When you start a crowdfunding campaign you’ll be full of energy. But what happens when you find the process slowing down? It can be demoralising for the business owners. Over the years I’ve seen a wide selection of businesses run crowdfunding campaigns in wide variety of industry sectors. It can be surprising which campaigns capture the imagination of investors, and rapidly meet their target, and which slowdown partway through.
Why is this? One of the main differences is timing. If the market isn’t ready for your product, regulation holds back earning potential, or your ideal investors are distracted with another campaign, your campaign won’t get the investment you seek. With any luck, your market research will highlight these potential issues before you go live and you can adjust your timing accordingly.
Often, it’s simply an issue of momentum, where not enough lead investment has come on to give the wider crowd confidence in a business. Or a campaign experiences the dreaded ‘pitch death’ when it doesn’t get any investment for a few days, causing the founders to lose all morale.
Other campaigns, however, may be struggling due to poor communication or a lack of outbound marketing messages. You can’t expect enough investors to find your campaign organically in order to reach your target and, if investors simply aren’t aware of your campaign, they won’t be able to fund it.
Good, consistent marketing messages can help hammer home those key benefits, explain features and revenue streams, and grow your reputation as a business that can get things done.
If you’re in the middle of a slow campaign here are some actions to reengerise the process and get investors engaged.
Undertake a charm offensive
Both LinkedIn and the Angel Investment Network (AIN) are ideal places to find investors. Advanced searches allow you to be very targeted in who you reach out to and means you can create tailored messages to each potential investor group.
With LinkedIn, you’ll need to create a short invitation to connect message of 300 characters at most, followed by a longer message for new and existing connections explaining your proposition. LinkedIn messenger isn’t the most user-friendly place to read longer messages, so try and keep it as concise as possible while still including the key information, such as:
– The problem you are solving and your solution ‒ one or two short sentences
– Your key USPs ‒ one sentence
– Market size ‒ something short to pique their interest
– Traction so far ‒ these could be 3-4 bullet points
– Call to action ‒ usually a question for them to respond to, such as “Would you like to arrange a short call so I can answer any questions you may have?”
While you can’t attach files directly to LinkedIn messages, you can include links. We often use solutions like DocSend to include a copy of an executive summary in the message, providing potential investors with even more information and a taste of your branding.
AIN is very similar, except you can be even more targeted in your search and you know everyone on the platform is an active investor. Instead of invitations to connect, you’ll need to draft a short nudge message of up to 5000 characters which will lead potential investors to your campaign page on the AIN site. There they will be able to download key documents and see your entire campaign, so linking to your executive summary isn’t necessary.
Reaching out and engaging potential investors directly is one of the most effective ways to draw attention to your crowdfunding campaign and opens you up to their extended network as well.
Rethink your PR
Writing article for the press can be one of the most effective marketing tactics for any crowdfunding campaign. But instead of thinking of it as an opportunity to talk about your product and crowdfunding raise, you should consider how to hook your ideal investors and educate them on your market.
We meet a lot of founders who just want to promote their product or service – that’s called advertising, and understandably you’ll be asked to pay to place an advert.
Instead, find an angle that will capture the attention of the publication’s audience ‒ your potential investors. Make it useful and genuinely interesting, solve an issue they might have, and show how your solution can do it faster, cheaper and/or easier.
Positioning your PR articles in this way will get the widest adoption by relevant press. The byline and ‘about the author’ section are where you can mention your business and crowdfunding raise, gaining your campaign much-needed traffic.
Use social advertising
Advertising on social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, allows you to target users based on very specific parameters, delivering different messages to each. As such, social ads can be fantastic at addressing the different concerns of different investor groups.
Perhaps one audience is more concerned with saving time while another cares more about saving money. Perhaps you have a two-sided marketplace that benefits businesses and customers. Social ads are short, punchy ways to deliver these messages directly to the most relevant audience.
The main benefit of social ads, however, is that they can perfectly complement your PR and outreach messages. They are regular reminders of your business, your idea, and your campaign.
Say a LinkedIn investor sees your outreach message, searches your brand name on Google, and sees a bunch of press articles you’ve written. Perhaps they download your executive summary to read later before becoming distracted. Adverts popping up on LinkedIn and Twitter, for example, would then remind them of your brand and proposition, bringing them back to your original message for a follow-up.
Facebook ads can even be used to promote the PR coverage you gain from your articles, helping enhance your reputation through third-party content whilst educating your marketplace. They really are the perfect complement to your other marketing activities.
The marketing activities outline here will help your campaign get attention and interest. Use them right from the start but also keep a little back so you can take action if you find yourself in the doldrums.
John Auckland is a crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirst, a global equity crowdfunding communications agency that has helped raise in excess of £17m for over 50 companies on major equity crowdfunding platforms, with a greater than 90% success rate.
TribeFirst is the world's first dedicated marketing communications agency to support equity crowdfunding campaigns and the first in the UK to provide PR and Marketing campaigns on a mainly risk/reward basis.
John is also Virgin StartUp's crowdfunding trainer and consultant, helping them to run branded workshops, webinars and programmes on crowdfunding. John is passionate about working with start-ups and sees crowdfunding as more than just raising funds; it's an opportunity to build a loyal tribe of lifelong customers and supporters.