Kickstarter Lesson #197: How to Remove a Cat from Your Chair

29 August 2016 | 19 Comments

IMG_5444I work from home at an adjustable standing desk, alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day. Like clockwork, whenever I adjust my desk to stand up for a while, I’ll turn around to find that one of my cats (Biddy) has taken over the chair.

This is cute and adorable for about an hour, but then the soles of my feet start to ache and I want to sit down. But Biddy looks so comfortable–I don’t want to disturb him by dragging him off his perch.

So I’m faced with a dilemma: How can I remove a cat from my chair?


Backers and customers are sometimes like cats. I say that with the fullest of affections, as I adore my cats, just as I adore my backers. Sometimes I really need them to do something, but I don’t want to annoy them. Here are a few examples:

  • During campaigns, I want backers to share the project with people who might be interested in it.
  • After the campaign is over, I want backers to fill out the project survey right away so I know how many games to make.
  • When I run retailer-driven pre-order campaigns, I want retailers to estimate in advance the number of games they’ll need so we don’t sell more than we make.

I could pester people to share the campaign. I could threaten backers who don’t complete the survey in time. Or I could punish retailers who over/underestimate.

But what good would that do? Those approaches might damage my relationship with customers, and they might not even accomplish the goal.

Consider these alternatives that I implemented in those situations:

  • To get people to talk about my campaigns, I mostly try to just create some fun challenges that people might want to share on social media. Like, on Scythe, Jakub and I gave backers permission to Photoshop several pieces of the Scythe art with funny captions and images of their pets. I also created avatars that I awarded to backers based on when they pledged and which reward level they supported. I still see some backers bearing those same avatars on Kickstarter.
  • To get backers to fill out project surveys quickly, I sometimes offer a reward to one randomly selected backer out of those who fill out the survey within the first week. It’s open to all backers–even those who didn’t pledge for the game–so it appears to meet Kickstarter’s vague contest guidelines.
  • To get accurate estimates from retailers for certain pre-order campaigns (like Tuscany Essential), I offer them a bonus copy of the product if their final order (placed during the campaign) is within the original estimated range (stated well before the campaign when production is ready to begin).

I’ve found that these types of incentives are much more powerful than pestering, threatening, or punishing.


So how do I remove a cat from my chair? I walk down the hall, grab a bag of catnip, and shake some of it onto the floor. Within seconds I have a happy cat (two happy cats, really) and a free chair. Much better than physically removing Biddy from the chair.

How have you seen incentives used effectively on crowdfunding campaigns?


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19 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #197: How to Remove a Cat from Your Chair

  1. Bwahahaha. I’ve started reading and utilizing your blog over the last month and have to thank you not only for the stellar content but the friendly and sometimes amusing tone. But this is the first time you’ve truly made ma laugh out loud.

    As a fellow cat owner, I feel your pain with not wanting to remove very comfy looking cats from recently vacated chairs.

  2. Jamey, I like how you are trying to solve different issues in a positive way. Stright away I thought about contests. I like the idea giving away a bonus to a random customer for filling the survey in the first week.

    When you wrote about your cat, I thought about my children… hehe

  3. I haven’t found incentives to be much use. I do think that letting folks know they will get their game late if they don’t fill out the form is helpful. It’s not a threat, just me trying to make sure they get the special treatment (getting product first) that they paid for.

  4. It seems to me that you’re training Biddy to take over your chair every time, since you’re rewarding the behavior :-).

      1. Apart from me trying to be cute with my comment, then there’s a very important distinction between how you handle Biddy and how you handle customers in this post. With Biddy you bribe him to stop bad behavior he has already engaged in and with your customers you reward them for not engaging in bad behavior in the first place.

        As you know I have a young son and when he throws a tantrum I don’t give him the candy/toy/allow him to stay up/whatever the tantrum was about because that teaches him that the way to get what he wants is to throw tantrums. Giving in would have made my life easier right now, but long term it would make his life and mine much worse.

        Instead I praise him or reward him, when he does the right thing in situations that are tough or tempting for him.

        1. I should add that I don’t praise/reward him per default in those tough/tempting situations I wait until I’ve seen that he doesn’t give in to temptation, but I of course also support him and help him to do the right thing in such situations.

          1. two solutions to the Biddy problem.

            1. Eliminate the sore feet, aka get an ergonomic floor mat.

            2 Get a second chair and rotate between the two, I say rotate because I’m sure that after you stood up from the 2nd chair, undoubtedly Biddy would have to occupy that one.

  5. Of the 10 or so Kickstarter Campaigns I’ve funded, I haven’t seen any incentives to complete surveys or spread the word….I wonder what percentage of Kickstarter Campaigns offer incentives. Do you know Jamey? I think I would be more inspired to respond to request if incentives were offered….then again, if I’m backing the project, then I’m already motivated to share it with others.

    What about a signed copy as an incentive?

    1. I’m not sure of the percentage. I’ve seen some campaigns use social media very well, usually tied to fun stretch goals. The key for sharing, as you said, is typically just to have a really compelling project. If people are excited about it, there’s a good chance they’ll share it in some form without you needing to ask them to. In fact, I wouldn’t want someone to share my project just because of an incentive–I’d want them to share it because they’re passionate about it.

      Signed copies are really tough to coordinate if you use a fulfillment center. They’ve very, very time consuming.

      1. I agree with Mateusz RakowskiI, I like the raffle idea you use….where everyone who completes the task is eligible for a prize. As far as prizes go, you could offer: a signed copy of a game, a treasure chest, a blog about a topic they choose, etc.

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