The Crowd Supply Guide: Marketing and PR

Behind every successful crowdfunding campaign you’ll find more than just a great product, there’s also a solid marketing strategy. But probably the most frequent lament we hear from our creators is “I’m no good at marketing.”

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find (1) a list of the things Crowd Supply can do for you and (2) a list of things you can do to best market your product. We’ll also provide help and advice throughout your campaign in the form of coaching, editorial support, and general support and guidance.

Getting an early start on marketing is very important. Some things, like community building, will take time and effort. Other things, like your campaign page and early updates, need to be ready on campaign launch day. That’s why one of the first milestones in preparing for launch is defining your community by understanding your users. At the very start of your campaign, we’ll ask you a series of user-focused questions so your messaging is clear and defined at the outset. Please take some time to carefully work through the Messaging Issues, take a look at the resources linked there. Your responses will shape the entirety of your campaign.

Things Crowd Supply Can Do

Crowd Supply will help every campaign by providing the following:

  • Pre-launch page A campaign preview page where people can sign up for email updates. The pre-launch page will have the same URL as your campaign page when it goes live.
  • Media announcements Crowd Supply will announce your campaign milestones by:
    • Announcing the pre-launch in our newsletter
    • Announcing the launch in our newsletter
    • Announcing the project in our social media channels, including our Discord server
  • Cross promotion with other projects
  • Help with updates We will counsel creators on project updates and promote those updates with emails to backers and dedicated web pages.
  • Help with Field Reports We will help creators solicit, publish, and promote Field Reports from their backers, including Newsletter posts, contests, and targeted email.
  • Distribution opportunities We'll make sure our distribution partners will have the opportunity to carry products from CS campaigns.

Some other things Crowd Supply can do, but which may not apply to every project, include:

-Discord AMA Crowd Supply has a busy community server hosted on Discord. As appropriate, we can host a live "Ask Me Anything" session where backers and other creators can ask questions about your project.

  • Promotion through a supplier launch program Crowd Supply has partnerships with several manufacturers (e.g., Microchip, Qorvo, Silicon Labs) to provide special benefits for creators using a manufacturer's product. Benefits include cross promotion, discounts, and more.
  • Showcase at events We attend and host a number of events every (normal) year where we often showcase and demo CS projects.
  • Unboxings, demos, reviews Occasionally, CS features projects with online demos, unboxings, and reviews. We also encourage and assist third parties who wish to provide demos, podcast reviews, etc.

Things You Can (and Should) Do

Tell a Story

You know why your product is awesome, you created it to fill a need or achieve a goal. But you need to help everyone else see your vision. Sound messaging and an effective storyline are critical to a great campaign. Think of your product as a hero on a quest to solve your users’ problems. This is an important exercise that will become the foundation of all of your marketing materials, your product campaign page, general website copy, and so on.

The “Write Your User” Guide page and this blog post look more closely at this topic. The Issues in the GitHub Messaging Issues are there to help you put their advice into practice.

Activate Your Personal Network

  • Make a project contacts list. Who in your personal or professional network would care about or want this product? This includes colleagues in your project's area, people you’ve met at networking events, past customers for related products, online forums, friends and family, and so on.
  • Email this group a link to your pre-launch page, along with a personal request for them to share it with others who might be interested or supportive.
  • Don’t be pushy or spammy in online groups - be a contributing part of their conversation and culture and add value.

Develop Your Community

Community development should start well before your campaign launches and will serve you well both during and long after your campaign. "Community members" are fans of your product, your customers, influencers in your product’s market, and vocal champions who will share the product with others. Think of them as collaborators in your product’s development.

  • Join communities related to your campaign, in person and online.
  • Look outside the popular social networks for specialty internet forums, groups, or message boards where your audience can be found. Actively engage with them by answering questions, being helpful, and connecting with others in the group.
  • Are you a contributor to an open source community that would love what you're building? Tell them about it.
  • Identify local meet-ups, groups, clubs, book stores, etc., where your target community can be found. Attend meetings and ask to give a presentation to the group.
  • Ask for input on your product. Some of your best feedback might come from the very people who want to buy your product.
  • Ask backers to share your product with others.
  • Give prototypes to influential target users of your product so they can test it and give feedback or create early case studies for you.
  • Don't forget, your manufacturers and providers are part of your community. Tip: tag your manufacturers (e.g., @atmel, #macrofab, etc.) in your posts to increase both their visibility and yours.

Remember, don’t be spammy, pushy, or exploit the community just for your own sake. Ask for feedback, contribute back to the community with your own feedback and help, and enroll them in your cause.

Social Media

Like it or not, social media is an integral part of your marketing plan. Post frequently, but provide good, informative content with each post. There are a number of guides on the internet describing how to increase and engage a following on the various platforms. It’s worth taking a little time to do some research to improve your practices.

Media Outreach

Pitch the press to let the world know about your product. Here are some best practices for pitching the media:

  • Build a targeted list of writers and bloggers likely to be interested in your campaign. Do some research to see who’s been writing about similar projects.
  • Email them a concise, personal email about your product and why you think they’d be interested.
  • If you can, build some extra working prototypes you can use to send a review unit to members of the media and interested communities.
  • If they say "no thanks," remove them from your list. If you don’t hear back, do not follow up until you have a significant update, e.g., you hit the campaign halfway mark, met your goal, etc. Three follow-ups during the campaign should be sufficient.
  • Be tactful and considerate. Many reporters get literally hundreds of pitches a day. Be informative, but never ever rude, spammy, or pushy.

Question not answered here? Contact us to see how we can help.

The Crowd Supply Guide: Table of Contents

For Everyone

For Backers

For Creators

Getting Started

Before Your Campaign Launches

During Your Campaign

After Your Campaign Concludes

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