What no one tells you about Kickstarter before you launch
Part of my mission with CrowdCrux and my ebook is to let crowdfunders know about the road ahead.
On your journey, if you can’t anticipate bumps, turns, or hanging branches, the likeliness that you will fail to meet your fundraising goal can increase exponentially.
Preparing, educating yourself, and working hard are the few things you can control.
One thing that most creators fail to recognize before launching is that not everyone in their social network knows what Kickstarter is or even has an amazon account, which is needed to pledge to your campaign if it’s located in the US (“For US-based projects, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. For projects launched outside of the US, you will check out through Kickstarter”).
Of those that do know what Kickstarter is and have an amazon account, many are still skeptical, and need to be persuaded to pledge to your campaign.
Don’t believe me? Below, I’ve shared the experience of Jermon Green who is running the Momensity Kickstarter campaign to finish building a social connection app that “goes beyond simply trading job titles to making true connections over the things you love and enjoy.”
We found that the first 3 had 90% veteran kickstarter backers, that is the backers had backed at least 1 – 2 kickstarter projects before that one, leading us to the conclusion Kickstarter is an insular niche community. Insular communities need relationships to gain access and acceptance.
The projects that failed had either 0 backers, or if they had any, they were first time backers (no other kickstarter projects). From this we inferred that going to outsiders was not going to be successful, but we tried.
I emailed, text and personally contacted 2763 people and found that 98% had never heard of kickstarter, which turned our campaign into a Kickstarter educational seminar, to our chagrin. We estimate we lost 50% of potential backers due to working with an unfamiliar website.
Of that larger group, I text 255 people the link to the campaign, and they, being uninitiated, beyond youtube, thought it was a great video and text me back saying so. Upon a follow up they explained they didn’t know to scroll down or that they didn’t realize it was a campaign to raise money. Argh. Lost 10% here.
Many of those that trusted this new website Kickstarter, mainly on the strength of my endorsement, were then unfamiliar with amazon payments and were deterred from signing up. We lost 25% here.
Our Facebook follow up included personal chats with 53 people, who responded with a lot of “…what’s kickstarter?” and when we asked whether or not they played the video we shared to Facebook the response was “…yes, but I didn’t know you could further interact with it?” – they are referencing the green word hyperlink or kickstarter medallion in lower right could be clicked. Argh x 2. Lost 13% here.
Leaving us with 15 supporters. Of those, 1% knew about Kickstarter.
So then, we went back and figured we better target the people that do not have to be educated about Kickstarter and amazon payments and re-commit our efforts.
At this point, we reached out to a Kickstarter backer of Looksery and asked for advice. Our original video was commercially done and targeted towards a mass audience, only to find this wonderful backer schooling us:
“The photo doesn’t tell me anything about the product, but the video gives me a better idea. A “snazzy video” is great if it actually tells a story. The videos you have look like they’re stock footage and don’t tell me your story. You can use an “eye catching/snazzy” video to grab someone’s attention, but you need to tell your story somewhere.
Your original video actually tells me a bit more of your story. What I’d really like to see is how you expect the app to work and what it will do “in the wild.” I don’t back a lot of Kickstarter projects but the ones I do, solve a problem I’ve had (Pressgram, Tiltpod or I believe in the creator, cause, product).
Take a look at Pressgram. They have a snazzy video that someone did for them up top, but then they did several more videos telling their story – including this is the problem I had and this is how I’m proposing to solve it – join me.
Take a look at this post as well: http://john.do/death-by-kickstarter and I would touch base with John Saddington as well. He’s written an ebook talking about his experience and how it succeeded. And if this method of funding doesn’t work out – don’t look at it as a failure. Look at it as a learning process.”
So we changed everything according to his advice, as he had backed 300 other kickstarter campaigns and here we are.
Conclusion – Sal’s Thoughts
From dealing with thousands of Kickstarter creators, I have to tell you that Jermon’s experience is not uncommon. Many people, particularly older generations, don’t know what Kickstarter is and are skeptical about giving money online, even if they can pick up some cool swag.
To maximize your chances of a successful Kickstarter raise from your social network, I’d consider letting people know that you are planning to run a campaign beforehand and explain to them what Kickstarter is and how to use amazon payments. You could also invite them to give feedback on your pre-launch campaign using our tool (PitchFuse) or by creating a survey, adding comment functionality to a landing page, or using a website like Prefundia.
You can also download a guide that Andy of the Working Title Kickstarter put together to educate his family/network about Kickstarter here.
Have you had problems similar to Jermon? Let me know in a comment below!