Building a Successful Kickstarter

Scott Steinberg | 17 May 2012 11:00
Misc - RSS 2.0

Interest in crowdfunding is soaring at the moment thanks to the success of high-profile campaigns like Double Fine Adventure, Shadowrun Returns and Wasteland 2. (Not to mention the Pebble E-Paper watch, which recently shattered investment records by raising $10 million in public donations.) But tempting as it is to launch your own videogame fundraising initiative, especially in the wake of the JOBS Act's passage (which allows qualified investors to gain equity in crowd funded ventures), be aware. As many successful online money raising ventures as you may see featured in the nightly news or splashed across newsstand headlines, many more die a quiet death, failing to garner widespread public awareness or meet funding goals.

Want to improve your chances of succeeding on sites like Kickstarter, RocketHub or IndieGogo? Consider that a campaign actually consists of several phases: Pre-launch preparation, launch programs, post-launch management (and campaign evolution), and post-completion follow-up. Naturally, the pre-launch planning phase is critical, as the building block upon which all other activities are founded. Following are ten crucial items to keep in mind when doing your homework here - all of which are of vital importance as the backbone of any crowdfunding campaign.

  1. Study Other Projects. This is critical. Look at campaigns that have worked and ones that have failed alike. What similarities and differences do they have with your project? What insights can you glean from them - and how can you avoid falling prey to the pitfalls on which they stumbled? Use this study time to also assess whether your project is really the kind of venture that works well in a crowdfunding environment, and what funding levels, rewards and marketing/social media campaigns are most appropriate.
  2. Prepare Assets in Advance. Do you have enough product/project samples and supporting materials to quickly illustrate to potential backers what your idea is all about? Do you have visuals or videos that can clearly, quickly and concisely convey key message points, and demonstrate your project's upsides? If not, invest some time to develop corresponding images and/or videos that provide a clear impression of what your project is all about. A picture is worth a thousand words: Doubly so when you only have seconds to capture a viewer's attention.
  3. Perfect Your Pitch. Refine your overarching vision and corresponding pitch, including all audiovisual and copywritten elements. Can you clearly and succinctly explain your project and its value in terms that your audience will understand and appreciate? Have you tried it out on friends and strangers to gauge their reaction and readjusted accordingly? Regardless of whether your project is ongoing or just beginning, or you've compiled pre-production assets, do you have something to show potential backers? Do you have representative images or video to share that illustrate your project and supporting assets? What other audiovisual and copywritten elements (concept art, prototypes, sketches, in-development scenes, songs, etc) have you arranged to leverage? Perhaps you have notable individuals' testimonials to share or other kinds of support. Line up everything you can and plan how and when to use these materials. Be sure to plan a running promotional campaign that incorporates all elements - these materials will serve not only to define your project to the world, but as ammunition in the ongoing battle to promote it.
  4. Plan your Rewards. Know what goods and services you have to offer, what they will cost you and how you will manufacture and distribute each. Be certain that you've created options that suit all pricing tiers, speak to a variety of backers, and have built in at least a handful or unique or eye-catching items and opportunities, if only for purposes of generating discussion.
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