No man is an island, and no crowdfunding campaign is a one-person job. It really takes a village to carry a campaign through to completion. There are a few key roles beyond your current team that, if brought on, can really make your campaign run smoothly. These aren’t people you necessarily need to pay (though it’s easy to tell what campaigns make these positions a priority; they look more professional and end up getting funded sooner); they can be friends, family, or anyone, so long as they are dependable.
Designers / Photographers
Kickstarter and Indiegogo have done a decent job with the UX of their site, making it relatively easy for backers without any design background to build a halfway-professional looking pitch. The problem is halfway-professional doesn’t cut it.
If you are pitching a product, it needs to look good. If you have a final prototype, have it photographed as if it were ready to live on any ecommerce site. If your idea is still just a render, have a 3D model made up for the campaign page. You have to show your product in the best possible light no matter what; people want to see your product, not its potential.
It’s not just about your product, either. Your entire page needs to feel like an extension of your brand. From logos to infographics to imagery, having a professional designer on board can keep things cohesive. You don’t have to hire an agency, though. Check out job boards like Dribbble to find a professional designer who can work in a style that fits your creative vision.
I’ll delve into what makes a good crowdfunding pitch video in a later post, but suffice to say this is the piece of media that gets most shared from any Kickstarter campaign. A compelling, professional video legitimizes you and your product. Luckily, there is no shortage of videographers at different price points who can help you tell your story.
Budget tight? Find a local film school and find a student looking to get some behind-the-camera experience as well as make some extra dough (camera equipment is expensive. And so is beer). Don’t just step in front of your iPhone and start talking. A little professional lighting goes a long way.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) needs an editor. It’s tempting to share every detail about your project on your campaign page. You want to show everyone that not only do you know your stuff, but you’ve accounted for all the small details. But, there is a difference between what you find important, and what potential backers may find compelling enough to pledge.
I once worked with a creator who spent too much real estate on their campaign page talking about how they had to switch their magnet suppliers for a crucial component of their product. She went into painstaking detail about how the heat given off by the setting resin surrounding the previous magnet was degrading the magnetic force. She even proved it with charts.
Talking with her, I could tell it was incredibly interesting to her, but she was a materials engineer by trade, so of course she would find something like that fascinating. The problem was potential backers didn’t care. All they wanted to know was “well, does it work now?” All the hours and testing proved that “yes, it works now.” I convinced her to turn it into a backer update later in the campaign, so she could nerd out to her heart’s content with a more receptive audience. The nice thing about paying an editor is that, unlike your friends, they won’t hesitate to tell you what is compelling and, more importantly, what isn’t. You can post on a site like Upwork along with your budget and find someone who can join your team.
Social Media Managers
I talked about this in a previous post, but I’ll quickly recap the importance of having multiple team members to man your mentions and keep tabs on your timeline. You can’t (and shouldn’t) be glued to the comments 24/7, but someone needs to be on standby should a potential backer need a question answered before they hit “pledge.” There are lots of marketing outfits that advertise this service. But be wary. This is a space where a few trusted friends and colleagues can lend a hand. Brief them on the voice you want to speak with, and arm them with any press materials (which you made before you began your campaign, right?) so they can give the same answer no matter how many times the same question gets asked.
Trust me, you cannot simply show up to the Post Office with a few pallets of boxes, hoping to ship them all off at once. You aren’t an expert in navigating customs processes. Nor do you work in customer service, able to handle a potential mountain of returns and exchanges. There is a cottage industry of fulfillment partners that can help guide your product from the factory to backer’s front doors. Kickstarter keeps a list of trusted partners, but it’s important to find one that has experience in your category. A fulfillment partner that specializes in board games might not be able to handle the intricacies of a medical device, and vice-versa. They can handle customer questions, offer tech support and even do returns and exchanges, freeing you up to continue to grow your brand, post-campaign.
Spending a month on a crowdfunding campaign is a slog. There’s no way around that. It’s a rollercoaster of euphoric highs and crushing lows. You’ll go days without a single pledge, followed by 100 backers in 3 hours. It takes an emotional toll, and can plant self-doubt in even the most confident creators. You’ll catch yourself mindlessly refreshing your campaign page for signs of life. This is where cheerleaders come in.
Before your campaign goes live, let a few friends know that you are going to need distractions over the next few weeks. These are people completely removed from your company and campaign. Their job is to keep your mind off of your campaign. Plan bar crawls, movie nights, anything to keep you occupied, even for a few precious hours. Recharge your batteries so you can stay “on” when interacting with backers.
I’ve seen many overworked, sleep-deprived creators lash out at a nasty comment on their campaign page. The more you can separate your social life from your campaign, the less likely you’ll run into a PR crisis of your own making.
So that’s your team. With a little planning, some smart delegation and good communication, you’ll have no trouble getting the best out of everyone who pitches in on your crowdfunding pitch.