One of the biggest things that we’ve learnt over the past 5 years is that the most important part of any crowdfunding campaign is your crowd. The crowd you already know, whether it’s your mum, your co-worker, or your customers. Do they want to support you? Do they know your campaign is happening? Do they feel valued? All important things to take into account before launching a campaign, but sadly not always prioritised. You can build the shiniest campaign in the entire world, but if your crowd doesn’t know it’s coming, and don’t feel like they’re being valued, they won’t get on board.
So here’s our five step guide to checking that your crowd wants to fund you.
1) Figure out who your crowd is.
Write down the names of people in your crowd that have supported you in the past, or have been watching you work on the thing you want to fund. The longer you’ve been working on the thing you plan to fund, the easier it often is. If you’ve been working on it for a while, and your crowd has been watching, they’re more likely to believe you’ll be able to do the thing you need funding for (and will know the hard yards you’ve put in to get to this point).
2) Ask them
Yep, it’s seriously that easy. We recommend asking at least 50 people what they think about your campaign. Not everyone will be on board, and some people will just say what they think you want to hear, but these conversations can help you decide whether you should crowdfund or not. Here are some questions you could ask:
- What about the thing I’m doing do you like?
- What reservations do you have? How can I change that for you?
- Does this thing really matter to you? Why? Why not?
- Who do you think would also love this thing?
Also, some people will always say yes to please you. Don’t ask them.
3) Crowdsource support
Involve your crowd in the whole journey, including your campaign prep. Get feedback on your content. Ask for ideas on rewards (or, better yet, some of the rewards that you can offer!). This doesn’t have to be all 50 people, and you might not ask for the same support from each of them, but we do think that in crowdfunding the old adage of “if you ask for money, you get advice and if you ask for advice, you get money” is dead. We find that if you ask for advice, you’ll often get both.
4) Create a newsletter sign up
Only do this once you’ve decided that you’re definitely going ahead.
Make sure to set a date and time that you will be launching so everyone signing up knows the D-Day.
Manage expectations around what you’ll be telling people here, and create anticipation by sharing information bit by bit to them in the lead up.
You can also ask your crowd again for more information – like what sorts of perks would they like as shareholders, like Yeastie Boys did.
5) Share on your social media accounts
If you don’t have social media accounts, this could be a bit harder. You’ll need to be really really really clear on how you’ll activate your crowd if you don’t have them. Is it emails?
If your crowd gets on board, you’re so much more likely to get people you don’t know on board. They’ll see the validation of your crowd, feel comfort by being shoulder-to-shoulder with your existing supporters and emulate them. Sort of like in Derek’s TED talk on how to start a movement.
Don’t be afraid to ask your crowd if they want to fund you. And, don’t be afraid to wait if they’re not ready yet.