Classic movies can teach us a lot about life and the world today. It seems they may be able to teach us a little something about crowdfunding, too.
I recently went through quite a lengthy phase in which I was watching only Hollywood classics and film noir from the 1940s and 1950s. Of course, I eventually rediscovered the works of Humphrey Bogart and watched just about everything this silver screen legend starred in, from his first major role as notorious outlaw Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest to his most memorable –– Rick Blaine in Casablanca.
Then one day I asked myself, What if Humphrey Bogart was a crowdfunder? What advice might he give to people trying to raise money from the everyday Joes and Janes out there? Luckily, I didn't have to look much further than the immortal films he left behind, so here's a trio of top-notch tips that could be the beginning of a beautiful (and lucrative) friendship between you and your crowdfunding campaign.
"Here's looking at you, kid." Every successful crowdfunding campaign begins with a pitch video because it behooves you to look directly into the eyes of your potential contributors when you ask them for money. There are pitches that are shot like interviews, with the subject staring off at an imaginary interviewer; there are others that are simply movie trailers, photos of company logos, and other sales tools. These campaigns seldom attain victory. Remember: You're asking random people for money; they are the ones who have the power to make or mar your campaign, so like this most memorable of cinematic moments in Casablanca, “here's looking at them” when you pitch your project.
"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow." Technically, this is one of Lauren Bacall's most famous lines from To Have and Have Not, the film in which she and Bogart fell in love, but (1) it is a Bogart film, and (2) the line reveals a most important aspect of crowdfunding: promotion. You've got to be proactive about getting the word out about your campaign. Today, this means networking on the major social media sites, namely Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. If you know how to pucker up and sing the praises of your product, you'll be that much more likely to whistle up a win, both financially and socially.
"The only thing you owe the public is a good performance." Bogart says this in Nicholas Ray's film In a Lonely Place, and in online fundraising, a good performance is an understated truth. Crowdfunding is a full-time job and takes lots of hours and hard work to do it right, but you can also have fun with it by embracing the theatrical in your campaigning. When those final days and hours loom large over the horizon, for instance, use them to your advantage and turn your personal anxiety into a collaborative excitement to bring in more funding. Don't just give your contributors the product they're helping to finance, leave them with an experience they'll remember long after your triumph.
Whether this advice comes from more contemporary crowdfunding gurus or a classic Hollywood icon, it's worth a listen, and probably more so from Humphrey Bogart since he's likely to slap you if you don't; after all, it was Bogie who said to Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon, “When you're slapped you'll take it and like it!”
If I were you, I'd skip the slap and take the advice.