Crowdfunding and the Question of Paying Consultants on a Percentage

The other day my acupuncturist and pal and I were talking about the ups and downs of running our own businesses. At one point he said that when he first started out even though he knew his business would profit, he made a decision he’s never regretted: not to take on clients who had weight-loss or smoking-cessation goals. At first I thought it was because he didn’t feel he could in good conscious reduce this noble healing art for such superficial ends.

I was wrong. He told me he turned down client after client because he soon came to realize these people were looking for shortcuts—gain without pain—and with these types of medical problems, he said, client compliance is at least 80% contingent on their recovery. In other words, all the needling in the world from the most masterful healer, which he is, isn’t going to help if the client didn’t follow the lifestyle change regimen he laid out for him or her.

Warning! This post will not be popular with everyone, but I’m okay with that

As a crowdfunding consultant, that really struck a chord with me. Anyone who’s contacted me about working together already knows I’m not in this business just to tell you what you want to hear to get your money. (My acupuncturist and I also talked about the downside of this policy is turning away business…but the upside is good karma and way fewer headaches!)

Weeding is Not Just Gardeners’ Work

When someone contacts me about working together I ask them to fill out a brief but telling questionnaire. The answers give me an insight in not only their readiness but also their work ethic and the chance that they will comply with my recommendations on what they need to do to be successful.

Because of the questionnaire, I end up with some of the most motivated clients ready to roll up their sleeves and work; it’s a great collaboration that’s fun for me.

If they wind up flaming out—crowdfunding is hard work, after all—I can say with all respect that it’s really not my concern. I have put my best foot forward, have shared all the knowledge I’ve accumulated, but doing the work is on them, not me.

Money for Nothin’ (Chicks for Free)? Nah

It’s become more commonplace to field requests from people who want me to work on a percentage basis. Usually they add that working with the promise of payment will be motivational for me and keep me honest. They note how beneficial it will be for me when their campaign succeeds!

I say no because about 99.9% of the time requests come from people who have got the no-pain-all-gain attitude about crowdfunding. And because I happen to like to get paid for my work as I go.

So You Want to Pay on a Percentage

I know there are companies out there that will work on a percentage, but I’m pretty sure they’ve got a list of criteria the potential client must meet in order to qualify that goes something like this:

  • They should have an existing, active, and engaged social media following
  • They should already be creating marketing content to prove authority and trustworthiness
  • They should have a good idea that’s well thought through, truly innovative and have already expended considerable personal capital, both in sweat and some financial investment
  • They should have a solid understanding on how this tool called crowdfunding really works and plan to be an active working participant from beginning to end

Assuming the idea is good, an exception that even I would make would be to work for a well-known person/celebrity because what they might lack the list above they make up for in name recognition that can be harnessed successfully to attract media attention. But alas those come around rarely. (Okay, never. So far.)

Final Warning

Oh, and if you do find someone who’s more than happy to work for you on a percentage basis without asking anything of you in return? Be afraid. Be very afraid. Because there are no shortcuts and reputations are a two-way street: yours could suffer in ways that you will end up paying in more costly ways than dollar-wise.

Photo credit: DodgertonSkillhause from morguefile.com

 

 

When Should You Hire Crowdfunding Help?

Tip of the Week

Because the crowdfunding landscape is evolving, each and everyday it’s important that we change with it. Take me, an enormous proponent of empowering the crowdfunder to be in charge of his or her own campaign and not outsource it to 3rd party entities that will not only cost you money you may not have, but  also threatens to put a wall up between you and your fans. ReachingHand

Who better than you knows your campaign, right?

Well, I’ve had a qualified change of heart. I say qualified because there are still large and creative members of the crowdfunding community that have an excellent handle on their campaign. They know almost intuitively what it needs and have no problem deploying those mechanisms.

If you are one of those people you can stop reading here. (If you’re not sure where you fit on the spectrum, keep going, because you are in a category all your own, and it is by far the most dangerous one.) To the rest of you read on.

The Categories

You have the money to shell out

This category could be an existing business with a support staff in social, marketing and PR; a startup with a small invested pool of family, say; or you could be someone with a good job who’s got a great idea and a nest egg you’ve put aside for when you’re ready to bring it out into the world. You can easily part with this money and not risk ruin.

You know what you don’t know

You are in the best position because it means a couple of things. It says that you’ve been researching crowdfunding extensively and know what’s required of you. You know you can handle certain aspects but fear that others may overwhelm you. It could be building and working an engaged social media following. You’ve got accounts on many social media sites but have anemic followings and do scant posting, because you don’t put out the effort (or more likely, you just don’t particularly like social media.) It could be that you feel awkward doing media outreach, feel not up to the task. It could be you are simply strapped for time. These are good reasons to assess where you need it most and hire out—thoughtfully. You have to do your research and find companies with good track records and the testimonials and data to back up their promises and costs.

You don’t know what you don’t know

You, my friends are the most dangerous category. Though the attitude likely springs from a shortage of funds—understandable if you’re crowdfunding—you blithely march into a crowdfunding campaign, without doing any research and without laying much groundwork. You are the category that people like me receive frantic emails from, begging for help when the clock is ticking and the future is pretty much fated. There’s little excuse for that attitude in this day in age, folks, when so much high-value information is out there for the taking.

Conclusion? I repent! Sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.

Photo credit: Penywise

How to Succeed at Crowdfunding—Fast!

Crowdfunding: The 21st century’s online phenomenon that holds the promise of dream fulfillment in ways not ever before possible. It’s an amazing thing! The question I’m always asked is how can I succeed—fast?

Today I’m going to answer that question!

Below I’ve created a checklist that is designed to bypass all those tedious, labor-intensive recommendations those so-called “experts” are constantly spouting and are nothing but a big, fat drag on your time and energy, and that gets in the way of reaching the finish line.

So get out your pencils, lick that lead nib (I don’t know what that’s actually for but I see it all the time in movies and it looks cool. Also, I’m fairly certain it’s not enough to actually poison you but you might want to Wikipedia that first 😉

  1. If you’ve got an idea, just run with it. It’s not necessary to research other campaigns similar to your idea. According to your Aunt Madge, who’s always been a big supporter of yours, no way they’d be as good as yours! And besides, you’re probably not even sure how to do the research, so why waste valuable time on learning? You’ve got money to raise! A business to launch! You feel very confident you can be one of those campaign success stories on the order of the Coolest Cooler.
  2. Don’t be concerned about creating a marketing plan. You creative types like to shoot from the hip, rules be damned.  Just throw that campaign up and see what sticks. If it doesn’t you’ll figure it out as you go.
  3. How should you decide on your funding goal? Same method you used to come up with your Santa wish list when you were a kid in footie PJs. Pull out that trusty pencil and notebook, but now you’re old enough to grab a beer, put on some high-energy music to get your juices going, and go for it. (For example, “Money For Nothing,” by Dire Straits.) No need to create a budget. No need to put any of your own money in the early stages—I mean, that’s why you need to crowdfund, right? Just pick a number out of the hat that sounds good and run with it. Get ready, your ship is about to come in!
  4. I know you’ve heard that a pitch video is necessary. In fact, statistics claim that campaigns raised on average 114% more if they have a video. But those cost money (not to mention time and again, you’re in a hurry), you’re no filmmaker and you hate being on camera. Well, it you’re lucky day! Screw it! You’re a free-spirit and rules are meant to be broken.
  5. Social media has never been your strong suit. Sure you use Facebook to keep up with you ex’s shenanigans, and of course you love to post grumpy cat memes. But other than that you are more than willing to admit that the whole social media thing eludes you. Besides, you’re pretty sure if you build it, they will come!
  6. On the other hand, for those of you who do use social media, remember to just blast out the same message day after day. It’s good to annoy people with your incessant demands for money. That’s the best way to be effective. If fact you’re fairly sure you even read that somewhere.
  7. It’s the 11th hour. Campaign not going as well as you thought? This may be the time to contact one of those crowdfunding experts. Make sure to sound desperate. Use lots of CAPS and exclamation points. Be demanding! No, you can’t wait until next week because the clock is ticking! (Sheesh, I thought these experts were supposed to know their sh*t.) Make sure to try and negotiate the consultant’s fee. Or better yet, ask them to work on a percentage of your take—if you succeed. After all, you can’t be expected to hand over money upfront. They will be rewarded if they pick up your mess and spin gold out of it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

That’s it! You’re ready to launch your crowdfunding campaign. So pick a platform—anyone will do—and get that campaign up and running. And since there’s no time like the present, launch your campaign today April 1! (AKA April Fool’s Day.) _DSC5462

Photo credit: GaborfromHungary from morguefile.com

The Real Secret to Your Success May Surprise You

Tip of the Week

There’s so much helpful content being written on good marketing and social media practices that it can be a little overwhelming when strategizing how to implement all you’ve learned.

Providing you find resources that have a solid reputation and align with your philosophy there’s enough high-value information to get your campaign on a good track to success.

As I’ve said before Hubspot is one of my favorites, especially for all the free downloads they offer. They also provide a lot of helpful data to better understand social media in a larger context.

All good stuff.

But sometimes it’s good to give rather than receive. So today’s Tip is about what and how you can give to your social media compatriots who are looking for an RT or a thoughtful comment or a repost to give them a lift. And lest you think that’s a nice thought but I barely have time to keep up with my own marketing needs, remember there’s a cosmological paradox at work when you give: your generosity usually boomerangs right back at you.

It’s happened to me so I always make it a point to:

Take a few minutes each day—or if I don’t have the time to do that I’ll at least try and dedicate about 30 minutes once a week—to go through my feed and look for people who are sharing meaningful information, especially about content that has nothing to do with crowdfunding.

Yes, you read that right. I do this for two reasons.

First, there’s nothing worse than being bombarded with the exact same message on a regular basis by someone who wants and expects me to share their campaign with my followers. Why would I do that when I know nothing about them or their idea? It comes across as demanding and selfish and most people don’t respond well to that.

Secondly, if social media is most impactful when you actually engage with others then it makes sense to try to make new friends and turn them into supporters. It’s happened to me many times. I’ll comment or RT about something I find interesting or socially relevant and the person responds with equal kindness. Before you know it we have developed a bona fide relationship and when I see that person has posted something I always make it a point to check it out.

That’s how relationships form and besides being a lot of fun it’s rewarding on many levels. I now have a new advocate and it makes my online time no longer feel like a chore.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 1.08.23 PM

If you haven’t already, find and read a book called “Give and Take” by Wharton professor Adam Grant. The idea behind the book is that while once we believed success was a result of things like hard work and luck, his research indicates that success is “increasingly dependent on how we interact with others.” His ideas about getting ahead in business have been praised by everyone from Oprah to Malcom Gladwell.

According to his studies people fall into one of three categories: takers, matchers or givers. Guess which ones get ahead the least? Since these attributes can have a big impact on your success, after registering you should take the test to see where you fit. If you’re a taker you may want to get some pointers to find out how to turn it around.

Here’s one of his many nuggets of wisdom:

“If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.”
– Adam Grant, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

 Image: Michelle Bulgaria

Can Krowdster Capture and Promote Campaign with More Efficiency?

Tip of the Week

Krowdster blew onto the scene appropriately around the time that the calendar ticked to 2015. My amateur prediction (read: arrived at completely without benefit of psychic abilities) says that this will be the year we begin to address some of the deeply entrenched issues that are causing crowdfunding successes to plummet: the need to build a crowd that cares enough to contribute to your campaign. Because it’s a problem of enormous proportions.

You can’t keep a serial entrepreneur down, I guess, because it looks like founder Joseph Holm has tossed his hat in the ring in the hopes of turning this around.

You probably know Holm for his crowdfunding networking site called crowdfund.biz, and as the founder of the crowdfunding platform for filmmakers called Tubestart that incorporates content and audience development solutions, tools for rewards fulfillment, and more, into its value proposition. Krowdster is his most recent endeavor.

“I have created Krowdster to help more entrepreneurs become more successful at crowdfunding and launch more shining startups. Krowdster provides evidence-based, big data-powered analytics and campaign optimization as well as the world’s largest database of crowdfunding supporters that can be filtered by category, location or keyword to build an engaged crowd.”

krowdster artwork1

So how does Krowdster work? I The process is simple once you sign up:

  • Analytics provide data from 500,000+ campaigns
  • Optimizes campaign page and rewards setup based on metrics so it’s not a crapshoot
  • Promotes to 300,000+ crowdfunding supporters

Here’s a blog post that dives deeper.

So why Krowdster? Speaking from personal experience in my work with clients, when it comes time create a launch-ready strategy, building the crowd is the weak link for most aspiring crowdfunders because it’s a clunky, fragmented and time-consuming task. A tool that would take that heavy lifting away and allows users to search similar effortlessly would be a relief.

Does Krowdster work? Besides noodling around myself I’ve asked some of my crowdfunding colleagues their opinion of Krowdster’s effectiveness and the word “solid” has come up more than once. And as more people try it out we’ll be able to find out from the source how well it works.

Currently, the site draws its data from only four platforms:

  • Indiegogo
  • Kickstarter
  • RocketHub
  • Pozible
  • Tubestart

Holm is seeking other high-yielding rewards-based sites to further boost data results. Got a site you’d like included? Make suggestions!

Currently Holm is supplying his user-hopefuls with lots of tutorials, graphs, and even early-bird free trial offers. Here’s one video that provides a nice overview.

**Full disclosure: I will be signing on to Krowdster’s Affiliate Program

 

Google Tricks of the Trade You May Not Know About

Tip of the Week

No question Google is smart, but maybe not the brainiac we think it has become. To get us up to speed on tips and pointers to make searching more targeted, a site called WhoISHostingThis.com came up with a cheat sheet to help you find the relevant search results we all crave, pronto.

I was somewhat underwhelmed by some on the list. The first tip, for example, advises uses quoting around exact phrases. But keep reading! You’re in for a big surprise by all the nuggets of valuable pointers further down.

Here are some of the highlights from their findings, followed by the fantastic infographic they created for our convenience. Print it out! Commit it to memory. Just use the pointers and you’ll get where you’re going much faster.

Getting Results from certain domains

Let’s say you want to research the competition on Kickstarter for standing desks, because you’re considering running a crowdfunding campaign for yours.

Here’s how you would ask Google:

Standing desks site:kickstarter.com

This is page one of a total of 1,460 results”

standing desks site:kickstarter.com - Google Search 2015-01-23 11-50-06

Finding Content to URL You already know

Since we’re on the topic of infographics, let’s use the example provided. Visual.ly is a data and visualization and infographics platform. What to search for similar sites to, say, compare features?

Here’s how you ask Google:

Related:visual.ly

This is the page with it 48 related sites

related:visual.ly - Google Search 2015-01-23 12-23-06

Other Google Search Tricks

It doesn’t just stop at search terms, with Google Goggles you can find the name of an item just by taking a picture of the item you want to search for on your phone and then voilà! You’ve got your results. Here’s how to download Goggles and examples of how it works.

Check out the Full Infographics
How to be a Google Power User - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source:

Crowdfunding for US Veterans? Here’s a Way to Get the Word Out

Tip of the Week

 

Remember Bob Woodruff ? He is the journalist who worked as co-anchor for ABC News until he was hit by a roadside bomb while on assignment in Iraq, in 2006. His head injuries left him with lingering aphasia, the loss or inability to express speech.

He may no longer be sitting behind the big desk but he’s far from off duty. According to the site, the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s mission is to “ensure that injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home.”BWF_stacked_lockup_outlines

With so many crowdfunding campaigns and organizations dedicated to similar missions, we know there are cracks in the system. In order to redress this in a creative way, the Foundation is requesting your stories in a project called “Writing for Heroes.

It is our hope that we can expand the conversation, through Writing for Heroes, a collection of stories by our team and those we work with: grantees, caregivers, family members, and of course, those who have served.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking about running a crowdfunding campaign that will help veterans to write and submit a story. Whether you’re the injured veteran, a family member of one, or even if you heard a story from someone that was especially moving to you, please commit it to print and send it in.

Story has the power to heal. And it also has the power to raise capital. And please send this to anyone you know who might benefit.

 —Remember, only 1% of American citizens serve in our all-volunteer army.

Need Help Developing and Designing Your Crowdfunding Idea?

Lately I’ve been telling just about everybody I know how shocked I am that no one has yet come up with a audio version of the digital video recorder (DVR).

Think about it: You’re driving in your car with the windows down listening to [insert your favorite radio show]. At exactly the moment someone delivers the line that will keep the thread to the story going, a truck whizzes by and you’ve missed it. There’s no way to turn back! No rewind button. On TV it’s so easy to recapture a moment, or fast forward through commercials. Why has someone not taken on this challenge?

I’m a girl with an idea but no design talent. If I knew how to make a digital audio recorder (I’ve already named my homeless DAR) I’d be crowdfunding for it faster than you could say….crowdfunding.

I have to believe there are others like me: people with good ideas who would love to jump into crowdfunding but lack the expertise outside our natural skill set to get the job done. Cardboard Helicopter  may be the helping hand you need to get that great idea out of your head and into 3-D prototype. I had a recent back and forth with CEO Tim Hayes about the firm’s work. Here are the highlights.Cardboard Helicopter clear background

As a product development and industrial design firm, why did you decide to expand into the crowdfunding space?

Well we’re a boutique-style design firm so we don’t have a lot of overhead to deal with. This allows us to be able to assist smaller businesses and inventors who might not be able to afford what the large product development firms charge. So it made sense to open up our services to inventors and the crowdfunding universe.

What are some of the pitfalls facing project creators does Cardboard Helicopter address?

There are many great ideas being developing through crowdfunding platforms, but the key is being able to communicate the concept in a simple, yet visually-appealing manner. We see a lot of failed projects that never really had a chance due to their unclear campaign pages or crude prototypes. We help provide the “wow” factor and give suggestions regarding ergonomics and usability, while being attentive to manufacturing requirements.

Besides working with folks who have a great idea for a product but no expertise, how do you see yourselves fitting into the pre-launch phase of a campaign?

One of our areas of expertise is taking an initial idea and transforming it into aesthetically-pleasing, user-focused designs. The industrial design process is very thoughtful and meticulous, and requires many iterations before the product is ready to be unveiled to the world. We’ve assisted many individuals that wish to use crowdfunding to help launch their product. We work closely with them every step of the way, from concept sketching to full 3D CAD (computer-aided design) and prototyping.

Do you work with project creators beyond pre-launch?

Presently, most of our time and energy goes into the development of products, as well as marketing our own in-house creations, so we currently don’t offer anything post-launch.

How does your company differ from other similar firms?

Our limitless imagination allows us to create amazing, innovative products. I think the older we get, a lot of us lose the ability to think without boundaries, much like a child would. Our entire company is based off of this idea. Also, as I stated earlier, our business model is built on efficiency and allows us to accommodate budgets that most other professional design firms can’t match. Instead of getting your project placed in a queue, and having one designer work on your idea over the course of months, we tackle each project as a team. Several designers and a marketing team work in unison to make sure all our client’s needs are met within a reasonable time frame.

Can we see a sample of your work?

This is a rendering of Latch, the clip-on speaker allows you to attach device to virtually any object, providing sound and backup power source where ever you go.Latch
What’s next for Cardboard Helicopter?

We are just a few weeks away from launching our first crowdfunding campaign, through Kickstarter. It is healthy-living device that will be made here in the US, and promotes the importance of using water and other natural ingredients. We’re very excited about it and are confident it will be successful! Once we go through the entire process, we’d love to share our experiences and provide advice for your followers.

 

 

Try Response Campaigning to Get Media Attention

Getting media to notice you and give you some precious column space isn’t a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey enterprise. It takes laser targeting, focus, and dedicated commitment of your time.

“Response campaigning” is something every project creator should include as part of their pre-launch strategy. Just like it sounds, it involves putting the object of your attention (the niche blogger, like-minded influencer, or journalist of a big fancy magazine that covers your topic) on your reading list. Then:

1) Read them religiously, analytically, thoughtfully.

2) On a regular basis—but in a way that will not appear as spamming, which it won’t because you will have followed the advice noted in #1 carefully—comment on their posts or articles.

3) Rinse and repeat for at least one-to-two months.

4) Don’t’ take the casual language I used in #3 as a sign you can call this in. Challenge yourself to be as memorable as possible.

  • Here’s how you don’t want to be memorable: by sounding like a know-it-all, or being snarky, or offensive.

 

  • Here’s how you do want to be memorable: cite a stat, fact, or a point of view that may not have appeared in the article.

5. It is perfectly acceptable if your comment is in disagreement with the author’s thesis, as long as you’re presenting it in a way that telegraphs your deep insights into the topic at hand.

6. Continue this process and soon you will probably get a response comment from the author to your comment. Now your response campaign is in full swing. The author knows who you are and appreciates the value you add. You are now considered a “source.”

7. Begin to add other blogs or publications to your hit list, following the above steps. (The good news is that bloggers and journalists that cover the same topic usually read other bloggers and journalists in the same beat.)

8. In the meantime, I bet your confidence will have taken a nice upward trajectory, too, which may inspire you to begin creating your own content! When that happens you’re going to start being known as somewhat of an expert, slowly making headway into thought leadership territory.

Trade secret that shouldn’t be a secret at all: Journalists and bloggers get their story ideas from people like you; interesting stories don’t magically flutter freely in their psyche like confetti.

9. Now that you’ve got the credibility, the tables will turn and, having read something of import they found that you wrote, these reporters will start knocking on your door asking you for an interview or a key quote. It really does happen. I’ve been interviewed by three publications just in the past couple of weeks.

10. With your diligence, quality content, and patience, your response campaigning is now a success!

Shameless plug: I’m going to be participating in a panel discussion on this topic with other PR luminaries at Kickercon, on Friday, August 29 from 10:40am to 11:10 am. It’s under Public Relations Training and we’d all love to see you there.

This article originally appeared on my LinkedIn blog.

Making a Splash: A Different Way to Think About Your Crowdfunding Story

Are you clueless about how to make your story stand out in the crowd?

Do you worry about how your campaign will fare against the heavy hitters?

Do you currently fret that Don Cheadle is ruining crowdfunding for the rest of us?

Because he’s not. Nor did Zack Braff, Kristen Bell, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg or Joaquin Phoenix, the most recent celebrity to throw his hat in the crowdfunding ring.

As we have come to see, crowdfunding campaigns—those run by celebrities as well as established brands—are frequently used as a buzz-creating tool. Savvy marketers are counseling clients to use crowdfunding as the newest tool in their publicity-seeking arsenal.

If this is not an option for you, as it’s not for most of us, don’t be disgruntled about it. Remember crowdfunding is a democratic method of raising capital, which means that it’s a tool equally available to the well-heeled as it is to the guy living under the bridge—assuming the bridge guy can get access to the Internet. And here’s an example of one who did.

You still have the power to inspire. It’s just that your process and path will by necessity be different. First, let’s look at the VIP-fueled campaigns.

I never saw an episode of Veronica Mars, didn’t contribute, and haven’t seen the movie. But I did see the documentary Whoopi Goldberg directed and produced about Moms Mabley and I will be forever indebted to Goldberg for introducing me to this phenomenon in a housecoat.

If you’re interested in the history of TV, social justice, or gender politics, if you love watching some of the most renowned minority (women and people of color) comedians of our time talk about their influences, or if you just want to laugh, cry, and shake your head that someone so progressive lived, worked, and made such an important impact on society and all you knew about her was her name—vaguely—“I Got Something to Tell You” will be available on Netflix soon. You’ll want to get it.

Mabley’s is a story that needed to be told, and only someone with Hollywood connections like Whoopi Goldberg could have brokered access to the rare footage and lineup she managed to snag. For fun, here’s a short clip. Then we’ll get back to the point.

Unless you get really lucky it’s going to be tough to attract a lot of celebrities to your campaign because they’re busy people with a firewall of minders shielding them. Also, they tend to reserve favors for friends and colleagues. The recent news that Seth MacFarlane, the folks behind Veronica Mars, Pebble Watch, and Ouya are kicking in to producer, director, actor LeVar Burton’s campaign Reading Rainbow is testament to that. (For those who don’t know, Burton famously played the young Kunta Kinte in the miniseries “Roots”)

Not having McFarlane’s cell phone number on my speed dial, it’s not going out on a limb to say that even if I ran an identical campaign to Burton’s, McFarlane wouldn’t have his checkbook open and ready to double each pledge that flowed into my campaign coffers.

Yet most of us see this behavior and it leaves an unrealistic and inaccurate perception of the average person’s fundraising potential.

By all means tweet your campaign out to famous folks you believe would support your idea if only they knew about it. Just don’t spend a lot of man-hours chasing after Oprah.

So while it’s true that the greater your base of support and your network, the likelier you are to rake in the big bucks, it’s time to rethink your strategy with an alternative approach to getting there. (Clue: it involves how you tell the story.)

Celebrity campaigns unsurprisingly cast themselves as the hero of their story. (Goldberg excavates Mabley’s work and saves her from anonymity. Or Burton makes it his duty and destiny to bring back with a 21st century burnish the success of his ‘80s PBS children’s series.)

So, if you lack a charismatic figurehead to attract a broad audience, begin to think of your idea and campaign goal—be it a social enterprise or a product—as the protagonist of your story.

That means dial back your approach and think in terms of  how to tell your story that will differentiate you. Say, for example, you want to raise funds for an aquaponic farm. I just did a quick search on Indiegogo and there are at least 24 current campaigns about aquaponic farming. If you simply focus on the benefits, you will not stand out.

So make it your priority to learn as much as you can about the community you hope your aquaponic farm impact. Find them, ask them questions, solicit responses, and then learn the best way to tell that story while balancing it with the campaign’s need.

So, rather than making your story about all the benefits of aquaponic farming, which I know are many, make your  hero the aquaponic farm and the story focus the people, groups, and communities you believe will benefit. Offer them an opportunity to join you by coming together through the power of crowdfunding.

Then, think in terms of incremental success.

Once you’ve established that mission, and maybe have a more modest crowdfunding campaign success under your belt, you can think about scaling up the next time. But don’t go for the big bucks too soon; it will only defeat you.

After all, Moms Mabley began her show business career at 14, in the year 1908. It wasn’t until 2014 that her story got told to the masses. Your campaign success won’t take that long, but just remember to do your homework and practice patience and you could have as good a shot as the big guys.

Note: I recently wrote a post entitled “What it Takes to Create a Crowdfunding Movement,” which could be described as Part 1 to this post’s Part 2. If you haven’t read, you might want to.