Why crowdfunding is like online dating

Don’t be the guy who waggles his sugar stick in front of a lady who isn’t asking for it.

Lately I’ve been looking for love online

I’m starting to think that I’m looking in all the wrong places.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that most of the men out there just have no idea what they’re doing.

It was not the best of nights last night. So I took a break from the utter deluge of dick pics and not-even-remotely intriguing offers to do the dishes.

And it struck me: this is a lot like crowdfunding

Both activities involve selling yourself to strangers. Many of whom are totally over being sold to.

Both allow you to provide a limited amount of information on a static profile or page.

And both require someone else to evaluate that information, and take a risk.

Results come from effort

As a backer — and as a woman at home on a Saturday night with a block of chocolate and a Tom Hanks movie — I want to see some effort.

When Harry Met Sally

There are guys out there who send the exact same message to reach out to every girl. I know this, because I have several examples of receiving the same message from the same guy a few months apart.

This doesn’t make me feel special. It doesn’t make me feel attracted to them, or valued. It makes me feel dirty — and not in a good way.

Some of these messages make it very clear that they have neither read, nor care about my profile. I’m a lump of meat.

The same thing applies with your backers: personal messages to people who have something in common with your project get substantially higher conversion rates over “broadcast” messages. These people are more than their wallets, and you should take the time to do some research on that.

Similarly, a profile that says “I hate writing these, if you want to know, just ask” makes you look lazy. Just like a crowdfunding campaign with no video and 180 words makes you look lazy and greedy.

In both cases, this makes me wonder: are you up for the job?

It’s not just about your own gratification either

Last night, five separate men approached me to let me know that they were “bored and horny”.

Hardly an attractive offer. I value myself more than to just drop everything and come running because a man wants entertaining and gratification.

Just like your audience values their money. This isn’t only about you hitting your target, it’s about providing a product or service that will — in some way — make your backer’s lives better.

Sometimes crowdfunding goals are very personal. My own campaign was an investment in my education. But all of my backers were given the chance to get something for themselves. That might have been warm fuzzies, or it might have been a box of cookies, but there was a payoff in it for them, because it wasn’t all about me.

Your audience needs to be wooed

In short, the dating profiles and approaches that I am most interested in are, by and large, the ones who are most interested in me. Not for my body, or the gratification I might be able to offer them, but who I am, and what I care about.

Your backers are the same way. It pays to warm them up, and show them why your project needs to be funded over an extended period of time before you launch.

The longer you have to introduce your backers to your project, and the more backers you woo before you launch, the stronger your success will be. You want to flirt and get to know each other. This should be fun and exciting, not gross and degrading.

Buy them a metaphorical meal by offering earlybirds. Charm them with thoughtful content and behind the scenes experiences, then carry this through the campaign itself.

And above all, treat your audience with respect

I feel that this is the real heart of the problem with online dating. The majority of approaches I get are straight-up rude.

They are things you would never consider to be appropriate if they were done in a public place. They make me feel highly disrespected, like I am nothing more than an object.

And that’s not cool.

Equally, your backers are not ATM machines. They are people. They are people taking a risk on you. They deserve to know what’s going on with their money. They deserve to have their questions answered, and the promises you make delivered on.

Treat your backers the way you would want to be treated. The best way to get a handle on this is to go and back some projects yourself. Literally put yourself in your backer’s shoes and work out what is OK, and not OK about your backer communications.

Not every guy in the world of online dating is a sleazeball — some of them are genuinely lovely people. Just like every crowdfunder is not a greedy twat.

The problem I foresee is that if the majority of crowdfunders act without integrity, then it will give the industry as a whole a bad rep. Much like the world of online dating has become increasingly about dodging the inappropriate pictures thrust in our face, people will begin to avoid the hard sells and disappointments of crowdfunding projects.

I just want to see the good guys — and the great projects — of the world stand a chance.

Kat Jenkins is a crowdfunding strategist with over 30 successful projects under her belt. She’s also very single.

This post was originally published at www.multitude.co.nz on October 19, 2014.

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