How to make me back your Kickstarter project instead of buying from Amazon

For backers, the decision to back a crowdfunded project on Kickstarter instead of seeking a substitute product on Amazon boils down to two drivers.

Venn diagram showing the two desires (experience and ownerhip) interacting

The two drivers influencing backer decision making in crowdfunding

There isn’t a trade-off between these two desires, although the two desires compensate and complement the other.

A project creator should strive to fulfill both desires. Backers’ satisfaction would increase and, accordingly, backers would be more understanding about the idiosyncrasies of crowdfunding.

A)Strategies to tap into the desire to be part of the business process

The idea is to create a crowdfunding experience for backers. Because project creators are identifying additional ways to engage backers, backers are more supportive and more forgiving.

Three reasons for creating a crowdfunding experience for backers

i) This as a hedging tool. Backers only pledge for the reward. But, if you can offer a good-to-great crowdfunding experience for backers, then, psychologically,  backers’ money is split between the experience and the reward. The better the experience, the higher the monetary value placed on it. This means that when the reward is received, its value is amplified; conversely, if the reward isn’t received, backers still feel like it is money well spent.

ii) This as a means or strategy to increase your backers community.

iii) This as a way to differentiate yourself from other crowdfunding projects offering similar products. Backers cannot resist better engagement and personalised engagement!

Ideas on how to create a crowdfunding experience

Throughout the crowdfunding campaign, offer backers the possibility to get involved with the project, product and manufacturing processes. For example:

  • organise an hour “meet and greet” session via Skype / conference tools / hangouts etc. wherein the backers can meet the meet and ask them questions.
  • organise an hour “ask the project creator” technical session wherein backers can ask specific technical details about either running a crowdfunding campaign or about creating the product, such as board game design, graphic novel design, etc.
  • have an online, live reveal of the unwrapping of the prototype.
  • ask backers for suggestions on character names, colour schemes, character abilities etc. These are ancillary to the core product, for example relating to add-ons, and suggestions should not result in changing the core product.
  • create mini competitions for backers, for example, if your project is a mystery game, post a series of mysteries for backers to solve.
  • vary the communication throughout the campaign. Think more creatively about using other digital communication means instead of just emailing, for example, post a recorded chat.
  • build an interactive, online community or plan a regional get-together with backers.
  • invite backers to meet you at a trade conference. Report back on this with photographs.
  • invite backers to get involved and share their skills, for example, editing or translating. And give credit to these backers working for you.

Don’t forget about the backer’s experience after the campaign and once the rewards are shipped.

Your engagement with your backer does not end with shipment. From my experience, once the campaign is over, the only interaction with backers is one-sided communication. There are still opportunities for keeping backers involved, including once the rewards shipped. At a minimum, follow-up with surveys about the backer’s experience and product feedback!

Golden rule: Keeping backers engaged after the campaign makes it easier to create a community for your next crowdfunding campaign.

Tips when considering these options:

  1. Carefully plan and script any interactive sessions with backers.
  2. Remember that your backers are international. Do not only offer experiences for US-based backers!

B) Strategies to tap into the desire to own the first edition or one-of-a-kind

The key is to convince me, your potential backer, why I should back your project instead of a competitor’s or buy from a supplier on Amazon.

Three reasons for creating a unique crowdfunding reward for backers

i) This is a way to create a demand for your product.

ii) This is a technique to differentiate your product from your competitor’s. For example: if your target market is:

  • card collectors, what about your design makes it special and valuable enough to add to my collection?
  • gamers, why I should buy your boardgame instead of a competitor’s?
  • graphic novel reader, why I should buy your as-of-yet-unpublished graphic novel at £15 instead of the newest, published Garth Ennis or Alan Moore at the same price?

iii) This helps build a unique portfolio of products for your company, showing your strengths and business acumen.

Ideas on how to create a unique crowdfunding reward for backers

Potential ways of creating unique crowdfunded products:

  • exclusive never-to-be-repeated add-ons (and keep to this).
  • special tuck boxes for playing cards.
  • signed first editions of graphic novels. To my disappointment, all the graphic novels I have backed arrived unsigned.
  • signed rule books of first edition board games.
  • offering backers the opportunity to be part of the game or book, for example, as a character.
  • include a unique printing error, or design, or product finish for your product. All of these add value to the product.
  • include an intangible reward with the tangible, for example, invite backer to pick up their rewards and show them exclusive behind the scenes. Include a photo or other commemorative item.
  • create a limited edition set.
  • include a thank you note; at a minimum, a “with compliments” note, signed by the project creator(s).

Tips when considering these options:

  1. The psychology of unique rewards should be baked into every reward tier designed. Understand how to split your product, add-ons, and unique offerings into reward tiers. Think of an airline with different classes, or a toothbrush in different colours and bristles. Keep in mind that if you offer me a unique product, add-on or experience, I would be willing pay more.
  2. Make sure that you have fully costed these options and included it in your project budget and manufacturing process.
  3. Don’t forget about your scenario analysis for increased number of backers of over-funding.
  4. Deliver on your promises and ship your product.

Final thought

Rewards-based crowdfunding is a specific route to market and, accordingly, a specific experience for backers.

This type of crowdfunding is not charity; I will not back your project because you tap into my emotions. Nor is rewards-based crowdfunding a retail experience; I will not back your project if I can shop more easily and with less hassle on Amazon.

The onus lies on project creators to understand the arena they are in and the backer’s raison d’etre for taking part in crowdfunding. By understanding what drives backers will help project creators build bigger backer communities and support for their projects.