Do you answer yes to two out of three of these questions?
- After reading a great article or book, you’ve been known to do a Google Image search of the author or the subject to see what that person looks like.
- You have become absorbed in (decently made) documentary films even though they’re on topics you’re not particularly interested in.
- Upon finding an awesome blog or website, your next click tends to be on the About page.
If so, there’s a reason for your behavior, which is very normal by the way. Humans have an endless capacity for other people’s stories. It’s why we travel. Why we want our presidents to be worthy beer-drinking partners. In its most dubious form, it’s why reality shows are so captivating. In a more exalted sense, we humans are constantly trying to satisfy our hunger to connect.
Stories orient us. Like a map a story can help you make sense of your environment. The promise of a rotating march of stories is why I became a journalist. I get to ask personal questions about you and you eagerly answer me! How cool is that? And furthermore, however nominally, narrowly, or fleetingly, I can honestly say that I’ve fallen in love just a little bit with each of my subjects.
So what does all this have to do with crowdfunding?
There are a lot of variables that go into what makes a successful campaign, many of which we’ve talked about on these pages. But the one non-negotiable puzzle piece, the one without which your project is doomed to become a statistic? It’s YOU. Whatever you do not omit the story of you. Said another way: Be clear about your idea.
People do not intentionally obfuscate. The sad irony of humans, narcissists notwithstanding, is that even though we love to peek into the lives of others, we’ve internalized the notion that people do not care a whit to peer into ours. Why? That’s whole other tangent but let me say that it’s simply not true.
I’ve viewed many projects that on first blush looked promising, but I soon clicked off. Failing to decipher your message quickly makes me lose interest. Ever been to a party talking to someone whose eyes begin wandering around the room? It makes you feel blown off. That’s how it feels to read a campaign pitch that’s bereft of detail. Stories—your ideas—paint pictures. Take away the details and you’ve left me with a flimsy outline. Outlines create vacuums into which people will fill their own story: that you don’t care much about your own idea.
This terrific book discusses in data-driven terms, sprinkled with fascinating case studies, (stories!) the anatomy of what makes ideas stick.
In it, Chip and Dan Heath lay out the critical elements of a “sticky” idea:
No matter if your project seeks funding for a poetry chapbook, a barbequing innovation or an app, as you craft your pitch make sure you check off each one of these elements. Think some of these don’t apply to your project? Think again. That’s your job; to think in advance of all the questions your readers may have and to keep us under your spell as you respond to them.
Remember: Allowing us to fall in love with you and your idea will go far in persuading us to fund your project.
Photo Credit: Danilo Rizzuto