The Board Game Design Course

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The 3 Ingredients To Make Your Kickstarter Campaign a Success

I have a confession to make. About nine years ago, my friends and I were really into Cards Against Humanity. However, after playing this a number of times, the humour and shock value wore off quickly. Multiple new expansions only prolonged the shelf life of the game for a short time.

This is where the idea for my first game, Cunning Linguistics, took flight. I felt I could create something better. Something with more replayability that would allow players to use their own creativity.

At first, it was just a funny idea that I tried out with some friends. It wasn’t really meant to be anything more. But as it developed, I felt more and more that it was just as good or better than the other adult party games on the market.

This is when I also started to learn about Kickstarter. I saw that other games had done really well here. This included games I felt weren’t nearly as funny or interesting as mine. I just knew that my game could do better, and as one friend commented, I started seeing dollar signs.

I figured you just put a game up there and tons of people would buy it, right? Wrong!

There is so much more involved in being successful than just having a good product, even if yours is better than your competitors.

I started looking into successful Kickstarter campaigns and doing a ton of reading and research to understand what it really took to get funded. What I found out was that it was a whole lot of work!

I’ve boiled it down to three key points you need to keep in mind when running a Kickstarter campaign.

You need a following

While there are a lot of people who browse around Kickstarter looking for interesting projects, you can’t rely on Kickstarter itself to bring in backers. They’re just a platform that allows you to get your product out to the world. It’s not their job to promote your project.

It’s crucial to build a following and bring them with you to your campaign. This can definitely be a lot of work, but without this you are effectively engaging in “hope” marketing, meaning you build something, and hope people will buy it.

If you already have a big online following, this definitely makes it easier, especially if your fans believe in you and will buy most anything you sell. However, this is not the case for most of us, and we need to build that fan base.

If you’re looking to promote your game, you need to get out there and get it in front of people who could be your potential customers. That means going to Cons, game stores, and gaming events to get your game played by others.

You also really need to have a way to contact them when your Kickstarter goes live. While creating a Facebook group may work, there’s no guarantee people will join or even get notifications about your project if they do. A better approach is to capture their email address. This way you can keep in communication with them to let them know about the upcoming launch, which also helps to build up the excitement.

You can get fans to fill out a form or enter their email address on a tablet or other device. Just remember to keep in touch with them regularly, but not too often. It needs to be enough for them to remember you and not unsubscribe when they don’t recognize who you are, but not so much that you are overwhelming them. Only provide updates when you have something interesting to share.

You need to stand out

 With so many things vying for people’s attention, you need to find a way to stand out. This could be through amazing art, a truly unique theme, or creating an awesome table presence.

Take the time to look at what other successful Kickstarter projects have done, particularly in your niche. You don’t want to copy them, you just want to learn from them and see how you can apply their successful tactics to your own campaign.

What is it about your game that makes it different? What have players commented on and been attracted to?

Emphasize the best part of your game and give potential backers a reason for supporting you and your project.

Be yourself

If you want people to hand you their hard-earned money, they will need to trust you. But how do you build that trust?

By being yourself and demonstrating that you are committed to the project and your supporters.

Most people can see right through someone who is dishonest or scammy. You don’t want to come off like a sleazy used car salesman (no offence meant to the honest car salespeople out there!). So, show them your true self and demonstrate how you will bring this product to life, along with how it will make their own life better.

But what if you’re a bit different or have a goofy personality? Even better. People will find it charming and might even relate to you. They will be able to tell that you are genuine and that you’re being yourself, not someone else.

It’s sometimes difficult for a person to part with their money for something they have yet to try and don’t know if they will like. This is compounded by the fact that backing a project on Kickstarter does involve risk.

Although most creators are genuine in their intentions and will do everything they can to make a product come to life, many backers have been burned by one or more creators who failed to deliver. Make sure that backers feel they can trust you and give them a reason to. Do your homework, have a finished or nearly finished product, and address any fears or concerns they may have.

If you are able to build a following, create a product that stands out, and show your true self along with your ability to deliver, you’ll be one huge step closer to success.

Of course, marketing yourself and your product well, getting strong reviews and recommendations, and working hard to keep your momentum going (while avoiding spam and pushiness) are also important pieces of the puzzle as well.

A question for you

What else have you noticed makes for a successful Kickstarter campaign?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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