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5 Proven Crowdfunding Marketing Tactics To Get More Backers

Published by Salvador Briggman. Find him on Twitter.

This might be a bit of a controversial post. I’m about to break down some of the marketing principles that the most successful crowdfunding campaigns use to get backers and funding.

These are POWERFUL tactics that should only be used if you truly believe you have an awesome product that will benefit the lives of your Kickstarter or Indiegogo backers.

Also, although some of these can be used for personal cause campaigns, as I’ve outlined here, I think that they’re primarily effective for product-centric crowdfunding campaigns.

1. A sense of urgency is what prompts action

The reason that people take action is because there’s an impending deadline or other event, which creates a sense of urgency.

I don’t know about you, but I was definitely one of those kids who procrastinated most of the college semester and then crammed two days before the exam. Many of my nights were spent in the library the day before a final paper was due.

Of course, the best and most rational thing to do is to plan, take action according to your plan, and see the desired result. But, most people aren’t rational. We’re guided by our emotions.

When someone feels a sense of urgency about a particular activity, they will:

  • Focus and drone out distractions.
  • Take massive action in a small amount of time.
  • Overcome hurdles that would normally set them back.
  • Pay less attention to hindering emotions or thoughts.
  • Look to short-cut signals to make micro decisions.
  • Take more risks.

I’ve written and spoken extensively about the crowdfunding slump or Kickstarter slump. Many campaigners see an influx of pledges towards the beginning and end of their campaign. Both of these events create a sense of urgency among backers, whether it’s to claim limited quantity reward tiers or get in before the doors close on your campaign.

The best creators or entrepreneurs are able to prompt action throughout the duration of their crowdfunding campaign. But, the great thing about crowdfunding is that the basic model encourages urgency due to the temporal nature of the fundraiser.

It’s your job, as a campaign manager, to communicate this emotion to your backers, so that they feel this urgency. Don’t just assume they’ll feel it. Communicate it. Repeatedly.

2. Social Proof creates trust and lowers defensive barriers

I’m a pretty normal soon to be 25 year old young man living in NYC. I don’t smell, I’m reasonably intelligent, and I’m told I have a nice smile.

But, if I was to go up to a random person on the street and say “Hi, nice day, right?” more often than not, I’d get looks of confusion, suspicion, annoyance, and many people would politely smile and rush past.

I know this because I actually do this some times just to work on my social skills and face social fear.

People are naturally suspicious in our culture of strangers and businesses that we haven’t heard of before. It’s because the person suspects that the other person wants something from them, which puts them on the defensive and raises their guard.

There is no familiarity, trust, or value in the interaction. Also, everyone else is on their way to work or another destination, so it feels “weird” for them to respond to or stop and talk to a complete stranger. It’s an interruption.

Social proof is one way to jump this barrier and gain instant trust. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

“Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”

When a product or individual has social proof, others will approach them from a perspective of curiosity rather than skepticism.

They’re more likely to take a second to watch your video or read your pitch because “other people think it’s cool, so I might as well check it out.”

It’s basically thinking that just because a book is bestselling that it’s probably good and worth buying. You might even take less time to check it out than a non-bestselling book.

If you’ve ever seen a bunch of people surrounding one person in a group setting, I’m willing to bet you thought, “Is that a celebrity?” or you were more apt to go and join the crowd yourself to see who they were.

When you lead with social proof, rather than being skeptical, the backer is more likely to focus on the deal, unique design, or awesome technology. They’ll be curious instead of suspicious.

Ways to create social proof:

  • Testimonials
  • Genuine activity and sales
  • Comments section
  • Media hits/write-ups
  • Social sharing
  • Reviews/ratings
  • Credentials and endorsements

3. Build relationships at scale

Okay, I get A LOT of emails and many of them start like this…

“Hey Sal. Love the blog and podcast. Tell me, how do I get strangers to back my campaign?”

First of all, I don’t do consulting at the moment and always direct people to my online course. I only provide advice if it benefits the community, like on my forums or the comments section. I wish I could provide it one-on-one, but I simply don’t have enough hours in the day.

Second of all, you can’t get strangers to back your campaign. However, you can turn strangers into FRIENDS and then get them to back your campaign. It’s a subtle distinction.

The way you do this is by building relationships at scale, which I have talked about a lot in the past.

Here’s the idea summed up. Since everyone thinks you want something from them, break the pattern by giving them something. It has to be something they want and it has to add value to their life in some way.

The more you give, the more someone starts to feel like they know you, the more they get a sense of your values, and eventually, they’ll develop an emotional connection with you.

This is EXACTLY why we feel like we “know” big-name YouTubers or celebrities and are completely okay shouting out their name in public or buying something they endorse. In fact, I’d go so far as saying that we feel like we “love” certain comedians because we relate with them so much and almost consider them to be a friend.

When you put out content in the form of videos, emails, social media posts, blog posts, or images that educate, inspire, or entertain, you’re investing in the relationship with your potential backers and customers.

We’re willing to watch a 5 minute video created by a random person in the world if it makes us say “wow,” laugh until we cry, or if it resonates with us and inspires us to be a better person.

Ultimately, you are going to be making mini-asks and eventually a big ask, but until that time, you’re simply building relationships at scale. Doing this over a span of time, you can get 1,000 people on your email list or to follow you on a particular social media channel. That’s what gives you the leverage that you need to CRUSH IT during your first week.

4. Story trumps logic

When is the last time that you sat through a two hour long YouTube video lecture? Probably never (though if you have, that’s awesome!).

But, people around the world are 100% okay with sitting through a 2 hour movie in a dark room. Even if the movie sucks, they’ll stick around because they want to find out what happens.

The same goes for TV shows. How many times have we heard friends say “okay, let’s just see what happens and then we’ll change the channel.” We’ll default to this even if it’s a trashy show or it isn’t good and we pretty much know what’s going to happen.

Stories are powerful for three reasons:

  • They create anticipation
  • They hold attention
  • They encourage empathy with the characters and challenges

If you want someone to feel exactly how you felt in a given situation, weave a story around that event. Don’t just tell them how you felt.

Quite simply, the best stories communicate information and make you like or at least feel close to the main character. They are a powerful vehicle for creating trust online.

Not only are they a great way to get people excited about taking action and joining your campaign’s community, but they are also super good for seducing journalists and bloggers like me to write about you!

Many of the successful crowdfunding campaigners that I’ve had on my podcast pitched me with a compelling story, which I then wanted to share with the podcast listeners.

5. Creating the emotion of “liking”

Okay, I know that I sound like I’m a robot right now. I really do enjoy analyzing emotions with the rational side of my brain. I also must strongly emphasize that the techniques I’m sharing in this post should only be used if you genuinely believe that you have an amazing product that will make other people’s lives better.

In Robert Cialdini’s seminal book, Influence, he reveals 3 key points, that I’ll highlight below. influence

  • “We like people who are similar to us in terms of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle.”
  • “Familiarity also plays a role in decisions. Seeing or experiencing something more and becoming familiar with it leads to greater liking.”
  • “A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. We assign favorable traits to good looking people without logic.”

You can read my entire review of the book here.

In case you missed kindergarten, when we like someone, we are more likely to help them, support them, and take the time to listen to what they have to say.

I’m not saying that you should try to force people to like you or to not be genuine. I’m saying that you should be aware of the emotions that your words, imagery, video, and content creates.

Making a joke in your video might make you nervous, but it might make them laugh, feel good about themselves, and like you more.

If you’re speaking to a group of programmers, you’re probably going to generate a great feeling of “liking” if you yourself are also a programmer, can make inside jokes, or relate to the job lifestyle. If you’re a business guy who doesn’t know the first thing about programming and you assume certain things or butcher key terms, it’s unlikely that the audience will see you in a favorable light.

Being focused on how much your backers and customers like you or your team is another great way to avoid typical objections that bog down many founders.

For example, a skeptical backer might harp on the negative qualities of Kickstarter/Indiegogo with regards to delayed reward delivery schedules. Let’s be honest though, delays are a reality. This is innovation we’re talking about. You then have to deal with that objection.

If that backer likes you, then they are going to approach the campaign from an entirely different mindset. Maybe instead of focusing on that particular aspect, they’ll smile at what you’re trying to accomplish, decide to buy in, and rationalize that you’re a good guy so you will be forthright with any delays or issues that you encounter.

Of course, you should be 100% transparent and forthright with any delays. Just keep in mind that the degree to which someone likes you will affect how they rationalize the things that you ask of them.

Where should you go from here?

Definitely get on my email list. Whether it’s my free email course or just the weekly newsletter that you can subscribe to below, I always get good feedback from campaigners who enjoy the updates about blog posts, podcasts, YouTube vids, etc.

I would also highly recommend going back into my podcast archive and listening to the episodes that jump out. These are REAL entrepreneurs who share what’s working right now on different crowdfunding platforms.

Finally, here’s my homework for you. If you want something of me or anyone else, start building your relationship now. Do it before you need something of someone else. That way it’s genuine.

And…yes… this also applies to your personal life. Whether you’re trying to strengthen friendships, get a date, or get your social network to take action when you launch, be outcome independent. Don’t expect anything. Just put out good vibes, connect, and take a sec to be a human being. I’m also working on being a human!

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