Kickstarter is a business. At its most basic sense, crowdfunding involves an exchange between the campaign creator and the backer. Whether that involves goods, services or just heartfelt inspiration, there is always value being added to both sides of the equation. It is the reason why the system so harmoniously continues to work and allows amazing creations to be made every day.
But in crowdfunding, unlike business, you build your campaign around rewards. Rewards are the all-enticing aspects of your project which make it work, make it flow and allow backers to build up excitement enough to support your dream.
We have all seen Kickstarter campaigns. Some blow you away and absolutely capture the innate fancy inside of us while others fall far short in selling themselves to their prospective backers.
The failure to launch is unfortunately hard to avoid. From poor product photos, unappealing videos or overly-polished pitches there are so many maddening ways to wreck a perfectly promising Kickstarter campaign.
Perhaps the most frustratingly futile of all is in your rewards however. In this tiny tidbit of your campaign, the essence of the exchange that pushes pleasure into the lives of your backers, you need careful consideration.
So how do you decide upon amazingly effective rewards to dole out to your backers? How do you price, place and display the tiers to attract as much dream-driving support as possible?
The Habits of Highly Effective Kickstarter Campaign Rewards
1. The $1 Reward
This is actually a much more profound piece of Kickstarter success than at first glance the amount seems to suggest. It gives people an easy out. Think about it. How many of your closest friends and family did you email asking for support? What percentage would actually be willing to drop a dime to buy your product?
Sure they love you but in all likelihood your project isn’t perfect for everyone. Whether strapped for cash or completely uninterested, having a small $1 reward attached makes it easier for others to help you out financially, as even a $1 adds a bit of commitment to your campaign as a whole.
Once people invest, even if just a small amount of time or money, they will still inherently feel a great sense of belonging and commitment to the cause. Considering all these backers as your early adopters and champions of change, it seems pretty prudent to think, “the more the merrier”.
For a deeper look into the all-important $1 reward check out this post courtesy of Kickstarter themselves to inspire innovative reward ideas.
2. High Margins
Many crowdfunding campaigns out there love to add in t-shirts or other memorabilia to try and bolster their campaign with a pretty, low-level rewards. This can be dangerous however.
While offering a logo’d shirt for $25 might seem like a great idea, remember to consider shipping, packaging and production costs of getting the goods made. If you are barely netting a profit on your lower-tiered items it may be a sign you are doing something wrong.
For all these reasons it is a good idea to make sure you are making bank on each of your low level campaign rewards to prevent the “gimmes” from hurting you overall. You can fight this and squeeze as much out of rewards as possible by either raising prices or getting creative with your reward schemes.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” -Scott Adams
Who says you can’t send each and every backer a hand written note? Why can’t rewards be intangible? There are so many unwritten rules, all of which can and should be broken, and dedicating your time as opposed to your cash can be a great way to work the system and strengthen the bottom-line of your Kickstarter.
3. Pricing Tiers
Imagine you walk up to the dealership and are shown a BMW and a Ford…what is your first thought? If you are like most you are secretly salivating over the German engineered amazingness but begrudgingly settle for the Ford because the BMW is just beyond your price range.
But if suddenly you had the choice between Lamborghini, BMW and Ford the situation becomes more complex. Obviously there will always be individuals willing to pay a premium for excellence. These are important in Kickstarter campaigns and business in general. Significantly more impactful in our case, however, is the average consumer. And in the eyes of these audiences, they certainly do not want to think of themselves as cheap and quickly eliminate the Ford from consideration. “Clearly the Lambo is a bit outside their reach, but really the BMW is rather reasonable comparatively. I guess I will go with that.”
This is the concept of price anchoring and it permeates the world in which we live. You may doubt these ideas but study after study has confirmed the efficacy of their results. In Kickstarter and in life it is always valuable to have tiers of pricing. It is the tricky 80-20 principle at work and bares building into a campaign.
Make sure you accomplish this by having high, medium and lower tiers of rewards to entice backers of all backgrounds. It ensure the highest value per backer and opens up the options for vastly more success than bland and boring products and pricing.
4. Lighthearted Banter
Your rewards are a chance to showcase your creation to the world. As people scroll down your campaign they are greeted with the truly exciting rewards your company is offering to backers everywhere. This simple sidebar is the holy grail of campaign success. It is almost entirely avoided until a certain level of interest is sufficiently piqued.
Now is the time to strike and share your personality with the world. By adding small amounts of humor or intrigue into the options, you confirm customers’ faith in you and your product. The entire campaign builds trust and anticipation and having appealing rewards with just a hint of funny frequently pushes people over the hump and into becoming backers.
5. Planning Ahead
Scarcity is a strong motivating factor in the eyes of all. Whether the last slice of pizza, fighting in line for the new iPhone or even “call in the next 10 minutes” TV offers, the concept of missing out is massive in the eyes of consumers and is a ploy entrepreneurs everywhere use to push their products.
It is your early bird specials in Kickstarter, those limited time deals which work to get backers backing as early as possible and push your project into the ranks of success. This was what a wonderfully executed strategy can do.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
But what about the reverse…running out. There is nothing worse than going to the store only to see they are out of stock. No one likes to wait or feel unimportant and in Kickstarter there are no refills. You need to plan out exact reward amounts carefully in order to ensure the goals and methods of the mission line up. It is time for a balancing act. Best of luck.
6. Flashy Photos
Although almost everyone coming to your campaign page will take the time to check out your Kickstarter video, you need to emphasize the aesthetic beauty of your invention.
With the rather design oriented focus of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other mainstream crowdfunding platforms it is more important than ever to make your product photography phenomenal. Take your time, hire an expert or shoot for hours…whatever it takes to get beautiful HD photos.
From action shots to stills and close-ups, also include a good sampling of exactly what backers can expect to get when they work to help your team.
7. Map of the Madness
Some people are visual learners. Other prefer reading. Either way, it is important to show backers overviews in as many ways as possible to avoid potential confusion.
Many Kickstarter creators use aesthetically-amazing infographics to convey their message to the world. In simple linear approaches, it is often helpful to create corresponding backer trees to truly show people exactly what comes with each level of commitment.
8. Quality over Quantity
When presented with so many options we often feel overwhelmed. It is easier to avoid making a decision and reduces the stress of having to choose.
Remember this when working to craft a Kickstarter campaign. Keep it simple stupid. The more reward levels, tiers, options and accessories you have, the harder it will be for people to concentrate and back your campaign. So don’t get fancy trying to mix and match rewards and making backers’ heads spin.
“It seems that perfection is attained, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Some projects even have featured rewards, the favorites of the project creators and easy choices for any interested in joining in on the movement. Having a simplified menu of recommendations or merely an easy-to-understand, concise list of rewards will work in your favor.
9. Stay Focused
Keep your project focused. You want your rewards to make sense in context of the overall mission and purpose of your company and product.
Unless a reward is somehow tied into the core concepts of your product, story or vision for the company it is probably a bad idea. Like bringing donuts to a Weight Watchers club meeting or strip steaks to a PETA convention, your creative reward ideas might get a lot of interest but is it really the right type of interest?
Getting your rewards rocking is a massive step towards having an epic Kickstarter campaign. Of the nine tips above I sincerely hope at least one really rang true for you and helps you in brainstorming your next beautifully-executed campaign.
What are some strategies or tactics you guys have found sensationally successful or seriously shortcoming from your past projects? We always love hearing past campaign tales and helping up-and-comers create something amazing with their ideas. If you got something out of this article, as always we would really appreciate if you shared it with others. That is how we grow as a community and strengthen entrepreneurship and crowdfunding for the future.