"An idea without execution is just a hallucination." -- Colin Powell
Was General Powell a bit harsh? Maybe. But, for all you do-gooders brimming with solutions to the world's biggest problems, it's a good kind of harsh.
And in the world of impact, in particular, a big part of executing is just raising the funding needed to start turning the seeds of an idea into something real (e.g., a social enterprise creating lasting change).
Many of the tools and tactics for raising money on crowdfunding platforms apply to marketing your idea generally, but let's zero in on the most effective steps for this medium specifically. Keep in mind, the story your project or organization tells matters a lot, as does the simplicity and clarity of your pitch, and the authenticity of your team.
This isn't a book on marketing for social change (check out "The Dragon Fly Effect" for that ); it's just one post. With that in mind, here's a six-step playbook on reaching out and raising money from the crowd. So, turn on your computer, open a web browser, pour a cup of coffee, and:
1. Write the perfect introductory mass e-mail to people you know, then send it! Each member of your team should do this. Listen, e-mail marketing is boring -- I get it. But, boring is often effective. The introductory email should concretely and simply tell your story, how to donate and/or invest, and the importance of sharing your message with ten others in their network. Bottom line: Make it insanely simple (and fun) for people to support your idea.
2. Repeat step number one, but instead of emailing it, send the messages to all of your friends on Facebook.
3. Reach out to 50 influencers, or the "nodes" in the network via Twitter and email. Some have 330,000+ followers on Twitter and thousands of subscribers to their blogs. A positive mention by one of the most influential can create a cascade of positive retweets and blog mentions, which in turn, drives traffic and cash to your fundraising page. Check out wefollow.com for lists of influencers in a variety of different categories. How do you reach out to them? Here's a sample email, which could be shortened and sent as a direct message or @reply via Twitter:
Hi (insert influencers name),
Your work (we can't stress enough the importance of being genuine here) has had a big impact on us. If you have a couple minutes, it'd be great to quickly get your thoughts on what our social enterprise is trying to accomplish: linktoyourpage.com
All the best to you,
Note, you should never say: please spread the word! Selling doesn't work anymore; it just seems fake and it usually leads to a quick delete. If they dig what you're doing, good things naturally happen. Even better, though, build a meaningful relationship with them before you even start the fundraising campaign.
4. Use Twitter Search to find as many people as possible talking about the theme of your project, and communicate with them using @reply or through direct messages.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 over and over and over.
6. Do it again.
Most importantly, remember that in the world of crowdfunding, as in life, tenacity usually wins the day. Cheers to people-power.
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