Kickstarter Lesson #120: How to Include People Who Don’t Know What Kickstarter Is

30 September 2014 | 13 Comments

One of the most misguided assumptions I make on a daily basis is that everyone knows what Kickstarter is.

I used to be much more aware of this. When I contacted friends and family about my Viticulture project 2 years ago, in each personal note I included a paragraph explaining Kickstarter:

PS. Just in case you’re not familiar with crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, crowdfunding is when you pool contributions from various people to support a project in exchange for various rewards. Kickstarter is the most widely used crowdfunding website—on Kickstarter, if the funding goal isn’t reached within a certain timeframe, no one is charged a cent, and no rewards are distributed.

Times have changed since then. Kickstarter is much better known, and it’s a part of my daily life, so it rarely even occurs to me that some people don’t know what it is (or what crowdfunding is). But I still run into quite a few people who have never heard of Kickstarter, or maybe they’ve only heard of it because of a specific project that might greatly skew their frame of reference.

While there is a broad spectrum of familiarity with Kickstarter, in terms of those who don’t know what it is or aren’t comfortable with the platform, I’d recommend looking out for the following categories:

  1. People Who Have No Idea What Kickstarter Is: I think it’s really important to be inclusive to people who have never heard of Kickstarter or who have heard the word but know nothing about it. Explain the core concept to them. This is for backers and creators alike. If you’re a creator building a fanbase before you launch by attending conventions and events, you might try what Chip Beauvais has done and create a brochure to give to people (he has a customizable version on his website).
  2. People Who Have Backed Your Project But Have Limited Knowledge of Kickstarter: If you look at your backers’ histories, you might be surprised to see how many first-time backers there are. This is great–you’ve introduced a new person to Kickstarter–but there’s a certain responsibility that comes along with that. Something I try to do on my campaigns is to take time on project updates to explain how to do things like add a shipping cost to a pledge, how to change a reward selection, or how the backer survey will work. I try to also remember that repeat backers come into my project with certain expectations set by previous projects they backed. For example, if someone has only backed one or two other projects, and both of those projects allowed backers to add extra copies of the product after the campaign, I need to go out of my way to emphasize that our campaigns work differently.

Do you still encounter people who don’t know what Kickstarter is? What do you do to introduce the platform to them in an inclusive way?

13 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #120: How to Include People Who Don’t Know What Kickstarter Is

  1. Thanks for the great reminder Jamie. We get so caught up in crowdfunding and forget that there are still lots of people who don’t know what it is. Smart to nip it in the bud and educate them at the beginning. :)

  2. Man how right you are, Jamey. We learned from you and Richard early on that it is effectively our responsibility to educate our tribe on what Kickstarter is, if we have any hope of them backing later.

    We did two things (and we could have done them better with a second round):
    1. Blogged: http://herecomestrobo.com/blog/trobo-updates/trobo-news-what-is-crowdfunding/
    2. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmoQnJgMYYs

    And to be honest, that’s still not enough. You have to expose folks multiple times to the concept before they even register it, and then explain it when they are ready to do it. This is especially true when you have a product targeted to non-tech-savvy people or people. In our case grandparents and older relatives often needed the explanation.

    We have tried a few different messages around Kickstarter as well. Some STILL think it is a charity and don’t know they get anything in return. We pivoted mid-campaign from saying “Support us on Kickstarter” to “Preorder on Kickstarter”. That was pretty effective in getting people out of our network to support TROBO. BUT I really like your introductory paragraph more. It summarizes KS very nicely.

    1. Trobo: Thanks for your comment. I think this is especially important in your project category–it’s an uphill climb, but you were wise to create resources like those to open the door. While I generally don’t like the term “pre-order,” as it’s rarely accurate on Kickstarter, I can see it helping you to clarify the difference between a donation and a pledge to newcomers.

  3. I am a gamer and I attend several local gaming events and meetups. Surprisingly, I run into a decent number of individuals that have never heard of Kickstarter or most of the games made possible via Kickstarter. It is surprising to me because I think: these are gamers; they are my people. Surely they know about, follow, and share all of my interests. But, like the divide between Warhammer players, Euro gamers, and MtG enthusiasts, some gamers just are not interested in Kickstarter. And others have heard of it but don’t trust it and have never actually been to the site. And then there are those who know about it and have backed one project, a single game, but have not yet received it and don’t want to use Kickstarter again until the game arrives.

    Usually I get to introduce them via a prototype game that I am previewing or perhaps a game that I backed and recently received. But my enthusiasm and positive outlook about the platform cannot be hidden. I evangelize the name of Kickstarter when possible, quite often mentioning your success as one of the positive points.

    1. boardgameauthority: Thanks for sharing some examples from the broad spectrum of gamers and their relationship with Kickstarter. I think it’s great that you share your enthusiasm for the Kickstarted games you’ve received with those people!

      1. It isn’t always easy to get people to play games they’ve never heard of, and some people are immediately turned off by the fact that the game was on Kickstarter, as if it somehow is automatically going to be awful. But I like to change their perception.

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