So What Else Do "Super Backers" Look For?
Welcome back to our little series of Blogs around getting started as a "Crowdfunding Backer". This is Part 4 of our blogs around backing campaigns.
If you're just joining us, you can go back and look at what was written before by clicking on "next" down below. But for a quick summary, we talked about some basic things we should look for to "screen" campaigns for whether they have a chance of succeeding or being able to deliver on their plans. These could include:
- comprehensive description of problem/s (if there is one)
- comprehensive description of their solution or product
- photos or drawings of their solution or product
- a description or graphic drawing of where the raised funds will be going to
- a bio of all the team members including their past experiences in the given industry (if possible)
- a good outline of their risks and challenges
But lets be clear. Just because these seven points exist, doesn't guarantee that the campaign and the creators will be able to succeed and deliver. It just means that there is a good chance that they will. The following points can also improve your confidence in a campaign and its creators that they are well structured, professional and very determined to deliver quality products and services. So lets get started in no particular order!!!
Reached at least 30% funding reached in the first 24-48 hours
When I see a strong first 24 or 48 hours of funding, it tells me that the campaign creators have:
- A long list of friends, family or "followers" that they notified before the campaign went live and/or
- Spent a great deal of time "marketing" the campaign pre-launch date and/or
- Set the campaign goal too low
Now the first two out of three are obviously positive, showing to me that the creators are very serious in making sure of their success to reach a monetary goal. Ensuring that they already have a pre-launch crowd that knows their product or innovation is coming shows a great deal of foresight and gives me confidence. However, the last point "setting a campaign goal too low" can be either positive or negative. If the creators determined their budget based on the ABSOLUTE minimum to produce and deliver their innovation, they may be aiming for an assured level of success and going over their set goal is only a bonus.
However, as a backer, I tend to look at these campaign funding goals with a critical eye and some industry knowledge. If you're a first-timer, I suggest to follow the adage "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". If the creators are saying that they can deliver a new 3D video game (for example) by asking for only $2000, they probably will either deliver a very poor quality product or not truly understand what it takes to make the game (I won't suggest a third possibility in this article). Either reason, if this was the case, it tells me that the campaign is one to stay away from.
This isn't absolutely essential, but I like to see that if the campaign description still triggers a question in my mind, that the campaign creators were thinking ahead by answering any other possible "outside" questions. These could include questions around shipping, packaging, add-ons, etc. As we'll talk about later, this can also be part of the communication with the backers as good creators I find will take any questions posed to them via e-mail or comment sections are are copied and added to the FAQ for others to get access too. It is something that adds to my confidence "tick box"
Multiple reward tiers (6-8 is a good number)
There is mixed information about how many reward tiers a campaign should have, but I find that between 6-8 gives a nice spectrum of rewards for various backers. The lowest tier tends to be for donation only (no rewards) and is usually around $1-5, anything more than that, I start to question integrity. And from there the prices goes up and of course what you get should also increase in quality or quantity or both! A campaign can of course have more than 8 but this is dependent on the product or innovation. I prefer to see add-ons from "stretch goals" see below, instead. Keep in mind though, if there are more tiers, this would also mean that the creator will have to be on the ball with their delivery as well! (this is the subject of another article to come)
Outline for stretch goals
This follows on from the above point. These are "promises" made by the campaign creator that if they reach certain funding milestones that they will "reward" those that have already pledged, some added "stuff"! This acts as an incentive for the people who already pledged to either:
- Modify their original pledge by increasing to a higher, more expensive tier and/or
- Share the campaign to their friends and networks who may not have heard of the campaign in the first place
I find that seeing Stretch Goals. even if it's as small as a bookmark, shows that they want to really provide quality and quantity to the backer to "pay them back" for putting faith in them in the first place.
Other successful campaigns
Again, this is not an absolute necessity to determine whether I will back a campaign or not, but it really helps because I can then go back to their past campaigns and see how they did back then. If they didn't succeed, I start to look closer at their past and present campaigns. If they succeeded in getting their funding goals, I then look at the communication they had (see below on communication) with their supporters at that time. Having either successful or failed campaigns in the past will also let me know that they actually know and understand the process of being a campaign creator and all the challenges that goes with it.
Past Backed Campaigns
Another one of those points that is not absolutely necessary, but increases my confidence in the campaign and those behind it. If I know that they have backed other campaigns, then I would know that they will empathise with their backers should they not fulfil their obligations as a campaign creator. Both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have this feature that allows you to look into the creator's profile which includes their bio, past campaigns and past backed campaigns. Personally, I like creators that are also backers, just because they understand the challenges of both sides of the coin!
This is a tricky one because logos of different sources of media are easily available via "cut and paste", so seeing logos doesn't necessarily say a campaign is a good or bad one. It just says to me "others are talking about us". So if I am remotely concerned about the legitimacy, success or deliverability of a campaign, I will start a search for their presence in the media they state. This is assuming they have not provided me with links directly to articles or YouTube videos about them. If they provide the links, then I'll quickly follow those links. I've done this enough times now that when I see the links, click on them, and get directed to an article or video about the product and/or creators, I don't even bother reading or watching...call me trusting, but if someone goes to the trouble to provide those links, then my belief in their integrity goes up. All up to you though. One media that I think all campaigns should have is a presence on Social Media. This can include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. since each one will target certain audiences. At the very least, they should have a Facebook page that is maintained and up to date (see below).
Good Communication with Backers
Of the above, this is my biggest criteria whether to back a campaign or not. Keep in mind that if the campaign just went live, there is little chance of finding evidence of communication with backers. Having said that, if they have social media, and at the least, Facebook, then you can see how they are conversing and interacting with their followers. This can also be an indication of what their pre-launch was like, how big their network is, etc. which can be an indication of the professionalism and organisation of the creators. If I've come across a campaign "late", I look at the number and quality of "Updates" the creator has listed and the "Comments" that have been made by backers. I personally like to see lots of updates and positive comments from both the backers and creators!
If the creator has had previous campaigns, I will definitely look at these to see if they have been keeping the backers up to date with progress, especially AFTER the date which the campaign ended and they were in the stage of production or delivery. I also look at the communication of the backers AFTER as well. This gives me an indication of whether the creator is answering questions, again, providing updates, and also how long it took them to eventually deliver the product. It is a BIG red flag for me when I see negative comments from backers regarding delivery or communication. And of course the big NO-NO is if the creator gets into "arguments" with backers on the comments page. This not only shows poor customer service, but also a lack of tact and professionalism.
So there you have it. The past 4 blog posts have been around how to be a successful Backer of crowdfunding campaigns. Hopefully, the points provided will help everyone from the Beginner Backer, all the way to the Super Backer. Since we focus on rewards-based crowdfunding, we have to remember that we are not necessarily wanting an innovation, but rather helping an innovation get into the world. This of course will take time and we do have to give some leeway to the creators regarding delivery times. For the most part, expect delays in delivery, but expect the creator to also communicate to you WHY there are delays. But most importantly, have FUN WITH CROWDFUNDING!!!
Till next time...happy crowdfunding!!!
The LaunchMii Team Blogger!
Image provided courtesy of storyblocks.com
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