Crowdfunding campaigns are a great way to launch your project or brand as a “soft-opening”. Crowdfunding has many advantages for entrepreneurs. It already means having constructive feedback on the product or service offered from a sympathetic audience, but also testing your offer, in particular the way of marketing and finally, validating your business model. Finally, it is also the possibility of pre-selling your product and therefore financing the first production.
In recent years, we have seen crowdfunding campaigns appear that are increasingly professional and qualitative in their presentation, with impactful messages that have convinced a large audience and therefore performed well. One of the first examples, the Respire brand, in cosmetics, with a campaign that seems simple, but which has been worked on for a long time.
I'm going to break the myth but you should know that no crowdfunding campaign launched without preparation has gone viral . NONE. A well-prepared campaign can aspire to go viral, which is where luck comes in. But great campaigns have always been well-prepared.
There are methods and above all key points, here I detail what Paulin and I did and learned during our crowdfunding campaign with the launch of Neo by Nature.
Before getting started
The first piece of advice is to understand what you want to sell, and to whom. This is the very principle of a society and it goes far beyond the scope of crowdfunding campaigns. It’s about defining your goals. As mentioned above, NO campaign has been a success without enormous preparation in advance. So, to carry out a campaign like Breathe, you need significant financial resources, significant human resources and a lot of time. In other words, when you set your objective, you must be aware that you will not carry out the Breathe campaign alone, with 850 euros in two weeks.
Once the objective is defined, the starting point is the platform. Determine who to get started with: Ulule or KissKissBankBank? (I am often told about other platforms, but in my experience the question has not arisen, the audiences are really bigger on the two mentioned above). Moreover, you must keep in mind that your future contributors will at some point have to take out their credit card to enter their banking information on a website, it is still more reassuring when it is on a platform that we know.
As for the choice, it was Paulin who managed this point at Neo and what I remember is that the two are quite similar in operation and in approach. The final decision ultimately depends more on the feeling with the person who will accompany you.
Super important! Contact the platforms and request support and follow-up from them. We must not forget one thing, Ulule and KissKissBankBank take a commission on your pre-sales, so they have every interest in helping you make your campaign a success. They also have internal coaches whose role is this. Ask them as much as possible, they are real gold mines of experience. We had two people who accompanied us, they will recognize each other (Big up and thank you!). They are better than all the coaches on earth at guiding you through a crowdfunding launch. It's what they do all day, and they know their platform better than anyone.
Then, depending on the campaign objectives, there are communication agencies specialized in crowdfunding campaigns. It's not cheap (2K to 10k euros for the best known), but it guarantees affiliate program automation and upstream communication campaigns. We chose to hire an agency that helped us carry out numerous activations to energize the before, during and after the campaign.
A project starts with a good video
It may seem logical, but in reality if you wander around Ulule, KissKissBankBank, take a random project that doesn't work very well, the video is often disappointing. So, obviously, it all depends on the objectives and the budget that you want to allocate to your campaign. We'll talk more about it later in the article, but a good video is not an expense to save when launching a campaign.
It's quite logical, you get people who don't know you to support your project that they don't know, and they will receive the products (often) several months later, all for your beautiful eyes. Well, your eyes have to be beautiful and that's the video that sets the tone.
Our first scenario was long, around 5 minutes. We found a great team of videographers, they laughed and told us it was way too long. A classic project is 2 minutes max. UNLESS the service or product is really complex. Otherwise, no exceptions. You must not forget that the video allows you to validate the project, but also the team, it allows you to feel your dynamism. Beyond 2 minutes, you really have to be excellent at keeping the audience interested and focused.
The quality of the video is debated. A low-quality video often seems more sincere in the "help me create this" approach, but a good quality video is reassuring about your ability to do what you're setting out to do. Personally, there is one point that I find extremely important, more than the image, it is the sound. A video with wind noises or crackling sounds will be disqualified even if the background interests me. So, if you make your video alone, MICRO-LAVIE obligatory, it doesn't cost much, and it really makes the difference with the microphones installed in smartphones.
Note: since our campaign, BOKU has launched its French-style Japanese toilets and from memory, its video was long! But he had a knack for keeping the content interesting and gave an incredible performance.
If you're not Brad Pitt or Angélina Jolie, 2 min max.
Create your community
Building a community before the crowdfunding campaign is really important. The community is a well of people interested in the project, but especially in the message/values that you carry. When Justine Hutteau launched Respire at the end of 2018, I remember more than 35,000 people following her Instagram account, and above all were qualified (in the target), in the spirit of Respire, well-being, sport, naturalness. Obviously, that helps.
The question is how to build your community?
So there are several recipes, if you are super comfortable in front of the camera, you can activate your networks by offering quality content to your followers and little by little your community will grow.
Another way to penetrate your ecosystem is to follow Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or other accounts in the ecosystem/industry in which you want to launch your product or service. Ask questions and seek advice from influential people in this ecosystem. This type of exchange allows you to refine the quality of your project as much as possible: even if you think you are the best, we sometimes have revelations when talking to others. Engaging recognized people in your project is reassuring for you, but also for all the other players who revolve around it.
Specialized blogs are also an interesting way to approach industry enthusiasts. By creating articles, interviews and other analysis, we grow a qualified audience passionate about your industry.
The media are generally reluctant to publish on new products, especially if they are not even in a crowdfunding campaign yet. But if you have the opportunity to communicate through media, it is also an acquisition channel to build a strong and diverse community.
Finally, one of the strongest ways to grow our community before the campaign was the interactions around the product: organizing test sessions, co-construction workshops, and beta-testing campaigns allow attention to grow. scope of the project.
Engage your circle
So what are the different circles?
Circle 1: Family and close friends.
Circle 2: Friends of friends and friends of family.
Circle 3: Madame Michu whom you absolutely do not know.
To succeed, you will have understood, it is circle 3 that counts, because your circles 1 and 2 represent a maximum of a few hundred people. To reach circle 3, the most effective way is not to advertise on Instagram, because as you know, the best advertising is word of mouth. So you have to start with circle 1, its components become super committed ambassadors of your brand, who extol your merits to all those who want - or not - to hear it. Naturally, if your circle 1 has worked well, your circle 2 begins to be engaged. And they are the ones who unlock circle 3. This is obviously the hardest, because we have no way of controlling the messages that are transmitted. The quality of the message is lost from intermediary to intermediary.
Ask for advice
When you start your campaign, you think directly about the visuals and the offers. This is not necessarily the best starting point. With Paulin, when we started, we didn't really know where to start. So we contacted lots of people who had done crowdfunding campaigns before us to get their feedback. (Two-franc advice: ideally do not contact people in the same industry, some can be a little restrained). Overall, a large number of people agreed to share their experience with us. We got the juicy stories, the behind the scenes, the scoops. This is really important because the methods presented in this blog post are the ones that have worked for us at Neo by Nature. Each offer is different and therefore the acquisition methods are too. In any case, with all these leads, we had resources to exploit.
For us, the media was a revelation, I can say with confidence that almost half of the contributors who supported us heard us on the radio, read in the press or saw us on TV. (Yeah, we were on TV 😊). Being validated by a third party who has the trust of the audience creates a real guarantee of quality for the brand.
So, to succeed, there are two schools: write your press release yourself and distribute it by adding journalists on LinkedIn, or by using sites that automate sending to hundreds of journalists. We've had some great posts/live radio on LinkedIn, so don't be afraid to target some media outlets yourself.
And the second school, which tends to choose a press relations agency, helping to write the press release and which broadcasts it live with their contacts. Very early on, in the campaign preparations, we chose this option and to be frank, we bet on the wrong horse. 10 days after the launch, we didn't have a release. All in all, we asked other entrepreneurs the agencies they worked with, then we changed and since then, we have regularly had quality publications. In other words, not all PR agencies are equal. My advice, depending on the industry you are entering, is to find the agency that knows the specialized press well, this is a significant advantage.
Note: what I remember from the rules of journalism is that you need news that arrives at a key moment in a story. (e.g. a march against global warming. The march being the news and the fight against global warming being the story/context). Your news must have a tone of urgency to be covered by a media that can only do so at that moment.
Ads campaign (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Once again we were surprised. We had a real budget for online ads and we didn't spend it all.
The reason, our internet advertisements had a super low conversion rate. Some tell us that our visuals/messages were perhaps not impactful enough. I can't believe it because we tried so many visuals and messages, but none of the campaigns really took off.
I also hear from entrepreneurs who have told me that digital advertising campaigns have had a huge impact on the success of their campaign, so I resolve to believe that each campaign is different and therefore, the recipes for success are different .
There are plenty of agencies that offer to help you manage campaigns, I advise you to get recommended agencies from other companies for whom it has worked well. (Personally, I am wary of the “experts” who ask me every day on LinkedIn to “scale conversions on networks using their unique method”).
We hear everything about it. I don't have information on other campaigns to share with you, and even if I did, I couldn't share it with you. (#JeAmUneTombe). But in concrete terms, I see campaigns with very little budget (a few thousand euros) and others with enormous resources (several tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros) successful.
For our part, the total campaign cost us around 30/35k euros.
“That's all I can say about that” – Forrest Gump
The best advice for the end. Launching a campaign takes time, and preparation time is major in the campaign's chances of success. In my opinion, allow 3 to 6 months to properly prepare for the campaign.
Second major tip, everything must be ready before pressing the campaign launch button. I remember before the campaign telling myself that it would be a relaxing period, because we had really spent time preparing everything in advance. In reality, the campaign is a long-distance race. You have to be focused every day, to correct, rectify and improve. Because you will see, nothing ever goes as planned.
Every campaign is different, because every product is. The most important thing is to test, retest and validate the hypotheses that work. Once again, these tools are the ones that worked for Neo by Nature. You will find what works for you by trying as many acquisition channels as possible.
Good luck with your campaign,