Marketing Director Michael Cole’s first – and rather romantic – encounter with KS marketing was when he encouraged his parents, the old-school computer game developers of Quest for Glory, to get back into game development. He raised $409K for their new game, Hero-U. Here’s some of Cole’s solid advise on what (not) to do.
7 Dos and Don’ts by highly successful marketing and PR strategist – Michael Cole.
Don’t launch a Kickstarter and sit back. The first thing to keep in mind is that the amount of pledges you get from strictly Kickstarter and IndieGoGo (the two big reward-based crowd-funding platforms) is pretty small. All major successful projects put a lot of focus on getting traffic and attention from outside communities and websites. Maximizing the quality of your own page is something that takes focus, a lot of polishing, and researching the best practices from already successful similar projects.
Do your research.The first step for any project is researching already successful projects and use them for establishing best practices. Kicktraq in particular is an amazing research tool as you can see how all of these projects performed on a day-by-day basis.
Do start early. I recommend starting a month and a half before you expect to take your Crowd-funding project live. There is a lot of research and work that you will want completed before you get close to your ‘going live’ date. When you near the actual day there is an immense amount of stress, so you’ll want to have everything ready-to-go before the reality of it all hits you.
You’ll also want all of your press outreach done in advance of your going live date. Most reputable websites will have no problem holding off on posting an article for a few weeks, and you want to make sure that you start with a bang.
Don’t spend money on online advertising. I never recommend spending any money on online advertising. Online advertising only works great for companies that either have spent a lot of time optimizing to maximize the value from each visitor, or are more concerned with branding than immediate results.
Do reach out for exposure. The most important piece of advise is to reach out to journalists that actually enjoy writing about projects like your own. Fortunately, this is easy to find by looking up already successful crowd-funding projects (you can see successful projects by category in both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo), and then just doing some quick Google sources like “Computer Game + Kickstarter + News”. Put together a spread sheet with all of these journalists that have already shown interest in your type of project, and spend some time looking for some type of contact information (most online websites list some way to contact the writer). Once you have your list you can email a couple of weeks in advance of your project with an email mentioning the article you researched; a quick synopsis of your project, and asking them if they’d like additional details. Please take into consideration that journalists are very busy. Respectful short and sweet emails are best.
Do use social media. I highly recommend setting up a Facebook Fan page and Twitter handle if you already have dedicated fans for your project. These social media channels help make it very easy to give pre-crowdfunding updates to your most loyal following. When you take the project live, you can encourage these fans to share the project with all of their friends and associates. In our case, direct traffic from Facebook made around 9% of our total pledges, so it’s definitely worth encouraging fan outreach via social media.
Do prove yourself. One of the most important parts of your message is focusing on why you’re capable of creating your project, should you get the funding. Most successful gaming projects either come from video game industry veterans, or from indie projects, that are able to show a significant amount of completed footage. You need to establish trust in your community that you can – and will – create a project that lives up to your promises.
Michael Cole currently only occasionally does consulting on the side, for projects that both grab his interest and are a good match for crowd-funding.