Kickstarter Lesson #192: High-Priced Item Campaigns

23 June 2016 | 7 Comments

As a backer, I very rarely spend more than $50-$60 on a Kickstarter project. This isn’t a commentary on Kickstarter itself; it’s just my behavior as a consumer. I rarely spend more than $50-$60 on anything.

So when I heard that Chad DeShon of Board Game Tables (maker of fancy gaming tables) was running a Kickstarter for a $500 table, I asked him if he’d like to share some insights about how he inspired confidence in people to pledge a minimum of $499.

That was before the project–which is extremely successful–even launched, so now I’m even more glad that Chad offered to write this guest post.

Before I let Chad take over, I want to emphasize a key point that Chad doesn’t address: The Duchess is not the first table Chad has made or sold. He’s been building an audience and experience in this market for quite some time now, and that’s had a direct impact on the campaign. If you’re raising money for a high-priced item, that’s a great way to inspire backer confidence–show people that you know how to make the thing.

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The Duchess is a gaming table priced from $499 to $799. This is far below the price of any other gaming table out there, but it is one of the most expensive projects to ever be funded on Kickstarter.

I knew that I had to do all of the things any successful creator must do: build trust, have a community, drive traffic to the project, etc. But the high price is a magnifying glass. Every potential backer is using an extra critical eye because more is at stake.

So I implemented a specific strategy to gauge demand for a high-priced item, identify and focus on my target market, and inspire those customers to support the project on the first day.

 

The Survey

I started by creating a survey using TypeForm. It focused on buying decisions, not “good ideas”. Just because someone thinks a gaming table is a good idea doesn’t mean they’ll actually spend money on itWhen you have something that makes people want to spend their own money, then you are onto something.

I sent the survey to my e-newsletter subscribers (I highly recommend creating an e-newsletter today!) and via some Facebook ads to direct some fresh perspectives. Here are the two most important questions in the survey:

Why haven’t you purchased a gaming table? (choose as many as you want)

 There were about 6 different options, and anyone who answered “They cost too much” got this follow up question:

If we could wave a magic wand and make board game tables cheaper, at what price would you pull the trigger and buy one today?

The sweet spot for this question (based on manufacturing costs) were people who were open to spending between $400 and $1400 on the table, and there were quite a few of them.

The Results

The results of the survey were encouraging–it was clear that a critical mass of people wanted The Duchess. It allowed me to follow up with people who were a perfect fit for my new product. I could have even reached out to each of these people individually by email or phone, as I’ve always found that understanding my potential customers is the most valuable way I can spend my time.

In my case, I had way too many responses to talk to each person individually. So, I created a follow-up survey for people who were looking for a $400-$1500 gaming table. In that survey, I briefly described the features and price of The Duchess, and I asked them to pick one of these options:

  • I am ready to buy that table today
  • I would seriously consider buying that table very soon
  • I might be interested in the next couple months
  • It is something I’d consider 6 months or more from now
  • I probably would not buy it any time soon
  • There is almost zero chance that I would buy that within the next 3 years

People in the first two categories–those who are the most eager to buy a Duchess in the near future–are my target audience. They’re not on the fence. They’re ready to pledge.

So I sent them previews of the Kickstarter page, and I invited them to ask me questions over email or phone. This survey helped me filter all of that feedback down to my target customers so I could focus on them.

Also, by listening to their feedback, I’m not only making a better product and learning how to explain my product, I’m also building community. Bringing these potential backers into the creation process makes them much more likely to share and recommend The Duchess to their friends.

The Final Step

All of this led to the final step of the survey plan. I asked that target audience if they would commit to backing the project in the first 2 hours of the campaign. About 60 of them did this, generating a buzz around the campaign. As a result, it earned $300k–much more than the $40k funding goal–in the first 24 hours.

The strong start was also a signal of trust. Those early backers showed through their pledges that they trusted me, which made new backers feel more comfortable with the idea of handing $500 to a stranger. The foundation of that trust was the brand I’ve built over the last 2 years, and it was reinforced by my survey-driven outreach.

The internet is a big place. Finding your true fans is much more powerful than casting a wide net and trying to please everyone. By surveying potential backers, I was able to narrow my focus, get feedback, build trust, and then generate buzz with the people who were the most perfect match for my new product. 

dailypledges

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Thanks! Chad is busy running the Kickstarter campaign for The Duchess, but if you have a question for him, he’ll mostly likely be able to answer it in the comments at some point. Also, if you have any insights into the types of things that inspire you to back high-priced campaigns, feel free to share them.

7 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #192: High-Priced Item Campaigns

  1. Great article. I think Chad being in this business already was a key factor. I was basically an insta-back after talking to my wife about his other tables etc. She knows I have been researching these for awhile. If this was some no name person I don’t think I would have backed as quickly or even at all. I have talked to others in our large group and we actually currently have 2 four pack pledges currently and I am completely at ease with a 3k dollar pledge with this project.

  2. If my brother hadn’t just built me the exact table I wanted for a fraction of what anyone else would charge, I would have been all over this.

  3. I’m glad you drew my attention to this. I’ve been eyeballing a gaming table, but $2.5k is just too much. $500-700 is much more affordable, so I might actually spring for this one.

  4. A big part of the confidence I felt in backing this project was having seen the tables in person at Geekway. It’s great that he’s been building tables for a while, but at this price point, I needed that tactile re-assurance of quality I could expect.

  5. I was a bit skeptical of using surveys for market validation, but you’ve changed my mind. I’m sure talking directly to potential customers helped a ton, too. Congratulations on going from “just an idea” to over a million dollars pledged (and counting)!

  6. I’m so happy for you Chad. Thanks a lot for your insights. That is really impressive campaign!
    I like your idea of engaging people into the creation of the product via surveys.
    Good luck!

  7. First off, Congrats to Chad on a successful Kickstarter Campaign. I think having a solid reputation and history of doing whatever it is your creating is key to gaining trust with potential backers. I also think the surveys was a nice idea to narrow in on your target audience.

    I think one of the main reason why Chad and Jamie are successful is the quality of their videos and Kickstarter page. Having a professional video and clean looking Page builds confidence in your backers…at least it does with my friends and I. If I see a polished Kickstarter page, I’m almost certain to give pledging a thought. However, if the page is unpolished, even if I love the product, I’m hesitant to pledge. I automatically wonder if the Kickstarter page and video is sub-par, what will the final product be like? Thoughts?

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