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Surviving the Crowdfunding Bell Curve

| Crowdfunding

Funding on any crowdfunding platform has a bell curve. You will see a large influx of donations in the first and last days of your funding period but the middle may sag. The middle is the stress point, the time when you will see donations twittle and engagement slow down. We call these the sleepless curve nights because it’s a jarring experience. The good news is you can survive and keep donations rolling during the sleepless nights if you play your hand right. First, pre-plan for this to happen and have a game plan. However, This isn’t always going to work and if you’re reading this because you can’t sleep, no worries we have ideas on how to pull out of this slump as well. But, before creating a solution, you must understand why funding is bell curved, let’s tackle that.

 

Why funding is bell curved

To be honest, multiple factors can play into why funding is bell curved, from your marketing strategy or quality of content to even what season you are funding in. The most prominent factor, however, has nothing to do with your project and everything to do with your crowdfunding platform. The more projects there are on a crowdfunding platform, the more prominent your project bell curve will become, why? The platform’s sorting of projects.

 

Platforms generally provide tools to find the newest projects on their platform and the ones ending soon, this makes sense but by proxy, it also creates the funding bell curve. Platforms do not have a “mid-life” sorting functionality (Though maybe we should introduce this in the future 🙂 ) so your project will eventually merge into this middle ground, a sea of projects, battling to stand out from the crowd. Thus reducing the chances your project will be shown.

 

Another major factor is human psychology, believe it or not, crowdfunding is highly psychological. We get excited about new products and the possibilities they introduce. Take Apple as a good example: If Apple announced and released a new iPhone tomorrow, people would be ecstatic to get their hands on it but only if it brought innovation to the table. However, if Apple announced their new iPhone tomorrow then proceeded to wait six months for release, there would be fewer people lining up for it. It’s all about riding the hype train in the beginning.

 

Projects in the ending soon phase also play into human psychology with the “want what you can’t have” mentality, the fact of “this project will soon not be unavailable” is a huge motivator for people to back your project. Pair this with additional visibility on the platform, and you will see project funding increase at the end of your funding duration. However, this generally only works on people interested in your project and has little effect on someone new.

 

Tackling the curve

How do we fight the curve? There are many ways, but we will focus on the two most effective ways, pre-planning/marketing and during funding marketing.

 

Pre-planning

Do the majority of your planning before you start funding in order to get the best results on any platform.The more you do before funding the more successful your funding period will be. This includes giving your idea a public face and constructing a community. One way of helping to build a highly engaged community is to start an emailing list. Seriously, never underestimate the power of a strong pre-built emailing list. The key is to not only get a large number of subscribers but cultivate subscribers who actively engage with what you’re publishing. This will help to build your following (word of mouth) and provide a good way to convey the important news to interested people.

The idea behind building an emailing list is that if someone is willing to sign up on your mailing list, they’re most likely interested in backing you when you crowdfund.

 

Other avenues outside of an engaging, ongoing email list are to build social media outreach and provide information on how you are going to launch your project. Are you going to use a crowd speaking platform to announce your crowdfunding launch? Do you have a local ground game? What social media posts will be involved? All of these questions should be addressed before going on a platform.

 

Ok, this is great Dreams.Build, but how does this combat the crowdfunding curve? Well, the short answer is, by making your project viral. You want to secure at least 40% of your funding goal within the first week of your crowdfunding project being live. Having a strong opening will create a feeling of excitement for new visitors. If you see a project less than a week old and already 1/3rd of the way to their funding goal, you automatically think it must be a good project and this is before you read the content or watch the project video. People generally want to be in on the next big hit.

 

The initial following will help create an ongoing buzz for your project, generate hype on your project page, and expand your social media. Keep in mind that only about 1/3rd of your following will contribute to your crowdfunding project. This number is usually higher, but it’s better to be prepared than underprepared when you go live.

 

During Funding

Sometimes pre-planning doesn’t always go as planned, it’s a tough crowd out there. So, what if you’ve had a weak opening and find your project in the stress filled curve looking to push more donations? It’s not the time to throw in the towel, remember you’re an entrepreneur, and we usually operate our best when we have the least. It’s time to do a marketing shift for your project.

Find out why people are not backing the project; yes, you are on the curve, what about the pre-curve? The reason(s) why people are not donating is insanely important, one of the best ways to find out is to ask strangers what their thoughts are as they review your project page. Why Strangers? Simple, they don’t know you. Unfortunately, friends can be a great support network, but that’s the reason why they’re terrible for unbiased feedback. A stranger will be more likely to tell you how they feel about your project. Some great locations to get crowdfunding feedback would be startup incubators, crowdfunding forums (we have those built in 🙂 ), and online communities like Reddit. Those resources will be disconnected enough to give you an unbiased review.

 

Once you’ve pinpointed some pain areas in your project, it’s time to redesign and get the word out to people. The best way to do this is to run a Thunderclap or Headtalker campaign for your crowdfunding campaign. This will get your project in front of more eyes that are interested in crowdfunding. It is an increasing trend to run a campaign on crowd speaking platforms for projects to boost their middle funding. The goal here is not to get greedy and reach for a high number of donations, since the higher the sponsor count, the higher the chances of not hitting it. For this we would recommend going for 25 – 50 people as a Thunderclap goal to ensure you hit your goal. Hitting your goal will give a boost to your funding and to your visibility making this the best way to improve the mid-funding slump.

 

Another creative avenue is to reach out to review sites that handle your project area and ask them to review your project. This will create buzz around your project as well as garner testimonies. You can reach out to reporters by sending them a postcard (to their main office) to get their attention (hopefully). Some services let you send a postcard anywhere in the world for just .70 cents. This will let you test the reception in a professional but cost effective manner. Another avenue you can use to get your project front and center is to do a press release about your project on a service like CrowdfundingPR where you can publish one for free; however, a paid release is more likely to get picked up. Just make sure your idea is press release worthy. Look to see if your local news will pick up your project idea before going with a national Press Release service. Reason being, press releases cost a pretty penny, and if the local news has a hard time writing a story, you’re better off using those funds on social media.

 

Closure

Crowdfunding can be tough work but knowing ahead of time the intricacies of how funding works can save you much a lot of stress and sleepless nights. We can all use less of those, am I right? As with all crowdfunding, pre-planning can save you many headaches when it comes to managing your project. Even if you do not pre-plan, there is always a path to success, especially if you get creative. Utilizing services like crowd speaking and building an email list while crowdfunding can have great synergy and can help combat slow funding periods.

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