Written by Tom Field, Investment Associate at Seedrs. Tom helps businesses launch and run successful crowdfunding campaigns.
A well-thought-out and executed investor communications plan can make all the difference in a campaign successfully funding or not. From announcing your launch date, all the way through to post-funding, crowdfunding is a great story to be told and a journey you want your community to join.
This guide includes ten steps for creating your Content and Communications plan that you can use to help strategise your approach to investor relations before, during, and after your campaign.
Step 1: Assess your Current Situation
Before you plan your approach, you need to know how your current audience consumes your content. Conduct a brief analysis of the current state of play of your day-to-day communications by going to your social post statistics or reports. Look at aspects such as:
- Demographic of your audience
- Time of the day that your audience is most receptive to your content.
- Type of language and content that are received well
- How visual content gets consumed
Step 2: Define your Objectives
Define what you want to achieve with your content and communications during the campaign. These should align with the overall objectives of your Seedrs campaign and should be created as SMART as possible. This way, you can really focus your efforts to then achieve those objectives.
Start by answering these questions:
- What do you hope to achieve as a result of your communications activities?
- How can it help you achieve the investment you need to raise on Seedrs successfully?
The following are examples of communications objectives:
- Drive awareness of your crowdfunding activities across your social network in a range of dynamic and refreshing ways.
- Achieve an accumulated amount of likes, comments and shares that equate to 15% of the total size of your online community.
- Gather the investment interest from at least five potential investors on the back of your communications.
- Ensure reach and engagement of crowdfunding related posts does not drop more than 25% from pre to post-campaign.
Step 3: Define and Understand Your Target Audience
To ensure that you are communicating with your audience in the most effective way, you must first make sure you understand who they are, and what their preferences are for consuming content. If you don’t understand them, they are less likely to engage with your content and therefore less likely to convert into investors. Define the target audience of your communications by answering the below questions:
- Who is the audience?
- What is their chosen language style or tone?
- Where do they tend to consume content?
- What demographic groups are you trying to reach?
- What do you know about the best ways to reach them?
- Could an influencer or third party be more effective at sharing this particular message?
Create a description of your target audience in a way that seeks to explore their:
- Current behaviour
- Level of awareness and knowledge
- Preferred methods for receiving information
- Motivations/barriers to hearing and believing/accepting the information, if any
You should end up with something like this: “current customers of our business, who tend to be female, aged 30-50 with children.”
The more refined the target audience description, the more precise and effective your communication will become. Broad descriptions such as the “general public” are less likely to lead to a successful communications campaign than a tightly defined target. The more thoroughly you understand your target audience(s), the higher the probability of communications success.
When going through this process, there are two groups you’ll want to consider:
Primary Target Audience
These are the key persons/groups you communicate to directly. You can have more than one primary target audience.
Secondary Target Audience
People of less importance, but whom you still wish to receive the communications campaign messages; the people who will also benefit from hearing the messages or people who influence your target audience now or in the future.
For example, a sophisticated investor, highly affluent, male, aged 50+.
Step 4: Create Key Messages for Each Target Audience
You should now have at least one fully defined target audience that you wish to target. Now you should set out what key message you want to get across to each audience. Answer the following questions about that audience to better understand the aims of communicating with them.
- What is the message you are trying to send?
- What do you want the target audience to know?
- What do you want them to feel?
- What perception do you want to create?
- What action do you want as a result?
Examples of a “result” could be one of the following:
- Know more about your business.
- Follow your business on social media.
- Purchase your product.
- Become involved in your crowdfunding journey.
- Get other people to invest.
See also: How to customise your campaign communication by investor type (Michaela’s article)
Step 5: Decide on a Communications Mix
How do you want to get the message across? Whether you’re preparing an 8, 16 or 32-week communications plan, what tools will you need to use during this timeframe? Your choice will depend on what you want to achieve, the level and type of message you want to communicate, and the profile of your audience.
They say it takes seven touch points for someone to be motivated to take any action, so the more varied, dynamic and engaging touchpoints you have, the better (SocialMediaToday). Consider the following:
Press: Press release, Radio, Opinion Editorial, Features.
Advertising: Print, Radio, Television.
Print: Brochures, Posters, Letters, Leaflets, Scientific reports.
Direct communications: Event/Stunt, Endorsements, Telephone calls, Conferences.
Digital: Social media, SEO/PPC, Website, Tagged visual assets, Multimedia, Email Newsletter, Direct mail.
A dynamic combination of this communications mix opens up many different touchpoints with your community and potential investors. In terms of being cost-effective and driving extensive reach, digital marketing can prove most pertinent in delivering important campaign-related messages and energising your network.
Photo caption: Pollen & Grace used both digital and physical promotion to engage customers about the campaign
Step 6: Evaluate Existing Promotional Assets
Once you’ve decided what your communications mix will be, you need to determine what promotional assets you currently have which you can optimise to spread your message.
Promotion may need to be done on two levels, internally and externally.
Could you, for example, integrate your website to include a tab which informs your network about your crowdfunding journey? Could you refine your SEO and engage in PPC to then help encourage traffic to your website? Essentially, how many paths can you lead back to your crowdfunding campaign?
Image caption: Wrisk and Innis & Gunn promoting their campaigns on their homepages
Step 7: Decide on a Budget
Set aside how much you would like to dedicate and spend on promoting your crowdfunding campaign.
Being as cost-efficient as possible is crucial during this stage, so prioritise which areas of your communications mix will be the most effective and better achieve your set targets.
Your budget will stretch further, for instance, through prioritising social media channels, but these decisions should always be made in terms of effectiveness. If £500 on a newspaper ad is going to drive more investment interest rather than fed into social media, then the newspaper could be a better communication channel. If you’ve assessed your target audience as described in this guide, you should have a solid idea of which channel is best.
Step 8: Create a Timeline
List the key dates – what do you need and when?
Describe each key event or activity that will need communications (e.g. launch of a report, forum, conference, etc.).
Step 9: Create Branded Promotional Materials
Being yourself and representing your brand in the right light is imperative. How are you going to ensure that your communications will be on brand?
This means being consistent with your logo, fonts, images, colours, and “on-brand” with your key messages, making sure you are writing in the right language across platforms. All this will combine to communicate the sort of organisation you are – active, passionate, and dedicated to what you do and your crowdfunding success. Brands that are consistently presented are three to four more likely to experience brand visibility (Lucidpress).
Cashmere App unifies its brand and crowdfunding messaging with consistent visuals across all social media channels.
When communicating with your audience, decide upon the value you want that message to have. For example:
- Are you portraying yourself in the light you want to be seen in?
- Does the message show your passion for the cause? Does it show enthusiasm?
- Is it convincing? Does it highlight your commitment to the cause?
- Is it delivering results? How well does it show you’ve achieved your objectives?
Keep in mind that your message does not need to include all of the above. In other words, you don’t need to reflect every single brand value in each message you send.
Step 10: Evaluate your Success
Evaluating your success is the final piece of the puzzle, allowing you to work out what is effective, what is driving results, and what needs adjusting. This is through a combination of tracking and following your results, mapped against the objectives and outcomes you want.
Continually review the effectiveness of KPIs, asking yourself if other KPIs could help tell a better story of progress. Even run feedback sessions with your community and ask for reviews when in the right setting.
A good checklist to see whether your communications and content strategy was effective is assessing:
- Was it below budget?
- Engaging and well-received?
- Were the messages understood?
- Were the messages actioned?
- Did they convert interest?
- Did we achieve our objectives?
Measures for this include:
- Post engagement
- Actions on page completed
- New page likes
- Response rate
- Level of community interaction
- Shared content %
- Investment conversion