The popularity of crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have helped thousands of people, including myself, get access to capital to bring products and services to market. Raising money via crowd funding to start or sell equity in your gym is entirely possible. The main problem with these platforms is the majority of people only hear about the extreme successes that raised millions of dollars. As a full-time marketing consultant, I should warn you that those extreme successes are the exception to the rule. Crowd funding projects that raise millions of dollars usually include a recipe of a huge PR team, tireless hours sprinkled with a lot of luck and perfect timing.
Successful crowd funding is broken into three parts: pre-launch, launch and post-launch. The timeline for all three steps is six months. The majority of people throw up a campaign in one month or less, which is the reason the majority fail to reach their goals.
Let's break down each section:
1. Pre-launch (17 weeks). First and foremost, you have to decide on a funding goal, which is the amount you need for your project to be successful. You may have an amount in mind, but have you really thought it through? Will this amount cover the fees and expenses to run the campaign and to ship or distribute rewards?
The prelaunch also includes a video. If you are thinking of doing a crowd-funding campaign without a video, then why even bother? Statistics on all major crowd-funding platforms show that projects with videos raise way more money than those without. A video gives you a chance to connect with your audience. My video took three months to storyboard and write. Every word of your video should be absolutely spot on. Your video should be written to your audience, adhere to your company brand and contain all of the information needed in the shortest possible timeline.
Hiring a marketing expert with experience creating crowd-funding videos helps immensely. To find one, simply find a few crowd-funding videos you like and email the owner of the project. More often than not, they will be willing to share information with you. (I would.)
Other pre-launch steps are too numerous to mention here, but you can find them by downloading this six-month crowd funding checklist. One important step I will add here is that you must find an assistant. An assistant can be someone you already know or someone through the Internet, called a virtual assistant or VA. If you want to hire someone through the Internet, you can go to no less than a dozen websites to find one. My personal favorites are Fiverr and elance. Just make sure that whomever you hire has a good grasp of your primary language. I would start this VA off small with one project. Then, if you work together well, use the VA for long-term projects.
2. Launch (five weeks). The launch phase is where you find out if all your hard work from pre-launch becomes a flop or a success. If you follow my checklist, the odds are in your favor. The first week usually dictates how the entire campaign will go. If your first week is a complete failure, then cancel and re-tool your strategy.
During the launch phase, your primary goal is to be a social media ninja. You need to network like crazy. Create accounts with all of the major social networking sites and start connecting. Notice how I said start connecting, not start promoting. You won't get any attention from anyone if you connect with a stranger and immediately tell them about your campaign. You need to fill your social media profiles, even your picture with obvious clues that you are running a crowd-funding campaign. Believe me, your new connections will notice, and if they are curious, they will click the links in your profile.
In addition to social networking, a major source of your funding will come from the networking of your friends and family. Please don't misunderstand me. You are not asking your friends and family for money. You are asking them to get the word out about your campaign.
You should break down your friends and family into three levels:
A. Familiar with me and my project (closest friends and family)
B. Familiar with me but not familiar with my project (acquaintances)
C. Knows my name and made a connection at some point
Personally, I went through every email I received for the previous six months and categorized everyone. Then, I wrote an email for each category. I wrote a personal line at the top for every email, then a standard paragraph asking them to share my crowd-funding project at the bottom. All of this work should be done in the pre-launch phase and the emails executed in the launch phase. It's a lot of work, but the success of your campaign depends on it.
3. Post-Launch (two weeks). During the post-launch phase, your main job is to fulfill any rewards and to thank your funders profusely. These funders are the ultimate reason for your project success, and many will be complete strangers. What a world we live in where this is possible. In the past, if you wanted funding, you put on your best suit and drove to every bank you could and hoped they would throw you a bone. Now, you don't even need to leave your house or meet the people who would be funding your project.
After thanking your funders and shipping any rewards, do not skip the most important step of all: the statistics. Every major crowd-funding platform offers a dashboard for you to see the sources of your funding. Crunch these numbers any way you can and really determine what part of your campaign was the most effective. Chances are, if your campaign was a success, you'll be running another one in the future.
Michael Volkin is a U.S. Army veteran, author and entrepreneur. He is the inventor of Strength Stack 52, a unique deck of bodyweight fitness cards designed to get you in shape faster than ever before. He funded his startup through crowdfunding. Volkin has authored three military books aimed at helping recruits prepare for basic training.