There’s plenty of information out there on producing crowdfunding video but the problem is that most of them put all the emphasis on…well…video.
The truth is that real success depends not on knowing your aspect ratios from your mega pixels but on something far more basic – human nature. But first let’s identify the nub of the problem.
Your crowdfunding video has thirty seconds to live
These days every entrepreneur is familiar with the elevator pitch. Those precious thirty seconds during which you hope to grab your prospects attention and sell them on your great idea; in theory before you reach the tenth floor or in reality before they glaze over and jump ship early. It’s important to realise that the same time restriction also applies to your crowdfunding video.
But hold on, according to people like Kickstarter and Indiegogo the ideal length of a crowdfunding video is around two minutes, so don’t I have at least another 90 seconds of video left to play with? Well, not necessarily because unless you get the first thirty seconds right very few people will be around to watch the rest.
It’s more about information than video
At this point it’s important to step back for a moment and understand that video as such isn’t the magic solution many believe it to be. Video is just a communications device, a very large conduit down which you can push lots of information very quickly. The skill is not in shooting video, at least not initially. The real skill is in understanding what information to push down the pipe, what order to send it in and how to best package it for ease of use once it arrives.
So where do you begin? For the answer to that let’s go back to your elevator pitch. The first thing you did, or should have done, was to introduce yourself and the key word there is yourself, not the person you think you should be.
The silent questions
During the first few seconds of your pitch an awful lot goes on and without even realising it the person you’re speaking to will be asking themselves questions and making decisions about you, most of them subconscious. Is this person a threat? What do they want from me, are they credible, why does he or she have that strange haircut and so on. It’s that human nature I mentioned at the beginning. Exactly the same happens when you appear on your crowdfunding video and while some concerns aren’t at the forefront there’s still lots of instant decisions being made about you, in particular are you credible and can you be trusted? So as in real life the golden rule is be yourself. Further down the line people will respect you for that and hopefully put their trust in you.
Identify the pain but don’t overdo the detail
The second thing your crowdfunding video should quickly do is identify the pain. Describe exactly what problem you are able to solve that so far no one else has been able to. You can briefly back that up with your qualifications to do so but don’t go overboard this early. Your video is your hook and you can always put more detail on your accompanying web site.
Because people have such a short attention span it’s important to get your main points into the first thirty to forty seconds. More specific detail can be left for later by which time if the viewer is still watching it’s because he or she is interested in your pitch.
Prioritising – it helps the script write itself
If you have problems prioritising what should be included make a list of everything you’d ideally like to say about your idea. Then spend as long as it takes whittling them down to the half a dozen or so points that you have time for. By the time you’ve done that your video has almost defined itself. If your project involves a team do the exercise jointly so that everyone makes their contribution to the final decision. This is the most critical part of your video production so if it takes a week, it takes a week.
Getting your words out
When it comes to shooting your pieces to camera don’t be tempted to try and wing it, instead plan out exactly what you are going to say. By all means write it out as a script but when it comes to delivering it to camera don’t try to repeat it word for word from memory. Actors are skilled at doing that but you aren’t and the result will be excruciatingly bad. Instead condense it all down to half a dozen bullet points and expand on them from memory one by one. If you struggle to remember even those then write them on a large board and place it way behind the camera and in a position so that your eye line doesn’t change. The slight hesitancy created by working from bullet points will give you a far more natural result. If all else fails you can use a scrolling laptop screen as a poor mans autocue but it’s by no means simple and even a real autocue system costing thousands takes some mastering. If you opt for the laptop it’s critical that you have the screen as close to the lens as possible and preferably slightly above or below rather than to one side.
Deciding what to shoot
Once you know what you’re going to say in your crowfundng video then the next stage is to decide on the images that are going to accompany your words. This is your shooting script and the general rule of video is that you should show whatever it is you’re talking about.
While your goal is fund-raising those watching will have different priorities so remember it’s human nature to wonder what’s in it for me. Acquiring one of the limited edition widgets signed by the entire team may be someone’s priority. Equally others may have less materialistic ambitions such as making a difference to the lives of others or helping save the environment. Your task is to recognise those priorities and devise a video that will encourage them to respond accordingly.
Final tips to ensure a successful crowdfunding video
Humour is a powerful persuader so use it if you can but be careful, it’s a double edged sword and if you’re aiming at an international audience it doesn’t always travel well. However here’s a great example of a crowdfunding video that manages to cleverly tick all the boxes by using of all things – toilet humour.
Keep things short and simple and don’t confuse people with too much technical information. Use the marketing principle of selling benefits not features e.g. a lengthy paragraph describing the technical aspects of that new sound system can be replaced with a simple – “it sounds great.”
Don’t confuse a positive call for action with begging for support. Make it clear what the funds are for e.g. hiring in a crew to shoot your movie then let the viewer decide for themselves. If your idea is good people will naturally want to be involved.