Thanks to the Pebble E-Paper Watch's recent $10 million record-breaking fundraising effort, and similar online ventures, crowdfunding has recently exploded onto the mainstream consciousness, and with good reason -- for several reasons, it's a superb approach to raising venture capital and angel investment.
But as fast as the field is moving, the stakes continue to rise for creators in terms of project production values, marketing efforts and overall customer expectation. While using online tools to post project pitches and solicit donations from the public in exchange for merchandize or unique experiences seems simple at surface value, don't be fooled. Whether or not equity changes hands (and it will start doing so by January 2013, as soon as the SEC weighs in) the process of pitching everyday end-users is quite different than selling concepts to seasoned investors, being at heart a consumer marketing effort.
Looking to kick-start your own crowdfunding initiative and improve your chances of connecting with backers, let alone convincing them to dip into their own purse or wallet? As discussed further in a free downloadable book The Crowdfunding Bible, here's how to use top sites and services to craft powerful campaigns that resonate.
Building an Effective Crowdfunding Pitch
Your pitch is your first point of contact with potential backers, and opening salvo in the war to win their hearts and minds -- and you know what they say about first impressions. Note that an effective pitch requires exhaustive preparation and execution. Don't wing it. Plan it. Work it. Refine it. Test it on unsuspecting friends. Solicit feedback. Play devil's advocate, and consider everything that can go wrong. Tweak, pull and modify it until you're certain it can't be better. In other words, you've only got one chance to make a successful debut: Make sure it's the best pitch you can offer.
Your pitch will consist primarily of two components: A video and a written introduction to your project.
Creating Powerful Videos and Film Clips
Designing a Project Homepage
Your video sales pitch is important, but before potential backers even view it, they'll first land on your campaign's homepage to find out more about your project. Part of what will drive traffic there, and prompt them to learn more and consider financial contributions, is the brief summary and image that people will see when they initially browse your chosen crowdfunding service/site. Bearing this in mind, be sure you can describe your vision for the project concisely and that you have a good snapshot to accompany it, which will often be a still image from your video pitch.
Once prospective patrons have arrived at your homepage, you will want to grab their attention quickly and explain what your project is, what makes it unique and why they'd want to invest in the venture. Naturally, you should carefully think through everything you are going to put on the page. Here are some suggestions:
• Do Your Research. Just as when putting together campaign videos, it's important to assess and review several examples of pitch pages for both successful and unsuccessful projects. Note what you like about them and which elements grab your attention. From off-putting aesthetic designs to dense text descriptions, take note of which aspects of these pages don't seem to work as well. Take these findings into account, and plan your homepage, pitch and supporting assets accordingly.
• Create Compelling Headlines. Bold callouts that break up text descriptions into easily digestible sections not only give people an idea of the subject matter contained within each grouping, helping to make descriptions more approachable and alleviate monotony. They also adorn them with naturally eye-catching headers. For online reading, remember: Short, simple write-ups work best, with longer clips more effective when subdivided into more user-friendly nuggets, which also serve the added benefit of more capably attracting viewers' attention.
• Use Arresting Images. Eye-catching pictures and screenshots that represent your project do wonders for your home page. Try to find several attractive photos that showcase your project and possibly the people behind it as well. Note that wherever possible, all should speak to and communicate one or more of the three key ideas and messages you're trying to get across. In fact, using photos to convey these points can be much quicker and more effective, and provide the advantage of helping you say less with fewer words. Keep in mind that action shots are frequently more effective than stills as well.
• Leverage Notable Personalities. If you can get people from outside your project to recommend it - particularly those with a strong following whom your target audience would trust and believe - use their commentary wherever possible to reinforce your message. Likewise, where suitable, consider inserting a very short video of a noteworthy individual or someone credible that supports your project explaining why they believe in it.
• Write Attention-Getting Descriptions. What you write about your project and how you describe it is very important. People will read it and want to find that all of their key questions have been answered. At minimum, here is what you need to tell them:
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