Start Your Crowdfunding Campaign With a Marketing Plan

You need to "friendraise" first. In order to attract people to your campaign, you need to be using social media at least six to 12 months before the launch of your campaign.
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When asked by an acquaintance to support his crowdfunding campaign for his film starring Academy Award nominated actress Taraji P. Henson, I jumped at the chance. The film, From the Rough, focuses on the true story of an African-American woman who founded a men’s golf team at Tennessee State University that went on to win a collegiate championship. Already in the can, my friend wants to raise enough funds through Indiegogo for a multi-city release.

It’s an impressive project, but it is going to take more than my support for this funding campaign successfully reach its goal of raising $250,000 in 45 days. You must start your crowdfunding campaign with a marketing plan.

So what is it going to take to get that money? First, know that 30 percent of the initial donations will come from people you know.

Leverage Social Media: You need to “friendraise” first. In order to attract people to your campaign, you need to be using social media at least six to 12 months before the launch of your campaign. You must be a part of the community; otherwise you could come off as disingenuous. Social media success is all about give to get. Remember that you want to promote your campaign, but you still need to share other relevant content at a 4:1 ratio of your own, particularly on Twitter.

Make a Compelling Video: From the Rough is fortunate that filming and post production are complete, so they have amazing trailers to show. Here’s one of several I found on YouTube. They already have star power; in addition to Ms. Henson, the film stars the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Felton of Harry Potter fame. Also, don’t be afraid to record a 30-45 second direct appeal that you push out through email as well.

Make It Easy to Share. Everyone is busy, so give people the tools to share your campaign. Draft sample emails, Facebook messages and tweets in advance for people to share - before your ask for their help. Have a solid press release and video clip ready to go too. If you make people work too hard to help you, they will not do it.

Blogger Outreach is Key. Your campaign will not succeed on your network alone. Three months prior to your crowdfunding launch, build a list of the top 15-25 bloggers who are dominant with your target audience. You want to engage them from PR pitches, but don’t rule out offering to sponsor a post on their blogs.

Give Great Rewards. People love to get even a little something for their donation. The From The Rough team is offering website recognition, DVD copies of the film, a movie credit, VIP tickets to the premiere, a personal call from one of the stars from the movie and even a private golf lesson with the legendary coach whose life is featured in the movie. What kind of perks can you offer?

Use Social Media Advertising. The average crowdfunding campaign earns less than $10,000. If you have a significant goal like team From The Rough, you will need to buy pay per click ads. Facebook ads are likely the best option if your campaign is targeting consumers. Here’s a link to a helpful QA on How to Optimize Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Your Email List if Everything. You must have a strong network before you launch your crowdfunding campaign. Your goal should be to have an email list of at least 2,000 contacts per launch. You also need to line up 5 to 10 people with email lists at least that large, who would be willing to share your campaign with their contacts.

Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America’s #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs and also publishes a resource blog. Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Her latest ebook, How To Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online was released in 2012.

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