A back-story to engage your audience
For Natalie DuBose, the 24th, November 2014 it was one of the worst days of her life. A single mother of two, she had struggled to start a baking business. With patience, persistence and sacrifice, she had finally managed to open up a shop. The shop was her source of pride, livelihood and inspiration.
So when she arrived that morning to find her shop vandalized, she was devastated. The vandalism had occurred during the chaos which erupted following the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict a white policeman who had killed Michael Brown – an unarmed a black teenager.
As Natalie stood by the smashed windows of her bakery, she couldn’t hold back the tears. When a journalist came to interview her, she could hardly speak. “Am a single mom, a mother of two”, she said. “This is everything I own. I can’t walk away from it!”
When pictures of her teary face circulated in the press, a woman in New Orleans decided to turn to crowd funding to help Natalie rebuild her business. She set up a Crowdfunding page for Natalie. In just 5 days, the she had achieved her target of USD 20,000.
But the donations did not stop coming. As Natalie’s story spread, more people made donations. In the end, she wound up receiving a whopping USD 270,134, which is over 1300% of the amount she initially intended to raise.
The Power of A Story
Natalie DeBose’s story illustrates one important aspect of success in Crowdfunding i.e. story telling is everything. A compelling story is the most powerful tool for success in a Crowdfunding. Without a compelling story, even the most captivating idea, project or dream will struggle to find backers. With a compelling story, even the simplest or most ordinary idea will captivate the audience and raise significant sums of money.
Take a silk blouse, for instance. Many people would agree that a silk blouse is nothing special. After all, you can easily get one at the nearest clothing store. However, one company called Popbasic Inc rose over USD 75,000 on Kickstarter for designing and creating silk blouses. Their secret? They created a compelling story. They told their audience, “we are creating the best silk blouse, ever”. They then invited those who so desired to participate in creating the designs. This participation created such a buzz that once they begun their Crowdfunding campaign, the response was so overwhelming that their original target of USD 20,000 was realized in less than 24 hours.
So, what makes a story so powerful? The answer is simple: human nature. Human beings are by nature sentimental creatures. As such most decisions are driven by emotions. When a person is making a decision on whether or not to give his or her money for a given project, they aren’t making a rational decision. They are making a sentimental decision. They will give their money towards something that has stimulated their emotions in some way.
Take a moment to think about Natalie DeBose’s story. Anyone who hears about her story can’t help but feel compassion for her. When you see a picture of her sobbing, you are moved to want to do something to help her. It is such feelings that no doubt motivated total strangers to donate their hard-earned cash to help her out.
If you intend to raise any money through Crowdfunding, you need to captivate your audience by touching their hearts. The best way of doing this is by arousing their emotions. To this, you need to create a back-story.
Creating A Back Story
There is no science to creating a story. However, there are certain basics that are used especially in marketing.
The first step is to identify an audience. Which categories of people are most likely to donate towards your cause? Who is your ideal donor? The best Crowdfunding campaigns are the ones that are targeted towards specific demographics. The reason is simple. What appeals to one demographic may not necessarily appeal to another. Since story telling is communication, it can be most effective if it is targeted towards a specific group of people.
For instance, Popbasic Inc targeted their campaign towards women who had a fondness for silk products. They actually made a mailing list of 300,000 and engaged them over a period of 6 months before launching the Crowdfunding campaign.
The second is to identify which emotions you intend to arouse. Remember, people’s spending decisions are based on their emotions. As such, a well-crafted story has to arouse specific feelings. The feelings can be compassion as in the case of Natalie Bose, or excitement as in the case of Popbasic Inc, or many other emotions in between. The most important thing you have to accomplish is to identify the specific emotions you want to arouse.
The third step is to develop a story line. Now, there is no exact science to this. However, the best place to start is with your own personal story. What motivated you to begin pursuing the project? Is there a personal story involved? If you find it difficult to develop a story, then read the stories of those who have successfully raised funds. For instance, the success stories for GoFundMe can be found on this link (http://www.gofundme.com/success/). Read and be inspired.
The fourth step is to create a treatment. The term treatment is actually borrowed from the movies. It is basically outlining the main points in your story. Once you have a basic outline, you can then proceed to fill in the details.
The fifth step is to select the best format to present your story. Although writing is great, people are more moved by audio and visual cues. A video may be the perfect format for the story. But that depends on your story, and your target audience.
The final step is to create a catchy summary for your story. This is a one-liner which you can use to attract your target audience to your story.
In a nutshell, those are the basic steps to creating a back-story. If you follow them, then you can create a story that will captivate your audience enough into giving you money. Just remember, in Crowdfunding, a compelling story is everything. So, make your story as captivating, memorable and heart touching as possible. And as you touch your audiences’ hearts, they will respond by funding your cause.