5 Tips for Running a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign

Crowdfunding vector concept
Crowdfunding vector concept with hands holding money like ladder of success
By: Phillippe Narvaez

More entrepreneurs are raising money via crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter, but it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a home run.

Brad Damphousse, CEO of GoFundMe.com, sees examples on both ends of the spectrum. His nearly three-year-old bootstrapped platform, which he expects to gross $150 million in donations this year, helps people raise money for everything from entrepreneurial projects, personal crises, creative endeavors, funerals and more.

Here’s his advice for a successful crowdsourcing campaign.

1. Communicate clearly

Don’t write a novel, but it’s important to clearly define your goal. “Your visitors should have a clear understanding of why you need the amount of money you say you need,” Damphousse says. If your project is important but writing isn’t your thing, find a ghostwriter, English major, PR firm or someone otherwise gifted as a wordsmith.

2. Use compelling photos and videos

If photos are good, video is better–but only if you have the talent and resources to create something people are going to enjoy.

“Videos can be more compelling, but they’re also a lot more labor intensive to do well,” Damphousse says. “Having a video is one thing, [but] having a video that someone is going to sit there for two, three, four minutes and actually watch the whole thing is quite another challenge. If you’ve got the skillset or somebody in your life with some simple video editing skills… it’s not terribly difficult to put together a video, but it does take quite a bit more time than simply posting a photo.”

Don’t think you have the creative chops to pull off a convincing pitch? Find someone to help who does, either for free from a friend or for hire–it just depends on how badly your project needs the funds.

3. Leverage your social sphere

Many crowdsourcing platforms, including GoFundMe, are heavily linked up to social channels–nice functionality that can help get the word out about your fundraising efforts. So if you don’t have thousands of friends and followers, you might invest in building your network first.

Here’s advice for how to build a following on Twitter. And whatever you do, don’t forget about Google Plus,A whereA a lot of tech-savvy people who want to interact with interesting strangers hang out. This spreadsheet is a useful tool for adding to your Google Plus network’s circles of people who share your passions. Once you’re engaging with some of these people, your influence with them will likely grow.

4. Use people close to you as a litmus test

Before trying to make your campaign go viral with the world, test it out on people who are already in your camp. “Your earliest supporters are always going to be your family and friends. If they don’t believe in you I really wouldn’t expect other people to,” Damphousse says.

If you don’t get any funding from people close to you, there’s got to be a reason. If you’re certain your need is a good one, take another look at how you’ve communicated your goal, as well as the media you’ve included with your campaign. Now find an impartial outsider who will be honest with you to shine a light on what you may be doing wrong.

5. Encourage your loyal customers to crowdfund

Damphousse says one area of crowdfunding for business that’s not talked about much is the idea of crowdfunding as a payment method.

“We actually see crowdfunding as it relates to business from the consumer side of the equation in which consumers say ‘Hey, there’s a product or service that I want and I’m going to crowdfund my means to purchase that thing,'” he says. “So I think an eye-opening angle for businesses is to figure out how they can empower their consumer base with crowdfunding, essentially [tapping] a larger pool of eligible consumers.”

So, get clear, get funded!

I3M Communications

Heavenly Crowd

I3M Communications has years of valuable experience in many online disciplines, including Design and Development, eMarketing and Consulting.

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10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Engaging and Enjoyable

business-presentation-840x420By Phillippe Narvaez

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

2. Open up with a good icebreaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

7. Move around and use your hands

 Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing.

10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

I3M Communications

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I3M Communications has years of valuable experience in many online disciplines, including Design and Development, eMarketing and Consulting.

5 Ways to Successfully Market Yourself as a Photographer

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By Phillippe Narvaez

Whether you’re an established photographer or a newcomer to the exciting field of photography, you need to incorporate clever strategies to promote your work.

Marketing is an essential aspect of any successful business because photography is a very competitive field, you’ll need a clever angle and edge to succeed.

The following are five essential guidelines you should follow that will help you market and sell your work:

1. Create a Portfolio

Your portfolio needs to contain several important sections. First of all, you’ll want to include an “About Me” page. Talk about yourself and how you became interested in photography.

List any relevant information that will help potential buyers or agencies get to know the person behind the camera.

Your portfolio should also contain references pertaining to your craft. Include names and contact numbers of former employers.

Of course, you’ll want to include samples of your work in your portfolio. Choose the most unique, clear photographs. Be sure these sample photos are varied.

For instance, you might include photography of still-life, nature and people. Do you have a specialty? Maybe it’s baby photos or wedding photography. Perhaps your special talent lies in space photography. Showcase these talents by arranging the samples in a separate folder.

2. Create a Blog or Website

A personal blog or website can be a fundamental way to promote your work. How so? Here you can discuss your future projects, your goals and day-to-day updates on your offerings.

You can also be as creative as you wish, because it is your blog. If you’re creating a website, there’s several options: make your own from the scratch, set one up with a bit of help from Blogger or WordPress or hire a professional website designer.

Having an experienced person or team design your webpage can give your site the polish and professional look you’re aiming for. Be sure your blog or website includes a traffic counter that lets you know how many visitors have viewed your page. You may also want to add a geographic tracker that allows you to keep track of the locations of your visitors.

Give your website or blog a personal touch. Your potential clients and employers want to get to know the artist – that’s you! You might want to take a few special photos that are used solely for your website or blog.

3. Use Social Media

There’s no better way to promote your work than on a site where all your friends and associates hang out. Post about your latest projects and offerings. Add links to your blog and samples.

Place a survey on the social media website of your choice. Ask for opinions and get people involved. Open and feed your Instagram account. Set up a contest. Make a short & sweet Youtube clip where you can give some tips, or do a review, and spice it up with your personality.

The more interaction you receive, the wider audience you may reach. Make it personal by offering your own perspectives and advice on photography.

4. Use Your Photos on Merchandising Products

Create beautiful postcards of your photography and offer them for sale. Print your own photo books featuring some of your best work. You can find some examples on this page, along with tutorials and templates.

Do you have a photo studio? If so, enlist the service for a customized canvas print to place on your studio wall.

If you’re into landscape and nature photography, why not print a calendar made of your own photos for each month of the year? Let your creativity soar!

Doing all this is not complicated (nor expensive) as it may seem. Many bigger digital printing companies offer all of this in one place, and might give you discount for ordering in a bulk.

Besides, it might be worth investing in some quality printing – impressing your potential client could go easier if you present your work in custom made presentation folders and have stylish business card with your favorite photo printed on it.

Another creative idea for a digital photo marketing strategy is to offer free products that showcase your work.

Your established clients will keep returning for more if they know they are appreciated. Create customized “Thank You” note cards to send to a client following a sale.

Using pre-designed template is an option, but the main attraction will be an original, never-before-seen photo you add to your note.

5. Print Up Referral Cards

These are somewhat like business cards, with a slight twist. Your referral card will have your name and contact information, as well as a unique photo you’ve taken that represents your work.

You give these cards to your clients after a sale and have them refer a friend. When they do, your client receives a bonus. The bonus may be in the way of a discount off their next purchase, or perhaps some kind of prize. Everybody wins.

And there you have it: Five quick and easy ways to promote your photography and help yourself to a successful and rewarding career. Now, that is really the way to “focus”!

I3M Communications

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I3M Communications has years of valuable experience in many online disciplines, including Design and Development, eMarketing and Consulting.

How do you build a brand?

Branding

By Phillippe Narvaez

Building a brand requires multiple steps that include conceptualizing a brand identity and choosing a brand name, creating a brand logo and building relationships with customers. Making a brand memorable requires tapping into customer wants and desires in a way that ignites customer loyalty.

Building a strong brand begins by conveying the mission and values of a company to customers through logo creation. A logo symbolizes the image of a company using unique design elements. Logos can represent a company or a specific product. Some companies create a brand slogan that conveys why consumers want what the company offers. Brand building goes beyond promotion of the company image. Connecting with consumers is essential to attracting loyal customers.

One way to foster this close connection between company and consumers is to engage in tribe building as it relates to business. For example, Apple computer has a tribe of “fan boys” and “fan girls” who are always eager to wait in long lines when the company launches a new product. This type of loyalty comes from a company catering to its target audience of loyal tribe members. Another method used in brand building is personalization. Companies can create products that appeal to the personal lifestyle interests of consumers. This close connection between brand and lifestyle has a powerful influence on consumer behavior.

I3M Communications

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I3M Communications has years of valuable experience in many online disciplines, including Design and Development, eMarketing and Consulting.