8 professional hacks to avoid Kickstarter failure

Part II: Kickstarter will make you smell great!

Welcome to the second part of my Kickstarter marketing series. Last time, I just sort of ranted about the importance of marketing to get you Kickstarter game noticed. I’ll do that again this time. Hell, I’ll do it every post until you listen!

No but really. This time I’ll also give you some practical marketing tips to get your campaign going.

1. Create a budget for marketing!

I will drive this point into the ground. If you want to make money, you’ve got to spend money!

If you really believe in your project, but don’t have starting capital, consider taking out a loan to cover upfront costs for the stuff you can’t do by yourself.

If a loan is not possible, then save up.

If you can’t or won’t save money, then you absolutely must prepare yourself for an uphill onslaught against all odds.

In my last article, I pointed out that once you’ve started a KS campaign, you are an entrepreneur. If you are creating a product to sell and please a market, you are much more than a developer or artist. You’re a businessperson and you’re going to have a whole new family of exotic wombats to raise. Figuratively, one hopes.

As with any indie developer, the more stuff you try to do on your own, the less polished it will all seem. A common mistake Kickstarters make is underestimating the difficulty of creating an audience and maintaining contact with them. It uses up the time that you should spend developing an awesome game.

Wombats: the inevitable product of your haphazard marketing plan

If you have a marketing friend that believes in your project, it’s possible that they will help you with no upfront cost, with the understanding that they receive a cut of your Kickstarter money. But budget them in. Marketing is serious business and you shouldn’t expect them to work for free any more than you expect your graphic artists and programers to work for free.

If you must, find a dedicated marketing professional, pay them and make them part of your team, your audience will have a go-to person who can grow your audience and keep them engaged. A marketer can ensure that the posts your team creates are the most effective and being posted in the right places at the right times.

There is a lot of thinking and planning that goes into a masterful marketing campaign. It is as much an art form as creating the product itself. Underestimate the difficulty and importance of marketing at your own peril.

2. Have a great intro video

This may be the most important step in creating a winning Kickstarter campaign. Your intro video is the first impression you make and it should be on-point.

Your intro video is also a great place to spend some of that marketing budget. Make it professional. Make it captivating. Make it awesome. If you fail to capture their attention in your intro video, it is unlikely the viewer will read the rest of your page, let alone give you their pledge.


Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 2.18.02 PM.png
To rehash yesterday’s example, Niche made a pretty rad intro video

3. Keep costs low

This probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it any way.

The vast majority of Kickstarter projects funded successfully have asked for under $10,000. Success rates drop off considerably as Kickstarters ask for more. Games do seem to have a higher success rate with larger amounts, but this may be due in part to physical board games with heavy-duty printing and shipping costs.

The less money you require, the more likely you will succeed.  

4. Offer rewards at all levels

Start at one dollar. Who doesn’t have a dollar? A popular offer at this level is access to the developer’s blog. If the dollar-backer likes what they see during development, they may well increase their pledge to the cost of the game itself. Start rewards at whatever levels you want, but make sure there are offerings for very low-level pledges.

According to Kickstarter.com, the most popular pledge level is $25. That may be the ideal price point for your game.

Another pricing issue I see is with games that offer the digital product at a low price, but require a huge sum in order to fund. I’m a marketer, not an accountant so you might want to consult with someone about cost effectiveness.

My only advice is to be honest with yourself and your team about how many copies you think you will sell and how many you will need in order to fund.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 2.21.15 PM.png
Here’s a complicated-looking formula about sales. I don’t know what it says. I’m a writer.

5. Update often

Once someone has backed your project — even if it’s only a dollar — they’ll receive updates on your project. This means whenever you update your campaign, Kickstarter will send them an email about it. The more you update, the more exposure your product gets and the more you will get into their heads.

Repeated exposure is the most effective means of creating effective marketing.

6. Connect with your audience every day

Twitter and Facebook are great places to reach out to your audience. They are easy to use and far-reaching. You can join groups, you can show pictures. Try to check your social profiles daily in order to respond quickly to your audience’s questions and comments.

But simply having an audience won’t sell copies. You need to direct them from your social media to your campaign page, and vice versa.

Here’s a fact widely accepted by salespeople: buyers are lazy.

Buyers need to be held by the paw and directed what to do. Include links to whatever page you want the to visit. Include specific instructions. In marketing we call this a “Call to Action”:

Head over to our Kickstarter page to make your pledge!

Link it directly to your page. If the buyer has to search, scroll or think, you’re likely to lose them. Think I’m exaggerating? We’ve probably all heard that the average online attention span is six seconds. Think about that. Your backers should be able to click and pledge within six seconds.

7. Make Kickstarter the last thing you do

Say what!? Yeah!

When it comes to building an audience and creating engagement, your thirty-day Kickstarter campaign will not allow enough time. The first 48 hours are the most important in your campaign, so make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row before you start the campaign.

Create an audience on social media that is ready to back your campaign as soon as it launches.

8. Above all, have a plan

Don’t post your project willy-nilly. This isn’t a game! I mean, you’re developing a game, but the money and success will be real. Even if that’s not your goal, it would surely not be a bad side-effect of launching a carefully planned, well-marketed Kickstarter campaign.

Good luck!

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