OWNER'S MANUAL

How to Create an Effective Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign

I'm far from the target audience for crowdfunding appeals... but here's one campaign that really resonated with me.
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A few things to know up front:

One: I get dozens of pitches every week. Most come from PR professionals hoping to get products or services featured in an article. But a decent percentage come from people hoping to raise money.

Two: almost all of those pitches are terrible.

Three: I'm far from an early adopter. Was late to Twitter. Did nothing meaningful with LinkedIn until I became an Influencer. Still don't have a Facebook page. Had never been on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. (You'll see why this is important in a moment.)

So:last week I received an email from Ted King, a professional cyclist who rides for Cannondale Pro Cycling and competes at the highest level of the sport (can you say "Tour de France"?)

Ted and I are the most casual of Internet acquaintances so I was surprised (yet happy) to open his email. Here's what it said:

Happy July!

If you've followed my escapades racing over hill and dale, from the Tour of California to the Tour de France, you've likely caught wind that I like maple syrup. Nostalgic for New England, a small container of maple syrup is the perfect way for me to literally take a taste of home on the road.

In fact, it is much more than just that, so please allow me to nerd out for just a second. Maple syrup:

  • An incredible mineral, electrolyte, and vitamin profile
  • Tons of antioxidants
  • Packed with amino acids
  • Packs a carbohydrate punch to fuel a ride (run, ski, climb, hike, paddle, or long day at work), and yet...
  • Has a considerably lower glycemic index than other sugars to fuel you longer!

Basically maple syrup has all the things you find in an energy gel pack with their dozen of processed, artificial ingredients, yet maple syrup is just one natural, delicious, ingredient.

Where am I going with this? Great question.

I met the Cochran cousins of Olympic ski fame, who started Slopeside Syrup on their family ski hill in Vermont. Given their athletic pedigree and given my line of work, when I talked to them about packaging pure maple syrup as a sports gel pack, it made immediate sense. We teamed up and started UnTapped Energy. Using their organic, all natural, 100% pure maple syrup, we are bringing maple syrup to the masses!

We have a crowd sourcing campaign that's already received some awesome press in Outside and Bicycling Magazine, Bike Rumor, and Singletrack World; plus the endorsement of sport nutrition gurus and chef Allen Lim and Biju Thomas, plenty of elite and Olympic endurance athletes, and even a leading candidate in the Vermont governor's race.

I'd love your support as I spearhead this new exciting endeavor. Check out www.untapped.ccfor all the info. And please pass this along to anyone you know might be interested!

Thanks so much,

Ted

The email made me click the link (and I almost never click links) to check out UnTapped's Indiegogo campaign.

Once there I liked the video--professional, yet not too professional. I liked the text--professional, yet not too professional. (If I'm going to support your project I want to support your project and not pay off debt you incurred creating a needlessly expensive crowdsourcing campaign.)

And I liked the idea: four cousins, family farm, natural product, hoping to extend their core business into new products. Slopeside Syrup and Ted King aren't trying to change the world--just their little part of it. (And mine: some gels taste terrible, the rest even worse. Love the idea of something new.)

That's why I responded to their campaign.

And here's why all this matters to you. Crowdsourcing, for all the hype and attention, is far from mainstream. Early adopters support projects. People at the forefront of social change support projects. People looking for new ways to invest in small companies support projects.

People like me? The average (and I'm as average as it gets), mainstream, late-to-every-cool-party individuals? We aren't supporting projects. We aren't responding to generic media announcements, or overblown and hyperbolic emails, or strident pitches from founders.

Yet if you're hoping to attract funding through crowdsourcing you need people like us. Plenty of projects don't reach their funding goals, and in aggregate we are the potential source of billions of investment dollars.

To reach us, you should:

  • Create a relationship first. If I don't know you, at least a little... why should I even consider funding your campaign?
  • Help me understand a little about you. People do business with people--and people definitely invest in people.
  • Focus on me. I know you have dreams. But we all have dreams. Tell me how I will benefit, even if it's just in an emotional way. Then I can adopt a little of your dream... and feel, if just in some small way, like I'm making a difference, too.

Like, at least in my case, Ted did.

(Please note: I'm in no way suggesting you should support the UnTapped campaign. Or any particular campaign. I am saying I responded positively to their campaign... and if it appealed to someone like me, there are definitely lessons you can learn from their approach.)

Last updated: Jul 28, 2014

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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