When you think about crowdfunding, do you envision a fresh, young minds with an ingenious invention born in the garage who are seeking capital to make their dreams a reality? Well, it’s a much more valuable tool than just a platform to raise cash. And for those of us who already have efficient manufacturing systems in place, crowdfunding can become the most powerful marketing platform your business has ever known.
Though the concept of collecting funding prior to handing over a product or performing a service may be motivation enough, the marketing opportunities are what make crowdfunding so powerful, even for the most well-established brands. Because it seems an ideal fit for accessory manufacturers, especially those tending to be entrepreneurial or with limited access to traditional capital markets, my company AfterShokz has chosen to embark on a crowdfunding journey. Here’s why:
We Want to Know That if We Build it, They Will Come
Even with a sound concept, good prototype and substantial audience, manufacturing is a still a gamble. I have 40 years of experience, but there are still times I wish I had a crystal ball to know if I’m making the right bet. Now, there is finally a way to gauge the true level of consumer interest in your product, get feedback on what features are desired and what pieces need work, and test marketing campaigns prior to investment. Behold – the phenomenon of crowdfunding! At AfterShokz, we have found crowdfunding is the most accurate form of research in these areas, because the data is coming from our actual customers.
Crowdfunding is Community Building at its Best
One of the many benefits of crowdfunding is the direct engagement with the buying public – so many of the crowdfunding platforms are designed like social networks of sorts. I’ll bet this is because the value of consumers interacting with each other — in a space where you the manufacturer can learn from that communication — is just as important as the fundamental ability to interact with your brand. We’ve all seen how social networks have exponentially increased the value of word-of-mouth marketing. So, the chance to develop brand loyalty while attracting new brand enthusiasts from the swell just makes sense.
The Butterfly Effect
Crowdfunding success relies heavily on a well-planned campaign and strategic public relations effort. While correctly executing these strategies should put you in the position to raise your desired funds, there are additional benefits that have been known to follow. The dramatic increase in brand awareness from a successful campaign can lead to visibility that produces a collaboration, partnership or investment in the future.
A Creative Spin on Giving Back
For as long as I can remember, brands have linked up with charitable organizations to raise money and awareness for causes that span the globe. Instead of the more traditional route of selling products with a portion of the proceeds donated to the charity, crowdfunding allows you to get creative with giving. Incentivizing customers with a limited edition version of the product or a unique extra perk makes for a much more collaborative environment between brands and charities, as they work together to accomplish a common goal of helping others.
We Want to Go Big
My last bit of advice is a common phrase that I believe to be especially true in the case of crowdfunding: Go big, or go home. In this particular gamble, where the risk is so low, it makes sense to give it everything you’ve got to increase the potential for return. Build a strong team to manage your campaign, account for any and all successes and failures, and share it on every appropriate venue. Don’t skimp on the materials required to sell your idea to the world, and be open to everything your community has to say. And most importantly, never skimp on the perks offered to your supporters. Remember, not only are they paying you up front for a delivery in the future, they’re also providing feedback that will help you bring the very best product to market — and that’s where the long-term success lies.
This article was authored by Bruce Borenstein and initially published on Dealerscope.com.