SBM 016 : How to Succeed Every Time on Kickstarter with Clay Hebert

Today’s Guest

Clay Hebert joins the 16th session of Smart Brand Marketing with your host Tom Libelt.

I’ve wondered about Kickstarter for some time now. It seems like a great platform to start a small business of off or to validate a new idea. This guest has became an expert by helping others fund their goals. This interview enough gives you all the info you need to create a successful campaign. Not a long interview but its jam packed with info.


How to Succeed at Kickstarter; Always

Funding is always a big issue when it comes to your projects because, unless you are Elon Musk, you won’t have enough money to conceptualize, product, and fine-tune your product to deliver on your project goals. Fortunately, there are ways to crowdfund for your project right now and one of the more accessible platforms out there for such would be Kickstarter.

However, here’s the klcker: putting up a Kickstarter project is like asking out the hottest girl in town to go on a date with you. On the best chances, you are opening yourself up to an equal proportion of exhilarating success and soul-crushing embarrassment. Is there a way to tweak the odds to your favor? The answer is yes and, surprising enough, it’s actually quite simple to pull off.

Why Don’t People Succeed in Kickstarter More?

Before anything else, you must first understand that the gap between projects that succeed in Kickstarter as opposed to those that failed is pretty high. Basically, there are more Kickstarter fails out there than success stories.

Why is this so? Here are a few reasons:

  • 1. It’s Not as Easy as You Think

    This one’s perhaps the most obvious out there. Many people think that crowdfunding is just a digital version of panhandling. It’s not. You can’t just set up a Kickstarter project that is tantamount to you saying “I’ve got nothing of value to offer but give me your money!” to people.

    The more successful Kickstarter projects out there took planning to set up. They even used some marketing strategies here and there to drum up interest for the project prior to launching it. The point is that you have to have an idea to be successful in Kickstarter. It should not be just an idea, it should be one that was properly thought out or, at the least, has something of value to offer.

  • 2. They Don’t Gain a Lot of Traction

    Momentum is a big thing when it comes to Kickstarter. You must quickly get the attention of potential backers if you want funding to start dropping in as soon as the project goes online. Here’s the problem, though: most Kickstart projects don’t do that. The most that they do is dump their projects on the platform and wait for backers to take notice of it. No fanfare, no marketing, nothing.

    The thing about crowdfunding is that it tends to be more successful the more people know about it. It’s like crowds of people being attracted to, well, a crowd. The most successful Kickstarter projects out there actually reach 30% of their set goals within 2 to 3 days or even less. Just ask the Kickstarter for the upcoming Shenmue game which completed all of its goals within half a day.

  • 3. The Rewards are Sh***y

    The one mistake that a lot of project owners tend to make is assuming that people back their projects out of the goodness of their hearts. What you have to understand that backing up a Kickstarter project is like investing on something tangible (which it technically is). People don’t do that because they just want to see the project succeed but because they are expecting something in return.

    “But they’ll get what they want if the project is shipped out, right” You may think. WRONG. Backers are not interested in just getting what everybody else in the market will get if the project is finished. They want something a bit more exclusive. Things that only backers can get for putting their faith on your project.

    And that’s where the problem is. People are afraid to shell out more promises for backers when this is a good way to drum up enough interest for their project. There are 3rd party companies out there that dedicate themselves to producing Kickstarter rewards and this could be your best option to meet the expectation of your backers without taking your time off from developing the project.

  • 4. No Open Line of Communication

    Do you know what the most common thing is that pisses off backers in any project? It’s when the project leader does not talk to them about anything regarding the project. From progress reports, notifications about delays, and even releases are things that a lot of project owners tend to forget to communicate to their backers which can lead to calls for refunds.

    When you head on to Kickstarter, you must understand that you are assuming a lot of responsibilities for your project and this includes tasks that you were not prepared for. One of these responsibilities is to regularly inform your backers about what is happening to your project. You can’t just expect to take their money, go silent for a few months, and then show up with the finish project expecting that they would be pleased about it.

    You’d have to constantly inform your backers about every progress made in the project to give them the assurance that their money is being used as was intended. The better you can inform them, the more you keep your backers excited for the thing and the more you can generate interest for whatever you are working at.

  • 5. You Underestimate The Tenacity of Your Backers

    In most cases, Kickstart campaigns fail because their owners overpromised yet under-delivered. Sure, there is no clause in Kickstarter that says you can’t start a project based on the most ridiculous concepts out there. This only becomes a problem if whatever you promise will come bit you in the rear once backers start demanding for results.

    Let’s take as example one of the most stupidly successful Kickstarter campaigns out there: Zack Brown’s Potato Salad. It all started with one guy asking for a measly $10.00 in Kickstarter so he can buy the ingredients to make a potato salad. Once the campaign was over, he managed to earn a whopping $50,000.00 from pledges. That’s like 5000 times the amount he originally asked for.

    We don’t know how his campaign managed to generate such attention. Maybe people picked on it because it’s the most out-there Kickstarter goal ever proposed or that people just love to be idiots online for the lulz. But the point is, whatever the reasons were for the massive support, Brown had more money than he had originally planned for once the campaign ended. He would then use the rest of the money to pay for the rewards while the rest went on the charitable ventures. Not bad for a person who would be forever known as “that potato salad guy’.

Making Your Campaign Successful

So, with a considerable win/fail ratio on the site, what should you to make your Kickstarter campaign reach its goals? Here are a few tips.

  • 1. Keep it Under 30

    Although there is nothing in the site that will prevent you from running a campaign for as long as you like, having a longer Kickstarter campaign tends to be less successful. For some reason, backers are more willing to part with their money for campaigns that last no longer than a month.

    There’s no exact reason why this is so but Kickstarter staff believe that shorter projects tend to give backers a tone of confidence as well as urgency. Basically, if a campaign is not going to last there for long, especially if the project is a good one, backers tend to be more motivated in funding the project.

  • 2. Do Your Homework

    If possible, have every detail of your project planned before you set the campaign up. Backers tend to be more confident with projects that give them a detailed explanation as to how everything will be achieved within a set amount of time. A little bit of info as to what the project aims to do or what the end product is supposed to achieve will also give backers the assurance they need that your project is going somewhere.

    Also, and this is quite important, never be afraid to detail the risks that your project entails. Disregarding this and just saying that your project has no risks, no matter how minimal it is, tends to give off the impression that you might not be realistic with your goals. Try to inform your backers that putting their money on the project will expose them to a number of problems. Not only will this give the impression that you are honest, it also gives backers the idea that you have identified all problems beforehand and might have a contingency or two for such.

  • 3. Manage Your Rewards

    As was stated, your backers are supporting you for a reason which is why you should plan for the rewards you are to give to them. Basic stuff like a free t-shirt or accessory is a good place to start and you can set this as the reward for the lowest pledge tier in your rewards ladder.

    However, as people pledge more money, you should also ramp up your rewards. Things like a special appearance on the project, a free copy (or copies) of the product with a starter pack, and even appearing on the credits are some of the more enticing rewards right now. It’s up to you to craft the rewards that you are going to give your backers once the project is finished. The challenge then is to deliver on your promises after the project is complete.

  • 4. Don’t Get Cocky

    It’s a sickness in crowdfunding, really. People have this notion that crowdfunding is like being at a casino in Vegas. The moment that you feel that you are winning, you begin raising the stakes.

    Once people reach their initial goals, they start expanding on their promises to the point that the entire project becomes convoluted. Let’s look at gaming’s worst Kickstarter disaster to date, Mighty No. 9, as an example. Handled by Keiji Inafune of Mega Man fame, Mighty No. 9 was poised as a spiritual successor to Mega Man and was shaping up to be the industry’s next best indie success.

    The only problem is when the pledges started coming and the staff at Comcept began stretching the goals beyond what was initially promised. First, it was just a few levels. Next, more and more levels and features were added along with voice acting. Last, they were announcing spin-off games, multiple ports on both last and current gen consoles, and even an animated series.

    Worst, the staff started a campaign for another game called Red Ash, way before their first project was to be completed. To cut things short, it was not the bad guys (or anime fans on prom night) that were crying once the game was released after multiple delays.

    Adding more and more goals to your campaign is not bad. Even the successful campaigns do this to entice more people. It only becomes a bad idea if you start failing to deliver on your initial promises.

    The better option here is to meet your initial goals first, report to your backers the progresses made, and propose to them the idea of taking things a bit further. Not only will this keep your line of communication with your backers open and transparent, it gives off the impression to your backers that you are willing to improve on your product.

To Wrap Things Up

So, is there any assurance that your Kickstarter campaign is going to be successful even if you plan for every detail of it? The answer, sadly, is no. There is still a chance that your project will become the next biggest failure in the platform.

However, that does not mean to say that success in Kickstarter is reliant on Luck because, as the successful campaigns out there would tell you, luck has nothing to do with their success in the platform.

What you must do is convince people of the viability of your ideas and your ability to turn those ideas into reality. If you can do that, at the very least, then your stay in Kickstarter should be a rewarding one.

Have you tried Kickstarter before? What other strategies have you used to reach your campaign goals there? Let us know in the comments below!




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