"The Trough", "The Slump", the "Mid-project Lull"... whatever you want to call it, it's a well known and acknowledged by Kickstarter, that most projects start and end strong, but often die in the middle.
The trouble is, a perception of success tends to create success. If your potential backers check back on your campaign regularly and see funders dropping off, in many cases they could write your chances off and skip backing you altogether.
Yes, you and I know that Kickstarter won't charge them unless the project reaches it's funding goal, but there are other dynamics at work here. A project with accelerating funding is exciting. Exciting projects tend to get shared around and featured in the media. Projects that are widely shared tend to get more backers.
So, whether you're at that midway point in your campaign right now or now... now's the time to get planning. Many of the best solutions are the most effective if you plan for them and let your audience know in advance.
Let's go through a few we picked out from researching over 200 successful campaigns:
Keep it short:
This one is more prevention than cure but, if you haven't launched yet, choose a shorter deadline for your goal. This creates more overlap between the initial excitement phase and the final push at the end, reducing the risk of slowdowns. Kickstarter used to offer the option of having campigns run for 90 days. Now they only allow up to 60. Why? Because their statistics showed very clearly that long timelines were linked to more failed projects.
Trade Cross Promotion:
Contact other projects on a different timeline to yours, and arrange to mention their project to your followers midway through their campaign in exchange for them doing the same for you. This can be especially effective if the mention goes out at the beginning or end of their timeline when their project has the most activity.
Whatever you do, keep interesting updates flowing. Every time you post an update, you appear in the “Recently updated” section of Kickstarter, that people see when looking for projects. People who have clicked the “Remind Me” button on your campaign page will also be sent a notification about your update, encouraging them to come back and consider backing you.
So, what's been happening in your campaign? What surprised you? What inspired or frustrated you? What have people been asking about? What other ideas have you had? What could you ask for feedback about? What have you enjoyed learning about from other projects? These are all things you can write up a post about right now, to get yourself some extra visibility and a quick kickstart.
Hold an event:
Directly interacting with you and the team behind your project encourages both new backers, and also pledge increases. Consider holding a live, video streamed event online at somewhere like Ustream or Justin.tv. Think about what could be organized to make it fun or inspiring.
Often people will do this at the end of their campaign, but doing it earlier gives you more chances for people to share your campaign before it ends.
You can make it a Q & A session where people ask your team questions, or turn it around and have a session where (potential) backers can throw ideas at you for what they'd like to see.
Offer a raffle with prizes, where people get an entry by retweeting or sharing your campaign. Let people know at the start there will be prize give aways if funding hits a certain level. Most of all have fun and enjoy hanging out with your community. An upcoming event is also a great excuse to update your followers a couple more times.
Another option is to make it a “mystery event”. Let everyone know you have something big planned for whatever date is the middle of your campaign. Drop intriguing hints regularly. Ask people to guess what it's going to be (and incorporate any good ideas).
Save the Good Stuff:
It's easy to want to show people *everything* when you first launch, but save a couple of really good surprises for later. Most people aren't going to read everything you post at launch, anyway. Attentions are at a premium, and there's your video, rewards, project description etc. to go through.
Add new reward levels:
By this point in the campaign you'll often have an idea of what people would like to be different in the rewards. Provide it. New reward levels, especially ones just a bit above other popular reward levels, can encourage backers to think about increasing their pledge, and non backers to make a first pledge.
Don't know what people want? Ask them. Running a poll with an open ended question, and replying to all comments is a great way to get discussions started. Discussions are a great way of helping people become part of your project and community, and people usually like to “help their own”.
Similar to adding new reward levels, is to add an upgrade. This is an item where for a certain amount (often $5-$15) people can get an extra something related to your project added to their pre-existing rewards.
This might be a live recording of a concert if the project is producing a studio album, or engraving the issue number on some limited edition collectable. The best thing about this is that it can encourage all the people already backing you, as well as adding appeal to new backers.
So, as you can see, there are a range of things you can do to help get people re-interested and pledging to your campaign when you hit the midway point. The thing they all have in common is to just get active and do something interesting for your audience. As long as you let them know, you're giving yourself – and your project – the best chance of success.
So, what have you tried (or send other projects do) to get over the trough? We'd love to hear about it (whether it worked or not) in the comments below.