After seeing thousands of failed crowdfunding campaigns, an Indiegogo manager got sick of people making the same predictable mistakes.
What makes a crowdfunding campaign fall on its face? Ask the guy who sees this happen every single day he goes to work. And after seeing one too many avoidable mistakes, Indiegogo executive Udayan Sinha wrote them down and shared them with a packed audience of musicians, producers, and instrument inventors at the NAMM conference in Anaheim, California. That included a number of critical errors that always seem to destroy otherwise great campaigns.
What are these errors? According to Sinha, these are 12 things you should never, ever do in your crowdfunding campaign:
(1) Set a totally unrealistic price target.
Everyone wants to reach $1 million, but be very careful about setting outlandish targets. Instead, it’s far better to set a modest, achievable goal first, then wildly exceed it. “Do not set unrealistic crowdfunding goals,” Sinha relayed. “It’s far better to blow it out of the water than to miss it by a mile.
(2) Get the money, then fail to deliver the product.
If you like telling a bunch of enthusiastic supporters that trusted you to go f–k themselves, then this is a great thing to do. Otherwise make sure you can deliver your product, or at least make a seriously heroic effort to make it happen.
(3) Set the wrong time frame.
Successful crowdfunding is all about raising the greatest amount of money from the largest number of possible donors. But setting the proper timeframe can be really difficult.
So, a few pro tips:
(a) 45 days usually the best, it’s the “sweet spot” according to Sinha.
(b) Be careful: 30 days goes fast. “You may get traction late in the crowdfunding campaign,” Sinha warned.
(c) 60 days is typically too long, and often reduces the urgency you need to raise cash.
(4) Fail to convey a crystal clear product idea.
Here’s a crowdfunding golden rule: if people are on the fence about something, they typically won’t donate. Instead, donors almost always rally around something that is very clearly described, with a razor-sharp, strong product attached.
(5) Fail to cater heavily to American or European donors.
When it comes to crowdfunding, donors are typically concentrated in North America and Europe. “America is number one,
Europe is next,” Sinha relayed.
That said, there are some localized audiences to be tapped, and you will see specific countries responding if they are targeted directly.
(6) Start a campaign cold.
Successful campaigns rarely appear out of the blue. Instead, there can be months (or more) of prep work, especially around core donors and participants. Sinha recommended that crowdfunders pitch their products to their core communities 30-60 days before the official start date, so things are already warm when you officially start. “That way your crowd will come on day one, because they knew it was coming for about 30 days.”
(7) Assume your crowd knows what crowdfunding is.
The concept of crowdfunding has been around for years, but that doesn’t mean your audience knows what it is. And it certainly isn’t a global phenomenon (see #5). Therefore, it’s critical to know your audience, and introduce them to crowdfunding if needed. “The other 80% are being introduced to crowdfunding for the first time,” Sinha relayed.
(8) Start your campaign slowly.
Your existing target group should have been approached during the ‘soft launch’ period, with tons of momentum rolling into day one. “Are you going to hit 30 percent in the first two days? Then reconsider your campaign.”
(9) Decide not to answer emails or requests.
If you’re going to take the money, then answer people’s questions, especially if they’re contributing. You should be totally pumped up about the idea, and constantly convey that energy. “Be ready to be all hands on deck, and on-point answering questions,” Sinha said.
“Otherwise people will start to get very cynical.”
(10) Not creating something special for your biggest supporters.
The biggest donors should get the juiciest prizes, and they should get them first. Make awesome perks, and encourage big dollar spending!
(11) Not targeting the niche that will respond to your product.
Only a certain type of person is interested in a special product for grooming horses or improving vinyl record quality. Target those users, not the general population. As an example, Sinha pointed to the Seiun Hi-Res Audio Player, a supremely successful campaign that targeted donors through specialized, high-end audio and technology sites.
(12) Not patenting your idea.
Remember that crowdfunding is also a giant advertisement, and an easy way to get an idea poached (even by big companies). “A provisional patent is definitely worthwhile,” Sinha told Digital Music News.
Crashed bus image by Phyllis Buchanan, adapted under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC by NA 2.0) license.