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  1. #1
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    Beware the ‘Crowdfund Buzz’ scam


    More than one month and 5897 ‘referrals’ later and not a single contribution (or interaction)…

    In this article I will share my experiences with the ‘service’ I received from Crowdfund Buzz after paying for the 98 USD Consultant Package. All information will be factual and will hopefully serve as a warning to others who might be considering www.crowdfundbuzz.com to help promote their crowdfunding campaigns.



    On 8 August 2013 I started a campaign on Indiegogo.com titled ‘The Impact Of Dive Tourism On Marine Ecosystems’. This is a very important ongoing environmental project which faced quite a few challenges as the results would not favour those who in some way profit from dive tourism.

    Shortly after launching the campaign I received a comment from someone offering to ‘get word out about the project’.

    When I discovered she worked for Crowdfund Buzz I googled them and learned of their services. If you are reading this article you have probably already had a look at the list of services they claim to provide. As I am very cautious of investing money in services I know nothing about, and understanding the difficult nature of my campaign I sent this email to Crowdfund Buzz on 8 August 2013:



    Hi there

    I was contacted by one of your staff (*** ********) through my project on Indiegogo.com and am very interested in the service you offer.Before I invest, if possible I would appreciate it if you could give me a realistic assessment of my site and what results I could expect from your service:

    http://igg.me/at/dive-tourism-impact/x/4259068

    Any help would be greatly apprciarted,

    Kind regards



    In reply I received the following email from Crowdfund Buzz Founder, Matt Cooke:



    Hello,

    I think you have a great project! You also have a realistic funding goal.

    Our service specializes in increasing the exposure and visibility of your project. Our current success rate is just over 60%, which is much better than the typical 40% success average. Our service starts at $68 with our most popular package being $98.

    The first thing we would do is look over your campaign and make suggestions that have proven to make a difference with successful crowdfunding campaigns.

    The next thing we would do is feature your project to the people who follow us on our social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook.

    We will also professionally write and distribute a press release for your project. The press release is the best way to attract press and journalist interest in your project. It also helps bring people from news websites and blogs to your project.

    We have been very successful with this type of promotion. We know We can help you project. Please reach out to us with any questions.
    Thank you,
    Matt Cooke



    Given this very positive reply from the founder, I decided to go ahead and invest the 98 USD for their premium package…

    As part of this package I was assigned an ‘Account Manager’ who was responsible for providing personal service for my campaign as well as writing the press release based on my campaign page at Indiegogo.



    Lousy, Incomplete Press Release:

    The press release was a poorly ‘copy/pasted’ document and I ended up having to re-write it to include some quite basic but very important omissions. In addition to this the video I included (a crucial part to the press release being successful) was not submitted as part of this release and never showed up in the final issued copy of the release. Follow up emails asking if the video was received and added to the release before the actual release date were completely ignored.



    Lots Of Views, Zero Interaction

    I soon noticed that I was having no interaction with my project at all (no sponsors, no comments), despite having included everything which supposedly makes a project successful (video, images, good perks etc). I emailed my ‘Account Manager’ to ask what I could do to improve my project as I was getting no suggestions from her side, and the one suggestion consisting of two sentences was very mediocre and obvious – limit the amount of perks. I did this but not surprising, it had no effect. Its interesting to point out that Crowdfund Buzz did not once contact me out of their own accord with suggestions or updates and that I continually had to beg for input and advice…I honestly don’t even know what the deal was with the ‘CrowdFunding Consultant’ I was supposed to receive for my 98 USD, because I had no correspondence with anyone apart from the disinterested ‘Personal Campaign Manager’ and founder Matt Cooke.

    The last contact I had with the scarce ‘Account Manager’ was in reply to my concern of the lack of views I was getting via their service to which she replied:

    Hello,

    The press release typically has the greatest effect on traffic and donations.

    Thank you,
    L**** G****

    This was sent on 21 August, 35 days before the end of my campaign and not a word since!
    With a month left to fund the campaign, the final and last correspondence I received from Crowdfund Buzz was in response to an email I sent in reply to the one above as I still saw the same trend as by this time I had several thousand views but no interactions and not a single dollar funded from views generated by Crowdfund Buzz (we will look at the stats shortly). I emailed Matt Cooke again as by this time my ‘Account Manager’ was nowhere to be found and his reply was this:

    “…I think your project is really well structured. You have a lot of time left with 34 days. Sometimes people have to see the project a couple of time before they will get involved. We will keep sending qualified traffic*.”

    *Note the use of the phrase ‘qualified traffic’, we will come back to this shortly…
    Along with this I was finally sent the links to the stats pages used by Crowdfund Buzz to analyse the source and quantity of traffic.

    This correspondence was on 23 August, still 33 days before the end of my campaign.



    Since then I have tried to contact them on several occasions with simple questions regarding the questionable stats (which we will look at now) to get answers and I have been completely ignored.

    scam

    /skam/
    Noun
    A dishonest scheme; a fraud.

    Verb
    Swindle.



    When someone/a company takes payment for services and then consciously decides not to deliver all the services advertised, I consider that to be a scam. So just to be clear: With more than a month left on my campaign, Crowdfund Buzz terminated all correspondence with me (the client) when confronted with simple questions about their service.

    So what exactly did I discover which made them so uncomfortable?

    Questionable Stats:

    Views vs Contributions - In more than one month, Crowdfund Buzz referrals did not result in a single donation…not even a dollar:


    Below is the ‘All Time’ stats for my campaign until the date of this article:


    Earlier I mentioned Matt Cooke’s use of the term ‘qualified traffic’…

    Lets look at the previous statement claiming that most views come from the press release. According to the stats above, of the 6027 referrals in over a month from Crowdfund Buzz, only 750 came from the press release.

    What Crowdfund Buzz claims to do is to promote your campaign with relevant viewers who has a shared interest in your campaign. This includes blog writers and journalists who will supposedly write about your campaign. To date, I have not found a single blog or article related to my campaign apart from ones I was responsible for.

    So all that is left is the mass of social media views.

    Something very important to understand with social media marketing, is that it is only effective if you target your audience. This is a very time consuming process and can be as simple as making sure the target audience are all in the ‘income earning’ bracket (for example older than 20), that they have shared interests in what you are promoting (which in my case would be conservation issues) and that their demographic is relevant to the campaign. For example, there is no point in promoting a ‘stud farm’ campaign in Texas to a 15 year old kid sitting in Luanda, Angola.

    So basically I have no idea where the 5277 social media views came from and based on the simple observation that in all the time Crowdfund Buzz were ‘promoting’ my campaign I had NO interaction (comments, questions, donations), I started doubting their relevance as this is definitely NOT ‘qualified traffic’.
    The questions I started asking Matt Cooke was based on these stats and also address some of the previous issues:



    Social media Promotion: How do I know Crowdfund Buzz is targeting the right viewers?

    Press Promotion: The Crowdfund Buzz website claims “We will promote your crowdfunding campaign to hundreds of professional journalists and bloggers who write about your specific category.” I have no proof that this has happened and apart from the link to a single press release and the stats I have received, I have no other indication that my project was promoted in this way (where are these blogs and articles?)

    Journalist Promotion: Same as above, I have no proof that this was done and based on the stats and limited interaction and views, doubt that it was.

    Professional Press Release: This was a poorly ‘copy/pasted’ document and I ended up having to re-write it to include some quite basic omissions. In addition to this the video I included was not submitted as part of this release even though I sent it through before the actual release date and emails asking if it had been done were ignored.

    Press Release Submission: Same as above. Three weeks and only 750 referrals from the press release which was supposed to provide the most views and donations.

    Personal Campaign Manager: The responses I’ve received to the questions I’ve asked (when I got replies) were very short and in both cases obvious. Simply telling me to ‘be patient’ and that my campaign is well structured does not really explain why nothing is happening with it. Is something wrong with the content? What does your bloggers/journalists say?

    Video with Press Release: Not done. Refer to email sent on the 18th.

    CrowdFunding Consultant: No idea who this was supposed to be as I only dealt with Matt Cooke briefly and the ‘Personal Campaign/Account Manager”



    These issues were addressed in an email to Matt Cooke on 9 September 2013 and to date I have received no reply from any staff at Crowdfund Buzz.



    The Crowdfund Buzz website has endless lists of ‘successful’ campaigns, but keep in mind that usually the ‘product’ sells itself. I am sure they do manage to help many campaigns but I am certain these campaigns don’t ‘owe’ their success entirely to Crowdfund Buzz.



    Conclusion

    In itself the 98 USD is not a large sum of money to lose and maybe Crowdfund Buzz actually somehow manages to help your campaign, its just never fair to think of how much profit a company like Crowdfund Buzz makes off people who in most cases can not afford to lose even a hundred dollars when every penny towards the success of a campaign counts.

    It is interesting to note that Crowdfund Buzz proudly displays that they belong to the ‘National Crowdfunding Association’ as well as the CfPA (or Crowdfunding Professional Association). I contacted both these Associations to inquire what to do if one of their representative companies faulted on their services, without naming which one, and neither one of them replied.

    Be sure you understand how social marketing works, ask the questions before you pay and make sure you get the service you were promised, especially if you were told beforehand that it could be delivered based on your campaign. Please feel free to share this article if you have had similar experiences with Crowdfund Buzz…

    UPDATE

    Shortly after this post went live, I got a message from Matt Cooke offering a refund as well as a free 'Premium package' for my next campaign. Although I think this is a kind gesture for not failing to provide a service, it does not rectify the issue that many others like myself are effected in others ways than the money lost.

    After investing in Crowdfund Buzz, I did expect a lot in return (as advertised!) and ended up 'losing' all the time I had to make my campaign more successful. Had I not discovered Crowdfund Buzz I would probably have been even more active in trying to find other ways of promoting my campaign instead of relying too much on promises that things would pick up, perhaps other services or even investing the same money in ads on social media advertising.

    As some campaigns are time sensitive, a lot of people lose this time due to relying on a service which doesn't deliver, which in turn results in missed deadlines for which the funding would have been appropriated.
    Last edited by jdvos_com; 09-26-2013 at 01:56 AM. Reason: UPDATE

  2. #2
    Though early in my campaign, I have to agree. I opted for the $78 package. Not going to break the bank, but I have seen little to no benefit.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Sep 2013
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    Dayton, OH
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    We are working with them, now. Also went with the $78 package. He put up the link. Waiting on the press release. I'm a writer, so we'll see! I will definitely update this soon. I know it took longer than Matt said to get on their social media.
    Please check out the campaign for my film, Trip:
    Hidden Content

    For updates, follow us on Facebook:
    Hidden Content

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the feedback guys,

    Although it is not pleasant to see a trend, it does validate my own findings and I hope others will share their experiences too.
    Flexline and ashtynlaw, please do keep us updated with how your experience with Crowdfund Buzz turned out.

  5. #5
    Thanks for sharing this information. I sent out a tweet mentioning CrowdfundBuzz in the hopes they may address some of your points. Personally, I think that they could have definitely been better at communicating with you and there isn't much of an excuse if your press release was poorly written or seemed copy/pasted, as they advertise a professional press release.

    Having founded CrowdfundingPR.org, a website that does PR/Marketing promotion, I can add to the discussion that it's impossible to guarantee people will take action on your campaign for my services at least (unless you choose the gold tier and hire me as a contractor). It's even difficult to pinpoint the amount of traffic I can drive because it varies based on the campaign. People are more interested in some campaigns more than others. I also have different promotional channels than CrowdFundBuzz. However, I try to do a good job of communicating this.

    Based on your correspondence, I think CrowdFundBuzz should do a better job of communicating the risks or guarantees that they do or do not make in terms of views, composition of the audience, etc.

    If you would like, you can leave a review of them on my Crowdfunding Directory: http://directory.crowdcrux.com/listings/crowdfund-buzz/

    Sal
    Crowdfunding Tips: Hidden Content
    Crowdfunding News: Hidden Content

  6. #6
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    I, too, tried Crowdfundbuzz in April and had zero results.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    We ended up getting a refund. They made deadlines they never kept. They wouldn't get back to us when we emailed about the first deadlines not being met. The press release was atrocious. They copy and pasted from my Kickstarter and then the few parts they changed had spelling and grammar errors.
    Please check out the campaign for my film, Trip:
    Hidden Content

    For updates, follow us on Facebook:
    Hidden Content

  8. #8
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    Hi Sal

    Thank you for the post, it helps a lot coming from someone who knows the system.

    I agree with all your comments and would just like to add that I completely understand that its impossible to guarantee people will take action on a specific campaign. In reference to this I think the replies I got before signing up asking for a 'realistic assessment' and then receiving a reply from the founder saying that "We have been very successful with this type of promotion. We know We can help you project. " was misleading, especially considering (as you pointed out) they did not even hint at possible risks or to the fact that it is not guaranteed.

    You are dead right in saying that Crowdfund Buzz should do a better job of communicating the risks and the fact that none of the results are guaranteed. Looking through the Crowdfund Buzz website now its quite striking how 'solid' the results look as there are no warnings, only descriptions of the amazing services (which in my case weren't delivered) accompanied by lists and lists of successful campaigns. This in combination with emails from the founder assuring you how much they can do for your campaign without even hinting at the chance of total failure is not in the least bit fair.

    Since posting this article here and on my own website, I have gotten several messages from others who have had no results (i.e not a single donation or interaction) after signing up with Crowdfund Buzz. This suggests that its something which happens quite often and is definitely worth mentioning if you promote a service which is not at all guaranteed.

  9. #9
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    Sorry to hear that, as it sounds exactly like my press release.

    Shortly after this post went live, I got a message from Matt Cooke offering a refund as well as a free 'Premium package' for my next campaign. Although I think this is a kind gesture for not failing to provide a service, it does not rectify the issue that many others like myself are effected in others ways than the money lost.

    After investing in Crowdfund Buzz, I did expect a lot in return (as advertised!) and ended up 'losing' all the time I had to make my campaign more successful. Had I not discovered Crowdfund Buzz I would probably have been even more active in trying to find other ways of promoting my campaign, perhaps other services or even investing the same money in ads on social media advertising.

    As some campaigns are time sensitive, a lot of people lose this time due to relying on a service which doesn't deliver, which in turn results in missed deadlines for which the funding would have been appropriated.

  10. #10
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    My name is Matt Cooke. I am the founder of CrowdFund Buzz. I am here to answer any questions for you and address some of the claims that are being made.

    Not every crowdfunding campaign is going to be successful. We do everything we can to give our clients the best possible chance to attract the type of press and media coverage that can help them hit their goal. We do this at a budget most crowdfunders can afford. We understand that most people are crowdfunding because they need funds. They cannot afford to invest $3,000 on PR and Social Media. We have developed strategies that help us get our clients very good exposure and traffic at a reasonable price.

    We have had issues in the past with finding quality press release writers who can deliver a high quality press release for the budget we need to hit for our clients. In the last two weeks we have completely overhauled our writing staff. This overhaul caused us to be a couple of days behind schedule for a few of our clients. Ashtyn was one of these clients. I was his account manager and I should have done a better job of communicating the delay to him.

    We now produce very high quality press releases within 2 business days. Every client reviews and approves the press release before it is published. They can also request edits or revisions. Turn around time on edits is less than 4 hours.

    I am happy to go over specific of the campaigns that are mentioned in this thread. I am here to answer any questions anyone has about our service.

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