If you've read anything about creating a successful Kickstarter campaign, anywhere, you've no doubt come across the generic advice about how important a good campaign video is. Kickstarter themselves have stated that projects without a campaign video are 30% likely to be funded, while there is a 66% higher chance of being funded, statistically, in projects that do have a video (with 50% of them going on to be successfully funded).
In this article, we'll go through what you need to have in your Kickstarter campaign video to succeed, and then the resources to help you make it cheaper than you might have thought possible. So, let's get started right away with the foundations of any campaign video.
It's worth remembering what the actual goal of your campaign video actually is. Yes, you want people to pledge money to your project, but ironically, if that's what you focus on when making the video, it's likely to fail. After all, watching some late night style infomercial on a project page, may work for infomercials, but will tend to fall flat on Kickstarter.
Instead of focusing on the money, consider instead, using the video to do just three things: Letting people get to know you, explaining the idea and giving to your audience.
Let's break those down a bit further:
Getting to Know You
This isn't just about saying your name and what you want. People meet uncountable numbers of strangers every week that they'll never remember, let alone care about. If you want people to fund your dream, you need them to know -and care about – your dream.
Make sure you tell people about anything that helps people understand where the project idea came from and what it would mean to you and the other members of your team to pull this off. Where it's relevant, go into your collective backgrounds, personal as well as professional. What fuels your passion enough to list a Kickstarter project about this? What were the challenges that drove you to Kickstarter specifically? (Wasteland 2 is a great example of this). In short, what dream are they helping to fulfill.
As Kickstarter themselves advise, “Tell your story.” It's not the data points that will convince people. It's seeing part of themselves in you, and wanting to be part of helping you to live your dream, while also getting some great tangible rewards for themselves. We cover the rewards elsewhere, but for the video it's important to help them understand the dream and the idea.
Explaining the Idea
This is probably the simplest of all the sections here. Tell people what you'll actually be creating if (and do stress “if”) you get the funding needed. Keep it short and to the point, but focused on what uniquely stands out about your solution, and how it fits into the story you began earlier.
Use bullet points and images as much as possible. We have some resources at the end of this article to help with this.
Run the script for this by several people who don't know what you're making at all and ask them to explain it back to you. You know what you're making intimately, so it's hard to remember which parts others won't understand, especially when they don't read every word (and they won't).
People instinctively want to help people who help them. Giving in a way that gives real value to many people, encourages many people to give value back to your project.
There are many ways to give, depending on who your audience is likely to be. The founders of Clang use humor to give people a fun time watching their video. Two Guys Spaceventure actually offer people a browser based test level of their game and wallpaper images.
Most of all, give people sincere gratitude for backing you, and taking time to learn about your dream project.
Obviously, go into what you're going to give them as backers, but always come from the place of aiming to give more than you expect to get. That's exactly when you tend to get more than you expected, which then lets you give more to others and repeat the cycle.
One of the most underrated and forgotten things you can give people is certainty, that is certainty of exactly what they'll be getting, when, and why they can actually believe it.
Make sure that dates, features, what's included and excluded is spelled out explicitly. Then make it more explicit.
Show what you already have, what's done and why their backing is the last missing piece. Many of the highly funded projects (such as the Pebble ePaper Watch) actually show a near finished version, already done when they launched on Kickstarter. It's easy to believe in any project that can do that.
Remember, we're all time crunched and tend to skip over details. We all want to feel certain, like we understand everything before committing time, money and emotional energy to anything. Making sure you let people know all the specifics, and letting them see for themselves, sends a powerful message.
This is real. You can make a real difference.
Note: On the subject of making a difference in the Kickstarter world, we also highly recommend checking out Kicking It Forward, which we take part in, with part proceeds of everything on this site.
Ask, Yes, Ask For Them to Back You
Once, and only once, you have given more than your viewers expect, you need to ask people to back you. There is no two ways about this. It needs to be you. Personally... and you need to explicitly ask them to back you now.
You don't need to be hard sell about it (in fact I'd recommend not to be), but you need to ask directly. This is what makes the difference between people actually making a decision over whether or not to fund you, and just drifting away to the next project without even thinking about it.
This needs to be the very last thing in the video, and it needs to be clear, and worded to focus on what they'll be getting, not what you want.
Some people feel uncomfortable asking, but if you're doing your campaign right you're offering them far more than you're asking, so it really is their loss if you don't ask. You don't need to be a salesperson about it. You just need to be you... and ask them to back you.
Finally, when sitting down to write and create what you want to say in your video, take a look at some of the cheap or free Kickstarter campaign video resources available over at our other article here.
Often it's easier to write around what you can do easily, rather than tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to do something, just because you wrote it that way in the beginning.
There's no real magic to creating a great Kickstarter campaign video. It's all about communicating clearly, letting people get to know you and making sure that you're offering people as much as you possibly can. The real discipline is going over what you're doing and checking each of these areas again and again to make sure you're really doing it to the next level.
Of course there are always new ideas, tools and methods as we all learn together as a community, so we'd love to hear about what you've found in the comments, or questions you have.
Until then, have fun, learn, make a difference and a video that funds the project of your dreams. And remember, as Kickstarter themselves put it:
“It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be you.”