Accelerating the pace of product development and promotion

Start-up owners often ask what tools are available to accelerate the pace of development and promotion of their product. As I work with crowdfunding, 
and am therefore prejudiced on the subject, however I can't emphasize enough all of the possibilities crowdfunding provides.

Crowdfunding
A crowdfunding campaign can be used as a tool not only to accelerate the development of a product, the promotion and provides community building opportunities. Crowdfunding is an example of the new economic model of shared services with large amounts of users (think of Airbnb, Uber) and a great collaboration tool that can make it possible for you to, apart from build a product for your clients with a lot of partners, build your product TOGETHER with your clients and customize it exactly to their needs and wishes.

Crowdfunding campaigns are often launched with the idea:
'Let’s just see what happens, maybe we will become a success overnight?'
For a few this might work, however the chance is very small. 
That success is decided by good preparation might not sound revolutionary to you, however with crowdfunding campaigns this is certainly also the case:
  • Only 43 per cent of kickstarter campaigns succeed for example. One of the main reasons for not reaching the funding goals is that no investments has been made before the launch of the campaign. It is advised to even start 3–6 months before launching the campaign with engaging your public. That is, if you haven’t started doing that yet. An example is this book crowdfunding project, which hit it’s goal in 3 hrs. However, it didn’t take 3 hours but 15 years to earn the trust of his following and supporting crowd http://buff.ly/1FC4GR1.
  • And did you know that it takes 7–12 times of having contact with someone before they become a lead? Building an audience on social media takes time and therefore you need to get potential founders interested longggg before planning the campaign.
  • Your funding goals should furthermore be based on the amount of followers you have. Only about 2% of all crowdfunding campaigns raise more than $100k for example! This apart from the fact that setting a too ambitious goal might prevent people from supporting you. It is better to reach your goal and have a few weeks left to reach stretch goals.

To create a following online you need to first of all write about your idea or your product, the struggles that you encounter and the progress that you are making. Realize when communicating that it is not about YOU, but about WHAT you can do to add a value to the lives of others. Online engagement is obtained not only by posting information but by interacting with your followers on social media. DIRECT contact with your future clients is therefore important.

Crowdsourcing
Another tool you can make use of to increase your following is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is described as; When an institution or a company proposes to a group of individuals, via an open call, to voluntarily undertake a task. The crowd participates by bringing their work, money, knowledge and experience, and it always entails mutual benefit - Estellés-Arolas, 2012.

Image via: http://dailycrowdsource.com

Crowdsourcing can be used as a free and collaborative tool to create a ‘participative (online) activity,’ making it possible for (online) crowds of individuals or specialists to resolve problems together. Crowdsourcing can be very useful when initiating a crowdfunding campaign for example. You can ask help for example and involve others with the struggles that you encounter while solving the problem of others with your product.

By inviting people to actively contribute to the development of your service or product, instead of approaching clients only as passive end consumers of your content, you introduce a collaborative culture into your company or organization. Include your public from the very start in the ideation and design phase of your project or service, so let them try your service or product and ask them questions. The result: (Online) engagement. 
Do this however BEFORE the campaign launch.

To summarize, by using free and intelligent collaborative tools like crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, you can directly work together with other related (offline) groups. You get to know your clients better and will be able to create your target list of possible clients in a short time span. So while making your service or product a reality at an accelerated pace, by creating a group of ambassadors of your content, you based on their input, can edit the project or service you provide and promote it. Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing can therefor bring your ideas and projects of collective interest to life AND on top of this, create a long term and meaningful connection with your clients or crowd.

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