A good communications plan is crucial for crowdfunding success, and not having one is a main reason campaigns fail. A lot of campaigners don’t realise that the communications leading up to the campaign can be almost as important as the communications during the campaign. When you run a crowdfunding campaign, you have to put on a marketer’s hat, too. We know that not everyone is particularly communications-savvy, so we thought we’d help you out and put together this list of ways to promote your crowdfunding campaign.
Before You Start Promoting Your Crowdfunding Campaign…
Establish that You Have a Crowd that Will Support Your Cause
‘Communication’ is the third ‘C’ of a successful crowdfunding campaign. The first two are ‘Crowd’ and ‘Cause/Company’. Before you go through all the effort, it’s important to feel comfortable that your crowd will back you. As our relationship with junk mail tells us, people won’t bite just because something’s being thrust in front of them. Find out if your crowd will support your crowdfunding campaign first.
Establish the Communications Lead for Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Often, campaigners are so focused on the content and idea of their campaign, that they drop the ball on actually getting it out there. That’s why it’s best to allocate someone to be in charge of the communications plan for your campaign, preferably the team member who is the most savvy with communications and/or marketing. Don’t have anyone like that on your team? Don’t be afraid to set aside some budget to pull in a contractor or company to help you out, or even just a really good friend. Communications can make or break a campaign, and it’s good to have someone focused on it.
Prepare a Comms Plan for Your Crowdfunding Campaign in Advance
Once you’re sure you’re going ahead with the campaign and have an idea of when the launch date will be, create a week-by-week (or, even better, day-by-day) comms plan of everything you’re going to do to promote your campaign. We have many tips to promote your crowdfunding campaign in this article, but they will work a lot better if they’re part of a coherent, aligned comms plan. Craft beer brewery Parrotdog had a day-by-day comms plan laid out on A4 pieces of paper on the wall for their equity crowdfunding campaign. We’re not saying it’s the only reason they raised $2 million in two days, but we are saying it certainly didn’t hurt.
Key things to think about for crowdfunding campaign promotion:
- Campaign lead-up comms
- Launch day comms
- Time milestones (3 days in, 1 week in, two weeks in, 1 week left, 3 days left, last day)
- Target milestones (25% funded, 50% funded, 75% funded)
- Pledge milestones (first 50 pledges, first 100 pledges..)
- $ milestones (First $5000, first $20,000….)
Make Sure your Crowdfunding Campaign is as Attractive as Possible before Promoting it
You’ve spent all this time developing your great idea or growing your company, so why drop the ball when it comes to showing it off? Before you start any kind of promotion, make sure your crowdfunding campaign page looks as exquisite as possible. Think of it as a reflection on you as an individual or a company. Make sure your description is compelling, you’ve uploaded some nice images or video, and included all the relevant information that supporters should know. Pull in a designer friend if you need to. If you have a great thing going, your campaign should look the part, too.
How to Promote your Crowdfunding Campaign: 25 Ways
1. Direct Contact to Friends and Family
Before you actually launch your campaign, make sure you have 5-10 people lined up who have promised you they will pledge once the campaign goes live. For equity crowdfunding, the PledgeMe team requires campaigners to have 50 people lined up who they will personally contact first, AKA ‘The first 50’. These are the people who want you to succeed and who will help you start up the momentum for your campaign once it launches, from close friends to your mum. Personal, direct messages work best. Have every one of your team members, or people involved in the project, do the same. Set a team target for how much you want raised from direct contact with friends and family first before you start promoting it more widely (we recommend a minimum of 10% of the target).
2. Email or Newsletter List
Once you have a few pledges in, send out a mass email announcing the launch of your crowdfunding campaign to your mailing list. You may have created a special sign-up mailing list for those interested in the campaign, or it could just be your regular mailing list. You can have a special email specifically about the campaign, or just feature it in your next newsletter out to your crowd. How you go about it is up to you, so long as you are sure to avoid being spammy.
3. Social Media Posts and Stories
Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are fantastic tools to build on the momentum of your crowdfunding campaign once your first supporters have pledged. It’s a chance to share it with your wider crowd and gain some more interest. We suggest pinning the campaign link with engaging content (perhaps the pitch video) to the top of your feeds, so your followers can find it easily. When sharing videos, we suggest sharing it as a video file, rather than a YouTube or video link, because then the viewer can watch it straight away and won’t be directed elsewhere when they click on it.
4. Events: Hosting
Hosting an event is a big way to launch your campaign out into the world, and it doesn’t have to be overly complicated! Depending on your campaign scope and type (equity or project crowdfunding), it could be a big, catered launch party in an event space, or just a simple dinner party you host at home. Make sure to invite along people who have expressed interest in the campaign and have at least 2-3 laptops around (even if you need to borrow one or two), so that people can pledge easily. At bigger events with more people around, it would be nice to have a big screen to show the progress of the campaign as the pledges come in. Think outside the box when it comes to your launch event to really engage your crowd. Ethique, for example, had hair-washing stations at their launch event so their attendees could try the Ethique products before investing. Hosting a mid-campaign event is also a nice way to pick up the momentum again.
5. Events: Attending
Check to see if there are any major events in your field happening around the time of your crowdfunding campaign, or align the timing of your crowdfunding campaign with them. If you’re crowdfunding your latest film project, attending a film festival armed with flyers and a 30-second verbal pitch could be a great way to get more pledges in. You might also meet some people who’d be willing to help you promote your campaign if they believe in what you’re doing! Speaking at relevant events is also a good way to get in front of a crowd, face-to-face. Collett’s Corner, for example, gave talks at a range of events across the country for their equity crowdfunding campaign, as did Puro.
Blogs are an excellent way to promote crowdfunding campaigns because they provide an opportunity for a long-form, personalised content piece about the crowdfunding campaign. Perhaps you have a blog of your own that you can post to, or know of a blog which has a relevant audience (such as a music blogger featuring a band crowdfunding their latest EP). If you do your research properly and find the right blogger, it’s a win-win situation: the blogger gets some great content and can reach a bigger audience and you get campaign exposure.
7. Facebook Groups
Posts in Facebook groups get more engagement and reach than posts on business pages or news feeds. This is because Facebook’s algorithm is designed to favour group posts. Do your research and join groups whose audience could relate to your project (always make sure to respect the group rules and to not be spammy!). If you’re crowdfunding a café, for example, you might want to find a Facebook group that is about community or small, local businesses. Be authentic, personal (post as yourself, rather than as your business page) and don’t be too pushy.
8. LinkedIn Groups
Like Facebook groups, posts in LinkedIn groups get more engagement than just a regular post in the feed. Again, make sure that the group you share your campaign in has a relevant audience who could genuinely find value in what you’re doing. Keep in mind also that LinkedIn is the social media platform for professionals, so adjust your tone accordingly.
Crowdfunding is newsworthy, especially equity crowdfunding or if you’re crowdfunding something truly unique. A good news story can propel your campaign like few other things can. In the preparations for your crowdfunding campaign, do some research on the publications which could feature an article on your campaign. Often, smaller, local publications are a good bet, or publications which are quite niche. Bigger publications like The New Zealand Herald also occasionally feature crowdfunding stories, particularly if there is a big uptake from pledgers. Put together a list of journalists and publications you can reach out to ahead of your campaign, or once it launches. If you’re running a larger campaign, consider pulling in a PR agency to help you out. Here are some tips on how to write a press release for your crowdfunding campaign.
10. Host a Livestream
Real-time live streams are a great way to engage your crowd and answer any questions they may have about the campaign. Facebook lives work quite well for Q&As and for a more informal setting. You could also decide to do a special invite-only or registration-needed stream, like Again Again did with their ‘Let’s Talk Business’ Zoom call to answer the most common investor questions about their equity crowdfunding campaign.
Think about podcasters, radio networks, YouTubers and other conversation platforms that could potentially feature your campaign, and be active about reaching out to them. Why do you think your campaign could be interesting for their audience? Tailor your pitch to the platform. Platforms which have previously interviewed PledgeMe campaigners (and given them a great boost!) include Manaaki (who interviewed Downlights) and Radio NZ (who interviewed Water Us).
12. A Linked Banner or Pop-up on Your Website
Who are the people visiting your website? Your customers, business or project partners and people who are interested in what you do. That’s why your website is the perfect place to link your crowdfunding campaign! Use a short, punchy caption, like ‘Help us grow!’, ‘Join our crowd!’, or simply ‘We’re crowdfunding!’.
13. Google My Business / Google Maps
This is a great option for businesses with physical locations that people can visit (like stores, hospitality businesses, or office headquarters). Similar to web visitors, the people searching for you or what your business has to offer on Google Maps will be people who may also be interested in supporting your crowdfunding campaign. Google My Business allows business owners to add text and URLs to their locations on Google Maps. Why not use the opportunity to promote your campaign?
14. Crowdfunding Campaign Posters
If you have a physical location, such as a store, having a poster up with a QR code linked to your campaign can be a great way to get the campaign out there. There are several QR code generators available online. You should also check to see what the laws and costs are for placing posters around your area if you have a local focus. Make sure it’s eye-catching, to the point and that it includes the close date of your crowdfunding campaign (there’s nothing like a deadline to get people pledging!).
Like posters, flyers should also be eye-catching and to the point. Flyers are also handy to carry around in your bag to hand to prospective pledgers, place in post boxes, or stack in community spaces. Make sure you include a QR code or link to your crowdfunding campaign on the flyer (there are several QR code generators available online). Only put flyers into post boxes if it will be relevant for the local residents (e.g. if you’re crowdfunding a community space they could use) and always respect the ‘No junk mail’ stickers!
16. Community Noticeboards
Think about all the public spaces where you spend your time and where your potential pledgers might be. If you’re crowdfunding a book or a book shop, consider putting up a notice on the local library noticeboard. If you’re a film student funding your final project, why not put up a notice about your crowdfunding campaign on the school’s noticeboard?
17. Your Email Signature
Linking your crowdfunding campaign in your email signature is a passive way to get your campaign out there. Where you might normally have your website linked, why not add another link or change it temporarily to your campaign link with the text “We’re (equity) crowdfunding!”? It’s an opportunity to alert all the people you email on a daily basis (your clients, business partners, prospective partners and clients, etc) that you’re crowdfunding without actually saying it.
18. Google Ads
Google Ads is an excellent way to get to the very top of the search results and could work well for companies wanting to extend their reach beyond organic reach. Before running a Google Ad for your crowdfunding campaign, however, it’s important to do your research first. What are the exact keywords and search queries you need to think about? How competitive are those keywords and how could you differentiate yourself from similar campaigns running at the same time? Once you launch your Google Ad campaign, make sure you carefully monitor the results and be prepared to pause or adjust the ad if you’re not getting the results you want.
19: Boosted Posts on Facebook and Instagram
Boosted social media posts are another way to get in front of an audience that you can’t reach organically. The nice thing about boosts is that you can target specific audiences. You can filter by age, gender, geographic location and even interests. Like the Google Ads, it’s a good idea to monitor the results of the boost carefully and make adjustments if needed (e.g. widen your audience if you find you’re not getting as many clicks as you’d intended). We recommend seeing which of the posts about your crowdfunding campaign is doing well organically, editing it to make sure it’s updated with the campaign’s progress, and then boosting it.
20. Reddit and Other Online Forums and Communities
Like Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Reddit threads are on very specific topics and tend to get a lot of engagement from their participants. If you’re part of a reddit thread which is relevant for your crowdfunding campaign, why not take the opportunity to talk about it? As always, make sure it’s relevant to the audience and that you’re not being spammy (always choose quality over quantity).
Influencer marketing has become an important means of promotion for a lot of businesses across the globe, and it can work for crowdfunding campaigns too. One example from the PledgeMe platform was when former All Whites player Ben Sigmund shot a video showing his support for rebuilding the Alex Moore Park Sports and Community Clubrooms in Wellington. The campaigner posted the video as an update and over $13,000 of pledges came in overnight! Getting the right person who is well known to your potential pledgers to pledge their support can give your campaign a big boost.
22. Your Crowd
Every person in your crowd can be an influencer for your crowdfunding campaign. While you may be actively promoting your campaign, every share or mention of your campaign by others can help add to the momentum. Remind every member of your team and those who really want you to succeed that they can help make the campaign successful by sharing it. Not everyone will be in a position to pledge, but everyone can help spread the word. If members of your team are not into sharing things on social media, maybe ask them to send the campaign personally to 2-3 people they care about instead.
23. Markets or Conferences
This is a good option if you’re equity crowdfunding, as you have the opportunity to both network for your business and talk about your crowdfunding campaign too. A crowdfunding campaign is a period of active promotion, and one-off conferences, business showcase events, or markets offer a chance to speak to potential pledgers face-to-face and answer any questions they may have. Don’t forget to bring along your posters or flyers (or both!).
24. Use All the Crowdfunding Tools Available to You
Crowdfunding platforms usually have a lot of tools built in to help you make your crowdfunding campaign a success. You can add images, video, text, updates or blogs, and much more. Again, don’t drop the ball when it comes to the campaign itself – use all the tools available and make it as fabulous as you can, from the content to the comms. At PledgeMe, for example, we find that campaigners who use the Campaign Updates tool are far more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
25. Reach out to Fellow Crowdfunders Who Have Succeeded Before You
Don’t be afraid to reach out to campaigners who have done it before. They will know what it’s like to be in your shoes, and asking them for feedback on your campaign might provide you with some great tips and insights. If their values are aligned with yours and they believe in what you’re doing, they may even share your campaign!
Most Importantly…Don’t Give Up!
Crowdfunding requires you to put yourself out there and it can be exhausting. Make sure you’re prepared for that and that you plan some rest days during your campaign. Other than your rest days, however, it’s important to keep at it. Giving up two weeks into your campaign because you haven’t come near your target yet is not the way to go, particularly when you take deadline magic into account. Focus on the end goal and make your crowd feel appreciated. But most importantly, believe in yourself.