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Community

This is another section of sharing advice rather than action items. On Kickstarter, people aren’t just backing a product – they are backing you. Try to be a real person in the comments, rather then a spokesperson with a mask.


Look around

To get a notification when chatter about your project pops up on Twitter or Instagram, you can subscribe to hashtags. You can also use Mention and Google Alerts. Concerning board games, on BGG, you can subscribe to mentions of your account and your game.

Learn from questions

See what questions pop up in the different communities. Besides answering them, if your project page is missing the answer, consider putting the answer there as well. It may happen that the page does contain the information, but the person didn't notice. You can try asking them where they looked for the info and place it there as well.

Try to be lenient

Some people will forget to upgrade their pledge before the project ends. Some will forget to fill out the survey, before shipping starts. It can be a pain to handle these cases, but try to be forgiving. In a week, you won't care about the hassle, but you will be proud you did the right thing.

Also, try to be responsive to people who didn’t receive their package as ordered (or not at all). Bad customer support can really erode the trust you've worked so hard to earn. You will see those backers voicing their discontent in the comments.

Also, backers are not out to get you. If they say your package haven't arrived for weeks, they are not just saying that to scam another one out of you.

Gratitude

Message each individual backer to thank them for their pledges. Quoting Jamey:

For the entire Viticulture campaign in 2012, within a few hours of someone placing a pledge, I sent them a quick message thanking them for their support. Parts of the message were very similar from one message to the next, but I always tried to add a few personal touches (their name, a mention of their location or another project they backed, etc). The fruits of that labor were some meaningful, lasting connections with people that helped reinforce their pledges and, in some cases, inspired them to share the story of how they heard from the creator. I still believe this can have a hugely positive impact on any project that is attempting to fund.

Ambassadors

Even if it’s your first campaign, try to identify the backers who seem particularly passionate about your project. They can act like your ambassadors - answering questions in your stead or bringing issues to your attention.

It really helps to encourage and cultivate ambassadors. To let other backers know when they’re talking to an ambassador, Jamey gave them a special profile avatar for Kickstarter to use during the campaign.

You can also set up an advisory board of the most dedicated backers, so that you’ll have help after the end of your campaign, and someone to help you out with your next project.

Include backers

Look at some of the big game projects and how their project creators engage backers. They’re active in the comments, gathering thoughts, opinions, and feedback. They have print 'n' play files available, so backers can test the games during the project and proofread the rules. They post polls and surveys to name elements of the product. They have reward levels that subtly incorporate people into the product.

Include backers even more

Ask backers a question via a poll. Allegedly, when you give people the opportunity to vote on something, they’re likely to stick around long enough to discover the results. The polls should probably be fairly low states, like the story-driven Tournament of the Apocalypse for Euphoria. If the stakes are too high, you run the risk that people might completely disengage or cancel if the results don’t go their way.

Influential backers

When you survey backers, ask them if they were referred to your project by another backer. You can offer those influential backers a special discount on your next project or just a special thank you note.

Make backers feel like they matter

Reply to every backer who posts a suggestion, and credit those whose suggestions you implement in project updates.

If you’re not acting on a suggestion, don’t just say “No, we can’t do that”. Ask the backer exactly how they think you could implement an idea (in explaining it, they’ll often see for themselves that it won’t work, and every now and then you’ll realize through the explanation that it actually can work). If it doesn't work, explain why. Backers want to know what goes on behind the scenes.

Act on something small. Find little ways to say yes, and backers will see that you’re genuinely interested in acting on some of their ideas. Also, sometimes you can turn it around and inspire the backers to act on their own ideas. For example, Jamey had a backer suggest that we make custom avatars for each of the meeple types during the Tuscany campaign. He told him that it was a good idea, and asked him to make the avatars. He did, and he was very pleased with them.

You can say 'no'

(But please explain why). You might now think “of course I can“, but you might feel different during the campaign. With the campaign come high stress levels, peer pressure, excitement and a different emotional state. When we are grateful for their support, when we are trying to cater to our backers, it's very easy to feel like we should agree to everything. Try to keep your cool and the focus of your project.

Whack a mole

During a project, there is inevitably a time when the conversation in the comments gets way off track. Sometimes it’s okay as long as it’s still engaging and welcoming to backers. But other times it adds a negative energy to the project, or it’s just really unappealing. There have been a few times when 2 or 3 backers use the comments as an instant messaging system between themselves, not realizing how big of a turn off that is for other backers.

So change the conversation. You can introduce new topics and ask questions that can steer the discussion in a completely different direction. Do it wisely. A creator should have a presence in the comments, but not necessarily reply to every comment, which could impede conversation between backers.

Business relationships

While you are at it, why not try to nurture a relationship with your manufacturer, fulfillment provider or shipping company? You can send them a free copy of your product or thank their good work publically. Life is mostly about our meaningful connections anyway.

Cancellations

Whenever a backer cancels or reduces their pledge, Kickstarter sends an about it. It's very hard to not take these personally, but I would urge you to see these as opportunities for learning. You can send them an email, politely asking for the reason for the cancellation and if there is anything you can do to make the project better. Spoiler alert, you will find that the vast majority of cancellations are not about you or your project. Most likely, the person got into a tight financial spot or decided to share postage with a buddy. Do not be alarmed by these emails.

Another idea (though I much prefer the above) is to mute such emails. In GMail, you can create a filter for all emails from Kickstarter with the subject line 'has cancelled' or 'has decreased' and you will no longer see these emails. You might think this is cheating, but this will raise your overall mood considerably.

It's really recommended to do one of the above.

The cost of doing business

I'll let Jamey take it away.

My philosophy has slowly shifted to the cost of doing business. Specifically, for every 100 orders, I need to be okay with the cost of those orders amounting to that of 101 orders. There’s a built-in buffer, both logistical and psychological. Adopting this philosophy has, in my opinion, improved the customer service experience. Here’s roughly what my response might look like now:

“Thanks for your note, and I’m sorry your order was delivered to the wrong address. Can you confirm the correct address, and we’ll send you another copy of the game? If you’d like to pay for shipping, you can PayPal $10 to ...@gmail.com

In cases where the game was marked as delivered to the correct address (but the customer didn’t receive it), I’ll recommend that they first check with their neighbors, as in most cases the game was misdelivered nearby. If they can’t find it, I’ll ask for a different mailing address and proceed with the shipment.

The built-in psychological buffer has freed me to default to an immediately helpful response instead of some sort of negotiation. It also helps me, because I stress less about the little things.

The reason we object is that we are looking at what we are losing… money. If you look at what you are gaining - someone being relieved, potentially being a huge fan - it’s completely different.

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