Focus on Who, What and How Before Crowdfunding Your Project

You have a great idea and want to bring it to market; fast! Crowdfunding is a proven way to raise capital and go-to-market at the same time. But, don't launch a crowdfunding campaign without a clear strategy and agile plan including three key components.

Who, What and How

Generally speaking, marketing strategy is concerned with whom you're selling to and what you're offering them. A third component is your go-to-market plan that I touched on in an earlier SEW article. Go-to-market is all about how you will accomplish desired results.

From a crowdfunding perspective, you'll work with available content, offers, channels and relationships in order to engage and influence consumers, businesses and media people. This requires weeks or months of preparations well in advance of releasing your crowdfunding campaign to the public. An appearance on a TV show with more than 5 million viewers will certainly help.

Enter Gary Gagnon of Rekixx and ABC Shark Tank Season 3

rekixxSEW talked with Gary Gagnon about the challenges of raising capital AND going to market at the same time. Gagnon's journey started in August 2011 at a Las Vegas shoe show to do market research. Then, his initiative moved to the first Kickstarter campaign in December 2011 that did not get funded; Gagnon admitted he was not prepared.

Next, he appeared on ABC Shark Tank in May 2012 and set-up a second Kickstarter campaign - with months of preparation behind him - to be in sync with his Shark Tank appearance. After a year of hard work and more than $40,000 in crowdfunding results, Rekixx sneakers will begin shipping to customers in December 2012.

15 Go-to-Market Takeaways from Rekixx and Other Crowdfunding Campaigns

  1. Write down details about your audience and segmentation. Understand the needs of consumers and influencers you're preparing to engage.
  2. Create an exceptional product or service with a value proposition that is easily understood and appealing to your audience.
  3. Ideally, create and protect intellectual property via patents, trademarks, copyright, website domains, etc. This will enable you to create value and be more transparent with crowdfunding.
  4. Research and organize a list of influential media people (social and traditional) to engage and share campaign info. When the campaign is live, comment on key blogs and websites about campaign info/links and invite people to learn more.
  5. Organize current contacts via customer relationship management (CRM) and/or email marketing tools to help with inbound and outbound communications across channels; minimum – use a spreadsheet.
  6. Create a compelling crowdfunding video and pitch. Be brief and engaging with a story, and be clear about what you want and are offering others.
  7. Secure funding commitments from family and friends in advance of your public crowdfunding campaign launch. This will help round out your story and credibility early in the process.
  8. Make it really easy for anyone to find, write about, and share your story across all channels. Leverage SEO and content development experts before you launch and during the campaign.
  9. Use social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, etc. Be where your target audience is online; balance frequency with relevance.
  10. Plan a few short updates in advance to keep conversations going and the community informed. Include visuals like photos, screen shots and videos, and be available to share campaign news and surprises in real-time.
  11. Have some surprise pledges/perks for the last days/weeks of your crowdfunding campaign. Don't max out offers at launch time.
  12. Use simple offer messages that are easy for backers to understand and act on. Focus on what backers get in terms of exclusivity and value via the campaign.
  13. Be responsive and timely with questions about the campaign. You're also setting the tone for future community engagement and customer satisfaction experiences.
  14. Review your content before launch. Send files and/or a campaign preview link to family and friends to read thoroughly and share candid feedback. Tweak content during the campaign based on feedback or lack of action.
  15. Be fully committed (24/7) to the success of the campaign.

Preparation Drives Success

Bringing a new product or service to market always has its set of challenges. Layer in raising capital – the primary objective of crowdfunding – and you're in for an interesting ride. Preparations covered above will significantly increase your return on investment, and reduce costs and stress for everyone involved.

Yes, it's easy to organize and launch a crowdfunding campaign with many user-friendly platforms to choose from on the web. However, to successfully raise capital and bring a new product or service to market via crowdfunding, focus on who, what and how before you push the go live button.