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Crowdfunding Success in 5 Easy Steps

On the heels of a $1.9 million Indiegogo campaign, founders of the smart home security device Canary share their crowdfunding advice.
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    Crowdfunding isn't easy. Some projects fail because there isn't a place in the market. Other campaigns fail because they aren't far enough along in product development to convince people to jump onboard. And some fail simply because they don't have enough planning or strategy in place before they launch.

    When Canary launched our Indiegogo campaign we set a goal of $100,000. We met that threshold before lunchtime on the first day and by the time our campaign ended 34 days later on August 26 this year we had raised over $1.9 million and became the most successfully funded campaign in Indiegogo history.

    Here are our top 5 recommendations for crowdfunding success:

    1. Clearly define your product and your goals.
    Many people have amazing ideas but go into crowdfunding without fully defining their goals ahead of time. Are you building a single product, a group of products, a company, or is this just a fun side project? You will be in a better position to open up and present yourself to "the crowd" if you know and can articulate your goals. Spend the time to develop your brand or craft your bio prior to launch so you're not scrambling to figure it out when you open yourself up to the eyes of the internet.

    2. Tell a story about what you can do for others.
    People care much more about themselves than they do about your idea. This means that simply telling people about the amazing product you're building won't lead to a successful campaign. You need to create a story around your product. This story should weave itself through your video, your project description, your images, your updates -- everything. Your focus needs to be on how your product can fit into someone's life in a meaningful way. Resist the tendency to lead with tech specs and feature lists. Make it about people, not about you or your product.

    3. Spend money to make money.
    Yes, your goal is to raise money. However, there are ingredients so critical to a successful crowdfunding campaign that they justify throwing down some cash for. A powerful video is crucial. We hired a professional director to film our video but with some money and planning you can also make a pro video on your own. Spending money for PR assistance can also pay off. You want your campaign to hit the ground running so having a PR expert help you line up and manage media coverage and interviews prior to launch can make all the difference. Brand development, copywriting, and social media management might also be worth the investment, depending on the scope of your project.

    Related: The Basics of Crowdfunding

    4. Show your supporters you appreciate them.
    Find ways to make your supporters feel loved and important. Answer each comment or question as quickly as possible. Be honest and give people straight answers to difficult enquiries. Even if the crowdfunding site doesn’t provide the option, if someone wants to change their order or make a return, make it happen. Send t-shirts, stickers, or handwritten thank you notes to early supporters. No matter what your role on the team is, your job is to care about the customer.

    5. Consider feedback but stay true to your vision.
    If you execute well on all of the above and supporters start lining up, you will likely get feature requests. Some of that feedback might be subtle and friendly, some of it will be loud and demanding. Regardless of tone it's important to listen and react to all of this feedback: consider suggestions, discuss as a team, and respond to people sincerely. Inviting people into your process is part of the fun of crowdfunding. But through all of it you must stay true to your product vision. Don't feel pressure to bend the product to the will of the loudest voice in the room. Only set stretch goals or add features that align with your product vision and goals. Keep it simple and stay the course.

    Related: Which Type of Crowdfunding Is Best for You?