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Crowd Funding Wisdom Courtesy of Veronica Mars

by Cori Padgett  |  April 17/2013  |  ,

If you’re any sort of pop TV nerd like yours truly, it’s possible you were once a Veronica Mars fan. (No fibbing now, ‘fess up!)

Even if you weren’t, it’s a little difficult to miss all the Veronica Mars (VM) chatter blazing across the web like wildfire, due to the wildly successful Veronica Mars Movie Project’s Kickstarter campaign.

Setting two Kickstarter records, the VM fund soared past the $1 million, then 2 million within a mere 11 hours of launching the campaign.

How’s that for breaking the sound barrier? Or some sort of barrier at any rate.

On Friday, the Kickstarter campaign completed it’s 30 day run with over 5.7 million dollars and became the most backed project in Kickstarter history with a whopping 91,585 backers. Well played, Veronica Mars Movie Project.

Of course the show had a killer cult following already, but despite this, there are several things the VM team did well that helped galvanize their campaign. Read on to learn how you can apply their lessons to your own Kickstarter campaigns:

Tapping into a Current Customer or Fan Base

Everyone knows it’s just smart business to focus the bulk of your marketing efforts on existing customers rather than trying to convert new ones.

This rule can and should be adapted and applied to a Kickstarter campaign as well.

How You Can Do It-

If you don’t have an existing fan base yet, your first order of business should be growing an audience. Postpone your Kickstarter ventures until you’ve done so.

Building and nurturing an audience online is tough work; don’t let anyone tell you different. But it’s well worth the effort, especially when you’re seeking something like funding.

When trying to get a new project off the ground, your chances of achieving your goal are that much higher when you tailor your pitch to appeal to the people you know already want to see it happen.

The Veronica Mars Project knew they already had a rabid fan base. So their entire appeal was directed straight to the fans, designed to rally the troops and touch them on an emotional level. The appeal was geared to make them feel that when they donated, they would become part of movie making history. (Luckily, they weren’t wrong!)

Fostering Crowd Involvement

The second thing the Veronica Mars Project did right was in keeping the crowd involved in the process.

Kristin and Rob made a point to provide regular updates on the status of the project goals with personal messages gushing how proud they were of the fan support and how excited they were to see the dream becoming a reality.

When they reached a milestone they made sure the backers were aware of it and what the next step was to keep driving the project forward.

How You Can Do It-

You can do this with your own campaign by making a point to update your Kickstarter page regularly.

Write personal notes, share milestones, run miniature contests. You can even share photos related to the project. Video is great too.

The VM Project made full use of the beauty of technology today by sharing raw video of their reactions to the donations and the big news they surpassed their goal in record time.

You can’t get much more personal with online sharing than raw video. And sometimes it’s those imperfect moments revealed that make the most impact.

Making Backing Accessible for Everyone

You just never know the situation someone may be in. Obviously when you are appealing to an existing fan base, they already love what you have to offer.

That doesn’t always mean they are in a position to help you financially, no matter how much they may want to. Make it easy.

How You Can Do It-

For some people, spending even $20 is a number that scares them, regardless of the potential reward. And for some people, even if they could spend $20 to fund a project they love, they won’t.

They might however be willing to spend $15. Or $10. Or $5.

You get the picture, right? Creating lower donation options makes doing it easier for everyone.

Long story short, the Veronica Mars Movie Project recognized this, and as a way to keep the donations climbing, created a donation amount of only $1 and wrapped it up as a contest to break another Kickstarter record of most backers.

If 10,000 people are willing to spend $1… you do the math!

Tailoring Rewards to the Audience

A part of the Kickstarter process is that every backer, depending upon their donation, receives something in return for helping move the project forward.

The larger the donation, the larger the perceived reward.

Obviously if you are a rabid fan of Veronica Mars, the idea of getting to name a movie character and spending a day on set is something that would make you hyperventilate.

So keep your audience in mind when creating the rewards your backers will receive in exchange for donating their hard earned cash, and make sure those rewards are something they would actually want and consider valuable.

How You Can Do It-

For instance, if you are running a project to write a book you might give away copies of the book to backers for free. Or for the big backers perhaps you pledge to do a personal book signing in their city.

If you are funding production and distribution of a new album, you might give copies away to each backer. For the big ticket backers schedule a concert in their city, or a private performance for a special event.

Bottom line?

Don’t be stingy. Remember that your backers on Kickstarter aren’t “investors”… they don’t typically receive financial compensation if your project winds up being a resounding success.

They are practicing generosity and giving to you out of the kindness of their hearts in order to help you make your vision happen, because they have followed you long enough to know they believe in your vision.

To continue paying it forward, show a little generosity of your own and offer rewards that will actually mean something to them.

Crowd Funding in a Nutshell

At the core, crowd funding is really about like-minded people banding together to help a person they believe in realize a goal… it is truly about people helping people, and the pursuit of a dream.

Remember that when making your Kickstarter appeal to the public. Keeping it real and honest will take you farther than some smarmy sales pitch every day of the week.

About the author: Cori is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ as well as the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. If you’d like to harness her creative brains and dubious brawn to write for your blog, just stalk her on Twitter and ask her. 


  • Linda Fuller

    I didn’t realize that crowd funding did not represent a “loan” with a payback plus interest. Are all crowd funding projects like this? I think I’ve heard of programs where the loans are for people in developing nations and do involve a payback plus interest. Either way, I think these are great ways for people to raise funds when traditional financing is difficult.

  • FreshJustine

    Hey @linda_fuller:disqus – For projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the money is not a loan, the individual(s) get to keep the money to fund their venture/product. For example, an artist who wants to get her original designs made onto rain boots could go and get enough money through backer contributions to manufacture them. You could also look at it as pre-selling, since that same artist would likely include a pair of rain boots (once they’re made) to those who backed a certain amount or higher through the rewards.

    I think Kiva.org is one of the loan-type sites you’re talking about, and yes, totally a great way to help people gain funding for their businesses.

  • TaxReturnCoach

    Before undertaking any crowd funding activity, consult with your tax advisor.

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