21 August 2014 | 47 Comments
The KS Experiment series is a new type of blog entry where we feature a different, new, or innovative method for Kickstarter projects to be more attractive to backers and creators. We’re not advocating these ideas–we’re just putting them out there to get feedback in the polls and comments.
After TMG first introduced backers to the idea of stretch goals over 3 years ago, stretch goals have become an imperative inclusion for any project page (particularly in the board game space). We’ve seen a lot of different variations on stretch goals, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see many more.
Today I have a new stretch goal proposal I’d like to pose to you (if this has already been done on a project, awesome! Tell me about it in the comments). There is a poll at the end on which you can vote (but please read/skim first if you’re going to vote, as your vote could influence many other project creators!).
Put stretch goals up to a backer vote.
Stretch goals aren’t really a problem, but some issues can arise from stretch goals:
- If stretch goals aren’t tied to actual dollar amounts and economies of scale, they can vastly change a project’s budget.
- Creators have no idea how their project will do in the first few days, so they might meet a lot of stretch goals well before they anticipated, which kind of defeats a core purpose of stretch goals: Entice people to share the project.
- The opposite can happen too: Stretch goals can have too much space between them, even if they are accurately tied to real dollars.
- Sometimes stretch goals come across as core components that should have been included in the game anyway.
- Backers want some stretch goals more than others. They might not want some of them at all. Sometimes you can anticipate this by getting feedback before the project, but hearing from 20 people is very different than hearing from 500.
- It can come across as presumptuous for a project creator to have a funding goal of $20k and stretch goals outlined through $300k on day 1. However, if you only list a few stretch goals, backers will wonder if you’ve planned well for overfunding. However, if you have a big stretch goal at $150k, some backers will ask you to lower the funding level for that goal because they want it more than other stuff below it (even if the costs don’t add up for you to feasibly do that). It’s an endless loop of catch 22s.
The Full Concept
1. Put stretch goals up to a backer vote. Here’s how I envision this: Before you launch, budget for a long series of stretch goals just in case your project overfunds. But on the project page, don’t list any of the stretch goals. Simply list the funding goal and a link to a poll where anyone can go to vote on the the next stretch goal. Picture this:
Funding Goal: $20,000
Stretch Goal: Click here to vote on the next stretch goal. The poll will close 24 hours after the previous goal is reached. The funding amount for that goal will depend on the cost of adding it to every product.
The poll itself would offer three options, each with an amount to add to the previous goal to determine the funding level. For example:
What is your choice for the next stretch goal?
- 4 new location cards (+$5,000)
- Upgraded cardstock (+10,000)
- 1 new set of 12 custom wood werebeaver meeples ($15,000)
The top vote-getter would be the next stretch goal, the second place finisher would be bumped to the next poll, and the goal with the lowest number of votes would be saved for later.
Why It Might Work
Aside from addressing the issues I mentioned above, this system would allow for lots of backer ideas to be integrated into the stretch goal voting by giving you quantitative data about what other backers thing. Sometimes a few people might be really enthusiastic about an idea, but no one else cares–this is a way to see who really cares about those ideas.
In general, I love polls, because they keep people actively engaged during the project. Also, I really like that this system puts the power in backers’ hands in terms of correlating perceived value with actual cost. They might really want those werebeaver meeples, but it will take longer to reach that goal.
Last, I think this system would work well for project creators to spread the “hype” of stretch goals throughout the entire project instead of burning through them on launch day or the final 48 hours. Having constant momentum throughout a project goes a long way.
Why It Might Not Work
I see a few potential issues with this system:
- Backers might want to look ahead at future stretch goals to get excited about them. This might not be a big issue, though, because you could still list potential stretch goals on the project page or the poll page.
- It could create a system where some backers feel like they’ve “lost” several votes, and it may discourage them from voting again or may hurt their impression of the project. That said, I think this system helps mitigate the impact of a vocal minority versus what the majority of backers actually want.
- Though this system is meant to maintain momentum, it might also interrupt some momentum since it would be impossible for more than one stretch goal to be met per day.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that it doesn’t address the problem we had with Tuscany on launch day. Granted, it was a good problem to have–we raised over $158k in the first 24 hours–but it meant that so many stretch goals flew by that day that none of them got much attention. If you raise a lot of money in a short amount of time, all of the polls will end up feeling retroactive, as you’ll already have reached the funding level by the time the poll is complete.
Update: I think the solution for that is to have a few launch-day stretch goals in place without implementing the poll, then the poll kicks in after that.
So what do you think? Vote in the poll below and feel free to join the conversation in the comments.