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Kickstarter Lessons: No matter how much you plan, something unexpected will happen (and how to deal with this)

Last week we talked about why your pre-launch campaign can never start soon enough. But even though you plan well, build your audience, and do everything you can, there will always be something unexpected that happens.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still plan (as this really is a must), but you can’t let these things get you down or take away your focus. Instead, you have to adapt and keep moving forward.

Truly, anything can happen.

  • Shipping prices increase
  • Your manufacturer suddenly increases their minimum print quantity
  • A pandemic hits and has devastating impacts globally

These are some pretty big things that can happen that are completely out of your control. But there are a lot of things that are a little more predictable or that you can at least be more prepared for.

How Unexpected Are These Changes?

Certainly, it was not likely you would be able to predict a worldwide pandemic sweeping in and changing everyone’s way of life so dramatically. But with that, people understood that things would need to change.

Manufacturing facilities shut down. Shipping times and shipping costs increased. People had to change the way they did business.

Most of us recognized it wasn’t business as usual anymore, so we had to learn patience. We also had to understand that as awesome as board games are, they are not quite as essential as food or medical supplies. Still, they are an important part of our lives and have helped many people in different ways, including reducing loneliness and depression.

However, there are other changes and adjustments that you can be much more prepared for with a little planning.  

Manufacturers can change their pricing, availability, or minimum print run at a moment’s notice. They are running a company and may make changes as they see fit.

A stretch goal you’ve added may increase your game weight to the next tier, causing you to lose money on shipping.

A backer may become quite demanding or cause trouble during your campaign.

There are so many obstacles that might come up, it would be impossible to list them all. But you can take the steps needed to be as prepared as possible when they do.

How to Deal with These Unexpected Changes

As mentioned, it’s impossible to know every possible challenge that might arise, but there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you’re ready when they do.

Get quotes from multiple manufacturers. This will ensure that if you need to switch to another manufacturer for any reason, you’ll be ready to pivot quickly. Also, make sure to plan out your potential stretch goals in advance and get quotes for these. Work with your manufacturer to estimate both costs and weight, which may impact your shipping prices as well.

Build in a buffer, both in terms of cost and time. Add an additional 10% or more to what you think you’ll need to get your games manufactured, as well as for shipping costs. In addition, add 2-3 months to your delivery timeline in case anything takes longer than expected (as it likely will). You’ll be really glad you did this!

Research other Kickstarter board game campaigns. You’re not the first creator to launch a game on Kickstarter. There is a wealth of information to be had from seeing what others have done in the past – both successes and failures. Learn from these past campaigns. Listen to interviews and read blogs from creators who have done this before so that you can avoid making the same mistakes. Discover what worked and what didn’t. Understand what pledge levels and prices will work best, what stretch goals are the most doable, and how to manage shipping. You don’t need to recreate the wheel.

Use a pledge manager. Rather than charging shipping during your campaign when things aren’t 100% finalized, you can use a pledge manager like Gamefound, Crowdox, or Backerkit. Just make sure to provide estimated shipping costs for all regions you will be delivering to and let backers know these are estimates. Do your best to keep shipping prices close to your estimates, but adjust if necessary. Pledge managers also give you the benefit of allowing backers to upgrade their pledge, add on other items, and for anyone who missed your campaign to still get on board. This can often generate 10-20% more sales.

These are some of the uncomplicated things you can do to anticipate and deal with these unexpected changes.

What campaign did you back where the creator did a great job of dealing with an unexpected problem?

Please leave a comment and share your experience.

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    Thanks so much, Joe. This is extremely helpful to those of us planning our first campaign. As far as getting quotes from manufacturers, I find Alibaba to be an unbelievable resource.

    Thanks, Fred! You’ll probably need to work directly with a manufacturer for cards, boards, etc. but Alibaba can certainly be a great supplier for some ready-made components.