Kickstarter backers are the bread and butter of the crowdfunding ecosystem. Without customers, backers, or supporters, crowdfunding won’t work!
All to often, I see creators neglecting their backers out of fear, guilt, or quite simply, not knowing what to say. As your relationship with your backers begins to sour, it will affect your business, your personal life, and your future product launches.
I promise you, you don’t want to upset your Kickstarter backers. This post is meant to help you avoid key pitfalls that many new campaigners fall into. While you don’t have to follow every rule, keeping them in mind will certainly help you run a smoother crowdfunding campaign.
1. Regular Communication Prevents Misunderstandings
Many times, creators will fail to communicate with their backers because they don’t actually have anything “worthwhile” to say. They don’t know what to include in an update. They don’t know how to report on news, if there is in fact no news to report on.
The problem with this strategy is that someone in your community is bound to have a question or a concern when they haven’t heard from you in a long time.
“Is everything okay?”
“Is this project still happening?”
“Why haven’t I gotten my reward yet?
Most creators will set out some kind of timeline and create an FAQ to answer all of these questions, but you’ll still get backers bringing up these topics. It’s your job to perform “customer service” for your campaign, so that things don’t get out of hand.
You don’t want backers coming up with their own reasons for why you haven’t checked in with the community. You don’t want them associating your brand in any way with the words “scam” or “fraud.” When people aren’t consistently informed, they tend to speculate and ruminate.
Even if you don’t have anything new to report, make sure that you’re consistently updating your backers on the progress of your fulfillment. You can always share a word of excitement or a personal story to enhance the update.
2. Be Careful of Your Tone of Voice
As a man, I always struggle with the concept that HOW I say something matters more than WHAT I say. It’s even more true online.
If you’re rushed, and you quickly post a comment or an update, you could inadvertently come off as standoffish, curt, or annoyed.
Make sure that you read every message that you post OUT LOUD so that you can detect any implied tone that you didn’t intend. As a side note, this is also a great way to catch grammatical errors.
I would always shoot for an upbeat, helpful, courteous, and enthusiastic tone. Should you ever get an angry comment, go to special lengths to show that you empathize with the backer and understand them before you present the solution.
I think that a great way to accentuate your personality and get your tone across is to use emojis. It might not seem as professional, but it sure is personal.
3. Set Realistic Delivery Milestones
Usually, the biggest headache with backer communication comes during the fulfillment phase of your campaign. So many Kickstarter campaigns have experience delayed fulfillment schedules.
To guard against this trap, make sure that you under-promise and over-deliver. It might be tempting to set an aggressive fulfillment timeline, but you’ll thank me later if you add in some buffer room.
I don’t doubt that you’re an efficient worker. After all, launching a Kickstarter campaign is hard work! However, during the fulfillment phase, you’ll be dealing with people OUTSIDE of your core organization. This could include fulfillment centers, manufacturers, etc.
You never know what might happen on the other side of the world. There could be some kind of natural disaster. You could miscalculate some part of manufacturing. Whatever the problem is, and I assure you, there probably will be one, you don’t want to be embarrassed in front of your backers.
Setting a realistic delivery timeline will ease the tension around the campaign and prevent burnout.
4. Don’t Engage in Public Arguments
Arguments a pretty much a lose-lose. If you “win” the argument, the other person will always like you less and probably be a bit aggravated. Other people who see the argument might see your behavior and not like it. If you “lose” the argument, it just threatens your credibility.
If you genuinely have a dispute with one of your backers, you can always invite them to have a private conversation or email you. Typically, I always view arguments as a way to show your courteous behavior. You want people to look at what you type or say and gain further respect for you.
Granted, I also make mistakes, like everyone. We’re most prone to make these mistakes when we’re emotionally invested in the conversation. That could be the emotion of anger, or the need to protect your ego. If you can feel any emotion beginning to rear it’s head, take a break and come back once you’ve cooled down.
5. Make Use of Kickstarter Live
The more that backers see your face and get a sense for your body language, they more they will trust you. As I mentioned in a previous point, it’s very easy for tone to get lost in text.
You can use Kickstarter Live to answer questions, chat, and assuage any fears or negative emotions in your backer community.
The great thing also about this tool is that you can instantly get feedback from your community, rather than having to wait for people to log back into the website and reply. This can help clear up a lot of confusion and make sure that everyone is on the same page.