8 February 2016
Imagine a game that’s 80% skill and 20% luck. It requires some long-term strategy as well as short-term tactics. Each player has a limited budget to spend on their units.
This game is actually a series of games that ends in an annual single-elimination tournament. The final game of that tournament is so well known that the publisher doesn’t even have to advertise it–rather, other companies sponsor the game to get better exposure, and it receives an incredible amount of press coverage.
Most people who watch the game don’t even play it, and some of them aren’t interested in the game itself. They watch it because they feel like everyone else is watching it. They watch it for the sheer spectacle of it.
I’m talking about the Super Bowl, of course.
In terms of sheer spectacle, few events compare to the Super Bowl. The NFL does such a good job of creating this spectacle that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a glorified board game.
What does this have to do with Kickstarter? Well, I think we creators can learn about the idea of spectacle from the Super Bowl. Here are a few things to consider:
- Build up excitement in advance. Imagine if the NFL didn’t tell anyone the date of the Super Bowl until the minute it started. There would be no spectacle, no groups of friends huddled around the TV. The same applies to a Kickstarter project. It shouldn’t be a surprise to people. Talk about the campaign on social media well in advance so people can prepare for it and get excited about it.
- Keep it short. Imagine if the Super Bowl lasted 40 days. You might tune in near the beginning and near the end, but again, the spectacle would be gone. It wouldn’t have a sense of urgency or relevance. In terms of Kickstarter, you have a much better chance of a campaign feeling like a spectacle if you keep it short. My typical recommendation is 35 days for a first-time campaign, 25 days for a repeat creator, and around 15 days for a well-established creator.
- Add live commentary. NFL announcers do an excellent job at maintaining excitement for the game during the game. They tell stories about the players, they give us insights about strategies, and they create a welcoming environment for people who don’t know much about football. When your Kickstarter project is live, you inhabit this role in the comments, project updates, and social media. The key word here is live. By being present in real time, you’re inviting people to participate in the spectacle.
- Keep the press informed. Media outlets cover the Super Bowl because they want a piece of the audience pie. For your Kickstarter campaign, you have the opportunity to give media in your field something interesting to talk about. If they do, give them the exposure they seek by linking to them on your project page or project updates.
- Emphasize your brand. The NFL runs ads for the NFL during the Super Bowl. Weird, right? They’re not trying to get more people to watch the game, because those ads will only be seen by people who are already watching the game. Then I realized that the NFL is reinforcing its brand image to its biggest audience of the year. A Kickstarter campaign is no different. This is the best possible time for you to let people know what you and your company are all about. For example, if you reply to private messages in a timely manner, that creates a positive image of they type of customer service you provide in general.
- Implement amazing art direction. The Super Bowl is an exceedingly well choreographed event. Imagine what it would feel like to watch if there was just one camera anchored in place at midfield. It would have a huge impact on your experience as a viewer. The same applies to the art direction on a Kickstarter page. It’s easy to get drawn into a project with beautiful art and graphic design. We’re human–we love shiny things.
What was the last Kickstarter campaign that felt like a spectacle to you, and why did it feel that way?