Crowdfunding can be an effective way for startups and entrepreneurs to raise funds and to test the market for new ideas, but there are a few secrets to organizing a successful crowdfunding campaign that every business should know.
Whichever crowdfunding platform you choose, creating a video for it is one of the best things you can do. Kickstarter hosts thousands of startup crowdfunding campaigns every month, and it has helped over 117,000 startups get funding, facilitating contributions from over 12 million people. They say that projects with a video succeed about 50 percent of the time, compared to 30 percent success rate of those that use text only.
Campaign videos allow you to speak directly with your audience and connect with them emotionally. Finding right tone can often be more important than the specific content of your footage. It’s worth watching and studying as many crowdfunding campaign videos as possible, as this will give you an insight into the best practices.
So, here are some tips on how to make sure your campaign video is effective and grabs investors’ attention:
1. Get your script (and your message) right
Your video should inspire confidence that your idea will succeed, so invest in making sure you’ve thought through every aspect of your execution. This guide on creating an explainer video has some good tips on how to get your messaging right. It’s worth considering bringing in a professional, depending on the size of your funding goal.
Make sure your script is compelling from the very first minute. You don’t have to make it exciting or suspenseful, but it does need to be attention-grabbing. Otherwise, potential investors might click off your video without giving your idea the chance it deserves. Your video might actually be a version of your elevator pitch about your startup or product.
Don’t waste time; pull your audience in with the very first line. Show them what you do best and tell them why it matters. Get straight to the point, and your viewers are much more likely to be hooked.
The basic crowdfunding video structure
Having said all that, there is a simple structure that you can use. This structure has been tried and tested and is used in the majority of successful Kickstarter videos, so it’s a great place to start:
- Tell the viewer who you are.
- Describe the story behind your project. This should include details like where you got your idea from, what stage the project is at now, and how excited you are about it.
- Don’t be shy. Have a clear call to action. Immediately ask for people’s support—you are trying to raise money! Explain why you need their help for the project to succeed, and exactly what you’ll spend it on.
- Spend some time talking about your rewards and tempt the viewer with them. One of the ways to make your campaign more viral is to keep in mind that it’s a reward-based system for most contributors—they give you cash and you give them a reward of some kind.
- Pull at the viewer’s heartstrings by explaining how, if you can not reach your goal, you get nothing and your team will be distraught.
- Don’t forget to thank everyone!
2. Pay attention to lighting
If you’re planning to shoot the video yourself, make sure you at least have good lighting—read about or watch some Youtube videos about DIY video lighting. Your video production value—or how good it looks and sounds—can have a major impact on its usefulness.
Here are a few tips for getting the lighting right:
- Position yourself 45 degrees away from your light source to avoid glare.
- Make sure your background is clean, and try to place yourself as far away from it as possible, as this will give you a good depth of field.
- Position yourself either to the left or the right of the frame to make it more visually interesting and leave some room for post-production words or graphics.
3. Be heard: Your audio quality matters
Additionally, you will need to have clean audio, as viewers will switch off immediately if they can’t hear or understand you. Also, keep in mind that many people will scroll over your page while listening to the audio, so it could be the only impression they get of your project.
This means it’s worth getting your hands on a good quality microphone. Throughout the shoot, remember to keep it close to your mouth. Try to speak clearly and with lots of enthusiastic intonation. If you’re filming outside, take a moment to hear all the sounds around you—traffic, wind, insects. Film in an especially quiet spot.
4. Invest in editing and post-production
If you decide to forgo the professional video team and create a video yourself, it is definitely worth investing in some video software (or outside expertise) to help with post-production or editing your video. Many people forget this important step and it really reflects poorly in their campaign video. It’s almost impossible to shoot video that wouldn’t benefit from some post-production editing.
You could hire a local freelance video editor, or you might also check out online (remote) professional video editing companies like Valoso. You upload and send them your files, and they send you a rough draft back within a few days. You can then mark in real time where you want changes made or animations and graphics added. This is a great option for those with limited budgets.
Also, make sure that you aren’t in breach of copyright law. Remove any copyrighted logos from all frames. Pay attention to things like logos on clothing. Tempting as it might be, don’t just add your favorite song to the background. Using copyrighted audio can have consequences that range from inconvenient to show-stopping. You could skip the music, hire someone to create something original for you, pay for licensing, or find some tunes that aren’t copyrighted through sources like Vimeo Music Store or SoundCloud.
5. Keep it brief
The sad truth is that people have very short attention spans, so make sure your video is brief. Don’t waste time on anything unnecessary, because according to a 2015 study by Microsoft, most people have a digital attention span of around 8 seconds. That’s not a lot of time for you to explain why they should invest in you.
Rather than going into the nitty-gritty details of your project, remember to focus on the story behind the project and the people in your team. That way you can catch your potential investors’ attention and put a human face to the idea—you’re aiming to make an emotional connection.
Putting the extra effort into cutting your video down to be short and concise will make all the difference in making it successful.
In general, 30-second videos online have a completion rate of 88.3 percent, (meaning the people watch them to the end) so keep that in mind if you find that your first round filming stretches on for several minutes.
Remember, very few people will take the time to read your entire written proposal, but many will watch your 30-second video, making it in many ways more important. To ensure success, do your research, and watch some videos from successful Kickstarter projects to get more ideas for what works and what doesn’t. The more work you put into the video, the more likely your project will get the funding it deserves!
A few final notes on crowdfunding
For more on how to get your startup funded, check out the Bplans funding guide—specifically the section on alternative sources of funding.
And keep in mind that if you are successfully funded, in the U.S., crowdfunding money is considered income, not donations, so you’ll have to pay taxes on it. Good luck!