Perhaps the most crucial element to a successful Kickstarter campaign is the video. It’s often the first, last, and only thing that people will see when they visit your project page. From the Kickstarter website they give statistics that say “Projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without videos (50% to 30% comparatively).” So it seems fairly obvious that simply having a video is a decent step toward success. How “good” the video is is a totally different issue.
Kickstarter goes on to say that the video doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be you. While this is encouraging to someone like myself who has literally zero movie-making experience, I still take it with a grain of salt. I’m sure there’s a correlation between high quality videos vs low quality videos in terms of successful funding. A low quality video might show me that the project’s creator doesn’t have their act together so why should I give them any money? A high quality video will engage the community, inspire confidence in potential donors, and likely lead to a larger social media reach.
To start things off I wanted to find some failed Kickstarter Campaigns and look at their videos. I definitely found more than a few videos that rambled on and on without really getting to the point, even after 5+ minutes of talking. People on the internet have zero attention span so if you can’t hook them in under 30 seconds then they lose interest. I lost interest but only continued to watch for educational reasons. Here’s an example of a particularly poor Kickstarter video (in my opinion of course).
The project’s creator seems to mumble and spends a lot of time talking about how awesome he is versus helping me understand why his project is game-changing. Better yet, he never convinced me that he needed my money so I’m fairly unlikely to donate to his project. He only reached $17k out of his $55k goal
Moving on to more positive examples, the Kickstarter website gives guidelines on what your video should cover:
- Tell us who you are.
- Making personal connections is key. Put yourself in front of the camera so that people see who you are. They often invest in the person as much as the project.
- Keep it personal.
- Tell us the story behind your project. Where’d you get the idea? What stage is it at now? How are you feeling about it?
- Show examples of your work.
- Come out and ask for people’s support, explaining why you need it and what you’ll do with their money.
- Talk about how awesome your rewards are, using any images you can. Explain that if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll get nothing, and everyone will be sad.
- Don’t use music, video, images that you don’t have the rights to. This might lead to expensive lawsuits down the road.
- Thank everyone.
He did a great job at explaining the problem, why his solution is better, what stage his project is at, and why he needs Kickstarter funds to be successful. As a result he raised 3646% more funds than he originally asked for $10k and ended up with $364k.
The advice from the Kickstarter website is all well and good but I wanted to dig a little deeper and get a 3rd party’s perspective on what makes a successful Kickstarter video versus an unsuccessful one. There are hundreds of blog posts on Kickstarter campaigns so it wasn’t hard to find advice throughout the blogosphere.
Tips from the Blogosphere:
- IT’S ALL ABOUT THE VIDEO
- In the first few minutes people had made the decision of whether or not they wanted to buy the product. The first 20 seconds must be pure punch.
- Most people don’t read the text on the page, they only look at the video. If your video REALLY interests people they might consider reading your long explanation below, but according to the Kickstarter project page stats, this is unlikely.
- The video is your elevator pitch so it should be short, punchy, to the point, and game-changing.
- In the first minute show them they have a problem, why everything else sucks, and why your product is changing the game (i.e. they need to want to buy it)
- 3 minutes is on the long end
- Don’t leave a shot on for more than 10 seconds, people on the internet have zero attention span
- Know Thy Audience – what is important to your target viewers? Is your viewer getting out of your project? Why should they cough up $X to help make our dreams a reality? What makes the project as a whole worth funding?
- Sell Yourself – why are you the right person to receive this funding? Show that you are capable of achieving your goals.
- Be Genuine – it’s easy to see through the sales pitch. Set realistic expectations and explain why you’re doing Kickstarter as opposed to a traditional funder (relative, angel, VC).
- Demonstrate the prototype in the video
- Introduce your Team
- Recording – DO NOT READ A SCRIPT. Write down bullet points and then give your spiel in front of the camera. Do this five more times and you’ll see yourself getting more comfortable. There’s nothing less inspiring than watching someone read a script. If they can’t easily explain their project without cue cards, do they really know enough to launch a successful project?
- Editing – when you think you’re done, take a break, then come back and cut out 25% of the video.
So what I learned from this research was that my video, while it doesn’t need to be of professional quality, it is very important to the success of my project. It should be less than 3 minutes but more importantly is the the content within the first 20 seconds. When someone goes to my project’s site and presses play, will they want to continue to watch after the first 20 seconds? I plan to use the above points as a check list when I’m creating my video. I’ll be sure to post my first draft for review so please give me your comments once it’s posted.
I gleaned some of the above information from friends who have had successful Kickstarter campaigns as well as some who are frequent (almost religious) backers. Here are a few of the websites that have helped me out: