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Wondering where the [Crowdfunding] Experts are? Hire a good guide.

You have a great idea, business venture or new product that you want out the door and into people’s hands. The old-school way of knocking on the bank manager’s door and asking for a small loan is often needless these days given the advent of crowdsourced funding and the accessibility and acceptance of these crowd-funded initiatives by the masses.

The rise in the past decade of the global crowdfunding industry can no longer be denied. A recent Forbes article states, “With the skyrocketing adoption of crowdfunding and the incredible success that crowdfunded companies are having, there is little doubt that it is truly an industry on the rise. Crowdfunding websites raised a staggering $5.1 billion dollars last year alone and crowdfunding campaigns of all types are getting funded on a daily basis.”

You wouldn’t wander off in the middle of the African savannah without a guide who knows knowing if and where the lions are lurking (and what to do if they are!). Many reputable companies are out there to help give you guidance and make your crowdfunded campaign successful - but it pays to do your homework. It pays to hire a good crowdsourcing guide to lead you through the jungle that is Crowdfunding.

The success of reputable crowd-sourced funding leaders has fuelled a sharp upswing of a companies trying to “Help” entrepreneurs who may be a bit naïve about the process. Some are legitimate companies genuinely trying to give you a leg up and position your campaign to be as successful as possible. Unfortunately, many others that claim to help are just scams. How can you possibly be expected to ‘spot the difference’? Luckily it is easier than you think! You just need to do some basic pre-launch investigation.

In the crowdfunded campaigning world - it’s easy to be duped by glitzy ads and slogans coming from companies that promise the moon but can’t back up their claims. Yes, successful crowd sourced campaigns can and do really rock; many people around the world are realizing their dreams because of it. But, before you go running off remember it’s still a ‘buyer beware’ market. At the end of the day - trust your gut.

So, what should you watch out for in the crowdsourcing jungle? Be on the look-out for companies that don’t know what they are doing. How can you tell? Be wary of ones that offer a “one fit all” solution. Less experienced and downright fraudulent ‘marketing’ sites will be aggressive. They’ll reach out (repeatedly) trying to take your money by selling cheap and useless offers. Here is a quick check list of three things companies do (wrong and right):

Top 3 things BAD companies do:

• Cheap packages (they say you will only pay $99 and below)

• Poor response times

• Offer/Guaranteed “Traffic”

Top 3 things GOOD companies do

• Be responsive to the client

• Have a strong web presence backed up by customer satisfaction

• Tailor the campaign for the audience, your budget, and exposure

What can happen if your social media ‘guide’ was a fraud? If your social media company was less than reputable your campaign will be a huge bust. You will get $0 dollars and still be shelling out for the campaign. In a worst case scenario, your campaign may be shut down by the crowdfunding platform because the “traffic” sent to you came from fake “computer generated bots.” This rip-off is easy for companies to do – they just order it for $12, by the 10s of thousands (of course this so-called traffic is useless but you learn that too late). If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud – report it!

Who can you trust? Good companies are few and far between (but they do exist). As the global up-swell of Crowdfunding continues – the bad ones will be beaten down more often. Here are some tips for finding good Crowdfunding marketers:

What will the ‘good guys’ do for you?

• Education: they will educate their customers to understand that actual results can vary widely based on many different factors..

• They will explain that factors like the strength of your campaign itself (video, photos), the rewards you offer, and the amount of thought and planning that went into a strategy all make a difference.

• They will offer advice on ways to IMPROVE a campaign

• Variety: they will offer multiple types of promotions, for campaigns in both Pre-launch and post launch stage (not one-size-fits all)

• Look for combinations of social media, targeted outreach and extensive PR

• They WILL NOT offer you guarantees on funds or Traffic

• Will have visible proof of happy customers

• Will operate more like a traditional marketing agency, but specialize in crowdfunding.

It’s a jungle out there. Shop for a company that can accommodate a combination of tools to suit your needs – the tool kit includes: Social Media, Targeted Outreach, and extensive PR distribution as part of each package. Don’t venture out into the Crowdfunding savannah alone – find a trusted guide and keep you and your brand safe. See links below for more information on Crowdfunding and trusted sites. Good overview blog on Crowdfunding itself (how it works /popular site stats)

Comparison of Crowdfunding models (Wikipedia)

Crowdfunding expertise and Crowdsourcing marketing campaign tips

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