Crowdfunding Rewards! Make Them Work For You with Crowdfunding Planning!

posted Jun 3, 2013, 11:08 AM by   [ updated Jun 5, 2013, 11:09 AM ]

Many people ask me for ideas about what they should offer as rewards for their crowdfunding project. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to attract people to donate (pledge) to projects. And when I speak publicly about this subject, I always cite the projects I’ve read about that use their own products as the reward, meaning they pre-sell the product they’re trying to raise funds for. Most of these companies were raising funds to move their company into manufacturing, as did, who pre sold 890 sets of their bicycle wheel lighting systems. These Emeryville, CA entrepreneurs put themselves into business by offering a great deal on the ultra cool lights (I instantly thought they’d be great at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock desert of Nevada).

Many musicians have used crowdfunding to raise the money to produce their albums, to pay for studio time, mastering, engineering, and marketing and to pay musicians to play on the album.

At CrowdFundingLIVE, we’ve had a few projects pitched to us that wanted to use some network marketing products as rewards, thus gathering a list of names to up-sell to. We turn those down because crowdfunding is for new products, not as a way to market for an established company.

Some people have presented to us projects with rewards are so unrelated to the project that they make no sense. There is a difference between offering a logoed t-shirt and offering a book you wrote years ago when your project is trying to raise money to create a dance video. They aren’t related and there is very little incentive for the prospective donor to get excited about your dusty old inventory.

That’s not to say you can’t be creative and offer quirky or goofy rewards. I respond to those, if they’re something that will catch my friends interest, that I can have bragging rights about or touch my heart. And, make no mistake about it, touching a potential donor’s heart can be what makes your project succeed. Along with your compelling story and/or video, you must catch and keep the donor’s attention by engaging them in relevant and meaningful conversation. They must want to help you, to support your success, but you have to give them the reasons they can respond to. You know all of the wonderful reasons your project should succeed, but if you don’t convey your excitement or enthusiasm to the donor, then you will probably fail.

Then, there are the projects that offer useful products, like cell phone covers, phone apps, green house heating and cooling systems, gardening gloves, etc. Those are the things that catch people’s attention. Those are the rewards people will want. If you fail, then maybe your idea isn’t as great as you think it is, or maybe it’s just not appropriate for crowdfunding.

If you have a project that doesn’t have a product, then think about what you can give as a reward that you can deliver to the donor. Is it a downloadable dance lesson? A video guide to better skiing? A singing lesson for beginners you can send video email?

Think about the cost of delivering your reward. If it’s a t-shirt then you’ll have to have them printed with your logo when you purchase them. Then figure out what kind of packaging to ship them in, then who will package, label and ship them. How much will the postage be? All of those costs should be included in your crowdfunding project monetary goal. If you spend all of the money you raised fulfilling your rewards, then why did you bother to do the project in the first place?

Just because you were granted a patent on your idea, that doesn’t mean the public wants it. Keep that in mind and try not to be myopic about your idea, product or service. Get other opinions. Find a mentor or a group of your friends to brainstorm with you about how to present your project to the public. You’d be surprised how one little thought can spur a whole new avenue of creativity. It’s not how you perceive your project, but how others will. Step outside your mind and be as objective as you can.

We get all kinds of projects at Some we love, but the owners don’t have the means to market them. Some are just plain not going to work…ever. Some are merely vanity projects, relevant only to the owner. Some are poignant and move the heart, but aren’t cohesive enough to work. Sometimes, the rewards are so cool that a barebones project can work. Keeping it simple can work to your advantage. Don’t make your project so complicated that people don’t understand your offer. This is sales, not an esoteric exercise. It’s business, but it has to be compelling.

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