Learning from the Master: An Interview with Ran Cory
You might not have heard of him per se, but if you’re serious about this crowdfunding thing, then you’ve probably come across his work. Ran Cory is the creative mastermind behind more than a few successful crowdfunders. His strategies, videos and advertising have catapulted the likes of MagicStick and Angel to international stardom, and have seen them featured in major media publications including Forbes and The Telegraph.
With an impressive collection of international advertising awards to his name, and over a decade working as a creative director on a number of high profile accounts, it is little wonder that Cory has established himself as crowdfunding’s answer to Simon Cowell. More selective than the music mogul, his well-deserved reputation means Ran gets the pick of the crowdfunding crop. Boring, run-of-the-mill ideas don’t interest him; but approach him with something that’s truly innovative, and you’ll have one of the biggest guns in crowdfunding at your disposal. So exactly what does it take to turn a crowdfunding campaign into a celebrated brand? We caught up with Ran in the hopes of discovering just that.
It’s difficult to spend only 10 minutes on Ran’s website. Peppered with videos from some of his most successful campaigns, it’s the type of site you can lose an hour to without even trying. Every video is completely different to the last, and each grabs your attention with the force of a raging bull — once you’ve clicked play, it’s impossible to look away. Which brings us to his first point; campaign videos matter.
“You have to intrigue your audience.” Ran reveals, “It doesn’t matter whether you have limitless resources or a tiny budget, the content of your video is important. Very few people read the content on your campaign page, 90% will watch the video. It must grab their attention within the first 15 seconds or they won’t buy.”
If you want to know what makes a good crowdfunding video, campaigns like MagicStick are a great place to start. “MagicStick was a very simple campaign,” Says Ran. “We shot a low budget video but it was interesting, well prepared and — most importantly — the product was good. If you want a successful campaign, you need a good product and a good video. And you need to know your audience.”
‘Know your audience’ is the kind of generic crowdfunding advice trotted out in every half assed how-to article out there. But Ran is keen to point out that there’s more to it than that, “The best advertising speaks to the audience on either an emotional or a rational level. If I’m selling MagicStick to gamers, jokes won’t work, they need facts and logical arguments. If I’m selling for parents, then I can afford to be emotional.” He explains, before emphasizing, “What doesn’t work is combining the two approaches. You can advertise emotionally or rationally, you can’t do both.”
That’s the kind of insight that makes it obvious the guy in the chair opposite really is the Godfather of advertising. So it was perhaps ill-advised to ask him for his best crowdfunding tricks. “I don’t believe in tricks.” He answers quickly, softening slightly as he adds, “You have to make a campaign relevant to people. If you want someone to remember your product, you have to create an emotional attachment. The things that work in advertising are children, dogs and old people. But when it comes to crowdfunding, it’s much, much harder to create a good campaign than a good commercial. A commercial is location specific, you can use national humor and in-jokes. Crowdfunding is international, your campaign has to be universal, it has to make people laugh, cry and feel something no matter what country they’re in. Like Seinfeld,” He adds with a smile, “That’s funny in any country, because everyone can relate to it.”
With his experience in the advertising world, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that this creative thinker is dead against rules, tips and tricks. “The best formula is no formula.” He emphasizes, “The biggest problem for campaigners is that they copy other campaigners. Just because a video worked for a campaign like yours, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. People get bored fast — so replicating someone else’s campaign isn’t the best solution. You have to think creatively and you have to be original.”
You also have to have a very good product. “Crowdfunding today is completely different to how it was two years ago,” Cory explains. “There’s more competition and more crowdfunding platforms, you have to stand out in an oversaturated market. Getting journalists to write about you is harder now, too. They stuck their necks out for the Coolest Cooler campaign and it failed to deliver, so if you want media coverage, you need to prepare a genuine prototype that works and have everything in place to deliver to your backers.”
We won’t ask him for any more tricks, but maybe he has some advice he’d like to share with all you would-be crowdfunders out there? “People like to see a successful campaign, so it’s important to prepare before you launch. You need to build enough momentum to have at least 30% of your goal funded on the first day. MagicStick raised more money in the last week of their campaign purely because they’d already beaten their target. People want to be a part of a successful project. They want to back it and they want to write about it.” He pauses, before adding, “And hey, if anyone reading this has got a great product, they can always approach me about marketing it.” He smiles before adding, “Only the good ones though.”