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  • Writer's pictureXeo Lye

5 Things We are Doing Differently from our Last Kickstarter Campaign

The launch of Debtzilla's Kickstarter campaign marks our third crowdfunding campaign. Every crowdfunding campaign provides new insights and experiences which we can learn from to create a better campaign. Here are the five things which we are and will be doing differently from our last campaign with Wongamania: Banana Economy.

Be Prepared to Fail

Unless you are a well-established brand name with a strong reputation within the community, be prepared to fail. Failure is possible even if you have put together a perfect Kickstarter project. The reasons to fail are aplenty, including insufficient pre-marketing, bad timing, bad luck (clashing with a similar product launched by a major brand), or simply giving a wrong name to your product.

We had a friend who once launched a card game called "Goo Goo Gaa Gaa Showdown" and it didn't get funded. However, he later relaunched the game with a new title and the project was funded! He has underestimated how the title of a game can impact his Kickstarter campaign.

One key takeaway we learnt from him was not to worry too much about the success or failure of the Kickstarter campaign. A creator should always look at the reasons behind the failure, make improvements and do a re-launch. If you are confident of your product, you will succeed eventually. During our last Kickstarter project, we had a "succeed at all cost" mentality which generated a lot of stress and tension among our teammates, our friends and relatives. This time around, we adopted a "do the best we can but it's alright to fail" attitude. Seems to be working well so far...

Put together a Marketing Plan

During our last Kickstarter project, our marketing efforts were spontaneous and uncoordinated. We spent a lot of energy, time and money trying out all sorts of marketing channels, without showing many results in the majority of the effort. We did not have a marketing budget and did not prepare a proper plan beforehand. When we approached popular media outlets to buy advertising space during the campaign, we found that the slots we wanted were taken. It dawned on us then that such advertising space must be booked in advance. We wasted a lot of opportunities which we could have leverage on. This time around, we put in a proper plan months before the campaign, one completed with a detailed schedule and a content plan.

Strive for a Balance of Video and Written Reviews

One of the biggest concerns of backers is whether the product is as good as claimed. Unlike a gadget or fashion project whereby the video can easily show the features, it is difficult to capture the gameplay and experience of a gaming project. That is where 3rd party reviews come in.

The mistake we made in our last Kickstarter was that we only shared the game with local financial bloggers who provided written reviews. As a result, most of the backers came from Singapore and many of them came from the financial sector. Later, when we launched our game at Spiel Essen, the largest board game convention in Europe, we gathered feedback that backers are not willing to back as they are not sure of the credibility of an unknown studio from Asia without any reviews from 3rd parties they are familiar with. They also cannot get a feel of the game mechanics as the reviews were written from a financial education perspective. A lack of video reviews also deters many backers, as backers are able to get a better sense of the gaming experience from videos. Learning from these insights, we approached a mix of local and international reviewers from both the financial and tabletop industry which can help the audience appreciate the project from different perspectives.

Engage the Community

One of the shortfalls we had in the last Kickstarter project was the lack of planning to engage our potential backers in real life. One of the things we did right last year was to do a proper presentation of the game in front of an audience of 500 Malaysians and we garnered close to 50 backers after the two-hour presentation.

There is no better way to convince a backer to back your campaign than to share with them in real life. For Debtzilla's campaign, we have decided to work with our distributors and conduct a series of workshops, live demo and gaming conventions to share with the public on the various aspects of Debtzilla. The topics range from design thinking, art and game mechanics. We have also planned to hold live sessions and QnA sessions online to engage our international audience. On top of that, we are working with We The People store, a retail store that retails Kickstarter funded products, to do a live funding showcase where interested backers can view and experience a prototype of Debtzilla, at their flagship store at Millennial Walk, Singapore.

Better Shipping Plans

During the last Kickstarter campaign, we did our manufacturing in China for the first time. We had assumed then that air freight will definitely be faster than sea freight. I mean an aeroplane flies faster than a cargo ship right? But we were wrong!

We planned to have our Kickstarter backers receive the rewards via air freight while we will fulfil our distributors in Singapore and Malaysia via sea freight. Lo and behold, the shipment by sea actually reached our shores two weeks earlier than our backers whose rewards were to be delivered by air freight. Backers were definitely not pleased when they see the products in shops while they were still waiting for their rewards.

Later, we asked and learnt the rationale behind. A fulfilment company that is hired to send the rewards to our backers has to unpack our goods from the carton, pack them into envelopes and join a queue of hundreds of other companies who are waiting for their goods to be shipped out. This process can take up to weeks depending on seasonal demand and it takes another week or two for the goods to clear customs before it can be delivered by the friendly local post office to our backers. It might be faster if we ship to a country, clear the custom in a single shipment and have a local fulfilment company deal with the last mile delivery. Learning from these lessons, we have reworked our shipping plans to be faster and more efficient for Debtzilla.

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