What contract bidders can learn from crowdfunding – Part 2

Crowdfunding offers a new model of audience engagement that contract bidders can learn a lot from.  Here are my top four lessons from the most successful crowdfunders.

  1. Keep reminding the customer of what’s great about your offer. In crowdfunding, this means up to seven email follow-ups. In your proposal, this means reiterating your most compelling points and spinning them in different ways, not just burying them in the Executive Summary.
  2. Make it real. Crowdfunding projects that are supported by engaging video and visuals outsell other projects by a factor of 10 to 1. Successful crowdfunder Chris Thomas, who raised $110,000 through Kickstarter against a target of $10,000 to bring “sleep earmuffs” to market (yes, really), says that there is a direct correlation between “the quality of the video and the bids, and what you end up raising”. Think about how you can elevate your pitch above the usual boring wasteland of uninterrupted words.
  3. Make it stand out. In crowdfunding, successful projects tap into needs that customers didn’t even know they had. For example, Patient Zero raised $230,000 through Pozible to stage real life zombie battles, 23 times more than the $10,000 it was originally asking for. In a bid, you’re battling for attention in a crowded marketplace; if everyone can tick all the boxes in the RFT then what makes you any different? Be bold, be an expert, and show the customer a compelling vision of their future working with you.
  4. Give something extra. Crowdfunding isn’t charity, and successful crowdfunders recognise that people want to get something back to their investment. A while back, I invested $100 through Pozible in a community project that eventually raised its target of $10,000. In return, I was offered email updates, an invitation to the launch, and my name on the sponsor’s ‘roll of honour’. Rewards don’t have to relate to the project at hand; offer to share your expertise for free on another issue that you know the client is struggling with.

What contract bidders can learn from crowdfunding - Part 1

Crowdfunding offers a new model of audience engagement that contract bidders — who often believe we are talking to an audience that is already sold on what we do — could learn a lot from. Crowdfunding is a social media platform through which millions of dollars have been raised for projects as diverse as a Parma and pot at the local pub ($259 against a target of $20) to millions of dollars of fan funding for a movie version of the TV series Veronica Mars. In the crowdfunding world, the only measure of a project’s worth is whether people will stump up money for it. Most crowdfunding goes to projects that it would be difficult - if not impossible - to get traditional funding for.

There is definite hierarchy in the business of raising money to do stuff. Crowdfunding model

At the top are products and services that are deemed essential to corporate or public life.  These are funded by governments or businesses through contracts and agreements.

In the middle are traditional grants, where hopefuls parade their wares in front of an entity that has money and is prepared to give some of it away (generally a large corporation, charitable foundation or private donor).

Crowdfunding is at the very bottom of this pyramid.  This is a very interesting place to be, in that crowdfunders are talking to a very wide audience that may or may not have any money - and even if they do, have no intention at the moment of giving any of it away. This forces crowdfunders to put their project in front of everyone they know in a way that is so inspiring that it will prompt them to immediately pull out their credit card.

Check out Part 2 of this article for my top four lessons for contract bidders from the most successful crowdfunders.