Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When you think of startup funding, you may envision contests with almost no chance of winning or solid venture capitalists who will not be surprised by your concept. “Those who raise millions for their ideas’ implementation are just lucky ones,” you may think. It sounds surprising, but a strong community can help you achieve success much faster and easier.
The explanation is simple: The less a person has to contribute or “risk,” the more likely you are to receive a contribution. In this article, I’d like to share some tips from my own experience that may help you pique the interest of your audience in your solution and turn them into its backers. Each worthwhile idea will find supporters. Believe me.
1. Make sure your idea is providing a solution
In today’s world, no idea can be completely original, but it’s better if you can come up with a unique solution or significantly improve on something that’s already been made. How did we manage it? We saw the benefits and drawbacks of working in the music industry for a long time and wanted to develop something that would truly bring innovation to the space we know.
We carried out market research prior to building the platform. We researched whether similar initiatives already exist, what they do and the errors they made. Along with estimating the lifetime value of the product, we contrasted our idea with the needs of our target audience. It’s critical to understand whether our project has a solid foundation for the long term.
In our case, we saw the lack of including the fans on the journey and how the number of independent artists skyrocketed, but the way of getting funding for your projects was still limited to signing a label deal. Artists can invite their fans to be part of the journey while giving back to the community of people who have supported them along the way.
2. Show the audience a clear strategy
Be ready to tell the truth. Explain in detail how your platform works, say at least a few words about any possible risks, and show how the money you raise through the power of the community will be used to improve the project and make it more useful for this audience. It’s very important to give people a strong reason to support you.
Why am I emphasizing it so strongly? People are always reluctant to part with money when there is no obvious use for it. Once it is made clear to participants how their money will be used, what features they will have access to and what the ultimate goal is, a significant part of them will be ready to help you crowdfund.
Keeping in touch with your audience is not only about keeping them interested but also about showing how much you value their continuous support.
3. Make it easy to support you
The more clicks required, the less likely people are to join you. So, make the funding mechanism user-friendly. It determines the stability and success of your monetization. Prepare a brief registration instruction, and ensure that the website navigation is simple to understand. People in 2023 value their time and expect everything they use to be convenient.
There are numerous crowdfunding platforms available that are tailored specifically for startups or projects in the Web3 niche. Patreon, SeedInvest Technology, GoFundMe and other similar sites are examples. I will not recommend any particular platform, but I will share some criteria that will assist you in selecting the most convenient instrument.
First, look for a solution that can be directly integrated into your platform in the form of a button or direct link on the main page. Again, convenience is one of the top priorities for successful and predictable funding. Second, choose the one with the most payment methods integrated. Even the most ardent supporters of your idea may abandon you if they have to make multiple transactions to pay you. Third, because there are so many fake website versions out there, don’t forget to educate your users on how to spot a fraudulent link or platform page.
4. Don’t forget to spread the word
When choosing the best way to share your initiative, think about which social media networks or media outlets your target audience uses to get ideas. Participate in networking and exhibitions. Making connections with thought leaders and others in the field of the industry you’re looking to enter multiplies your chances of success tenfold.
We played more than one instrument at once. We worked hard to improve our social media, pitched our idea to top journalists and went to events where we could meet potential investors on a regular basis.
The specific marketing plan you use will depend on the market you are trying to reach, your target audience and the services you plan to offer, but the following tools will come in handy 99% of the time:
Develop your media relations: Promotion through news releases in global and specialized media is beneficial at both the project’s infancy and maturity stage. They will create “hype” in the first instance and enhance your expertise in the second. Create articles for publications, comment on current events, participate in interviews, and share announcements in the media and on the project website.
Utilize advertising services: Set up targeted ads on social networks trusted by your primary audience, use retargeting, and connect with influencers. Brand ambassadors who are thought leaders in your chosen niche will lend credibility to your project.
Educational content: Blockchain, Web3 and other complex topics require user education. This task can be easily completed with high-quality content: a site blog, FAQ, research, whitepaper, videos (both long and short, like TikToks), podcasts, AMAs and case studies. In this case, the user interaction path with your product might look like this: reading a blog post, visiting a landing page, and finally, requesting a demo of your product or leaving a request.
Effective social media marketing: Over time, it contributes to the formation of a community of devoted brand fans. Share news, solicit feedback, introduce the team, post behind-the-scenes content, employ various forms of storytelling, use memes or niche-related jokes and so on. A funnel could look like this: clicking on ads, subscribing to a channel, visiting the site and requesting a demo.
Affiliate marketing: Startup founders frequently do not have enough time to promote their businesses, which is understandable given their other responsibilities. That is why it can be a great option to outsource promotion or launch affiliate programs. The latter allows you to get a predictable result at a predictable price, which is especially important in the early stages when resources are scarce.
As you can see, an idea lays the groundwork for a project but does not guarantee its success. Even ideas that aren’t very original can sometimes work because the people who came up with them did a good job of assessing their resources, chose the best ways to market them, and perhaps most importantly, didn’t give up.
My goal was to show you that angel and venture capital investors are not the only sources of multimillion-dollar funding. Millions can be earned through creativity and consistency. You can design your own strategy that will ultimately produce excellent results using the resources I provided from personal experience.