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Costing a Crowdfunding Campaign

Costing a Crowdfunding Campaign

One of the most common errors in a crowdfunding campaign plan is to miscalculate the cost involved. Getting this wrong can be a major problem because even a successful campaign may not provide you with the funds you need.

There is a reason why our crowdfunding preparation, due diligence and audit process – commonly referred to as TAMP – begins with Targets. One of the key Targets we want to know is “How much do you want to raise?” This is hardly surprising but in our experience the number stated is often either vague or even wrong. Vague is not a crime or even bad as long as you know its vague and not settled yet. Being wrong and discovering it early enough is also not a problem as this can be rectified.

But being wrong and not realising it and running a campaign on a false premise can be a real problem because you might run a successful campaign and then discover all that hard work has not provided you with enough cash to do what it is you have said you are going to do or to pay all the bills associated with your campaign. Don’t fall into the trap of overlooking costs.

Of course the purpose of the TAMP process is to resolve these types of challenges  but we can’t be with all of you helping out, much as we would like to,  so here is a quick guide to the things which often get forgotten.

The purpose of the TAMP process is to resolve these types of challenges

Depending on the type of crowdfunding methodology you are planning to use from donation to equity, each may have greater or lesser relevance to you – but at least you can prompt yourself as you go down the list.I have grouped them very roughly to help you think about some of the key areas costs are incurred.

Rewards
Producing rewards can be costly especially if they are physical items. Materials and time can actually knock a hole in any money raised if this hasn’t been costed in. The piece that is often forgotten over an above the cost of hand embroidering someone’s name into a tee shirt or something similar, is the fulfillment cost. Package and posting can be ruinously costly – do not forget this.

If your campaign is to launch a new product to the market and the reward IS the product but you have yet to take it to manufacture DO NOT assume Alibaba and a Chinese manufacturer will “just be able to do it”. Think  again. Manufacture can be extremely complex, particularly for an innovation. It can take time and several tries to get it right. Specialist tooling is incredibly expensive in the short term. Knowing this is one thing but getting a proper professional assessment of this is very important. there are many really good providers out there that will fabricate a mock up for you and look at the wrinkles in the process. Get that supply chain and the costs associated with it nailed.

Transaction Costs
Platform costs are generally reasonably well understood with most people figuring this out even if there is considerable variation out there amongst the many hundreds of platforms. But watch out for small print and unexpected costs. As Tom Waits would have it – “The large print giveth, the small print taketh away.”

Settlement and payment can be costly depending on who you use and who you bank with. Currency fluctuation issues can also be tricky if you are operating across several countries.

TAX – the recent VAT changes on digital product is Europe DO APPLY to crowdfunding and to digital rewards even if you are NOT VAT registered. This can turn into a big overhead. Also – in the UK – the taxman says your crowdfunding campaign is part of your revenue – they can, and will, tax it.

If you are planning a DIY campaign – it might lower some platform costs but it is rarely free or costless. What extra software might you need to integrate and display a campaign, process your transaction and keep your website safe from hackers?

Professional Services
Some folks do need professional services, so don’t know that they do, and some don’t need them. Recognising you might need some of these more specialist things done is the first step. Then ask “Who will or can do it?” If not you or part of your team it is likely to cost you.

Here are a few examples of what you might face:

  • Who is your lawyer? If you are planning an equity campaign DO NOT leave home without one.
  • Due diligence – getting all those contracts verified and checked to reassure nervous and suspicious  investors can take a lot of time, and specialist review. So “What terms do you have with your suppliers?” for example or “Who does own that property you have?”
  • Intellectual Property – should you protect it and if so how? Are your breaching anyone the IP of someone else? This type of specialist service is not free, and when it comes to protecting IP it can be VERY expensive.
  • Who shoots and edits that fabulous video? Maybe you, maybe not?
  • Who does the photography of your superb new product mock up, and of you and for all the other PR and marketing type activity you will do?
  • Who checks or even writes that compelling copy and PR and who runs that A&B testing campaign to check your messaging?
  • Who will tidy up your books to a level that you can convince a lender or investor to splash the cash? Who will write that business plan?
  • Do you need a better team? Do you need a new Business Development Manager for example to convince the investors? Recruiters and headhunters, in large part, don’t work for free.

Opportunity costs
Whilst you are running this campaign who is running your business?

Who does the day job? How much will it cost in staff time and what is the potential knock on on your business? Will you still be earning money whilst you prosecute your crowdfunding campaign? If not then what will that do to your cash flow?

Now this is not an exhaustive list . Nor is this intended to say “Don’t Do It!!!” Far from it. It is intended to make you think about what might have slipped your mind till now and it says do it well, do it properly, and do it with your eyes open.

Reassess your crowdfunding target now and ask yourself – is it accurate and is it enough?

 

Why not tell us what unexpected costs you encountered in your campaign?

 

 

Get off to a Good Start – Components of a Good Crowdfunding Campaign 4

sprintblockAfter a short break we can continue with another in our series Components of a Good Crowdfunding Campaign. This time we focus on the importance of a getting a good start.

Good starts aren’t just a matter of chance. You can prepare for them and build expectation and anticipation for a campaign so that at the point of going live a burst of activity can attract attention, build confidence and carry through to success – the statistics bear it out.

Momentum builds confidence in all campaign participants. It gives energy to the project owners and confidence in a campaign’s potential for success is an important motivator for investors. A key indicator for that is a campaign that gets off to a good start has a much higher chance of success than one that launches flat.

If you can reach 30% of your total in the first week of a 30 day campaign you are very likely to succeed. On one platform with relatively low overall success rate, every single one of their campaigns that made it to 35% funding actually completed successfully.

The prospect of success conveyed in a good start often encourages media channels to pick up on it. Many crowdfunders will tell you that their attempts to garner media coverage for their campaign often only finds a welcome reception when the campaign looks like it will succeed.

The use of stretch goals has also become aligned with this idea. So a success point is passed, this in turn gets media coverage – as they like good news stories – and this in turn develops into a useful stretch gal. But its all underpinned by a good start.

So build a sense of expectancy before the campaign actually goes live. Don’t only start promoting the campaign when you go live. No, have a running start. IF you know people that do want to invest get them cued up and ready for launch time. This is not underhand or dishonest it is simply marshaling your resources effectively for maximum impact in the period a campaign is live.

Get influencers aware of your impending launch, and use your PRs and high touch communications wisely in conjunction with your launch date.

In other words plan for a good start, dont leave it to chance. As we said in an earlier post in this series – its all in the preparation and if your ground work and preparation slingshots your campaign away from the starting blocks, even with a typical slow mid race you are more likely to break the tape in the lead.

If you would like to attend one of our Preparing to Crowdfund workshops or some individual advice on your campaign then get in touch

Get the Messaging Right – Components of a Good Crowdfunding Campaign 3

twitterIn the third of our series on running a good crowdfunding campaign we focus on Messaging. Messaging is absolutely crucial. Your proposition must be compelling. If its not then why would anyone choose to fund your campaign when there are so many to choose from? So having a message that inspires, clarifies and explains exactly what your campaign is about and why someone should invest in it is key. A clearly defined goal or project that conjures a vision for investors is very important. But don’t be fooled. This is not a simple process and getting the messaging right, clear and understandable and engaging is hard and precise work.

The messages or calls to action, as some refer to them, need to be tailored to the audiences you are approaching in the first instance. So this may mean different approaches, different styles and different types of appeal. This can be necessary as each may be addressing a different demographic through a different channels and with an alternative perspective on your campaign. On the subject of channels your choice of communication channel and having messaging appropriate for that is important. At its most basic, consider that if twitter is a key tool in your campaign can you craft a good call to action that converts to 140 characters?

Whilst social media are powerful and commonly used tools for a crowdfund they are by no means universally applicable. a social lending campaign for example is less likely to draw on twitter as say a reward campaign, and it is important that you understand what are the best channels for your initial outreach. But, don’t forget the power and importance of weak links and make it easy for connections of your connections to reach out through their channels too.

Messaging is conveyed in the copy of any communications you produce be it written, video or otherwise. It is not uncommon for successful crowdfunders to test their messaging on focus groups and samples of their intended audiences prior to launching a campaign. If you do this ensure you use appropriate non disclosure agreements. This type of thorough preparation will significantly help your campaign.

If you would like to attend one of our Preparing to Crowdfund workshops or some individual advice on your campaign then get in touch

Components of a Good Crowdfunding Campaign 2 – Preparation

bubbleThe second post in our series looking at best practice in running a crowdfunding campaign and today we look at a key component – preparation.

Preparation

It is impossible to emphasize enough the importance of thorough preparation for a crowdfunding campaign. As a rule of thumb you need as much preparation time as campaign time. So if its a 30 day campaign you will spend a minimum of 30 days preparing. Those 30 days might be spread over a longer period and may be shared across a group of people but it will most certainly take that time. However the benefits of doing so are enormous. So many projects fail because they encounter difficulties that could, and should, have been identified and ironed out prior to launch. Once a poorly prepared project is failing in the live campaign time, its very very hard to turn it around.

twintangibles developed what we refer to as the TAMP process and this has been used by many successful campaigns. It is a four stage process that helps someone considering a crowdfunding campaign properly asses their options and, once a commitment to proceed is made, prepare an effective and comprehensive plan for success. The TAMP process includes an assessments of Targets including sums, time frames and intentions. This ensures that a rounded and thorough examination of the motivations, constraints, intentions and fit of the crowdfunding project are well understood. An Audit follows examining what assets, skills and resources are available to run a campaign. This helps us understand what we have to use in a campaign but importantly highlights what we have not and how these gaps might be closed. The Method step follows where the type and nature of the crowdfunding you wish to pursue is defined, along with platform selection. Then we Plan, developing a thorough publishing plan, build our monitoring process, identify our communications channels, tribes, targets and influencers that we wish to reach. Develop and our messaging, prepare our media and allocate resources and responsibilities.

We will look at some of the things in much more detail in the coming weeks but from this brief over view of the process you should see that preparation is a demanding and time consuming thing. But if you do it well you will significantly increase your chances of success.

If you would like to talk to us about the TAMP process, our workshops, coaching and training services then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Components of a Good Crowdfunding Campaign 1- Run Your Own Campaign

graphAlmost every day we are asked what is the best way to run a crowdfunding campaign, or how to resurrect a failing one. Truth is there is no secret sauce or universally successful approach to running a crowdfunding campaign but there are some good principles that are found in most successful campaigns that you would do well to follow .  Starting today we will begin to publish a series of blogs called “Components of a Good Crowdfunding Campaign”. Each will look at a key aspects of running a good crowdfunding campaign.

Whilst none of these in isolation will guarantee success  they will be good for your campaign and we recommend that  you follow them.

1. Run Your Own Campaign
Don’t let anyone else run your campaign. You will find that there are people who will offer to run your campaign for you – generally marketeers who will pretend that a professionally run marketing campaign is the solution to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Don’t be fooled. Of course marketing your campaign effectively, choosing channels and having the right messaging and copy are certainly key, and a good marketing consultant can help you put that together.

But you must have very direct management and engagement with your campaign. In crowdfunding one of your strongest assets and most potent currency is authenticity. People on the whole invest in people. If your campaign is run by a third party then inevitably an element of that authenticity is lost. Your ability to respond with transparency, clarity and honesty will be slowed and compromised by the mediation of a third party.

But perhaps the most important reason for not using a third party is that if the campaign is managed thoroughly and properly such a service would simply cost too much!

Crowdfunding is incredibly intensive and demanding. It usually requires the full time commitment of at the least one person and probably more depending on the dynamics and scale of the campaign. A full time professional is expensive and would eat up a good deal of your budget or target funding. So, if you are offered these type of services on the basis of a tiny quote or a small success fee percentage of your target then you calculate just how long you will get of that third parties time. The answer is – not enough. If you are offered 24/7 cover for the duration of the campaign you can guarantee that you are not getting a professional – maybe an intern!
So – be hands on. Ask for help? Most certainly. Employ specialist services where you need them to provide expertise that you don’t have? An emphatic yes.

But, if its your campaign, your project, and your company so lead it yourself.

If you would like to attend one of our Preparing to Crowdfund workshops or some individual advice on your campaign then get in touch

Watch out for our next post in this series. Why not sign up for our newsletter or follow us on twitter to ensure you dont miss a post.

 

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