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A Trick For Getting More Friends to Back Your Kickstarter Campaign

Published by Salvador Briggman. Find him on Twitter.

I’m always reading new books, listening to podcasts, and improving my communication skills so that I can bring you the best content on crowdfunding.

Over the weekend, I read a remarkably insightful psychological study that I think will help you convince more of your friends and family to back your Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign.

Ellen Langer is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard. She wrote the study, “The mindlessness of Ostensibly Thoughtful Action: The Role of “Placebic” Information in Interpersonal Interaction.” She published this in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1978 .

Quite a long title, eh? Thankfully, the takeaway is quite simple.

Langer conducted an experiment to see what type of message would allow an individual to jump in line ahead of a bunch of people waiting to use a Xerox machine on a busy college campus.

This is a classic study on compliance. Langer is studying how to get people to take action, or in this case, allow a certain action to occur.

In the most basic form, the subject would say, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”

When using this message, 40% of the subjects refused to allowed the individual to cut in line. This makes sense, because 5 pages isn’t really all that much. There is no real urgency.

The next message that was tested was, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?

When using this message, only 6% of the subjects refused to allow the individual to cut in line. Makes sense, right? If someone’s in a rush, they have more need for the copy machine than you do. You’re more likely to let them cut ahead in line.

Then, things got weird. Langer had a hypothesis that the only reason subjects were allowing the individual to cut in line was because they were simply following an automatic mental script. She believed that when someone gives a reason for wanting something, you’re more likely to comply with the request.

To test this idea, Langer came up with a message that didn’t have much justification or urgency at all. It was simply to test whether or not subjects would comply with the request, simply because there was a reason.

The next message that was tested was, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make some copies?

When using this message, only 7% of the subjects refused to allow the individual to cut in line.


That’s right. This is about the same percentage of compliance as when a fully justified reason was given.

By simply using a REASON for a request, the individual was able grow the percentage that people would grant the request from 60% to 93%, or a difference of 33%!

So, What Should You Do?

It’s quite straightforward. I get so many people hitting me up to “back their campaign” or “check out their campaign.” Never assume that YOUR campaign is worth someone else’s valuable time and money.

Instead of hopelessly promoting your campaign to your friends or family, give them a valid reason as to why they should back your campaign or check it out. Don’t just assume that because someone’s your friend, they’re going to pledge money.

I’ve spoken with many creators on KickstarterForum who were surprised at the small number of friends who actually ended up supporting their project. You can increase this number by giving a REASON for them to. Even if it’s not a great reason, this study proves that it will increase the percentage that comply with your request.

If you’d like to learn more about secret marketing tactics, I’d recommend reading through this blog post that I wrote. You should read it because you’ll discover easy ways to raise much more money on Kickstarter (see what I did there? Haha).

You can also start reading up on marketing books to increase your knowledge. I read about this study initially in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. The book talks about a slew of other marketing hacks, that I’ll be going into in later blog posts and YouTube videos.

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