One of the (many) things I love about the Stage 32 is the inquisitive nature of the community. A majority of our members realize that education is an ongoing process that never ends. Whether it a Lounge discussion or simply letters we receive, there is always a desire to learn.
The subject that seems to be on many of your minds these days is crowdfunding. This is a relatively new wrinkle for those looking to produce films, plays, television shows, and webseries. It's not so new, however, where by virtue of placing your project on a crowdfunding site, you have the spotlight entirely to yourself. The completion for eyeballs is fierce.
So how do you cut through the noise and rise above? What alternate skills - marketing, for example - should you be honing?
I've asked a couple of experts in the field to give the Stage 32 community some insight and guidance. In true collaborative spirit, they generously and graciously accepted.
Today's post comes from Stage 32 member, Sharmeen Gangat, a leading voice in entertainment marketing and a hell of a nice person to boot.
Next week, we'll hear from independent producer, and Stage 32 member, Mark Stolaroff.
Have you launched your crowdfunding campaign but are receiving no traction - even though you've messaged thousands of people who you found painstakingly on the internet?
The bad news is that you're a tad too late. Marketing of your crowdfunding campaign should begin BEFORE it is launched. Ideally, you should give yourself a 3-month marketing window before the actual campaign.
WHAT IS CROWDFUNDING MARKETING?
Messaging is the backbone of crowdfunding marketing - what you say, to whom, and how. It begins with the following two elements/questions:
Knowing your audience gives you power. Here are the two points you must follow while developing the audience contact sheet.
Resist the temptation to message everybody on your contact list. Research and determine who might be interested in your project - even if they are not on your email lists. I often recommend clients to break down their potential targets into lists, depending on the project and its reach requirements. For instance, your project might need lists of friends, family, colleagues, fans/cheerleaders, influencers, and trailblazers. Whatever your specific lists are, fill in at least 10 names under each category. I always recommend starting small and staying close to home and then working your way out.
Build individual profiles that allows for contact to be made in a fashion which is appropriate and fitting. Knowing what drives the target person will help you position your message accordingly. Similarly, understanding the factors or people that influence your target's choice will determine the addition and subtraction of campaign communication ingredients during the outreach process.
THE MESSAGE DRAFT:
No matter how skilled a writer you are (which I am sure most of you are), marketing message development is a different beast altogether. It is more of a psychological game than creative expression.
Here are the few core elements to remember if you're attempting to create your own campaign message.
Let the campaign message not be about the project: This might surprise you, but it's true. People invest in people, not projects. You should be able to sell yourself before hoping to sell your idea because potential backers need to know:
As such, your goal should be to:
Throw away the logical glasses. Time and again, psychologists have stressed the significance of emotion over reason in fundraising. People make decisions about you and your project on the basis of 'gut feeling' or intuition. When it comes to emotions, we have to look at several intangible factors that affect their "giving" decisions, such as:
If you target sharply and communicate responsibly, help will come your way.
ADVICE FROM OTHER EXPERTS:
For my blog, I asked several platform executives and those whose projects have been successfully funded about crowdfunding marketing strategies that work, and here is what they said:
Benji Rogers (CEO of PledgeMusic): You, the artist, must not appear desperate. Create incredible campaigns, engage with your fans, and don't simply ask for money.
Ben Hamilton (Community Manager at PleaseFund.Us): Build a story behind your campaign, and let it resonate with people. It's often the story that people buy in to, and not necessarily the idea.
Matthew Benetti (Marketing & Partnerships Manager at Pozible): The biggest key to success is probably research, planning, and engaging with audiences. Successful project creators constantly engage with their audience and put a lot of work into building their online fan-base, before and during the campaign - without spamming!
Ali Berlinski (Author who successfully raised funds for her book and received a publishing deal from the platform's publishing arm): They say it takes a village to raise a child and similarly, it takes a community to publish a book. In order to fundraise, you really need to reach out to your community, extended community, and then even your extended community's extended community. And when I say reach out, I mean on a personal level.
Devon Glenn (who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for her novel, and is an editor at Social Times): Deep down, people want something they can't buy at Walmart: something truly special that they discovered and brought into the light. Give them a project they can feel proud to support. Enthusiasm and persistence go a long way. When people see that you're serious about what you do and that others are backing you up, they'll be more inclined to join.
Sharmeen Akbani Gangat is an art and entertainment marketer. For her, marketing is messaging - and she applies that principle in her professional life: she earned the chance to work on UNTV's promotional video marketing package for World Summit through a cold call pitch; prospected and secured 15 new web 2.0 clients for a start-up within a month's time; and, wrote sales letters that sold millions of dollars worth of products and services. She is a certified filmmaker from New York University and holds a master's degree from Columbia University. She also taught marketing classes and conducted branding workshops at Hunter College and New York University.
Sharmeen is available for questions and remarks in the Comments section below.