How 3 Current Kickstarter Projects Say, “Trust Me”

25 May 2015 | 24 Comments

Do you trust me?

Every element of a Kickstarter project either gains or loses a potential backer’s trust. If you earn that trust, you have a backer who will support the project. No trust, no backers.

Trust on crowdfunding projects is conveyed by:

  • art and graphic design
  • funding goal
  • reasonable reward prices compared to components
  • delivery date estimate
  • clear, concise, typo-free descriptions on project page
  • third-party reviews
  • reasonable shipping
  • well-conceived stretch goals and achievements
  • interesting, informative project updates on a semi-regular basis
  • previous creation experience
  • number of projects backed
  • money-back guarantee

Many of those are vague concepts, so today I thought I’d illustrate them using a few current Kickstarter projects. I haven’t been solicited by any of these creators to mention their projects here. Also, I’m not saying that everything about these projects are good examples of gaining trust.

Bizarre New World

This graphic-novel project that explores the idea of “What if everyone in the world could fly of their own volition” has two specific aspects that earned my trust.

First is this paragraph near the top of the page, which shows the amount of time that has gone into the project, the fact that it’s complete but not already published, and the precise page count.

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Second is this image, which showcases the art and hints that the creator is exploring the full potential of the concept:

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MIITO Electric Kettle Alternative

MIITO is an induction-based way to heat the exact amount of water you need for a cup of tea, coffee, hot cocoa, etc. The project page is really well done, but here are two highlights that earned my trust:

First, the project video is nearly perfect (other than being a bit long). It’s polished, professional, and uses visuals and audio to help you trust that MIITO is something worth backing.

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Second, there’s a lot of helpful information on the project page, but none is better than the following list. I think the key here is that MIITO isn’t bashing other ways of heating water–rather, it’s explaining why their product can and should replace your current method.

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Swamped Board Game

The Swamped board game project page does a great job at building trust. One of the elements that stands out is the list of quotes from third-party reviewers. I like that I’m able to read the quotes quickly and easily on the project page, and I can click through if I want to read more.

 

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Similar to that section, the Swamped project page also offers quotes from backers of the company’s previous Kickstarter project. This type of anecdotal information resonates more than quantitative data:

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Can you think of a recent example of a specific way a crowdfunding project earned your trust?

24 Comments on “How 3 Current Kickstarter Projects Say, “Trust Me”

  1. The Lift Off campaign (Get me off this planet) I really trusted because of the amount of enthusiasm. Ed had the spirit to see it through so I knew I could trust him with my money.

  2. I fully agree with MIITO – perfect pitch! Other than that Trickerion did a really good job on all of the above so far. Also Rule & Make with Rise to Power and the last Pitch for Entropy are doing very good on most of the above. They really treat backers the right way. You always know where they are throughout the campaign and also have well structured stuff. The only concern on Rule & Make is the lack of external reviewers of the games they kickstart. But as the rest is top notch they seem to compensate that very well.

  3. Thank you for this post Jamey.
    For me it was Machina Arcana, a successful project I backed a while ago (link for convenience: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/magecompany/machina-arcana).

    It convinced me in many ways, mainly the amount of details & work that creator has put into it. It was breath taking.
    Theme spoke to me strongly, as one of my games still under dev is close to this one, just more euro-like & not steampunky :)
    The whole campaign presented itself beautifully. Like something worth aspiring to when you making your own campaign.
    Let’s not forget about the first class customer interaction.

    Since the project got me on many levels I did all I could to spread the word & obviously I backed it even though the cost was significant. NOT that the game was expensive considering the amount of components, but I simply have never spent so much on a game in one go & those were the beginnings of my Kickstarter experience, while other project I backed, my 1st one, was struggling to deliver & asking for more money after its campaign has funded. Thus, it was hard to trust a new one though many things were saying to do so.

    All the Best :)

  4. These are all fantastic examples! Thanks for sharing.

    Also, Konrad, I’m glad you brought up the point about how your experience with your first project impacted the trust you had for future projects. I think creators have a responsibility to one another in this crowdfunding ecosystem.

  5. Thanks for the Swamped mention here!

    Also on trust – I remember seeing a comment a while back from a backer who decided to back a campaign simply because the campaign creator mentioned they had read Stonemaier Games’s Kickstarter lessons. I think this speaks to proving you’ve “done your homework.”

    1. That’s really neat to hear, Dennis! Sometimes I look at a project page and see a lot of callouts to things I’ve discussed on this website, and it’s affirming to see if they mentioned the website in the Risks & Challenges section.

  6. Jamey, good to see you using Swamped as an example. I’d already decided to back it, but if I’d still been on the fence, this post would have pushed me and my wallet off the fence.

    Dennis is working hard and well to engage with backers and others. Perhaps I don’t need to mention that, since he commented here a few hours ago! He is very active and prompt on BGG, as well as on the Swamped KS.

    Another thing that impresses me about Dennis’ campaign is the way he’s ordering stretch goals. There’s a map of stretch goals, which is navigated according to backer votes. For example, backers are currently voting on whether the next stretch goal will add more ways to start the map of the swamp, or improve the croc token, or… This is of course very appropriate for a game of swamp exploration.

    1. Andrew: I agree, that voting system is really cool! I wrote a “KS experiment” post a while back about letting backers vote on the next stretch goal, and I really like the unique visual approach Dennis used.

  7. i think a massive part of the trust equation is how creators have run their previous kickstarters. I trust that you will do everything in your power to give your backers a good outcome as that has been my personal experience backing your projects

    having backed several cmon kickstarters I also trust that I will receive a high quality product from them. but they are pants at communicating with their backers so the experience of backing a cmon project is very different than backing a stonemaier project, but I trust both.

    this makes it hard for new backers first time up, but part of me thinks that’s probably a good thing in the long run…

  8. I think the major point of trust will always be past-projects and whether they have delivered, and that really has nothing to do with a project page as kickstarter can link me through to previous projects anyway. In addition, general presentation and information will attract me, such as with ‘Mare Nostrum’ where they dive straight into what the product is about and it shows their passion for the project.

    I have a little to say about distrust though, with a project I am in fact interested in and am backing, but which in a couple of ways made me question backing it, though its’ perhaps a very subjective view, anyway…

    So my first of two issues is what I see the moment I look at the project page. The short description to catch my attention says nothing about the game, and just brags about designer credits. To me, that’s like saying ‘This isn’t an interesting game, and we have nothing to say about it’, and I would have shied away were it not from a creator I already knew. If you want my trust, focus on the project at hand or I’ll wonder if you believe it in.
    My second issue is the subject focused on in about half of the updates for the game, and a good few comments – Value. Rather than present the information and allow me to draw my own conclusions, the creator has said time and again about how great the value is and why we should back because its’ good value. This really bothers me, as it comes across as a salesman trying to flog a product, instead of a creator wanting to publish something special.

    1. Chris: Thanks for sharing your observations and experience. The key point is that projects that laud themselves make backers wary. I’ve written about that in the past, and it’s important for project creators to know this, because sometimes we don’t realize the impact that kind of language can have on potential backers. It doesn’t come across as overconfident or passionate–rather, it’s comes across as naive and disconnected.

  9. Knowing that a product (especially a tech gadget) has gone through the tooling, debugging and “real-world use” test process is becoming more important to me. I’ve backed 100+ projects and I have received a number of ‘dreaded updates’ where the “dream idea” (or even completed prototype) can’t be created as promised when the tooling and manufacturing realities set in. So, I was determined to find the capital in advance to get through final tooling on a gadget that will launch in September. It’s taken six months and I am 95% there. I can seen now that I would have been over promising in terms of delivery times to backers and that would have been tragic. (Note to Jamey: I’ve read more than 100 of your blog posts and I’m using ALL of it one way or another. Thank you for your commitment to crowdfunding education!)

    1. Steve: Thanks for your comment. It’s great that you’re taking the time and care to make sure the product works before you launch–I think that will save you a lot of PR trouble on the back end!

  10. Fingers crossed… Something I learned that I didn’t know is that a prototype made of ABS is typically ‘pieced together’ and glued as a ‘one-off’, therefore not as strong as a final specimen that’s 100% injection molded. The first prototype broke rather easily (to my shock and horror) but I was assured the final product would be strong. In fact It is MUCH stronger. I’m doing stress & breakage tests now to confirm the numbers but I wouldn’t have that data (or the confidence it inspires) if I hadn’t gone through tooling before launch.

  11. During the past few months, I checked out Randy Rathert’s “The King’s Abbey” ~ a clever worker placement game in the spirit of “Pillars of the Earth.” When Randy ran his initial Kickstarter at the beginning of the year, I checked it out, but the art didn’t “wow” me and the overall look of the game appeared quite amateurish. A few months later, I’m corresponding with other designers and developers out at BGDF and someone who I respect recommended that I check out the new project. I did…and frankly was pleasantly surprised to see such a radical change to the entire project…from the Goal, to the art, to the number of Backers associated with “The King’s Abbey.”

    I engaged in conversing with the folks on the Comments page and definitely got swept-up in the euphoria of the event…not only because the other Backers were deeply invested, but because Randy provided timely responses to inquiries. Additionally, it turns out that he’s a pastor…who designed an “abbey” game…how cool. Anyway, that’s a long story to simply convey that my trust was earned by a committed designer who kept the conversation going throughout the entire campaign and was willing to take the feedback offered by his initial Backers to revamp almost everything and run a highly successful campaign.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  12. Flipping the trust to lack of trust…
    Once you’ve acknowledged you’re using someone else’s imagery without permission or acknowledgement you really should stop using it. Saying your artwork WILL be like this is NOT okay. Nor does saying “Kickstarter is to give people a chance” mean it’s okay to steal other people’s works and not reply to legitimate concerns.

    1. Thanks Mark! I edited the link out of your comment, as I don’t want to put fingers at people in a negative way. But you’re right, that’s definitely a way to lose trust.

  13. Curiously the new Sherwood’s Legacy campaign runs both lines of this. They decided to use the exact same graphic design for this 2nd game as their first. This both rubbed me the wrong way, but also pulled me in. I think they did a good job with this. At least that seems to be what’s prevailed upon the masses, as they funded in 3 days. What do you think about that choice?

    1. Interesting. Was the graphic design fine the first time around, or had people complained about it? I’m curious about your perspective, as you gained a lot of trust from the way you ran your first campaign and learned from it.

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