2 September 2013 | 24 Comments
During my Kickstarter campaigns for Viticulture and Euphoria, I received numerous offers from other project creators to cross-promote our campaigns. The offer was pretty much always the same: I mention their campaign on a project update, and they mention mine. Pretty innocuous, right?
Not so fast.
I’m not unique in receiving those types of offers–I’m sure most Kickstarter project creators have either received or sent at least a few of them.
There is a very specific subset of cross-promotions that I think are good for the Kickstarter economy. I’ll get to those guidelines in a minute. But I think the rest fall into the category of spam.
If I have no connection to your project , your project has no connection to me or my backers, and I send an update including a link to it to hundreds or thousands of backers, I’m spamming them. They didn’t sign up for my project updates (which automatically happens when they back my project) for me to talk about other projects. They signed up to read about my project.
It’s not just a philosophical difference; it’s a matter of retaining as many update subscribers as you can. Kickstarter makes it very easy for people to opt out of updates, so if you have even a single update that feels unnecessary or like spam, dozens of backers may miss out on much more important updates to come.
Most cross-promotion is done with the intent to get more backers and more money. More. You want more. By pursuing more, you’re not putting your existing backers’ best interests at the forefront of your decisions.
Based on my backers-first mentality, I will only consider a cross-promotion–and really, it’s more like a friendly mention with no expectation in return–if ALL of the following guidelines are met:
- The other creator doesn’t ask me to promote their project. If I love your project and think my backers should know about it, you don’t have to ask me to mention it. The inverse is also true–if I haven’t mentioned your project, that almost definitely means I don’t love your project and/or think my backers would benefit from knowing about it. At most, if you already shared my project with your backers, feel free to tell me and link to the update. Don’t do so with the expectation that I’ll return the favor–please only share my project if you love it and you think your backers would benefit from knowing about it.
- I have an existing connection with the other project and/or the project creator. If I haven’t backed your project and we don’t have an existing connection, why would I be compelled to promote it? I have to personally believe in the other project–not just the result of the project (the game or the product), but also the way the other creator is running the project. Am I enjoying the ride? If I’m having a blast being a part of your project, I’ll feel good about sharing it. Thus the best way for a project creator to compel other creators to mention their project is make something awesome. If you make something awesome, you don’t need to ask people to share it. They’ll share it because it feels good to share awesome things.
- I truly believe that my backers will benefit from knowing about the project. There are so many projects on Kickstarter that it’s impossible to know about all of them. Every now and then there’s a project that I not only personally love, but I also think my backers would greatly benefit by being alerted to it. I think they’d enjoy the project and the product. Anything less doesn’t feel genuine to me.
Although this is my personal philosophy, I think the Kickstarter economy will benefit from more truly genuine, selfless, backer-first mentions of other projects and fewer cross-promotions done purely to get more backers and more money. I actually don’t see this as a rampant problem on Kickstarter, but as the site continues to grow, I want to prevent this from becoming an issue.
It’s possible that some readers will view this as a selfish philosophy on my part. I have all of these backers from Viticulture and Euphoria–why can’t I share the love a little bit to help out a new creator? The thing is, like other successful project creators, I worked really hard to gain the trust of my backers. The trust that I put their best interests first. They don’t subscribe to my post-project updates to hear about other projects–they continue to subscribe so they know the status of Viticulture and Euphoria.
The way I share my love for new project creators is through these Kickstarter Lessons. This certainly isn’t the only resource out there for project creators, but I’ve spent a ton of time on these lessons, and my only intent is to give other creators a resource that I didn’t have when I started using Kickstarter.
I’m curious how other project creators respond to cold-call requests for cross promotion. Do you hit the “delete” button as quickly as I do?