Outside consultant: How to market crowdsourcing effort to raise start-up funds

  • Updated: May 5, 2013 - 11:35 AM

Question

WeCo, a small business in St. Paul, is using the Indiegogo crowdsourcing fundraising website to raise start-up funds. How can we enhance this marketing campaign to increase donations? If this campaign is unsuccessful, should we launch another campaign on a different crowd fundraising website? See our campaign at www.indiegogo.com/weco access.

Toni Grundstrom, WeCo (The Wehrman Collaborative), toni@theweco.com

 

Answer

On its face, crowd­sourcing start-up funds seems like an easy tactic for artists, businesses and nonprofits to get relatively free investment. Having been involved in a successful Kickstarter campaign last spring to raise money to make prototype molds for an iPhone accessory at a company called Qwik-keyz.com, I know just how hard it actually is.

People see the success stories and often get the false impression that the sites will drive traffic to individual campaigns. While some campaigns capture the interest of site managers — leading to “featured” status and increased visits — most rely on external forces to generate attention.

This means the enhancements to marketing your fund­raising effort have at least as much to do with how you engage people to direct them to the campaign page as what they see once there. We were fortunate to have had a person whose full-time job was in social media for a restaurant chain, and he had us all participating. In the end, while we did raise $15,000, which brought the product to life, it turned out that nearly all those who “backed” us were only one or two degrees away from our personal networks.

So, in crowdsourcing, set your sights realistically for the funding amount, and prepare to do most of the work yourself, including proactive social media posting; reaching out to like-minded bloggers; and staging as many public relations activities as you can muster.

About the author: Mike Porter, director, Master of Business Communication Program, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business

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