27 August 2018 | 21 Comments
When I was in Seattle a few months ago at Mox Boarding House (a game cafe), the folks behind the Fantastic Factories Kickstarter stopped by to say hi. We were chatting about the campaign, and they said something that stood out: They were surprised by the number of backers who wanted to make group pledges.
A “group pledge” on Kickstarter is when a few people (usually living close to each other) pool their funds and have a single backer place a pledge for multiple copies of the game to be shipped to the same destination. The most common motivation for this is to save on shipping costs.
I’ll cut to the chase and make a recommendation, as I used various types of group pledges on Kickstarter, and I finally found one on Scythe that worked really well.
Basically, in the text each pledge level on Scythe, I included the following text: “Add up to 2 more copies at $X each.” X was the amount of the pledge for 1 copy of that specific reward.
So, I allowed group pledges as part of the core reward system, but for a limited number of copies per pledge, and at no discount. The reasons for this are as follows:
- The limit does a few different things that I learned the hard way–some of my previous projects didn’t have a limit. The biggest reason this didn’t work out was shipping. Couriers and fulfillment centers have no problem shipping a big box, but they’re not built as well for shipping multiple big boxes. Scythe comes in cartons of 4, so I limited group pledges to 3 copies each (that way the fulfillment centers could reuse the cartons but have room to add proper padding around the edges).
- The limit relates to shipping fees as well–it’s easy to calculate the shipping cost for 5 kg, 10 kg, and 15 kg boxes. But what about a 120 kg shipment? That’s very different weight class.
- Another reason for the limit is to reduce the chances of scams. A lot of these group pledges are arranged among strangers on social media–this is a great organic marketing tool for your campaign–so you’re entrusting an unknown entity with your money if they’re the one to place the pledge.
- Both the limit and the lack of a group discount tie into how I tried to include retailers in my Kickstarter campaigns (read about this in detail in the “Retail Support” section of this article). I wanted smaller group pledges and larger retail pledges to coexist, so I clearly delineated the two–retailers pledged at the $1 level and worked out their pledge with me behind the scenes.
- I used the same price as each reward (e.g., for the $59 reward, adding a copy was $59). Any additional shipping fee remained the same, as I had a $10 shipping subsidy built into every reward–that way, when added copies increased the overall shipping fee, the subsidy covered the difference.
- Put a note on the FAQ indicating that each pledge must be shipped to the same destination–it’s not a loophole for backers to split a group pledge into multiple destinations while only paying for shipping once.
You will most certainly have backers asking you to offer special bundled pricing, but it still costs you the same amount to make each game–why would you devalue your product just because someone is buying 2 copies instead of 1? If a backer asks you to do this, a possible response is to say, “We can’t do that, but you still save on shipping costs, as they remain the same whether you pledge for 1 or more copies.”
I didn’t use a pledge manager on Scythe, so I asked backers on the survey how many copies of the game they had pledged to receive. It was easy to sort my spreadsheet to see when people answered inaccurately. If you’re using a pledge manager, hopefully the software lets you limit the number of copies per backer in case you try to implement a group pledge limit.
That’s my recommended method, but it’s certainly not the only option. What other options have you seen or used? What do you think about my method?
- Kickstarter Lesson #111: Should You Offer Multiple Copies of Your Product at a Reduced Bundled Price?
- The Secrets to Making Your Tabletop Game Kickstarter Project Appealing to Retailers
- What Do Retailers Really Want?
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