Live-Blogging Lesson #2: The Value of Ambassadors

20 March 2014 | 8 Comments

When I ran Kickstarter campaigns for Viticulture and Euphoria, I was exhausted the entire month. Running a Kickstarter is a full-time job, and I already had a full-time job, so my sleep and health suffered during both campaigns. Truthfully, even if running Stonemaier Games was my full time job then as it is now, I think my sleep and health would have suffered anyway.

I wanted to change that for Tuscany. I think I can run a better project if I’m well rested and healthy than sleep deprived and ill. So I turned to my ambassadors for help, and I’m incredibly grateful I did.

Last year we started a program called Stonemaier Ambassadors. People who love our games and want to share them with others in a variety of ways (playtesting, conventions, translations, writing, coordinating group buys, etc) can join the ambassador program. Currently we have about 300 ambassadors.

A few days before I launched Tuscany, I e-mailed all of the ambassadors to share the project page with them and talk about a few things. The main thing I asked of ambassadors was to help me in the comments section of the project page and updates. As much as I try to be at the computer all the time, I need to take breaks to sleep, eat, shower, and play games! Mental health is just as important as physical health during a campaign, if not moreso.

Specifically, I asked ambassadors to help build community in the comments following these guidelines. I also asked them to read the FAQ and stay up to date on the project’s updates so they could answer questions in the comments that might be hard for new backers to find.

To let other backers know when they’re talking to an ambassador, I gave all ambassadors a special profile avatar for Kickstarter to use during the campaign.

The results have been amazing. Full credit goes to the ambassadors who have stepped up to be a welcoming, positive presence in the comments. The neat thing is, the ambassadors aren’t really representing me–they still share their ideas and opinions like any other backers. But they lead by example by sharing those thoughts in constructive ways. As a result, Tuscany has the most positive energy of any campaign I’ve run.

It’s really helped me to know that I can go to bed at a normal time and wake up 8 hours to find that ambassadors have been there through the night answering questions and just being universally helpful. It’s particularly a great asset that many of these ambassadors are international, so 4:00 am St. Louis time for me might be noon for them.

The take-away here for other project creators is that is really helps to encourage and cultivate ambassadors. Even if it’s your first campaign, try to identify the backers who seem particularly passionate about your project.

Stonemaier Ambassadors, thank you so much for being a part of Tuscany. You all are AMAZING.

8 Comments on “Live-Blogging Lesson #2: The Value of Ambassadors

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you, it’s pretty nice to see all your ambassadors on the project page.
    And I’ve been thinking of doing something similar since my own campaign, where I tried to build a guild on BGG, but I must admit – it didn’t have the same effect…
    I’ll try to dig into your method and see what I can do… I have a feeling there are room for some “SunTzuGamers” :)
    Have an awesome day Jamey! And keep healthy ;)
    Best regards Emil

  2. That is such a great idea. We are working right now on coming up with our “ambassador” program for Cosmic Wombat Games.

    Of course ours will be called “Wombassadors”!

    Who wants to be a Wombassador?!

  3. Great article. When you say ‘To let other backers know when they’re talking to an ambassador, I gave all ambassadors a special profile avatar for Kickstarter to use during the campaign’. .. do you mean they are using your Kickstarter account to send out messages? Or are they using their own accounts? And how does the avatar work??!

    cheers

    Jamie

    1. Jamie: Thanks for your question. All ambassadors have their own Kickstarter accounts (no one else has access to my account). On your Kickstarter account, you have an avatar (a square image) that you can change to anything you want. So I provide backers with an image to place in that space, and many of them use the avatar during the campaign.

  4. Very intrigued by this. Can I ask, what did you provide to your ambassadors? Wondering if there was anything in it for them, except for being part of a cool product and company. Did they get early access to PnP files? Just the status of being an ambassador was enough? I’m thinking about starting this as well and am wondering if I need to ‘compensate’ them in any way.

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