We all know the crowdfunding dream: Come up with an interesting idea, slap together a pitch, and throw it on your crowdfunding site of choice. Next, sit back and wait for the money to pile in and your idea to go viral.
Ask Alex Daly about that strategy, and she might start laughing.
While it might be a new concept to some people, there is indeed a need for crowdfunding consulting.
Since Daly began working on crowdfunding campaigns in June 2012, she has consulted for everything from indie documentaries to journalism startups — funding all 26 campaigns to or past their goals. She raised $US6 million for Neil Young’s Pono Music Player, $US800,000 for a reissuing of the NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual, and $US180,000 for a gaming console for dogs. Many call her “the Crowdsorceress.”
Daly is currently running her latest campaign to help fund the documentary “To the Edge of the Sky,” about four families trying to access life-saving drugs for their kids.
Four factors distinguish successful campaigns from the ones that flop, according to Daly.
Exclusivity ramps up excitement and forces people to join the campaign if they want the product or service.
Daly worked on one exclusive project with Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Riese, who wrote “The Lean Startup.” At the lowest levels, the campaign offered backers exclusive access to Riese’s new book, “The Leader’s Guide,” as well as a copy of Riese’s next non-exclusive book.
Higher backing levels offered mentorship and meetings with Riese and his associates so people could get feedback on their own startup ideas. Throughout the campaign, Riese released exclusive content to backers, including webinars, workshops, and Q&As. Unsurprisingly, the exclusivity paid off. With Daly’s help, Riese raised $US588,000. His goal was only $US135,000.
2. A built-in audience
Successful campaigns often rely on a core audience with passion for a particular subject. That doesn’t mean you need a big-name celebrity or campaign organiser with a huge social media following to make it work. It’s the quality and passion of your core audience that matters, Daly says — not necessarily its size.
“What you need is a built-in audience that is savvy online and has the resources to donate,” Daly said.
One such person was Joan Didion, the essayist who has a relatively high-brow following. Last November, Daly helped run a campaign for a documentary on Didion by her nephew, filmmaker Griffin Dunne.
While some people may have never heard of Didion, Dunne and Daly knew a core community of writers, bloggers, and literary people would love the project. Beyond that, the project’s success relied on that community’s familiarity with Kickstarter and its ability to donate. They were right. The campaign raised $US221,000 on a goal of $US80,000.
People like to feel connected to groups or individuals they’re backing, and that accessibility can drive a campaign over the top. When Daly ran the Kickstarter campaign for R&B group TLC in January, she helped it come up with rewards that created a sense of “intimacy” with their fans.
That intimacy gave them a further reason to donate. The campaign offered exclusive remixes, behind-the-scenes updates, a handwritten list of the group’s 15 favourite songs, pre-concert meet and greets, private video chats, and even a slumber party with the group.
“These are special mementos and experiences that provide accessibility to people that won’t be available again,” Daly said.
Before becoming “the Crowdsorceress,” Daly worked in documentary film. But that isn’t the only reason she thinks a successful Kickstarter needs a professional-quality video. The video reflects the level of thought you’ve put in the project, Daly says. It’s the first thing people interact with on Kickstarter and, when it’s compelling, it’s all you need to sell potential backers on a campaign’s worthiness.
“The video and the Kickstarter page are a reflection of who you are and what your project is. If they don’t look good, how can they know you are going to deliver?” Daly says.
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