The Coolamon Cheese project has been in development for the past four years. We chose Coolamon after the closure of CSU cheese when Barry was approached by the Coolamon Shire Council asking what they could do to facilitate a factory in Coolamon. As the planning continued there was an overwhelming swell of support from the local community. Everyone we spoke to was interested and wanted to know how they could help and ensure the success of our project.
We heard that Stuart Whytcross from Barellan was using online crowdfunding to fund and start Barellan Beer, a community owned project. We met with Stuart and discussed his experience with online funding, leading us to develop our own campaign and harness the community support we had fostered.
We began the process by researching several crowdfunding platforms deciding upon Pozible . We spent a lot of time looking at other successful projects to identify how best to communicate our vision to our fans. To capture the audience we knew that we needed a clear and concise story, an interesting video and a way to make our pledgers feel truly involved in the project. We knew that for people to pledge support we must offer rewards that we could realistically deliver and offered a unique value for money reward. For example funders who pledged $250 received a numbered wheel of cheese from our first batch of cheddar, only available to crowdfunders. The reward levels we chose started at $10 and we tried to send a strong message that every dollar helps. Having a wide range of levels proved very important to our success as it allowed a wide range of people to support Coolamon Cheese .
Now that we had developed a campaign, our story and rewards and it was time to spread the message. We feel that this was one of the most difficult but at the same time important and rewarding parts of crowdfunding. We knew the key to success in a communication strategy is a continual dialogue between us and our supporters. We chose to spread this over multiple platforms.
As our supporters vary in age and demographics we knew we needed a broad approach. We did this by using a social media campaign, traditional media campaign and a face to face approach. Online we used constant updates, pictures and information on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and our website. We constantly linked any news articles, updates and stories across these platforms to have our progress visible every day. This strong social media campaign resulted in our project being on the front page of Pozible for several days (Pozible’s front page shows projects with the highest level of online interaction).
Living in Coolamon we understood that a large number of local supporters are older and don’t have an online presence so decided a face to face approach was important to communicate with this group. We had a stall in our main street every week for the duration of the campaign, went to local markets and even gave presentations at club meetings such as rotary.
The buzz created by our campaign meant we had now created newsworthy stories. We sent regular media updates and press releases to a range of local and national media outlets. Our story appeared in local newspapers, in the TV news, was picked up and discussed in parliament and even had online reviews and discussion. After four weeks of our 6 week campaign, we could not walk down the street without being asked about Coolamon Cheese.
The final stage of our crowdfunding campaign is ongoing. We have sent vouchers and thank you’s to all supporters who are now members of the Coolamon Cheese Club. The club provides regular updates and will extend special offers and information to members.
Our experience with crowdfunding has shown us that even though we reached our financial target, the value of a campaign like this is much more valuable. It has allowed our local community and cheese lovers worldwide to become a part of the Coolamon Cheese family and follow our journey.
Contact the Beyond Bank Coolamon  team for your local enquiries.