Kickstarting Your Kickstarter: An Analysis

scrapmA little over a year ago I wrote an article about Kickstarter campaigns on this site. This has easily become the most popular article on my site. About once a month I am contacted by someone who is thinking about doing a Kickstarter campaign or is already doing one and would like my advice. Many of them I simply decline to assist because I don’t like their project. Some I have helped because they are personal friends of mine. Some I’ve helped because I liked their project and they’ve hired me to.

When all is said and done, I’ve advised campaigns that have generated over half a million dollars so far. And every campaign I’ve had direct hand in has been successful. It turns out I’m pretty good at figuring out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to crowd funding.

The inherent problem with this is that most people who are looking to crowd fund their project don’t really have the cash to hire me to do what I can do. In other words if they could hire aKickstarter consultant they wouldn’t need a Kickstarter Campagn.

Over the weekend I was contacted by someone who is a perfect example of this. His name is Ryan Taylor. He and his two partners had an idea. In a world where more ebooks are sold than print books, why not bring the concept of high school yearbooks into the 21st Century? Why not take your average teenager’s obsession with texting, taking pics, updating statuses, and staring at their cellphone and make that into a digital real-time Yearbook app?  They pooled their money together and found they were still lacking the kind of funding that app development requires and so they’ve gone to Kickstarter.

I took a look at their campaign. After Ryan read my response he said, “Thank you a million times. This helped. We will definitely incorporate what we can from your notes…wish we could’ve talked beforehand.” Unfortunately he also said they couldn’t afford to hire me to fix some of the problems I saw with their campaign.

However, he was nice enough to agree that I could use his campaign and my analysis for this article. Before we go any further, I ask that you take a moment to check out their campaign site.

Here’s the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/169314665/scrapmhigh-school-as-it-happens

Okay. Now that you’ve had a chance to look over their campaign, here’s my assessment of that campaign and what they could improve on:

1.The concept looks interesting, but I don’t see much of a hook. The video has two guys who spend most of the time talking about how they’re not in high school and how contributing to the Kickstarter might gain them social status if Scrapm takes off. So you’ve got two guys who won’t be using the app talking about what might happen if the project takes off. There’s no point where I want to be these guys. While the video does do a good job of explaining what the app is, it doesn’t show us why it’s cool. Instead we just hear from two guys that they think it’s cool and we’ve  no reason to believe them. While I realize that budget and resources are factors, it would make for a better video if you had high school kids using the app and displaying how cool it is.

2. You ask the question why someone out of high school might want to donate to this Kickstarter and don’t seriously answer it. You just say you have ‘awesome ideas’ for alumni. You’ve got to give more if you want me to care about it. At the very least point out how my yearbook is a bit disappointing and wouldn’t it be nice if my kids had something more dynamic. High school kids tend to not have money. So you’re going to get your money from adults. Those adults will likely have kids. If you show why this benefits their kids, they’re more likely to do something about it.

3. Who are you? You say your names but you don’t say where you come from, what you’ve done, or most importantly, why we should trust you to use $30,000 in crowd-funded cash to do this project. You mention you’re against VCs but don’t really explain why Kickstarter is such a better solution. You want people to want to give you money because you’ve demonstrated your capabilities and all you’re lacking is funding.

4. Speaking of money, there’s no explanation as to how this app will make money. You mention it’s free. So is it ad generated profits or what?

5. ‘If it gets big’ isn’t really a selling point. If it gets big, it gets big, but until it does, it’s just a project. When I read ‘if it gets big’, I think ‘and if it doesn’t?’

6. Your rewards honestly aren’t all that cool. Personally I could care less about being listed on a website somewhere. However, I do see the difficulty here. Your donors likely don’t go to high school and your product is for high schoolers. I would need to know more about your project to make good recommendations. But off the top of my head, if your product is ad based, offer free ad space. Small business (and maybe even big business) owners love free advertising. If you’re running a premium version of the app, offer a free premium version for their kids. Basically you need to offer something more than just the app itself which you’ve said is free and stuff that you could get off of CafePress if you really wanted to.

Again, much of this comes back to what I said in my original article. When it comes to a Kickstarter campaign you want to show four things: What you’re doing, Who you are, What you’ve done, and Awesome prizes. If you’ve done all of that, you’ll likely have a successful campaign.

If you’d like my help with your Kickstarter campaign, go ahead and email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com. I’ll take a look and see what we can do for one another.

–          Jack Cameron

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