This morning I got sucked into a Twitter thread that I should have ignored, around the question of how long a crowd-funding campaign should last. I love Twitter, but for complicated questions like this, it sucks because people often give an answer, but don't say why or give any evidence.
The person starting the thread was attempting to avoid the mid-campaign slump simply by... having a shorter campaign! A perhaps simple idea to a problem few have been able to solve.
You see, regardless of how much funding a campaign receives, it almost inevitably will get most of it's funding in the first couple of days (people backing the campaign as soon as they see it), and then another huge surge at the end (people who are undecided about the campaign and back it out of urgency). Now this blog post isn't about the psychology of urgency in sales, or managing campaigns, but I simply wanted to provide some questions people should consider when deciding how long their campaign should be.
Hopefully if you can answer these few questions, you'll have some good insight into how long a particular campaign should run for.
- What does the data say? Most platforms will have an FAQ where this is answered, giving you the best time/profit ratio and it varies slightly from one platform to another. The general consensus seems to be that it's around a month. More important though is the day you want it to start and end; different social media platforms will have different days that have better engagement or more traffic than others, make sure that your campaign doesn't end on a Saturday night if no one is going to be around to impulse-back your project.
- What's wrong with a mid-campaign slump? Apart from delaying the project an extra couple of weeks, most of the down-sides to having your backer numbers stall for a couple of weeks can be managed. Campaign Fatigue? Low morale? Public perception? All these things can be managed. Sorry to say that if you haven't raised the bulk of your cash in 48hrs, chances are you've already failed, so the biggest fear of the first-time crowd-funder can be that their campaign will fail in the first couple of days and they'll be left looking at a failing campaign for a month. Sure this sucks, but only really for their ego. There's a lot of things you can do to avoid your campaign failing (most outside the remit of this article) but the length of your campaign will rarely be a deciding factor, so take the emotional hit on the mid campaign slump, and tell your ego to suck it up.
- Who is your target audience? If you expect most of your backers to be people already on a mailing list or following you on social media, then running a shorter campaign might make sense. If you're hoping to gather a larger audience, getting picked up by relevant blogs and news sites will be one of the biggest contributing factors that will widen your backer pool. The thing with these sites is that they take a while to pick stories up, so a week-long campaign will probably have ended by the time they pick it up.
- How many backers do you want or need? Campaigns with cheap rewards and hundreds of backers are "impulse buys" for most people. "Oh look, Joe Blogs is releasing an album, and I can get a digital copy for 8 quid" In this situation the few backers you may or may not pick up during the mid-campaign slump aren't going to make or break the campaign. However, if you're hoping to find a dozen people that will back a limited edition product for a couple of hundred quid each, the psychology of the purchase changes. Trying to find fewer backers doesn't necessarily mean a shorter campaign.
- Why do you want a shorter campaign? You can probably already tell if your reason is a bit shitty, but here are some good reasons: Completing a project in a manageable timescale due to other commitments. Creating a splash because you're looking to promote your product, not necessarily fund it. Using a perceived lack of time as differentiation for the campaign.