6 July 2017
I was recently surprised by a Kickstarter project that failed to fund.
The campaign surprised me because it failed despite doing so many things well: The entire project page is a impeccably designed; the reward levels are streamlined, reasonable and push backers towards the premium version; the art direction is excellent.
When Marc eventually cancelled the project so he could focus on gathering feedback and relaunching (July 11 relaunch), I reached out to him with a theory: Is it possible that he simply didn’t have a big enough crowd before he launched?
The core of this idea is that the vast majority of creators need an existing crowd of people who are eager to back their project the day it launches on Kickstarter. That crowd is your foundation–they make the project more appealing to other backers.
I also think there’s a second type of crowd: People who don’t know much about your product, but they’re at least aware that it exists. I think this helps to avoid making people think that a project isn’t worthy of backing because “no one is talking about it.”
Without the combination of those two crowds, a project–even an extremely well-constructed project–can flounder the first few days and fail as a result.
Based on the numbers Marc shared with me, it’s that second type of crowd I think he missed out on. I’ll show you why:
- e-newsletter: ~1,000 subscribers
- Facebook page: 250 likes
- Twitter followers: 160
- YouTube subscribers (or podcast/blog): very few
- BoardGameGeek fans/subscribers (of Epoch): 36/72
- BoardGameGeek thumbs on Epoch box image: 12
- Playtesters: 250
- Instagram followers: 1,392
Some of these numbers are quite good for a first-time creator: There’s nothing wrong with 1,000 e-newsletter subscribers, 250 Facebook fans, or 1,392 Instagram followers. And 250 playtesters is a great number, especially since they’re personally invested in the game. Of course, the Twitter and YouTube numbers could be better.
The numbers that really stand out to me, however, are the BoardGameGeek numbers. That’s the biggest sign to me that Epoch wasn’t a big enough part of the overarching board game conversation to be ready for launch.
So what does this mean for you? I think the key takeaway is that in any industry–games or otherwise–there are quantifiable metrics available to help you see if enough people know about your product to result in a successful launch. A few notes about this:
- There are no magical targets to hit–these numbers will vary widely from creator to creator. Rather, I recommend that you’re simply aware of these metrics for your product so you can see if you need to focus on some of them more than others.
- The types of people who comprise these numbers matter more than the numbers themselves. For example, you might have 4,000 friends on Facebook, but if hardly any of them care about board games, that number has no correlation to your project’s changes of success.
- The ways people joined those numbers also matter more than the numbers themselves. For example, if you ran a contest where you gave away a copy of Terraforming Mars if people liked your page, you now have an audience of a bunch of people who want free stuff, not people who care about your game.
If you’re preparing for a project launch, I wish you the best in looking at these metrics for your product as you try to gauge the size of your fans and the overall buzz around your game. Remember, if the numbers aren’t there, you don’t need to launch today.
What do you think about this concept of using metrics to gauge project readiness? What’s your take on the importance of a product somehow being a part of “the conversation” before launch?
- 10 Daily Actions to Build Your Crowd
- Kickstarter Lesson #94: The Top 10 Ways to Survive and Thrive on BoardGameGeek
- Kickstarter Lesson #185: First-Time Creators
Oh, and mostly unrelated: Some great creators and myself are featured in a board-game web series, the first episode of which is now live.