JANUARY 30, 2020
C is for Crowdfunding
BY KAREN CAHN, FOUNDER & CEO, IFUNDWOMEN
Hi. My name is Karen Cahn, and I run a crowdfunding company. Well, it’s not just a crowdfunding company, it’s a How to Start a Business company, but it’s also a Do You Have What it Takes to Start a Business company.
Let me explain.
When you have people who want to pay for your product or service, that means you have a real business. Crowdfunding is the ultimate litmus test to determine whether you have a product, a service, a mission, a vision, a dream that people actually want to buy and pay for. Crowdfunding successfully proves that you know how to get something off the ground.
I recently crowdfunded for a cause that is near and dear to my heart: the NYC Women’s March — and it wasn’t easy!
Even though I run a crowdfunding company where we coach entrepreneurs on how to crowdfund, i.e. how to market and sell your business idea, it was no easier for me to raise $50K than it is for the thousands of women entrepreneurs crowdfunding on IFundWomen right now. Why?
There are no magical money elves funding your campaign. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy path to glory.
Crowdfunding for the NYC Women’s March meant me hustling every single day — riding the crowdfunding rollercoaster — which, like many things in life, gets easier the more experienced you are. But sometimes makes you want to puke.
Wait. Let’s back up for a second. What is crowdfunding, exactly?
Crowdfunding is when an entrepreneur goes out and sells their product, service, mission, vision — their dream — to people whom they know in their personal, professional, and social networks, in exchange for cash. This cash adds up to just enough money to get their project off the ground. With rewards-based crowdfunding, entrepreneurs can offer rewards such as social love, an advance copy of their product or service — anything they can monetize — to get the cash in the door.
The best part? Crowdfunding on IFundWomen means not having to wait until the end of a campaign to get access to the money; Entrepreneurs get cash in the bank as soon as people start funding their campaigns. This flexible model was especially important when I was raising money for the NYC Women’s March so that March organizers could pay for things like security, stage, and sound equipment in real-time. They needed cash to start planning the event right away — they could not wait until the campaign was over.
How do you successfully crowdfund?
In this post, I’ll outline how I raised $50K in three weeks for the NYC Women’s March campaign in order to give you all the tangible, actionable steps you need to meet or exceed your crowdfunding goal. It’s called The IFundWomen Method. And it works. Let’s go.
☝️STEP ONE: Hone Your Pitch
💡 Pro-tip: The IFundWomen Method Playbook has a pitch honing exercise in it. It’s essentially Mad Libs where all you need to do is fill in the blanks, and presto: you have a honed pitch. To learn how to hone your pitch and to download the playbook, go watch lesson 2 of the free IFundWomen Method eCourse.
✌🏾STEP TWO: Create a SHORT, FUN, UPBEAT Campaign Video
👂Listen, you do not need to be an Emmy award-winning producer to create an engaging crowdfunding video. You just need a decent smartphone, a lavalier mic, some good lighting, and a great script (which you just wrote when you honed your pitch). My fave example of a recent crowdfunding video is from SheFly, a line of outdoor pants for women that allows us to comfortably, safely, and easily relieve ourselves in the outdoors.
To learn how to make your own dope campaign video, watch Lesson 5 in the free IFundWomen Method eCourse.
🤟🏾STEP THREE: Map Your Network
⚡Reminder, crowdfunding is the ultimate litmus test to determine whether your idea is something people want to buy. So, a huge part of prepping for a crowdfunding campaign is knowing who is in your network that you can sell your idea to. Here is the process for network mapping:
- Export: Go to your email contacts (whether you use Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail — it doesn’t matter). Export your contacts to Excel or Google Sheets. If you’re already using a CRM for your customers, export those contacts, too.
- Clean: Clean up the data. Delete anyone you don’t have contact info for, i.e. an email or mobile number. Delete people you do not know. People that you do not know will not fund your project. Your campaign will be funded by people that you actually know IRL from your personal, professional, and social networks.
- Segment: Segment your audience into groups. The bottom of the IFundWomen network map template has multiple tabs. Name those tabs whatever you want. For example your co-workers, your church, your kid’s school, your current customers, etc. These are your segments. (Later, these segments will end up being your tags in Mailchimp or whatever email provider you choose to use.)
- Estimate: Now you should go through and make an estimate as to how much you think each person on your entire list will contribute to your campaign. This should range from $10 all the way up to $1,000, usually. You want to make safe assumptions. So my safe assumption for my colleagues who I am still close to is $50. And then for everybody else, I put $10 or $25 because you just never know. For someone really owes you for that time you did them a huge favor? Put them in at $100 or more.
- Network your delta: When I was crowdfunding for the Women’s March, I added up all my assumptions in the sum of $30K from my network. But I had a $50K goal. What did I do? I went out there and I networked. IRL! If you have a delta (aka — your goal is higher than the amount in your network map), go out and start talking to people about the project you are working on, why it’s so important, and why they should get involved. And talk it up LOUD.
For a detailed, unedited view into how I personally did my network map for The Women’s March, watch this gem:
🖖STEP FOUR: Create Rewards That Will Sell
🧠Remember, rewards-based crowdfunding is when you, the entrepreneur, offers rewards such as social love, an advance copy of your product or service in order to get the cash in the door. But what’s your rewards strategy? Good news: Your network map becomes THE MAP to your rewards. You’ve got people in your network map that you think will contribute $25, $50, $100, $500, and maybe $1,000. Now you have to think about what the people at those various levels will want from your campaign.
Here are a few examples from the NYC Women’s March campaign:
Group 1: Cash-strapped friends who want to support. We offered a digital download of the original artwork from the Women’s March for $25. It was well priced and provided a meaningful keepsake for those who wanted to be part of the movement.
Group 2: Men! Even though you’re crowdfunding on IFundWomen, remember there are tons of awesome dudes out there who want to support your startup. Make the men feel welcome on your page. This is very important. Our dude reward for the Women’s March was “Be a Male Ally.”
Group 3: People who need a service you are uniquely poised to offer. We’ve all got a superpower. Maybe yours is writing your friends dating profiles, or giving piano lessons, or reading tarot cards. For the Women’s March, I donated 45 minutes of business coaching to the cause and 13 people ended up buying it.
Ok, so at this point you get it. And if you want a little extra help, consider signing up for a private coaching plan, so we can have one of our experts help you with your specific campaign.
✋🏾STEP FIVE: Sell, Sell, Sell!
Crowdfunding is a 30–45 day sprint, in which you have a goal to hit. This means you need to make a certain amount of “sales calls” in order to hit your goal. The law of averages applies here: the more calls you make, the more you will sell.
💡Pro-tip: Personalize every ask. (This applies to crowdfunding, but also everything else in life.) Here’s how I do it:
- I block one hour each morning and one hour each evening to Instagram DM, text message or email contacts on my network map people to personally invite them to fund at a specific amount, or for a specific reward. Below is a real example of an Instagram DM I sent.
(PS: I asked for $25 bucks and they funded the campaign at $100. Jedi mind tricks. They work.)
- Every evening, I would get on my Insta story and shout out (or sing) thank you’s to the people who had funded that day, and every single time I posted, I drove at least another $1K in contributions at that very moment.
💡Pro-tip: Say thank you on social media ASAP after someone funds. Tag them and sing their praises. Why? Because you genuinely appreciate the time it took for them to click and fund. These are your true supporters. Money talks and you want to thank all of the money people, whether they are $25 people or $5,000 people. For a sneak peek on how I did it, watch this video:
Make sure to keep yourself on track with your daily two hours of crowdfunding “selling” and you will make your goal. And yes, there’s an app for that. Well, it’s part of the playbook: your daily accountability tracker.
If you’ve read this whole post, congrats! You’re prepared to crowdfund.