From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
The Crowdfunding Opportunity
A lot of things didn’t exit 15, 10, 5 years ago. One of these is Crowdfunding, which has started to impact the gaming hobby in major ways. In a nutshell Crowdfunding website give you the opportunity to describe your project to all and sundry, and invite them to fund it in advance. The more they give in terms of advance payment, the more they receive. You get paid in advance, minus a commission paid to the site, but note you only get money if you reach or exceed your target goal. Fail, and you receive no funds.
Fail to plan, Plan to fail
A successful Crowdfunding project will well-planned. Just like any other project. There are a lot of things you can and should be doing before your project is listed, that can carry you through regardless of how the project does.
Work out what you are going to do at each stage of the project and Write. It. Down. I cannot stress that enough. From welcome messages to emails sent to backers, to updates given during the campaign, all this should be known in advance. Having a list to refer to when something unexpected happens removes a lot of the stress from what can be a stressful situation. Know what you are going to do.
Does it Fit?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. If you’re an established company, make sure the project fits with your existing product line-up, or adds to it in a logical way. A company that produces hobby painted branching out into scenery is good, a company that makes historical miniatures trying to establish a brand new science fiction IP is harder. The better the fit, the easier it is to bring your existing customers along with you. The importance of having a group ready to go out and tell their friends about this, blog about it, talk on forums is never to be forgotten. Make it easy for them to come with you.
If you’re a new company, then you’ll be referring to your business plan and making sure this is in keeping with your goals.
Show, Don’t Tell
On to the project. The first things any potential backer will see (and a potential backer is anyone who happens to look at your project page) is an image or a video still. Make sure this encourages them to look further. Put your best image front and centre, don’t have it lying behind 3 screens worth of text. Your best image is the one that captures your project in one arresting image.
Video is essential. YouTube is free and video sharing takes seconds. I could write a whole article on this, but keep it succinct and to the point. Why should the viewer fund your project? How is it going to change their hobby experience for the better? What will they receive? These questions should be answered.
Keep the text on your page to a minimum. Other than an introductory paragraph, the text on your page should be about rewards – having images for your reward levels is essential too.
Reward levels can make or break a project. Set levels too high and people won’t take the chance. Set levels too low, and you risk missing your target and disappointing a lot of people.
Each reward level should be distinct from all the others. Consider having a limited number of ‘early bird’ rewards to get the ball rolling. For example if you have a $100 reward level, make it $90 for the first 10 or 25 backers. Willy Miniatures’ Chaos Blood Bowl Team on Indiegogo has some examples of this.
Also consider rewards that grow over time. The Reaper Miniatures Bones Kickstarter project has one of the best examples of that. Their $100 ‘Vampire’ reward level was structured so that it grew as the number of backers increased. Over the life of the project the number of miniatures available at that level basically doubled. Make the network effect your friend and give people a reason to encourage their friends to sign up.
One important point is that the postal services do not work for free. If you haven’t factored them in, postage charges can turn your project from a success into a financial drain. If you can make rewards vestural, then do so as much as possible. Keep rewards structured in a way that lets you estimate and control your postage costs. Don’t wait for a potentially unpleasant surprise at the close of your project.
From clarity in your website, to clarity in your video, communication is important. A communication plan is a vital project tool, I’m not going to get too far into that, but you should know where to best publicise your project, and target those sites and individuals that can assist in raising your profile.
Updates to your project are also important, and should be planned in advance. Bleed out additional information, concept sketches, additional reward items in a controlled and pre-planned manner. If you find yourself having to react to circumstances you’re likely to make mistakes without a decent plan behind you.
Success Doesn’t Mean Success; Failure doesn’t Mean Failure
It’s all over; the funding run has finished. If you didn’t meet your target it’s not the end of the world. Look at the backers you did have; this is your fan base. Give them some support in terms of updates. Yes even on unsuccessful projects updates are important. Don’t go dark and hide away. You have a core group to build on. Learn your lessons and take things forward.
If your funding was successful the hard part is about to come. Having a mechanism to deal with your new customers is vital and something you should already have. You will be busy pulling things together, but keep those customers foremost in your thoughts. They have been parted form their money and haven’t received any rewards yet – unless you have digital rewards that can be delivered immediately. If so, great, otherwise make your updates weekly for the first month, then you can ease off somewhat.
Crowdfunding has enabled direct funding connections between hobbyists and small companies like never before. If there was ever a trend to make your friend, this is it.