs to have a clear purpose and advantage over existing products.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in showing your passion, but you’re selling your product, not your passion. Think of passion as a means to sell your product, helping to convince prospective customers that you truly believe that your product is the best.
Make a Video
No crowdfunding campaign is complete without a video. Many people don’t have the time or patience to read a full campaign page, so having a short, snappy video is necessary for grabbing people’s attentions quickly.
Try keeping videos to around 2 minutes, although that length obviously won’t work for every product category. However, you need to introduce your product and explain why it exists within the first 10 seconds.
Technical explanations about how your product works can be created and shared at a later date. The main purpose of your crowdfunding video is to convince people to buy into your campaign and story. Explain what your product is, what problem it’s solving, and why people should care.
Engage With Your Community Consistently
Now that you have the most difficult parts of your crowdfunding campaign prepared, it’s time to build buzz and momentum. Your social media strategy will play a big role in generating buzz and gathering feedback from your most dedicated fans.
Consistent engagement will keep your prospective backers excited about your campaign launch, and it’s this group of die-hard fans that will be your most vocal advocates. Treat them like human beings by engaging them, asking for feedback, and showing your product’s progress.
It’s a good idea to share the development process to show how far along the product is, and to explain on a technical level why your product is so great. This is the time to get technical about your product.
Prepare PR and Media Outreach
With your social media strategy in place and building momentum, the final step for your pre-campaign launch is to ready your public relations and media outreach strategy. Getting press to cover your product is essential for success, as they are able to get your product in front of many more people than you could have reached on your own.
The first step is to foster relationships with journalists and PR companies. Do your research about who you’re reaching out to and personalize your communications with them. Don’t make a generic template to blast out emails to everyone at once. These will be ignored and makes you look lazy.
Make sure to reach out only to the appropriate media companies and PR firms, as no one likes getting irrelevant emails. You’re wasting their time and yours but not doing your research about what their publication covers or what product types a PR agency supports.
As you can see, your campaign pre-launch strategy requires a lot of work. But without all of these pieces in place, your campaign won’t be ready and will likely generate far fewer contributions than you would have hoped for, or even fail to get funded.
The good news is that with your pre-launch strategy in place, the rest of your campaign should go smoothly. With a consistent voice, polished pitched, and engaged community, your product will have its best chance to become successfully funded.