In order to raise the level of funds you need to start on most big development projects, you’re going to need to market it. Just emailing a link to friends and family isn’t enough (and done incorrectly, may annoy your loved ones). Your crowdfunding campaign needs as much of a marketing plan as the business behind it.
Marketing to Investors
Anyone raising capital can tell you that you need a very specific type of marketing campaign to get investors interested. You’re not selling the product you want to build, not yet. You’re selling them on your ability to get them a return on their investment. That’s just as true in crowdfunding as when you’re approaching one individual investor. You won’t be able to use a crowdfunding approach to actually sell shares in your company to investors until next year — but you may need all of that time to get your marketing in order.
You need to showcase your expertise and abilities, just as much as you need to reach out to potential investors. That means lining up interviews and promotional opportunities, preferably before you officially launch your crowdfunding campaign. Get people excited about how good an opportunity you’re going to offer them.
Marketing to Consumers
Especially with the more popular crowdfunding sites, you need to do plenty of promotion on your own or you’ll just get lost in the noise of everyone else using the site. That means reaching out to the people who might be interested in purchasing any incentives you’re offering outright. Ideally, you’ll be building interest in your project long before asking for money — some of the more successful projects, like Seth Godin’s recent Kickstarter, were created by people who had exisiting email lists and blogs with hundreds of thousands of followers. It just took Godin a few messages on his long established channels to sell out of several of the incentives that he offered. Even new crowdfunding platforms that are rolling out to take advantage of the JOBS Act, like Wefunder are building interest before they’re able to accept money.
You need to get your project in front of as many eyeballs as possible if you want to be successful. That means using every marketing method at your disposal: guest post on blogs, submit press releases to big news sites, post to social media. The more people who see your campaign and get interested, the more likely you are to actually raise the money you need.
Marketing to Users
There’s a specific twist to marketing to the sort of people who will buy your product when you’re developing software: you don’t want consumers nearly as much as you want users. Software is meant to solve a problem. If you know the type of people who have the problem you’re trying to fix, you know who your user base will be. If you can convince those potential users that they’ll be able to save significant amounts of time or money by using the app you want to develop, they’ll happily give you money in advance.
You just have to get your solution in front of those potential users. You may be able to use the same marketing plan that you have in mind for the finished product for your crowdfunding campaign, if you’ve got a clear idea of how to reach your users.