12 November 2014 | 14 Comments
Have you ever felt helpless at work because you didn’t feel like any of your ideas for making the organization better were heard? Or, even worse, that even if they were heard, no one with authority is ever going to act on them?
As Kickstarter creators, we have the power to listen to backers and selectively act on their suggestions, or we can cut off every idea they offer until the “community” dwindles to 1 or 2 comments a day.
This is something that’s on my mind every time I launch a Kickstarter campaign: How can I foster an environment where backers feel free to share their ideas despite the fact that I can only responsibly act on a slim percentage of those ideas?
I found my answer in an article on a Signal vs. Noise blog entry by Claire Lew. Claire lists three ways you can encourage people to speak up and share their ideas. She’s talking about employees, so I’ve translated these to Kickstarter.
- Recognize the messenger. Reply to every backer who posts a suggestion, and credit those whose suggestions you implement in project updates.
- Explain why you’re not doing something. Don’t just say “no, we can’t do that.” Explain why. Backers want to know what goes on behind the scenes. You can also use this method to ask a backer exactly how they think you could implement an idea (in explaining it, they’ll often see for themselves that it won’t work, and every now and then you’ll realize through the explanation that it actually can work).
- Act on something small. Find little ways to say yes, and backers will see that you’re genuinely interested in acting on some of their ideas. Also, sometimes you can turn it around and inspire the backers to act on their own ideas. For example, I had a backer suggest that we make custom avatars for each of the meeple types during the Tuscany campaign. I told him that it was a good idea, and I asked him to make the avatars. He did, and they were awesome.
I also think backer polls are a great way to show backers that you listen, but I focused on one-on-one interaction here, because that’s the core area to create an open environment for backer feedback.
Backers, what are some things you’ve seen creators do that make you feel comfortable sharing your ideas? Creators, how do you foster creative environments on your projects?