Once upon a time isn’t just for fairy tales.
If you’re looking to raise funding for your new idea, then it’s time to brush up on your storytelling skills. Nothing is quite as powerful for getting a crowd of investors on board than a persuasive story. Not only do humans love stories, they crave stories.
And, at the end of the day, you’re one human communicating with another human.
Your story will help your audience relate to your brand. And, if done correctly, your story will hit them on an emotional level. Let’s discuss my favorite tips for how to use storytelling in your crowdfunding efforts.
Understand the Types of Stories That Humans Love
When you peel back the stories you love to the bare bones, you’ll find a common motif. Whether that’s good vs. evil or a journey to enlightenment, there are certain archetypes that we universally enjoy in our stories.
In fact, there are a few basic plot devices that most people resonate with. Borrowing heavily off of Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, let’s break them down the best plots to use in crowdfunding below:
Plot #1: Overcoming a Monster
In this story, the main character fights against some evil force. While the obvious go-to is to make your brand the hero, why not engage your audience and make the investor the hero, instead? You’ll immediately draw them in by defining who the evil entity is and how the investor, the hero, can help defeat this monster.
Plot #2: Tragedy
In the tragedy plot, an event causes a person or group to lose something of great value. This type of plot works best when doing a donation-based crowdfunding campaign. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a medical problem or a general “help me get on my feet” plea, the tragedy plot can really play on the emotions and inspire people to give.
Plot #3: Voyage and Return
In a voyage and return plot, the main character goes somewhere and experiences something life-changing, and then comes back with a renewed sense of purpose.
This can be how you frame your origin story. Doing so will humanize you and make you much more relatable to your potential investors. For more information about creating an origin story, check this out: Your Origin Story. Got One? You Should
Storytelling for Crowdfunding Best Practices
Now that we’ve discussed the different plots you can choose for your crowdfunding storytelling efforts, let’s talk about the best practices you should follow.
Most people are visual learners who prefer to see information, not just read it or hear it. For this reason alone, you need video. But another reason is that most crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter, require that you upload a video to support your cause.
Don’t worry. Your video doesn’t need to be a long, epic tale. It simply needs to address any or all of the following:
- Who you are. Introduce yourself.
- What your idea is.
- Where the idea came from.
- Your budget to complete the project.
- Your timeline for production.
- A compelling reason for your audience to care about your project.
- An actionable way to help.
Your video doesn’t need to be slick, but it does need to be heartfelt. If you can’t afford a fancy video, just get in front of a camera and speak directly to your potential investors. Keep it short, though. Three minutes is the max when it comes to the attention span of your audience.
Perhaps the most important part of telling a story is connecting with your audience. Keep in mind who you’re speaking to and why.
Get them involved by frequently involving second person storytelling. “You” and “your” should come up much more often than “me” or “them”.
Give Them a Reason to Care
Don’t leave it to your audience to connect the dots.
You need to explain why your idea is important to someone, whether it’s you, your audience or a third party that will benefit from their donation.
Make the pain relatable to your audience to touch on their empathy.
After you a paint a picture of the problem, immediately empower your investors with how they can help.
To inspire emotion, you’ll need to strike the right tone. What feeling would you like to convey?
Two of the best emotions to play on in crowdfunding are happiness and fear. Let’s break that down.
Happiness is a go-to choice for many campaigns. You can massage this emotion to get more people to invest in your idea. You’ll show that by donating to your idea and getting something in return, the crowdfunder will increase his or her happiness.
Fear in crowdfunding seems a little counterintuitive, but it works. You can use fear to get people motivated to action. For example, fear of missing out or fear that inaction on the crowdfunder’s part will lead to some unpalatable choice.
You must move the needle. You can’t afford for people to think to themselves, “Oh, that’s a nice story. I may come back later and donate.”
You’ve got to find a way to activate them to donate now, because they probably won’t return later, if we’re being honest.
Give your campaign a soon-arriving expiration date.
Show Them How Their Contribution Helps
Break down the fourth wall and show your potential investors how their money will fund your business.
Be specific. Be transparent. In fact, make transparency one of your guiding principles.
The more open you are about how you’ll use the donated funds, the more likely an investor is to sponsor you.
If you’re asking for $10,000, account for every single penny. This way, your ask doesn’t sound like an arbitrary figure, but a well thought out amount.
Highlight Your Personal Story
One of the biggest barriers to getting funded is a lack of trust. When investors aren’t sure that you’re trustworthy or, frankly, competent, they won’t open their wallets and give. You’ll ease their fears by introducing yourself, the person behind the idea.
What makes you qualified to realize this big idea? Introduce who you are, why you started this idea and how you’re qualified to make it happen.
Keep Your Story Simple
Your story doesn’t need to be complicated with plot twists or a huge cast of characters. People connect with a basic story that they can see themselves in.
So, whether you’re writing your story, telling it through video or a combination of both, quickly identify what your goal is.
Remember that crowdfunding is about the crowd. If you want to draw them into your big idea, you need to tell a story that they want to listen to.