Posted by Erik Dahlman on October 21, 2014
Kickstarter Projects - Build them and they will come. Maybe. Probably Not.
You hear about huge projects funding hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars on Kickstarter. These are the projects that get the big media attention, that bring new blood to Kickstarter.
The ones you don’t hear about are the projects that are never funded. Some of them may be great ideas, but if a Kickstarter project falls and nobody is around, does it make a sound?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, we pay for our backers. You may look at a project like The Wizard of Oz and think we just threw it up there and basked in the soft light of the emerald city. But you would be wrong.
There is an insane amount of advertising and promotion that goes into a project like that, and I’m going to share it with you now.
PRweb is a website that allows you to create a press release about your Kickstarter. The average price is $249, but you can add more bells and whistles to allow for broader reach, more targeted options, etc.
How well written your press release is and how lucky you are to have it picked up by various channels determines the effectiveness of this particular strategy.
We run an insane amount of advertising through Facebook. This used to be much more cost effective, but then they raised their rates a few months ago.
To give you an idea, we spent over $4,000 during The Goonies to promote our project on Facebook.
Here is an example of what those ads look like:
Bloggers are your best friends. You want to find the ones that are dedicated to whatever your project may be about. Ours are pretty easy to weed out since fans of movies and other pop culture have some densely populated communities.
You may have to dig around a bit, but if you’re into something, there is someone else out there that shares your passion for it.
It’s helpful to become part of those communities well in advance before soliciting them to promote your project. Most people don’t take kindly to strangers trying to start a conversation with a sales pitch. Unfortunately, I’m typically a lurker, so even taking my own advice doesn’t work as well because I’m not normally a visibly active participant in forums. If you can get out there and interact with potential backers months before your launch, definitely do so.
Depending on your reach, you can leverage Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It’s tough to make anything go viral so unless you have at least tens of thousands of followers, I wouldn’t expect a lot of traction from this.
We always use Kicktraq to run an ad campaign for our projects. They have a great policy that allows you to re-run your ads later for free if your project doesn’t fund, there isn’t any other advertising in the world that I know of that lets you do that.
They also have the perfect demographic, Kickstarter backers that are looking for a place to spend their money.
On The Princess Bride alone we made over $1800 directly from Kicktraq. The number shown by Kickstarter probably doesn’t account for all of the referrals either since their referral tracking seems to have some issues.
(Kickstarter sometimes counts it as two different sites for some reason.)
Leverage partnerships whenever you can. Many of our products are licensed and we are fortunate enough to have licensors that will post about us on their Facebook feeds of millions of users.
Reach out to other creators that may be funding a similar product. Kickstarter is for luxury products, nobody goes there that hasn’t already covered rent and food for the month. So it stands to reason that if they have enough to back one project, they probably have enough discretionary income to back a second if it resonates with them.
Write about something else that people are interested in and nestle references to your Wizard of Oz project in there. If you have successful Kickstarters, maybe talk about how you advertised them?
The point is that you want to give something to the world and be helpful. If you're lucky that may result in more traffic for your project, but don't count on it.
But what about Kickstarter itself, isn’t that the whole point of putting projects on there? Yes and no.
Yes because Kickstarter lends a larger amount of credibility. I could put the exact same rewards (or even better rewards) on my website and point the exact same people there and they wouldn’t buy. But why?
Kickstarter has a reputation, people trust it.
They don’t necessarily see themselves as pledging money to Average Joe, because their pledge is wrapped in the security of Kickstarter’s platform. That doesn’t really provide any more protection to the backer than pledging on our website, but it FEELS more secure.
Kickstarter and Amazon together eat up about 10% of the project funds we raise. If we have 20-30% of our backers come from Kickstarter’s discovery, staff picks, and other ways to drive existing backers to our project, then we are still gaining a positive return on our investment. Kickstarter is basically another form of advertising for us, one that keeps almost 10% of the entire project, not just the traffic that it drives there.
It’s too bad they don’t give us a referral bonus for each new backer we bring to the platform.
Very rarely will you get something for nothing. The old adage is true, it takes money to make money.
Be prepared to spend money on advertising to maximize your project’s highest potential.
Remember that just because people look at your page doesn’t mean that they will pledge to it. Make sure you have a polished video, good copy text, a clear message, and a great product once they get there. If you don't, those advertising dollars spent to get them there have been wasted.
Did I mention The Wizard of Oz?
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