If you’re reading this and your campaign is already live, it’s too late. 90% of your marketing should happen before you’re ready to crowdfund. If I caught you early enough, read on to see what you can do today.
It’s a great idea to document every step of your product’s evolution, from humble notebook sketches to prototypes to design comps. Medium is a great tool for this type of content. Showing your iterative approach to your idea lets people follow along and get invested in your success, and also shows your dedication to making the best possible product.
Also set up Facebook, Twitter and other social pages early on, and similarly post updates. Even if your follower count is low to start, a project with a longer lifespan online feels more professional and legit to potential backers once that time comes.
Build Your Foundation
Even if your idea is still in its nascent stage, it can’t hurt to start buying a few URLs. They’re relatively cheap, and taking this small step can be a psychological kick-in-the-butt to keep momentum moving on your killer idea.
Once you have a working prototype, it’s time to set up a homepage. Throw together a Squarespace site (or other drag and drop platform) and link out to your Medium articles and social channels. This is also where you can start collecting email addresses and begin to cultivate a fan base. But don’t expect people to sign up for updates for the heck of it.
A Clever Way To Capture Emails
If you’re bringing your product around to conventions, meet-ups, or even just a friend’s party (all of which you should be doing), you’re going to want to keep in touch with everyone who comes in contact with your idea. People can get put off if you’re just begging them for their email so you can “keep them up to date,” though, so you have to be clever with how you solicit this info.
My favorite way to do this is to create a survey through Survey Monkey or Google Forms that’s 100% focused on soliciting feedback to make your idea stronger. Make business cards with the URL to the survey printed on it, and hand it out at the end of the event or party. In the survey ask people what works and what needs improvement. You’re capturing the email of anyone who responds, and they’re also providing valuable feedback and insight.
If you receive a common piece of feedback, implement it and follow up with an email blast, detailing the changes (and of course thanking everyone for helping make your idea stronger). The less you can make it feel like one of those J. Crew sale emails that no one signed up for but everyone gets, and more like a dialogue, the more invested people will be.
Ready to Go Live?
Most creators think they’re prepared for success, but few realize how much time goes into engaging fans in conversation throughout your campaign. You’ll answer the same questions dozens, if not hundreds of times. And just because you sleep, doesn’t mean your campaign page does. It can quickly become a full time job just to keep up with all the questions, requests and advice. The key here is to not try and do it alone.
If you are part of a team, make sure you’re taking shifts monitoring your campaign page and social media accounts. If you’re flying solo, bribe a trusted friend with beer to handle any “Frequently Asked Questions” so you can free up your own bandwidth for more important queries.
It also doesn’t hurt to put together a press kit that can be ready to go should any bloggers, news outlets or “influencers” want to talk about it. Distill your campaign pitch into a one-sheet with bullet points, quotes and testimonials. Also be sure to include any logos, pictures or designs so these outlets can help get your brand in front of more eyes.
Finally, have a spreadsheet of different “milestones” you could conceivably expect your campaign to hit (things like “Half-funded,” “One week left” and “Stretch Goal 2 Met”) and develop social media posts for your channels to blast out as they happen. This editorial calendar can keep fans engaged, and as you check each milestone off you can see how your campaign is living up to your expectations.
If you start early enough, and treat your idea’s journey from idea to shipped product as a story told over the course of months (or even years), you’ll never have to scramble once you to go live. Everything you need to convince people to back your campaign is already out there.