As you're planning your crowdfunding campaign, it can help you tremendously if you treat every aspect of your planning and execution as an event. Think about it. A crowdfunding campaign involves:
- Determining the viability of your crowdfunding offering;
- Preparing your campaign assets, pitch video and other content;
- Engaging with your supporters and niche before your launch to let them know what's coming down the pike (and hopefully also getting their feedback while you're at it);
- Informing a broader audience such as media outlets and popular related blogs about your upcoming campaign (again, before you launch and while your campaign is live);
- Not launching - yes, you read it right - until you have received the readiness signals from your niche and broader audience;
- Launching when the time is right and reaching out regularly to promote your campaign and help people take action in making a pledge;
- Sustaining momentum throughout the campaign through regular updates and promotions; and
- Closing out your campaign and transitioning smoothly to backer fulfillment.
When you contemplate each of these components, it becomes easier to move through most, if not all of these steps by emulating the successful campaigns, platforms and crowdfunding organizations that consistently follow event planning principles. Consider these five ways to leverage events for your next crowdfunding campaign.
1) Get in Front of People in your Target Audience
Meeting people in person can create a closer connection between them and your campaign. And with a personal connection, people are more inclined to support you with a pledge. Consider organizing your own crowdfunding campaign launch party and continue engaging people in person during your campaign.
If it's too overwhelming to organize your own, get out to other related in-person events. One example of how you can tap into other events are to get yourself to places where your target audience will be. This is what Joe Martino did for his Mighty Titan #5 Comic Book campaign on Kickstarter. Even with his campaign goal already attained, Joe made a point of having a presence at the New York Comic Fest and the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con.
2) Tap into Broadly Related In-person Gatherings
If you aren't able to get to your target audience, you can still get out and network to a broader audience that supports your campaign category or crowdfunding in general, such as the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA). The NCFA hosts networking evenings and other crowdfunding information and advocacy events across Canada. There are comparable organizations in the United States and around the world where you can build relationships with a broader, supportive audience. Be sure to get out to these this event well before your campaign launches. It takes time, effort and energy to really connect.
3) Organize or Your own Social Media Event
If you have a solid presence on the common social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+, organize an online event. It can be as simple as hosting your own Tweet-a-thon, like the campaign owners of Hybrid Vigor Film did. They scheduled - and announced in advance - their #IndieFilmFriday Tweet-a-thon to raise awareness of their latest Indiegogo campaign.
4) Tap into Existing Events on the Various Social Media Platforms
You may not have a big social media following, so in those cases, leverage existing online events. This is how University of Toronto Ph.D Candidate Ryan Doherty was able to build additional awareness of his Indiegogo campaign. His iamsick.ca app makes the Canadian healthcare system and broader health services more accessible to the people who need it most, in many languages and 24-7-365. Ryan was able to host a one-hour twitter chat on using the popular #hcsmca hash tag, which created a buzz for his campaign.
Some other popular online event options include Google Hangouts, which you can host, or join existing shows such as the Reality Crowd TV Crowdfunding Hangouts, hosted by Manolis Sfinarolakis, which have been gaining in popularity.
5) Invite Local Media Outlets to your In-Person Event for Broader Impact
There may be something really unique about your campaign, or it may just align well with a topic that's relevant and timely for local media outlets. How would you get insight on the relevance of your campaign to current events? Use Google Alerts to get daily news updates on the keywords that relate to your campaign. Once you find one, work within your network to connect you to media outlets, or hire a PR firm to help you issue a media advisory or media invitation to your event.
The Tesla Firma Kickstarter campaign did just. The owner, Dave Boyle had been working to raise awareness of its upcoming Tesla coil demonstration, part of the Tesla Science Expo at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. The demo is intended to commemorate the world renowned, late Nikola Tesla's birthday on July 10, 2014. The demo, however, is the reason he's running the Kickstarter campaign, so Dave needed to think more creatively to attract media attention during the campaign. Dave decided to host a private, media-only demonstration 3 weeks before the big event. He worked with his PR firm to invite the Toronto media to preview his progress on the Tesla coil he's building. This pre-show may or may not serve up some electrifying bolts of lightning, and it all helps to create a buzz (literally) about his current (pun not intended) campaign.
To sum it up, as you contemplate your crowdfunding plan, incorporate events - both online and offline - into your overall plan of action. Review some of the events that successful campaigns organized or participated in, and model their success. This is another way you can make reverse crowdfund-gineering work for you.
This article is part of the Reverse Crowdfund-gineering series, and focuses on the factors that help prepare you for crowdfunding success. Findings presented in this series were derived from the author's first-hand crowdfunding of a successful Kickstarter campaign, and qualitatively from her formal blog interviews and informal discussions with the owners of successful crowdfunding campaigns since August 2012.