Actually, it looks like there are a lot of problems. Funding is funding is funding, whether you’re talking to a major studio, a rich investor, or a crowd from whom you plan to source. You’ve still got to persuade them that they should give you money - and that means sales.
I’m seeing a lot of Indiegogo campaigns making the same mistakes - mistakes that are pretty obvious if you’ve got a background in sales and Internet Marketing, but probably not at all if you don’t…
No social proof
This is the big one. There’s an old saying that Venture Capitalists don’t invest in the product, they invest in the team. Although your smaller investors might not conciously realise it, all humans operate on similar principles - we always look at the human element of any plan. Trust in people equals trust in the plan.
The primary question any potential investor will probably be asking is “can these guys make this happen?”
Your Indiegogo campaign will benefit massively from ANY information you can give investors about your team. For starters, they need to know who you are as project creator, and what experience and other assets you have that will make this project a) possible at all and b) awesome. Do you have other filmmaking experience? If so, share it. Link your best work or your showreel. “I worked on X large movie as Y, and am taking that experience to making my own unique projects” works really well.
Let everyone know about other impressive people you have on board already (and if you don’t have some, go out and try and recruit them!). This doesn’t just mean actors, although of course well-known actors really help - it also means crew, producers, effects guys. Anyone involved with serious experience.
If you possibly can, add some video of you and the cast/crew talking about the show. Keep it short, but seeing a human face is extremely powerful for sales. Internet Marketing types report 40% or more increases in “conversions” (translation - people who buy their stuff) with video pitches - it’s the new big thing in the IM world. We’re filmmakers - use that to your advantage.
You need to do two things for your investors. You need to persuade them you can make this thing happen, and you need to get them involved and excited about the process.
You can do both by sharing your plan of action in as much detail as possible.
Don’t just say “we need $20k, which we’ll use for cameras and crew and cast and stuff”. Break down your timeframe. Tell people when things are going to happen. As much as you can without breaking contracts, tell them where the money’s going to go. It’s no coincidence that many of the most successful Indiegogo and Kickstarter projects are very specific about what they need the cash for - color correction, prints, marketing, even catering.
People respond well to numbers - particularly non-round numbers. Get your estimates as precise as possible. Tell your investors that it’ll take 13 days to shoot the film, and 27 days to edit and color correct. Explain why. Be real here - “working around my day job, from past experience I’ll be able to edit the first episode in 17 days from shooting”. Include stuff that non-filmmakers might not think of, like catering, M&E;, legal and accountancy costs. Make it sound credible and real.
Investors are stuck between two poles - hoping that the project you’re pitching could be awesome, but afraid that it’s going to fail. Will they look like idiots if this thing disappears? Will their friends laugh at them? Indiegogo projects tend to do well at the hope side of things, but badly at the soothing fears aspect. Don’t make that mistake.
Oh, and when you’re doing this - eliminate or explain all jargon. Have your mum read it over, assuming your mum isn’t an executive at Columbia or something. If a normal person can’t understand your pitch, they won’t invest in your project.
No Call To Action
It’s a simple thing. But it increases the number of people who take the action you want by, in some cases, orders of magnitude.
I’m talking about a call to action, which regular readers are probably sick to death of me banging on about.
Short version: if you want people to do something, tell them to do it. Nicely, but tell them. So, for your indiegogo campaign, your pitch should end with something like “Contribute to the project now!” or “Claim your perk on the right of this page to make this project happen”.
Ideally, you want to build a benefit into the call, and make it as clear as possible what you want them to do. “Support us”, for example, might seem perfect but research shows is too vague. You want your readers to give you money, right? Then ask them to do that. “Fund PROJECTNAME now!”
At the same time, if you can reference the reason they’d be doing that, it makes it even stronger. “Start MAIN CHARACTER’s journey by funding us now!”.
And if you can build a time limit in, it becomes stronger still - “Our campaign closes on Thursday, so start MAIN CHARACTER’s journey by funding us now!”
It’s a very simple thing - so simple that you might think it wouldn’t work. But nearly a hundred years of marketing (I’m not kidding - calls to action are referenced in my copy of “Tested Advertising Methods”, pub. 1932) show that they do work. And well.
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