Stats have shown that a crowdfunding campaign has the most momentum in the first and last three days. And that means you really want to get as many backers as possible in those crucial first days. But how do you make sure that happens and you’re not still sitting at 0% after a week?
The secret to success is your existing network. It’s going to be much easier to convince your friends and family to back your idea than it to get total strangers to. Your existing business network will be invaluable too.
So if you’re now asking, “How do I leverage my network for the best results?”, you’re in the right place. Read this guide to get the lowdown on how to make the most of your network when crowdfunding.
Segmenting your network
The first step to leveraging your network is to figure out exactly who is in it. If you have to, write down a list of everyone you know. You’ll then want to split these people into different groups, depending on your relationship and how well you know them. Working with your personal network can be tricky, and the last thing you want to do is cause offence. This means you’re going to be targeting different parts of your network in different ways. We’ll break some of them down now:
Friends and family
Your close friends and family are the first place to start when crowdfunding. Quite simply, they’re going to believe in you a little bit more than a random stranger. Get in touch with them before the campaign begins, explaining to them the details of your campaign – what it’s for, what you’re looking to raise and when the deadline is. It goes without saying, but try not to just send a generic email to your parents. Personal phone calls and messages are always the best bet.
This group is the one you want to get fully committed before the campaign begins, so you know you’ve got guaranteed pledges before it goes live. As we’ve said, the first few days are crucial. Nobody wants to be the first to donate, and people are more likely to back your campaign if it’s already got a fair bit of support.
Don’t neglect your friends and family though, or take their support for granted. Show you appreciate them by throwing a launch party on the day your campaign goes live. This is a good idea generally – crowdfunding is stressful, and this’ll give you a chance to blow off some steam and see the excitement in what you’re doing. If you like, you can have a laptop set up for initial pledges to make it easier and get the ball rolling.
This is a broad group, that could probably do with being broken down further. However, exactly how you’ll break it down will depend on who you know. For instance, here are some of the groups you might include in this category:
- Distant relatives
- Friends of friends (who you’ve met before)
- Family friends
The common denominator here is you probably won’t feel as comfortable outright asking these people for money over the phone. An email tends to be a better bet, with a full explanation of your campaign – what it’s for, how much you’re raising and how much you’re asking them for.
“But,” I hear you say, “how do I do this without angering half of my parents’ friends?”
The key is a personalised note at the top of the email. If you’re tech-savvy, you can use Mailchimp to add a personalised message using merge tags – meaning you won’t have to write the same email over and over again.
Your professional network
Your professional network is as valuable as ever when you’re crowdfunding. Make a list of business contacts you’ve got a good relationship with, and put together a solid email outreach strategy for contacting them. If you’re offering a business solution, these people are also the ones who are most likely to be interested in your product and are likely to be your target market. Even if that’s not the case, word of mouth can do wonders for your campaign. Drop them a message, letting them know about your upcoming campaign and ask them to share the information with their own contacts.
Your employees’ and co-founders’ networks
Of course, don’t just leverage your own network. If you’ve got a team – whether it’s employees or co-founders – ask them to share the campaign with their own personal and professional networks. Even with just one co-founder, you can very quickly and effectively double your outreach.
As well as people you actually know, take advantage of what’s going on in your local area. Build relationships with local journalists, and send them a press release about your crowdfunding campaign. You’ve got the advantage that your campaign is basically a local interest piece. And if it gets enough traction in your local area, it might make it to national press. A good, well-placed story can do wonders for your campaign – so make the most of these opportunities!
Want to know more about outreach? Read our in-depth guide to email outreach for a crowdfunding campaign.