A year ago, we completed our equity crowdfund. Black Ballad raised over £335,000, with over £200,000 coming from over 1,300 black female investors.
This crowdfund was always about more than money. It was about empowering black women. It was about black women being able to say Black Ballad is theirs and it is a company where they helped build the table and every seat that surrounds it. So often, black women are the last to be thought of by too many companies, but our equity crowdfund last year said to black women, we see you and we want you to be on this business journey with us every step of the way.
I would say on a monthly basis, people ask me why was our crowdfund so successful, so I decided to a write a post not just celebrating our momentous achievement, but to help others considering a crowdfund be successful and get over that magic line.
Here are five points that I believed helped us have a successful crowdfunding campaign…
1. Plan to succeed
Our crowdfund wasn’t won because we executed a smooth six-week campaign, it worked because it had been years in the planning. We decided that we wanted to do an equity crowdfund in early 2019. Two years before we launched the campaign. In that time, we ensured that our content was consistent, spoke regularly about the number of black women we had paid, celebrated milestones and maintained a high standard of customer service.
An equity crowdfund can’t be won on support, it is about showing your customers that you have a good proposition, that you value their time and most importantly, their money. By being consistent and handling our membership with care, we developed trust and our audience knew that we could be trusted to work hard with their money.
2. Memes, memes and more memes
Our crowdfund was so joyful. Our social media executive Nicole George, used memes on social media every single time we hit a crowdfund milestone. It helped our crowdfund travel across social media and it genuinely got people talking and intrigued about our offering. While equity crowdfunds are serious business, you can and should celebrate every milestone in a way that is authentically joyful to the people you are catering to, as it helped the campaign become a talking point
3. Be mentally prepared
You need to be at your emotional and mental best. Crowdfunding is draining. Some days are up and some days are down, just like general life. Yet, for many of us, a crowdfund can decide how you can go forward as a company and that can be an overwhelming and honestly, scary thought. When things aren’t going well, you need to be able to keep a cool head, motivate your team and believe you will reach your goal.
4. Activate your fan power
Let your super customers explain why they believe in the proposition you offering. We got our best Black Ballad members (and when I say best, I mean those who had been members since the very beginning, regularly interact with our content and attend our events) to create videos on not just why they were investing in our campaign, but why our business was important and why our campaign needed to be successful.
It showed those who may not be as familiar with our business, but liked our offering we had customers. It helped rally others who knew us and were considering investing and helped us be seen by other potential equity investors, as these customers shared the video with their own communities.
5. Be boastful
Think carefully about your USP and drive it through every message. Our USP(s) was that for nearly the last decade, no other online media company had exclusively produced content for black women, or paid black female journalists collectively the six figure amount we had.
Sometimes we can shrink our achievements, but a crowdfunding campaign is not the time to do that. Be boastful. We continued to highlight the 1000s of stories we had published by black women, pointed out the content and voices in the black female community that are often ignored by the mainstream media and we boasted about the amount of money we paid black female journalists, so people could see not just that we a great proposition but a proposition with purpose.