There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages. – Mark Twain, a Biography
I’m not sure people in the 19th century were thinking much about inventing Twitter, say, or Oculus Rift, but Twain’s point is well taken and is more true in the crowdfunding space every day.
This means project creators have to work that much harder to distinguish his or her projects.
It’s absolutely possible to do so but it requires thinking about your idea from every conceivable angle and then being agile enough to deploy whatever point of view best suits your given audience.
I see too many projects blending into the background because of a failure on the creators’ parts to understand what makes them different. They settle for the most obvious points and don’t explore beyond them. I can only assume this is because they don’t know how to—or that they should.
The first scenario—not knowing how—is forgivable. But often, when I point out that major messaging changes should take place, people register a resistance to go beyond the message they settled on.
Both scenarios will cost you.
This post is for those people who don’t know how.
The problem with trying to teach, or describe the mechanics of how to shine the brightest and most original light on your story is difficult because the thought process is so internal. It’s a mental thing.
So blogs and articles continue to give generic how-to-tell-a-good-story advice; I’ve probably written some of them myself, which I confess leave me a little unsatisfied; I’m not sure I’ve helped anyone when I spout platitudes like:
Anyone can have an idea. But it’s your vision that is exclusive only to you!
These kinds of sweeping statement can a) make you feel overwhelmed or b) can feel painfully like a blah blah ginger moment.
For example, I hate Pilates, and have quit a couple of times, because the instructors use so many words to try to get me to understand the physical actions they want from me. Too much of that and I shut down.
I want to see it in action.
So now, in Pilates, if I feel a headache coming on I’ll quickly ask the instructor can you show me? When she stops talking and just does it—that’s when the light bulb usually goes on.
If you’re still with me, I’m going to attempt to make this blog post a “show, don’t tell” teachable moment for those who are tempted to shut down.
Last week I set up an interview to speak with a man by the name of Abdullah Rufus AKA DJ Grandpa. He hosts a weekly podcast called DJ Grandpa’s Crib in which he interviews crowdfunding people—mostly project creators.
My plan, as is usually the case, was to gear the story to the project creator, to show them that DJ Grandpa’s Crib could be a great place to be featured because campaigners who are invited on his podcast tend to fund.
Right before the interview ended, however, I learned a piece of information that changed everything for me: Rufus charges project creators a modest sum of money to be on his show.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; it’s just that it’s my personal policy to not write a tip for this column about anyone or anything that directly benefits someone or some thing financially. I do this in order to prevent a perception that I may be paid for my articles. And I do not, and will not, write sponsored articles. (Again, no judgment to those who do!)
It was the close to deadline and I had to change course quickly.
Here’s how I arrived at it:
Don’t settle for easy
I could have taken the attitude that one article straying from my policy would be okay. Or I could have dropped the Rufus story completely and chosen a less-interesting tip chosen from the list I keep on hand and used one of those instead. That would have been the easy way out, and I would have had a so-so Tip that week.
Keep a brainstorming list and keep copious notes
Instead I went back to my interview notes and analyzed what information I had about Rufus that would take the focus off the impression I was shilling for him. That took some time but, hey, it’s my job.
Before launching you should be thinking about your messaging and how to fine-tune it to particular audiences. One set-in stone message will prevent you from benefiting when an unanticipated audience reveals itself or a related news peg appears.
Keep those session notes that list your campaign messaging from different angles. It will help you tremendously as your campaign progresses to expand beyond your obvious network.
Never stop paying close attention
For a 300 or 400 word piece, I talked to Rufus for about an hour (not counting the previous week when we were just chatting and getting to know one another.) I wrote everything down (and recorded, too, because I’m not the best note taker.)
This really helped me when I had to change my approach. Rufus provided me with lots of stats, most of which would be useful to the project creator. Then I hit on one stat that could be of interest to another audience: the backers and investors. The stat was that the podcast averages 10,000 listeners weekly.
That stat would be great information for investors!
Why? It acts as a sort of “proof of concept” for the show. In other words, 10,000 listeners per week are obviously learning something important on DJ Grandpa’s Crib. So I changed my angle in favor of the investor rather than the project creator.
As project creators, never fall in love with a single identity. If your goal is to reach the masses who care about what you care about—and it is—make sure you provide some interesting takeaway to a variety of audiences.
When you run a crowdfunding campaign you want to provide a big a tent as possible, right? So make room for different audiences to fit into it!
by Rose Spinelli
Reprinted with authorization from The CrowdFundamentals: “How to Tell Your Crowdfunding Story from Multiple Angles.”