Part 5: Discover powerful backers for your crowdfunding campaign–and keep them!

June 1, 2015 by Frontline Copy

food farming crowdfunding campaign by Faith Attaguile

We’re on the last leg of our pre-launch planning. Your crowdfunding campaign toolkit is filling up! Now we need to discover how to reach out to potential backers.

But first, have you downloaded your Crowdfunding Campaign Action Toolkit for handy reference? Also, as we go through the following steps, keep your Crowdfunding Campaign Promotion Worksheet close by, filling it in as you go.

OK, let’s get started. Here’s how to gather a group of passionate backers for your crowdfunding campaign.

Build Your Crowd

1. Choose your campaign social media outlets.

You can’t run a crowdfunding campaign on every available social media platform. That workout would kill you. So, choose at least two platforms, according to:

  • What you use now.
  • Where your audience will be hanging out.
  • The social media management workload you can effectively take on during your project campaign.

Do you already have Facebook or Google+ profile pages? Posting engaging and sharable photos with short messages that link to your campaign home page will go far to gather campaign backers.

Rely on them for initial outreach because that’s where your family and friends reside.

But for successful crowdfunding, you should also have a unique business page. This is where you’ll originate your crowdfunding campaign posts. Your Facebook or Google+ business page will help build your audience above and beyond your immediate community of family and friends.

If you already have a page on these platforms for your business, great! Otherwise, create one now.

Depending on your project, consider Pinterest (another potential audience gatherer) as a place to post photos of your food or farm project.

And don’t overlook Twitter.

Short, pithy clips are essential here. Above all, never tweet, “Give $25 to fund my project [LINK].” That’s a sure-fire loser.

Instead try: “Here’s something you’ll love! Will you help me spread the word? [LINK to campaign page]”

Retweets spreading the word about your project to new audiences can be far more valuable to your campaign than a one-off donation.

A word of caution about time

You don’t buy audiences on social media platforms. You build them—and that takes time. So, if you have no social media accounts, at a minimum set up two accounts at least six months before you plan to launch your campaign to establish a solid social media presence.

One source estimates that:

“… an average project with a social network of only 10 friends or followers would have a 9% success rate, whereas a project owner with a network of 1,000 friends or followers would increase that success rate to 40%.”

2. Forge a strong niche media and blog list.

First, create a spreadsheet. Save time by using Mike del Ponte’s template as an example. Once created, your spreadsheet will let you gather information on (a) the best media places where your audience resides, and (b) the best media/blogs to contact for write-ups about your project.

Del Ponte advises that you consider these four R’s when compiling a media/blog contacts list:

(a) Relevance
This is the operative keyword. You want an audience that’s going to love your project.

Del Ponte suggests using Google Images to discover journalists or bloggers writing about subjects similar to your project. Start by going to the crowdfunding projects like your own (see "3 steps to finding the best crowdfunding platform for your food or farming project.")

Once your found one, right-click/copy the project image. Then, drag/drop the image into images.google.com.

The blog/media links that come up on the results page will be ones that have posted that image (thus presumably written about the project). The results page can become a rich resource for identifying relevant media/blog sites to contact for your project. Add them to your spreadsheet. Finally, search for and add similar sites to these by using SimilarSites.com.

(b) Readership
You can discover the monthly traffic for each website you add to your spreadsheet by using com. Or, try using SEO apps available for your browser to find this information. Don’t waste your time on sources with low traffic.

(c) Relationships
Once you have your media/contact blog list, it’s time to initiate relationships with those sources.

There are several ways to ferret out potential relationships:

  • Check whether you (or your team) know someone affiliated with the blog/media team site you’re interested in. Go from there.
  • If you’re on Facebook, type the name of the journalist/blogger you’d like to reach to see if you have mutual friends who can make introductions.
  • Do you have a LinkedIn page? Find the person with whom you wish to connect, then go to the Connect box to view any shared connections.
  • Check Twitter for mutual followers.

Add all these names (and where you found them, e.g. on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, etc.) to your spreadsheet in the “Mutual friends” column connected to the media/blog you are interested in.

Once your “Mutual friends” column is complete, delete the people you don’t know well enough to ask for an introduction. Send a (short!) email to the others asking for an introduction, and why you want one (“he/she might be interested in my crowdfunding project”).

If you don’t find any mutual friends on Facebook or LinkedIn, del Ponte suggests tweeting or posting something like, “Please message me if you know anyone at [name of blog]. I have a story I’d like to share with them. Thanks!” He apparently did this with good success.

(d) Reach
This is especially pertinent for those media/blog sources you want to write a feature story about your project. You should always check the media/blog source’s reach. An easy way to do this is by checking its followers on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Will your source promote your project through their email and other social media accounts?

OK. You’ve added all this information to your spreadsheet. Now it’s time to create a contact shortlist. Del Ponte suggests proceeding this way:

  • Give a 1-3 relationship rating (1=strong, 3=weak) to each journal/blog depending on the answers you received from your emails (either directly to your contacts or people you’ve identified as mutual friends).
  • Check out each blog/media source for relevance to your project, then give each one a relevance rating (1=extremely relevant, 3=not relevant).
  • Research your blog/media source writers to see if they, or perhaps someone else who writes for that source, are really the best ones to write about your project.
  • Sort your spreadsheet for (a) relevance (b) relationships (c) readership to identify the top 10 journalists or bloggers to contact. Then, find their email addresses so you can contact them directly to propose a story about your campaign.
  • For your top 10, write up a media persona like this and keep it handy. As del Ponte says, “…your mission is to find, befriend and get covered by these bloggers so the dream you’re launching … can become a reality.”

Del Ponte’s advice is a rich and detailed resource for this part of your crowdfunding campaign research. For more input on how to pitch a story to a journalist/blogger, check out this Guardian.com article: “How to pitch a story idea to a journalist.”

One other thing before we move on: If you’re tempted to skip over this spreadsheet, don’t. Just like earlier steps outlined in my previous posts, this is a valuable tool for your crowdfunding campaign toolkit.

Call it a hammer. What’s a toolkit without a hammer?

food farming crowdfunding campaign

3. Round up email addresses and contact information for potential backers.

These are names of people—other than journalists/bloggers—you will reach out to during pre-launch, telling them about your project and giving them “sneak peaks,” gearing them up to donate to your campaign right after launch.

Break the list down into “closeness” categories:

  • Inner Circle (family, immediate friends – the ones who will support your project without question).
  • Acquaintances (people you know but haven’t talked to in a while).
  • Business Associates.
  • Influencers (people in your niche whose word/advice others listen to.

Once you’ve developed your list, make tailored email templates for your Acquaintances and Business Associates lists that will be sent out at launch for sharing out to their audiences.

For people that you designate as influencers and inner circle contacts, be ready to write personalized emails at launch. If you really want to get into the weeds, you can write templates for pre-launch outreach, pre-launch thank-yous, day before launch, launch day, and thank-yous for donations emails. You can download a sample templates file here for ideas.

These launch-time emails are critical. Kickstarter says for its successful projects, 80% reach 20% of their funding goals within the first 24 hours after launch.

The people who donate from these emails, and help spread the word for you to their audiences, will become the backbone of your campaign backers. Treat them with love!

food farming crowdfunding campaign4. Generate pre-launch buzz.

If you want to reach beyond your contact list, think about using one or two crowd-growing services to increase your audience before launch. However, if you decide to use one of these services, you will need a team member who can manage your project on these sites. It takes focus, but time and effort spent here can pay off big time when your project goes live. Crowd Crux suggests these buzz-generating tools:

ThunderClap.it: This is a crowd amplification resource that may be a good pre-launch resource for your food or farm project. They claim a reach of over 1.5 billion people. Rather than donating money, people who like your idea donate their social reach. A potentially great way to build your audience.

PitchFuse: Another pre-launch crowd-growing resource you can use to gauge interest in your project through social shares.

Depending on your campaign and the size/influence of your contacts, this may be a fruitful area for you to explore to build an audience that can immediately share your project at launch.

food farming crowdfunding campaign

5. Develop a CTA List.

Concise and compelling call-to-action (CTAs) “asks” for emails, Tweets and social media shares are essential for any successful campaign. Make a comprehensive CTA list to be included in your autopilot email templates and Tweets. This list will also be a handy reference during the campaign for use in any customized communications you may need to write.

There’s a whole science out there for effective CTAs regarding the best words and phrases that will get that “click,” so do your homework and think hard about combinations that will work best for your project.

food farming crowdfunding campaign

6. Create autopilot templates.

You will save an enormous amount of time (and keep your sanity) if you take pre-launch planning time to prepare templates for the different types of communication you’ll be sending out during your campaign.

I’ve already mentioned the importance of writing email templates and personal emails for initial outreach to your contact list. But guess what: There are more to be written. This may seem a bit daunting right now, but remember this: By the time you’re ready to sit down and write these emails, you’ll already have developed your story, project pitch, elevator pitch and CTAs. Now it’s simply a matter of writing the templates.

Write them now, have them ready, and you’ll really love yourself when they are at your fingertips during the campaign, ready to go. So, here’s a list of templates to write:

  • For initial email contact: (1) business associates, (2) acquaintances. (You’ll write personalized emails to influencers, friends and any “golden backers” you’ve been able to pull in.
  • For your backers, five email templates: One each for launch day, ¼, ½ and ¾ of the way through your campaign. Also, create one to be sent out 48 hours before the end of your campaign.
  • For friends/contacts on your pre-launch contact list: One Twitter template for them to send out to their contacts about the campaign.
  • For backers, six Twitter templates: (1) Thanks to new backers, (2) big donor recognition, (3) funny stories about project, (4) coverage number of new backers, (5) project pledge totals, (6) new media coverage.
  • Launch day flyers to be distributed around the community (schools, churches, businesses, community groups) and at launch-day party, if applicable.
  • Press release to be sent out on Day 2 of launch (see my crowdfunding press release template sample or use CrowdfundingPR).

Download these templates for samples you can use to create your own. For more ideas, take a look at the crowdfunding templates Mike del Ponte used for his Kickstarter campaign.

Well, that’s it, folks: Five posts (click on Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 to read the first four) to get started on a kickass crowdfunding campaign.

Any questions? Need help starting a crowdfunding campaign now? Then give me a holler here and let’s talk!
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