If you haven’t already learned, one of the most difficult parts of an Indiegogo campaign is getting the word out about your crowdfunding project! Keep in mind that Indiegogo does help to a certain degree on this front with their merit based gogofactor algorithm (learn more here). However, the best campaigns also heavily market their own initiative, whether that’s to their local network or through online platforms.
No doubt, you’ve been inundated with “crowdfunding marketing specialists” and “crowdfunding promotion companies” that might be promising you riches, to get to the front page of Indiegogo, or to cure cancer in the process. These types of promises remind me of the kinds of spam emails that I’ll get from SEO service providers saying “I’ll make you the top result in google for $5.”
Don’t get me wrong – there are legitimate crowdfunding consultants out there like Rose Spinelli, Eli Regalado, Leigh Lepore, Philip Cardwell, Elena Mikhaylova, and more. However, there are also choppy waters filled with sharks. This post will teach you how to tell the difference between the two!
1) Do you need marketing or PR help?
I’m of the firm belief that most creators do not need marketing or PR help to get started. They just need to put in the effort. Granted, this is a lot of hours and research, but it’s completely worth it.
A lot of the help that a creator might need to get started can be achieved by reading through free resources or relatively inexpensive paid video tutorials. We even have two online forums where they can take directly interact and learn from other creators (like this one).
From a business ROI standpoint, I think it makes more sense to reach out to a PR, promotion, or marketing service once you have determined that other people love your product/project and are willing to back it. Otherwise, you may send a bunch of traffic to a campaign and it fails to convert into pledges.
At the same time, not every creator can afford to wait to see if strangers will pledge on Indiegogo and want to generate some initial buzz. Although I also don’t think that creators need fancy tools – Twitter, Facebook, and cheap tools like Buffer/MailChimp/Spreadsheets/Email will do, press releases and a prelaunch website or page can help begin to generate an email list of interested parties.
The main key here is that a compelling story, powerful subscriber call to action, and great product are necessary to capitalize on any upfront initial investment.
2) Manage Expectations for Success
It’s extremely important when deciding to use a service provider to nail down what you consider to be “success” and the various services that they are offering. For example, a website development company can build you a good looking mobile app. Let’s say they come in at the budget you had outlined and on time. For them, they would consider this to be a success. Now let’s say that you publish that app in the apple or android app store and it has $1000 in sales after the first year and you invested $20k. This is a personal failure.
In the same way that a developer cannot promise you downloads of an app or to be #1 in the iTunes app store, a consultant or marketing company can help you build a well structured campaign, but they can by no means promise that you will raise X amount of money.
“Well, I’ll hire a consultant for a percentage of the funds to incentivize them.”
I hear this proposition all the time and it’s synonymous to a development company agreeing to build your mobile app in exchange for a cut of the overall sales. Would a good or a bad development company agree to do that?
Likely, a bad one, unless you have a very large following, an established reputation, or a dynamite product that will sell itself, like the automobile. (Funny enough, many major inventions were laughed at in their day. No one thought people would buy an expensive iPhone or want a faster horse and buggy).
The best way to manage expectations is to fully outline the roles and responsibilities of each member of your team. If one person is focused on PR, then their job is to get pieces written about your company or to have your press release published on XYZ. If another person is focused on conversions, they should be making sure any traffic sent from the PR, advertising, social media, and other means is converting into pledges or if the pieces are sending traffic at all.
3) Avoid the scams
Here’s what tends to happen with scams: you receive a promise of some kind or hint at a promise that sounds awesome, you send the payment, and you don’t hear back from repeated attempts at contacting the company or after requesting a refund.
The best way to initially avoid the scam is to google the name of the company and the domain name of the company. If it was started yesterday, it might be a legitimate company, or it might be a “fly by night” company that is just trying to make a buck. More research is required. If there are a slew of negative reviews that are unaddressed and scam reports, steer clear.
The second best way is to use a payment method like PayPal where you can dispute any charges and request a refund. Having a 3rd party as a buffer is especially important for large transactions. If the transaction is very large, I’d recommend setting up a payment plan with the consultant/company and avoid paying it all up front.
The last way is to analyze the company’s social media profiles and existing company content. As a blogger, I’m always getting messages from these random companies on Twitter being like “market your campaign with us,” when I don’t even have a campaign that I’m running. If a company is constantly spamming users or is not engaged online (no twitter, facebook, linkedin links), it’s a good chance they either were set up recently or aren’t engaged enough to create them.
4) Going with a provider.
Having been in this business a while, I’d have to say that one of the more legitimate marketing services out there is Command Partners. I also recommend checking out The Gadget Flow if you have a technology or design-related project (Use discount code crowdcrux20 for 20% off). It might seem strange that, providing press release services ourselves, we are also recommending other providers, but we believe in being associated with the best providers in the industry.
Ultimately, choosing to go with any kind of service provider for your business or your crowdfunding campaign is a highly personal decision. Remember to heed the points above and good luck!