TO CROWDFUND OR NOT TO CROWDFUND? IS THAT THE QUESTION? Part 4

money pile

Some projects don’t get funded right away, some do and then lose funding. Any number of things can happen that can make the going tougher than one imagined but don’t you quit if this is truly important to you. When you stick with it, with the right attitude, you will find another way. Stay focused on the goal, the solutions and believe in yourself, your project, your team and that you will prevail.

Consider this: Movies get funded and made every day.

I repeat: MOVIES GET FUNDED AND MADE EVERY DAY!

Sure, it is tough but it happens. Projects get green lit from the studios, independent films find their funding, crowdfunded pictures get their money to move forward, and more….

Part 4 The Crowdfunding Psychology You Must Know

Raising money and crowdfunding revolves all around the mindset you have. In this post I’ll will discuss some important principles as it relates to crowdfunding.

As stated crowdfunding takes an inordinate amount of work for most everyone. Some celebrities may have an easier go of it for a number of reasons. Regardless, crowdfunding takes a massive amount of effort.

Raising money the traditional way takes an inordinate amount of effort. Long hard hours, over a long period of time, getting closer and closer, losing this investor, gaining that one, piecing it all together is a lot of work. It is a struggle and people have been doing variations on this in the film business for quite some time.

Traditional methods have changed through the decades.

I think crowdfunding runs the risk of burning people out. While only a fraction of the population may know about crowdfunding platforms the fraction that is aware of it gets bombarded over and over again.

New territory, new people needs to be found.

Some filmmakers naively think that they will lunch crowdfund campaign when the time is right for their project. Usually sometime between preproduction and production. Then they will put it out there on the internet using social media.

Crowdfunding is much more complex than that. I think it operates like this: Everyone out there in internet land (your target audience)  IS your uncle or your aunt. Why would I think this.

Your relatives, because they are related to you, may be more willing to help out, (or in some cases because they DO know you they may not be so inclined. Let’s hope the latter is not the case).

Obviously, your social media audience aren’t related to you but consider why relatives will give to and most strangers won’t.

Most likely relatives give or support your efforts because there is a connection to you, they may like or love you, they may feel obligated to help family because ‘blood is thinker than water’, they watched you grow up and took care of you or other family members. Whatever it the reasons may be it is because they have a history with you.

The two KEY concepts that I believe are necessary to have are connection and history. Your relatives help support you because they are connected to you and they share a history with you.

I believe successful crowdfunding is based on the same principles. This may be the reason why celebrities may have an easier time with crowdfunding. People know them, love them and have a history with them. They have watched them or followed their careers. They want contact with the celebrity, for whatever reasons, and they feel good collecting celebrity memorabilia. The connection (even though it may not be real or exist in reality) still is important. The fans feel they have a connection. They have a history together too. The fans know or are familiar with the celebrity and have been for years.

I repeat: I believe successful crowdfunding is based on the same.

Crowdfunding is based on having an established network or community of people who are interested in you, your work, your projects and who already know and trust you (at least they don’t distrust you).

The are fans, followers, friends whom you have been engaging with for awhile. They are not cold strangers. They are relatively warm enthusiasts for you and your movies. This is important to understand because you aren’t really reaching out to strangers when you crowdfund you are reaching out to people who know you already. Strangers aren’t inclined to help you but friends or family may.

You must work to establish a good connection with your social media friends. These are the people who are your target audience for your project. They may become potential contributors to your campaign but you must provide value to them LONG before you ever ask for anything in return.

You must engage them and get to know them and they have to get to know you. You must find a way to make communication with them a two-way street communication.You must take them on the journey with you and keep their interest all along the way. You have to figure out ways to attract them. You want to keep them interested and eager for you to make and complete your project and get it into their hands.

They are not interested because they will make money off your project, they are not investors. Although recently, investing through crowdfunding platforms has become possible. Your friends and followers, your fans have much different interests than traditional investors and you must appeal to their wants and needs and meet those if you want to be successful.

They do want something in return for their attention and their loyalty and their potential contribution. You must give them what they want prior to the launch of your campaign.

Then during your campaign you offer perks that are meaningful to your fans because you know took the time to discover what is they desire. Because of connection you have established you know what will appeal to them.

A basic principle in sales states that you succeed when you can meet a need, solve a problem and/or give the customer what they desire most. When you are able to fulfill these you may make a sale. Think of your audience as your customers because that is truly what they are. They are people who may buy from you once or many times. You may not want to hear it but as a filmmaker you need to learn about selling and making sales.

When you have ACTUALLY made a sale to your customer is not just the time they part with their money and leave with your goods. When you have really made the sale is when the person returns and wants to do it  with you again. It is this moment the sale is made because they are convinced that you have something they want.

It is much like dating. You go out on the first date. You know you have ‘made the sale’ when the other person wants a second and third date. At whatever point you stop meeting their needs they will lose interest. As long as you have a mutually fulfilling relationship you will stick together. This is true of the business relationship and the crowdfunded relationship.

When you have a repeat customer, so much of your work is done for you, it is amazing. The lion share of expense goes into generating new leads and converting new customers. When you have a fan base who is eager for each of your projects you have laid some really solid ground work. You have established an important connection and together you share a history.

The key to making the sale is not to think, ‘what is in this for me,  how do I get what I want’, but to think, ‘what is it they want that I can readily give them?’

You have to appeal to the other person’s wants and needs and find a way to meet those if you wish to be more successful. Your success comes from adding value to the other person first.

This takes thought, it takes planning, it takes work and it begins long before you make your movie.

Just as you plant a seed you first need to prepare the soil. Next, you plant the seed then you nurture the seed while it grows underground by providing the proper care. Later, much later, it sprouts. You must continue to nurture it, take out the weeds that may choke it and help it grow strong. Eventually, you harvest the crop from the seed you planted but that is at a much later date. For everything there is a season. You sow and then later you reap.

Some people try to reap without preparing or sowing and that rarely, if ever, works. You do your part first and foremost and then others may reciprocate. Of course, not everyone will, so don’t get your hopes up too high. It is a numbers game, you do what you can to grab the lion share.

As in baseball it is about upping your batting average. You get better percentages, but rarely do you get 100%. As long as you are moving in that direction you are doing okay. You increase your opportunities and your chances.

The basic work of crowdfunding IS everything you need to do long before harvest time.

There are these two phases: First, you plant seeds to attract the interested and keep them close by engaging with them. You have to offer them something first. Just as you use bait to lure a fish. You offer something of value to attract followers to you. You keep them close by continuing to give them things from time to time and by communicating with them.

Perhaps you give them a behind the scenes look at what you are doing, you give them photos or videos, you help them solve problems by writing articles or dispensing tips, advice or ideas. Maybe you share with them where they can get discounts or items they might not know where to go to. The point is you offer them things of value, things that they are interested it.

Since it is the age of social media one assumes you have a page dedicated to you and your projects, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and any of the other platforms.

Second you launch the eventual campaign (in which you begin this planting process all over again). In this phase you again offer them something BUT in return for their support, their contribution and spreading the word. This is when you ask them to respond by giving back. Why will they give back. One reason is because you have been giving to them and they will want to reciprocate. The other reason is because they have a connection and history established with you and they want to see your movie. They actually want to see it!

During the Second Phase, you are requesting that they part with their money to support your efforts in return for VALUABLE perks. Perks are the items or opportunities you offer that they want to and must have. If they don’t want them then the perks are not valuable to them. This should be obvious, but for some reason it isn’t.

So in Phase One you attract and nurture your followers. You engage with them and provide them value for free. You give them things, you acknowledge them, you have dialogue so that they feel close to you and want to stick by you. In Phase Two you again provide things for them but in exchange for something they do for you. If Phase One is successful and you orchestrate Phase Two correctly you are more likely to succeed.

You attract the moths to the flame, capture them, take care of them, feed them and then when you are ready, you launch your campaign and hope the moths now will respond by contributing because you took such good care of them. During Phase Two strangers will get introduced to your campaign. They may not have the history with you because they just now are learning about you and your project. Your campaign should be structured and managed to help them feel right at home. A well run campaign should help them to connect to you thorough your video, photos, text, updates, engagement, credits, cast and crew. In Phase Two you hope to convert strangers to fans who will support your efforts.

When it comes to perks you need to think this through and get good advice. What is important and valuable to you may not be to someone else. So you want to research this area more. Remember, people are motivated by ‘What Is In It For Me?’ So to motivate your followers you must discover what they want when they think that about that question. 

You need price your perks smartly too. For example:  If most downloads sell between $1.99 and $14.99 don’t offer a download for $25.00.  Price it as the market place does. If you buy a DVD or Blue Ray for a certain amount don’t price yours higher than the lowest popular place they can obtain it. The only time your a perk like this could be higher prices is when you offer something else along with it. Perhaps, the jewel case, or the art work is signed by cast and crew. Something that makes it reasonable to be priced higher. Sometimes scarcity works. The price may be higher because you only have a few. 

Corporations spend billions of dollars every year targeting and appealing to consumers. They have it down to a science. Do your research and use the best methods they do tailored to your needs.

If you have an absolutely one of a kind valuable ‘must have it’ give away, it is rare and sought after by millions well, you may be able to name your price.

If you have something that most people don’t know who or what it is or could care less about it well giving it away could be difficult. People want what they perceive to be valuable and that is why celebrity swag is sought after. SO be smart about selling to your customers. By the way, that is precisely what a ticket holder is – a customer. All of your fans and friends and followers are customers. While it seems Corporate America has forgotten a  worthy tenant they used to adhere to don’t you forget it. Keep in mind, the customer is always right!!! Even if it is not always true it will serve you better if you act as if it were. Be driven to provide your customer what your customer wants most and you will succeed.

You must figure out ways to attract and capture your fan base. You want to engage them and create a connection and history together so that they want to want get more movies from you. You attract them, you hook them and then make them offers they find difficult to refuse. This is the basis of business and the basis of crowdfunding. It is about using psychology to get what you need to make your film project. Be smart about it and be wise. 

Make GOOD plans and then work the plans WELL.  You can succeed. Movies are funded all the time. You just have to find a way that works well for you.

All of what has been covered in this post and much more ARE some of the reasons why you need to be thorough in creating your campaign. Remember, it ALL begins BEFORE iyour campaign is officially launched. Take the time to do it well.

There are reasons why Business Plans exist. One reason is to show others; you potential partners, the bank, investors, etc. the plan for your intended business. It doesn’t yet exist so you need a crystal clear outline, a plan for what you will do, how you will do it, when and on and on. It is designed to leave NO stone unturned.

You have to think it through really well BEFORE you implement it. Never skimp on the planning phases of anything. Your crowdfunding campaign, traditional means of raising money, or your production. This is why good movie makers spend the right amount of time preparing during preproduction.

Consider this, professional sports teams take all the time off season preparing for the games. They practice offense and defense. They develop plans and strategies to use when playing. They rehearse. During game season they continue to prepare. Then they play the game. Whether they win or lose they return to analyze how to be better, and implement it. They continue to practice and rehearse.  Why should we think that we should do anything less than this when it comes to raising money for movies and getting good at it? As with anything you get better at it the more time you spend at it. Remember this point it is important!

How much money can you crowdfund? The upper limit is not yet known? More on all of this next time.” Rex SIkes

Have a great day!

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