Risk Management and KickSure

29 May 2014 | 8 Comments

If you are a board game designer, there are two aggregate sources for news, board game design insights, reviews, and the scoop on Kickstarter: Today in Board Games and Cardboard Edison. Roger and Chris, respectively, provide these services for free because of their love of board games and their desire to improve the gaming community.

Roger recently decided to test out another way to add value to board game Kickstarter backers through a service called KickSure. It essentially gives backers an ongoing money-back guarantee for any board game project, as most project creators don’t offer a money-back guarantee themselves. I look forward to seeing the concept continue to evolve.

Roger graciously offered to write a guest post about risk management and to introduce KickSure here. He’s wide open to feedback about both, so feel free to offer your suggestions and thoughts in the comments section. Thanks Roger!

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No, this article isn’t a strategy guide to the classic area control game. Jamey offered me the chance to share with you about KickSure – the new service I launched earlier this month to reduce backer risk on Kickstarter. Rather than focus solely on KickSure – I thought it might be nice to more broadly examine risk as it relates to Kickstarter projects.

Risk is one of the most major factors in securing backers for your project. If backer’s don’t feel their pledge is a safe bet, they will never click the “Back this Project” button. To gain backers you will need to demonstrate that you can be trusted. Let’s examine some ways to build trust and reduce backer risk. Jamey has discussed many of these topics in more depth in past Kickstarter Lessons, but a refresher never hurts:

  1. Participate in the Community – Having a glaring “0 Backed” on your Kickstarter profile is an automatic red-flag “high risk” warning to potential backers. Similarly, if you aren’t known to your target community because you don’t participate in discussions at live events or on blogs and forum sites then don’t expect folks to trust an unknown with their hard-earned money. People do business with those they know, like, and trust – and it is easy to build all three just by regular interaction with your target audience.
  2. Be Realistic – Don’t make fantastic claims about your project or your capabilities. Use the “Risks and Challenges” section to honestly outline potential problems that may arise. If you lack experience in a particular aspect of your project’s fulfillment be honest about it – and share what steps you are taking (or have taken) to mitigate that inexperience. Do your homework and give your rewards at a realistic price point. Too low and your potential backers will be scared away by your unrealistic expectations. Too high and they won’t believe your reward is worth the cost.
  3. Communicate – Stay in touch with your backers. During your project be sure to quickly respond to backer comments and feedback. Answer any questions and use the “FAQ” section on the Kickstarter page to save the answers to common questions. After the project continue to use Updates to regularly inform your backers of your progress on delivering their rewards. It’s not necessary to share every detail of the production process (though some backers enjoy this) – but a regular update summarizing where you are at in the process lets your backers know you haven’t abandon them. If a problem arises and you are unable to keep a commitment you have made (such as delivering on time) clearly and honestly report it. Backers can be forgiving if you keep the communication channels open.
  4. Establish a History – This one takes time. However, by consistently keeping your promises and delivering rewards in a timely fashion as promised (or better!) you will build trust. Academy Games is a perfect example of this – each subsequent Kickstarter project continues to grow larger and attract more backers because the gaming community has come to trust the Academy Games brand. 1775 and Freedom backers know that they got a quality product on or near when it was promised to them – and they showed up in droves to support Fief. By meeting or exceeding expectations on your first Kickstarter project you will have earned the trust of your backers for your second and subsequent projects.
  5. Borrow Trust – By having your product reviewed by a third-party or obtaining an endorsement from a leader in your community you are borrowing their trust. Many people have come to depend upon the opinions and recommendations of the respected leaders in your community – and that trust can be transferred to your project through their review or endorsement. You will want to seek out product reviews long before launching your Kickstarter campaign. Reviews are the honest opinion of the reviewer – so if you desire positive reviews you will need to ensure you have a quality product. Endorsements typically come from people who know you personally or who have personally experienced your product and are willing to associate their name with your project. One word of caution: When someone endorses your project or gives you a positive review and you fail to deliver a quality product in a timely fashion you have damaged their trust as well as your own. It will become exceedingly difficult to borrow the trust of others if you make a habit of this.

KickSure is another way your backers can reduce the risk of supporting your project. KickSure acts as a “safety net” for the backer – allowing them to get a full refund of their pledge amount for any reason. When your backer uses KickSure they know they are not going to get burned if you fail to deliver or give them a product that is less than what they expected.

Your backers can purchase a KickSure Pledge Ticket for your project for a small fee (typically 10-15% of the pledge amount) and that ticket can be redeemed at any time before the project ships for a cash refund or exchange of equal value. Backers can also redeem their pledge ticket up to 90 days after your project ships its rewards by shipping the product to KickSure – so if they get your product and decide it’s not for them they can get their money back. Backers who pledge to multiple projects each month can get a membership with KickSure for $19/mo or $199/yr instead of purchasing a separate pledge ticket for each project they back.

At present KickSure is only available for Kickstarter projects in the Tabletop Games category, but as time progresses we hope to open it for other categories as well. Currently to use KickSure you must reside in the 48 contiguous states of the USA. You can find out more about KickSure at kicksure.com.

Leave a Comment

8 Comments on “Risk Management and KickSure

  1. I’m really keen to find out about Kicksure not because of the financial cost of offering a money back guarantee but because I’m concerned of the legal remifications and would be worried about setting up fair terms and conditions.

    However, the link to Kicksure is dead and I can’t find it on search engines. Also of the round-up feeds Jamey suggests at the top of the page “Today in Boardgames” is full of articles about pay-day loans etc and hasn’t had boardgame news in a year. I know this is an old blog, but is there any news with either?

    1. Both Kicksure and Today in Board Games are no longer operational, sorry. Kicksure had trouble reaching momentum. I left the TiBG site up and running for historical value – but it appears it was hijacked by spammers since I last checked it! I shut these projects down in favor of BoardGameData.com.

  2. I’m sure as a project creator it must be difficult pinching every penny to make sure your project stays above water. I agree that offering a guarantee directly is a good idea – but I realize why many project creators might hesitate to take on that risk.

    Thanks for your kind words!

  3. This is an interesting service. I must admit that it would be even better if it was free though if I get it right the KickSure takes the risk on themselves, right? Thus it is understandable that there is the additional cost in using the service.

    Coming form a scientific domain I must admit that I would love to see the impact of the KickSure on the number of new backers on Kickstarter.

    Would be great to see it integrated with the Kickstarter to its full potential. All the Best & Good Luck to its authors.

    1. Konrad – Yes, Kicksure is taking on the risk and that’s the reason for the fee. I’m working on a way to offer Kicksure as a service to project creators directly – so the backer can reap the benefits without any extra hassle or fee. Thanks for your comment!

  4. The summary was great and concise. I really like the idea of KickSure! I agree with Jamey that we should be confident enough in our products and concerned enough for our customers to offer a money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, when a designer can barely afford their art, the potential costs associated with the guarantee can be quite scary. You are offering what sounds like a great backup plan! With the help given by Jamey’s post on worldwide shipping and KickSure there is really no excuse for subpar indie developers anymore.

  5. Thanks for the chance to guest post on your blog Jamey! And yes – I am very open to suggestions, comments and feedback on KickSure or any discussion on Kickstarter risk in general. I sincerely appreciate any feedback anyone has to give.

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