While getting funded may be the most important milestone for you, the creator, for your fans the most important piece of the puzzle is getting your product in their hands. It’s an anxious time for backers, and if you go silent for too long it can cause frustration and revolt among your backers. Here are a few ideas for post-campaign engagement to keep your backers talking to you and about you while they patiently await their rewards.
Production, Proofs & Prototypes
The production process is one of the least understood elements of a campaign by backers. This presents a golden opportunity to educate and entertain your backers as your idea becomes a physical reality.
Before you send your PSD, CAD or other files to your production partner, show your backers the process it takes to get files production-ready. If your product is primarily printed materials (a board game, book, graphic novel, etc.) it may be a generous sign of goodwill to simply post your print-ready files for eager backers to print themselves and start playing/reading. Similarly, if your product can be 3D printed, backers might enjoy running your files through their own printers while they wait. This may seem like a risk, like you’re giving your product away, but others have done it without any headaches. If you do choose this route, treat it as another step in the prototype process. Gather feedback and implement what you can before you go to production. It all depends on your comfort level.
The Side Winder 3D Printing Prototypes
If you have the time and resources, a trip to your production facility can yield valuable content for backers hungry for a behind the scenes look at how a product gets made. Seeing your product come off the line is a powerful step in making it feel real, for both you and your backers. A trip like this also keeps you, the creator, at the center of the story. Backers don’t just want to see machinery spitting out playing cards or plastic casings, they want to see how you are reacting to it all. You’re living the dream! Your excitement will be infectious, so make sure to show it!
Obstacles & Delays
Let’s say you set a relatively low goal for your campaign, expecting to make 500 units. What happens if you raise double, ten, or one hundred times your goal? The production capacity of your manufacturing partner will inevitably be the bottleneck that dictates how soon you can get rewards to your backers.
If your production partner is severely limiting the pace of your output, you need to recognize that reality and take steps to get in front of it to limit the damage to your reputation.
First, stop taking pre-orders. The Coolest Cooler is a prime example of what not to do, here. Despite production hang-ups, worker strikes and a complicated design pushing their delivery back further and further, they kept taking pre-orders! Instead of focusing on getting the best product in the hands of their backers they already had, they made them wait months while prioritizing available units to buyers on Amazon paying double the Kickstarter price. It was a disaster.
Let your backers know that you’re 100% committed to delivering to them first. Don’t hide any delays from your fans, and never lay blame; at the end of the day you are responsible for your partners, even if they were the ones that dropped the ball. Most crowdfunding backers know to expect a delay or two. Don’t cut corners to deliver on time. At the end of the day, a good product is worth the wait.
Owning “Limited Edition”
In most cases, your initial run of orders will be a limited edition, produced purely for your backers. Owning up to your product’s relative scarcity can actually be a good PR opportunity, if you play your cards right. If your product is good, and your backers fall in love with it, it can build buzz around your brand.
If you’ve put a hold on pre-orders while you work on fulfilling current orders, you can drum up demand by collecting emails from interested buyers who want to stay informed when it becomes available again. Turn each subsequent pre-order window into an event, akin to when concert tickets go on sale.
The best and most recent example of this phenomenon is the Eve V laptop. They are still feverishly keeping up with demand after a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign, and tout the rabid demand on their “I want one” page. This strategy will keep their product top-of-mind for months to come while they work on streamlining their production processes.
What makes backers most unhappy is simply a lack of communication. If something happens post-campaign that makes your timeline slip, even by a week, you have to let people know. Similarly, if you hit a milestone (your product got through customs, the first orders are sent out), you need to speak up as well. It’s important to balance bad news with good news, too, so your updates page doesn’t just read like a series of delays and setbacks, souring potential customers long after the campaign ends.