Lessons learnt from my first crowdfunding campaign

The project:
I experimented with crowdfunding for my latest theatre show The Interview. Why? Well you don’t get involved in independent theatre to make money. Breaking even is considered a success. So the ability to raise a few dollars was irresistible.

The implementation and strategy:
We used the Pozible system which was very intuitive and easy to use.
We created a little lo-fi video explaining the project, and set up a number of rewards

Check out the Pozible page here.

We promoted the campaign primarily via email and social media updating, along with updates to the Pozible page and our website for the theatre show.

The rewards:
A list of the rewards can be seen here

The results:
We reached the first $1000 (a third of the target) in the first three days – this is easy we thought! Closer analysis showed that the vast majority came from two people.
We reached $2000 by the end of week two, largely due to an Executive Producer pledge from Alison’s mum Marie McGirr
We reached our target with ten days to go, thanks to a few large pledgers in other family members and two very close friends.
We finished up at $3,935, nearly 25% over target, which was very pleasing, reaching our target with ten days to go.

Lessons (in no particular order)
1/ Target your pledgers
The majority of the revenue came from a small number of people, who were either family friends or had been contacted directly by one of the producers. Blanket emails and social media updates generated a few pledges but none of the big ones, which all came via a direct request. So lesson learnt here is to be more direct with your target list of pledgers

2/ Time and effort.
As the main producer on the show, on top of running a busy production company, I underestimated the time required to manage the campaign. I wish I had been more disciplined and planned half an hour every morning of time to enhance the campaign effectiveness.

3/ Marketing and strategy required
More content was needed to provide something new to talk about. Lucikliy we had lots of blog entries and video diaries to keep the meesage fresh and new. also as we has success early, so we never came across as desperate for cash. Potential pledgers saw that our campaign was on track, and felt part of something achievable.

4/ Reduce the number of rewards
In retrospect I do feel we had a few too many rewards. Anecdotally, friends mentioned that they just got a bit daunted by the number of rewards, so definitely simplify it.

5/ Be thankful and open.
I was very keen to be in contact with the pledgers as much as possible, and to thank them as much in all our marketing and advertising material. This was well received and made them feel part of our journey and adventure. It was lovely meeting them all at the theatre and thanking them personally.

L-R Sam Atwell, Alison McGirr, Marie McGirr, Nick Bolton, Tom McGirr

6/ The Pozible network.
None of our pledgers came via the Pozible network.
We were never featured on their home page as one to watch? So we didnt get any viral effect by being attracted to new audiences.
This isn’t me having a go at Posible by the way. I appreciate there is limited real estate on the home page, and many projects were higher profile than ours.

7/ USP or Celebrity attachment
Our project wasn’t anything spectacularly new, nor did it involve anyone with a name. I do feel that having something different, or someone famous attached to the project would give credibility to the potential pledgers.

8/ Crowdfunding saturation
I was nervous about crowdfunding due to the ubiquity of campaigns these days. Every creative project seems to run a campaign, and it has become saturated. So I was very very pleased that our campaign was a success.

9/ Scale
We are all quite well networked but in terms of taking the campaign to more people was very hard. Our campaign didn’t go viral at all.

So, would I do it again – Yes, but did find the effort required grater than expected.
But I would plan the campaign a bit better, and even allocate the campaign to a Producer to manage totally.
I would have the communication campaign scheduled and create a targeted list of potential pledgers.

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