25 March 2019 | 31 Comments
Last week I posited a theory that I hope isn’t true: A Kickstarter creator’s chances of successfully funding a project significantly drop if they haven’t reached their funding goal in the first 48 hours, to the point that it almost seems necessary to fund within that short amount of time.
Fortunately, there are at least a few projects that defy this theory (I’m hoping that’s the case for High Rise by Gil Hova, which is now in the final 12 hours). There’s one in particular that was highlighted to me by alert reader Andrew L: Dungeons of Infinity.
Dungeons of Infinity is the creation of Jack Spoerner. With 48 hours remaining in the campaign, the project was $10,000 short ($40,000 goal). Yet the project gained over 200 backers to actually overfund, totally $42,420. How did that happen?
I reached out to Jack to get his perspective, which he shared along with some thoughts with Andrew and another backer, David. Today I’m going to consolidate and summarize their responses and add some of my own.
A Few Ways to Save an Underfunded Project
A number of these methods are things that Jack did (and that you might consider) well before the final 48 hours. That’s a key takeaway for me–don’t give up, but also don’t wait until the last minute!
- Offer your most enthusiastic backers a compelling reason to upgrade their pledge. I’m sure there are multiple examples of this in the Dungeons of Infinity campaign, but the one that Andrew highlighted was the $125 pledge, which offered a limited number of signed games delivered early (air freight to Jack, then shipped to the backer).
- Stay active, engaged, and responsive throughout the entire project. If your campaign isn’t going well, you might start to find yourself tuning out or replying less in the comments. But if you’re able to fight that urge, your communication in the comments, social media, and through project updates can show leave the door open for a myriad of opportunities. It shows people that you still believe in your project, which can inspire confidence in them, especially when a campaign is struggling. Andrew says this well: “iI there was any delay in content I would have decided it was doomed to failure and checked out mentally, but your routine updates made it seem like nothing was wrong and that you were moving forward so I should too.” I think a big key here is something I discuss in my article about the mid-campaign slump: Focusing on the backers you have (instead of only outreach to potential backers) can be incredibly effective.
- Embrace happy coincidences. I bet every creator has a story about a time they got lucky. Luck is going to strike at some point, and it’s up to you to leverage it. In Jack’s case, the massive campaign for Critical Role went live during the third week of the Dungeons of Infinity campaign. The folks at Critical Role encouraged their backers to also support smaller campaigns, and Jack’s project was one of their focuses. Jack made sure to respond to each of the “Critters” when they backed Dungeons of Infinity.
- Pursue a crossover with another project or product. This is mostly game-specific, but it might work for other categories too. A typical crossover is when one creator adds a few cards to their game featuring characters from another game, and the other creator does the opposite. That’s what happened with Dungeons of Infinity and Stonembound Saga. I tend to this this works best when the two creators are already fans/supporters of each other and when their games have natural fan overlap–that makes it feel more natural and less like a marketing gimmick.
- Maintain momentum via stretch goals and flash-funding goals (and possibly recalibrate them). Stretch goals remain ingrained into the Kickstarter ethos as a way to make backers feel like they’re getting extra stuff for the same price and motivate them to share the project. It’s fine to adjust these goals throughout campaign to best serve your marketing needs (without breaking your schedule or budget). And you can also consider flash-funding goals, like, “If we raise $1000 in the next 24 hours, all backers will receive X bonus.”
- Celebrate your champions. One of my favorite things about Kickstarter is that almost every project I’ve seen has at least one or two people who believe in the creator and the project so much that they become a massive advocate for it. Jack highlighted Leigh S in his response to me, saying that she tweeted about the campaign every 30 minutes to keep it visible in the Kicktraq Top 10. Jack is celebrating her support by designing a hero in the game after her.
- Message all lower-level backers to remind them of the opportunity to update their pledge. Kickstarter allows you to do this en masse to each reward tier. I have a detailed article about how to do this, but one addition for an underfunded project is to remind these backers that they truly have the power to make the product a reality. Don’t guilt them; just remind them that this is a unique circumstance (opposed to other projects that have already funded).
- Use your project follower stats as a source of inspiration (and more). Kickstarter now allows creators to see how many people have clicked the “notify me” button, and it also displays the number of followers who become backers (Jack shared this image for Dungeons of Infinity with me; see below). Not only can this be a source of inspiration for a creator, but it can also motivate them to make their project as appealing as possible before Kickstarter sends the final 48-hour notification to the followers. Creators can also use this information in response to people who are complaining that the project won’t reach the goal.
There are other techniques to save an underfunded project, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Big thanks to Jack, Andrew, and David for sharing their perspectives on Dungeons of Infinity!
- The One-Week Checklist
- What Do Backers Look for When Returning to a Project via the 48-Hour “Remind Me” Message?
- The Final 48 Hours
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