Part 4: Six steps to a crowdfunding story that lifts your project to success

May 1, 2015 by Frontline Copy
food farming crowdfunding campaign

by Faith Attaguile

You’ve chosen a crowdfunding platform and decided on your campaign basics.

Here’s how to tell your project story to ensure your campaign’s success.

Don’t forget to keep your Crowdfunding Campaign Action Toolkit handy for easy reference as you choose which of these basic actions you’ll use in your campaign.

Also, keep your Crowdfunding Campaign Promotion Worksheet handy, filling it in as you go. The items you include depends upon how much prep work you must do to (over)reach your campaign goal.

So, let’s get to the heart of this post…

How to Tell Your Story

 food farming crowdfunding campaign1. Know your backer audience

When you have a great story to tell, there are some people you’d never bother sharing it with.

Why? Because they aren’t an “audience” that would appreciate the story you’re telling.

The same is true of your niche food or farm crowdfunding project. Niche projects have niche audiences. So you must tell your project story in a way that appeals directly to the interests, needs and/or concerns or the people in your niche.

What motivates them? Frustrates them?

Identifying these things in your audience subgroups will help you frame a project story that immediately resonates with your backer audience in a real way.

The upshot? Your project story is not primarily about you. It’s about your backer audience, their concerns and their hopes.

Know specifically what these concerns and hopes are. Then show these potential backers how your project will address those things through your project story.

Pitch to your niche

Your backer community isn’t just one big blob.

Many project managers make the mistake of thinking a general pitch, rather than a niche pitch, will bring more backers.

They’re wrong.

Your project’s most passionate backer audience will consist of people from your niche. Bring them on board with your niche pitch, and guess what? They’ll gladly pitch your project to people in their communities. And because personal reference is better than anything else, your backer circle will continue expanding from there.

Identify niche subgroups

Your project niche may well consist of a number of subgroups.

For instance, in the farming world your backer audience may include one or more of the following, depending on the nature of your crowdfunding project:

  • Family & friends
  • Farmer colleagues
  • City dwellers dedicated to sustainable farming
  • Farm suppliers
  • Farming niche media

Once you’ve identified your audience subgroups, put a face on them by answering these questions for each one:

  • What’s their average age, income, education?
  • Where do they live?
  • What interests them most?
  • What are their greatest aspirations, hopes, challenges, fears, frustrations?
  • What motivates them?

Once you’ve done this, write up a profile for each backer subgroup. Pay special attention to what their primary concerns or frustrations are. Know what motivates them.

This information will help you customize your crowdfunding story, campaign page, rewards/donation levels, video and social media/email communications in ways that speak directly to them, making your project personal.

Backers will become engaged with your project when (and only when) your project story resonates with them. If you know what their motivations, aspirations and concerns are, you’ll know how to connect with them through your project story.

food farming crowdfunding campaign

2. Design an identifiable brand for your campaign

Perhaps you already have a logo for your business (farm? urban garden? good food restaurant?). If so, you can use that logo for your project and spread the love of your business around during your campaign.

If you don’t yet have a logo, you’re a start-up or you simply want a unique logo for your crowdfunding project, don’t shortchange yourself. Spend the time and money necessary to create a great brand identification to weave into all your crowdfunding campaign marketing activities.

Your brand should tell your backers in a split second who you are, reflecting your goals and your spirit in a compelling way.

If your campaign page is a patchwork quilt of designs not integrated into a brand message, the page won’t work. Neither will your marketing literature.

Advice? Unless you’re an experienced designer, hands off. Either find a designer friend who will volunteer to create brand design for you—or bite the bullet, pull out your wallet and have one designed professionally.

It will pay off in the end.

food farming crowdfunding campaign3. Coin a compelling project and elevator pitch

Your project pitch should be a two- to three-sentence summary of the problem your project is addressing, the solution it’s offering and how it will impact your community and/or the world.

Remember, this isn’t just about you. It’s about your audience and what they want, too. Write your pitch in a way that speaks to these concerns.

For instance, if you want to raise $5,000 to build a greenhouse on your farm, you could say,

“Our farm needs to increase food production and community outreach. A larger greenhouse will let us accomplish this.”

While that may be true, what’s missing?

Precisely, a direct connection to your backer audience that tells them what’s in it for them. (Remember, you won’t know what this is unless you’ve done your homework in Item #1 above).

What benefits will your potential audience get from backing your project? I’m not talking here about specific donation rewards (we’ll talk about this later).

Rather, how will their concerns be addressed if your project is successful?

Incorporating that key information into your project pitch will make it much more compelling.

For instance, let’s say you know your audience will respond to actions that will increase (1) community food security and (2) community resilience. You could try this pitch:

“These days communities are weakened through dependence on the outside world for food. Without food imports we could be without food in a week!

We want to help change that. Our new greenhouse will:

  • Strengthen food security for everyone in our region by increasing our farm’s food production potential by [xtimes].
  • Cultivate community resilience by showing everyone how to grow backyard gardens through workshops in our new greenhouse.

Wouldn’t you like to take part in this movement by donating to our project?”

Now it’s time to turn your project pitch into a 30-second elevator pitch for people you run into in the real world. You might say something like this:

“We’re going to help our communities grow stronger and be more food secure with a new greenhouse that grows [Xtimes] more food than we do now—and lets us show others how to do that in their own back yards.”

See how I’ve put the benefits I know my audience cares about at the beginning of the pitch? That’s because it’s not primarily about me. It’s about my audience.

So, go ahead. Develop your story and elevator pitches.

Try them on friends and family to get their reaction. Do they understand it right away? Do they need further explanation? If so, your pitch isn’t right yet and you should go back to the drawing board.

You’ll know when you get it right because you’ll see your friend’s eyes light up in recognition.

Integrate this message throughout your marketing materials. It will become a compelling call to all your potential backers.

food farming crowdfunding campaign

4. Develop your project story and lay out your campaign page

You’ve worked up your project and elevator pitches. Now it’s time to write a lengthier story.

This should be quite easy. You’ve already studied successful project campaign stories and campaign pages in this post.

Look at them again to review what makes them compelling. Then begin writing your own.

Your project pitch will be the heart of your project story, included right at the beginning (right below your campaign page video). Continue by stating the how’s and why’s of your project in an engaging way. Reveal your human side and that of your project.

And—be specific about what the backer’s money will do.

Don’t be afraid to use graphs and photos, but include them in a storytelling way. Never throw them in as an afterthought.

You can also talk about your backstory in a way that supports your project’s vision.

Referring back to the greenhouse project in Item #3 above, you might talk about how you’ve incorporated this vision of community resilience and sustainability in other areas of your farm business.

Most importantly, make your narrative personal, as though talking to a friend.

Take her by the hand and walk her through your story. Engage her in a way that compels her to click that donate button and become part of your backer team!

food farming crowdfunding campaign

5. Produce a video for your campaign page

Include a video at the top of your campaign page. Consider making two versions:

  • pre-launch stage: Video end will offer email updates for crowdfunding campaign if viewers sign up. Post on your company website and regularly on social media platforms during pre-launch. Tweet regularly and send out to everyone on your initial contact list whenever you send out updates.
  • post-launch stage: Video end will include (1) a call to action question (“Can you help me reach my goal?”), and (2) a link/url to your campaign page with prominent start/end dates for easy sharing on social media channels.

In both cases, your video should be under three minutes. Don’t try to sneak in anything more as it goes beyond the normal attention span and viewers will lose interest.

Hiring a professional videographer does not guarantee project success. For instance, Will Potter produced his own video, and his “Drone on the Farm” video went viral:

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He looked directly into the camera, used a one-on-one approach, communicated his passion and concern—and ignored the rough edges. But he had obviously prepared, memorized and practiced a script beforehand. Make sure you do that, too, if you produce your own video.

Heart & Trotter’s video looks more professional, but is it any better than Will Potter’s video? See for yourself:

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Check out other videos from successful (and unsuccessful) campaigns in your food or farm niche to see what works and what doesn’t.

Then storyboard and make your video.

Whether you hire a professional or not, practice your presentation until you get it right. Look directly into the camera when you’re on. Show your passion for your crowdfunding project. And above all, don’t be afraid to be yourself.

food farming crowdfunding campaign

6. Build your website

It’s time to choose whether you will create a unique website for your crowdfunding project or include a crowdfunding section on your company website.

Whether you create a separate website or not will depend upon the nature and goal of your project. Either way, a home for your project away from the crowdfunding platform will allow you to throw your project net over a wider area.

You might also consider a project campaign blog where you can post benchmarks and experiences as you plan your campaign and—after it launches—as you push it forward.

You can also post to other pertinent blogs with links back to a landing page on your website (or to your campaign page) that can drive traffic to your campaign. (I show you how to identify the best ones for your project here.)

Either way, don’t skimp on website design!

Your website may be the first impression potential backers get of your crowdfunding project and your business.

So make it into an eye-catcher. Use expert help if necessary.

And don’t forget to include call-to-action (CTA) buttons on all project campaign pages. You don’t want to leave any doubt as to what your potential backer must do next: Make a donation!

Do you think there’s something else I should cover for this pre-launch tell-your-story portion of your crowdfunding campaign? Let me know here or add your ideas to the comment box below.

Meanwhile, have you begun filling out your Crowdfunding Campaign Promotion Worksheet? If not, start now!

OK. You have your story. Now it’s time to build your audience. Discover how to do that in my next post: “Discover Powerful Backers for Your Crowdfunding Campaign—and Keep Them.”

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