How to make a successful Kickstarter video

It seems like everyone today is on Kickstarter. The funding platform is reported to have more than 56,000 projects and more than 5.6 million backers on the site. So if you’re thinking of creating a campaign on Kickstarter, you’ll be entering a crowded territory.

So how do you set yourself apart? 

Kickstarter suggests that a video is one way to do it. They’ve seen projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without (50% vs. 30%). And while Kickstarter School offers some good tips and tricks, it’s lacking in specifics.

They’re absolutely right when they say: “You can spend days shooting and editing, or you can just knock it out with a couple friends on a Saturday. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be you.”

But how do you make a you video? That’s the tricky part. We covered this topic a bit in a previous FullStart article, but a Kickstarter video needs to have that secret sauce.

I won’t lie to you. The video is only part of the equation. The other parts include your own marketing, your prizes, and the rest of your story. This video is the first thing most people will see before they decide to back your project.

So what makes a great Kickstarter video?

We’ll use examples of four companies that AlleyWire has covered, including ourselves, most of whom have had outrageously successful campaigns. Let’s look closely at each one.

Flint & Tinder

Project: Premium Men’s Underwear 

Funding: $291k+ out of $30k requested (900% above ask)

So why does this video rock? The production value is okay and the voice-over isn’t particularly inspiring, but Jake and his team had a really good product.

  • The length: It’s the right length — just a bit over two minutes.
  • The hook: It starts off with a great line: “Want to hear something wild? It starts in the underwear section of Macy’s…”
  • The story: It tells you a tale: “There’s this problem about underwear being made outside of America…we’re going to fix that.”

FitBark

Project: World’s tiniest wireless activity tracker for dogs

Funding: $80k+ out of $35k requested (129% above ask)

So why does this video rock? The production value is actually pretty good, and they have a cool product and story. They also have some crazy media coverage to dovetail with the campaign.

  • The “be yourself” principle: These people aren’t actors, but they are dog lovers. And that’s what they showed…themselves. With dogs. Having fun.
  • The equipment: These guys put some time and money into equipment and editing. Having great equipment doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, but it doesn’t hurt. It can convey immediate legitimacy, so whatever equipment you use, know how to use it well.
  • The brand: FitBark did a really nice job of showing off the product and explaining the value proposition with visual elements. They had a simple shot of a dog playing next to a fitness-tracking screen shot, leaving you with an overall impression of the product.

AlleyWire

Project: 100 Startups 100 Days

Funding: $TBD out of $25k requested

So why does this video rock? Okay, I can’t say our own video rocks, but I think it came out really well. We did this over one day of shooting, and I’m pleased with our storytelling and the production value. For this section, we’ll talk about some specific things you need to address in your Kickstarter video rather than the high-level elements described above.

  • The appeal: You need to give people a “Call to Action” and a real reason to help you. Don’t whine or complain. Just give a clear ask and explain the use of the proceeds.
  • The recency effect: Not only do you want to say your project name multiple times throughout the video, it should be the thing you start and end with. People react often to the first or last thing they hear.
  • The music: You don’t need fancy graphics, but music is a must. You can get a lot of free-licensed music (check to make sure it has a derivative, commercial license if you’re going the Creative Commons route and see if it has an attribution requirement), or you create something custom, but I highly recommend having something to pace your story.

Let’s recap:

1) Length: Keep it short.

2) Find a Hook: What will get people’s attention in first few seconds?

3) Story: Make sure you have a good narrative.

4) Show Don’t Tell: Use the visual to drive the narrative.

5) Rewards: Show and talk about your swag.

6) Write to Pictures: If you’re saying it, show it.

7) Be Yourself: Be true to who you are…don’t act.

8) Equipment: Your equipment doesn’t matter, just use it well.

9) Brand: Tie your video message back to your brand.

10) Appeal: Make an appeal with a clear Call to Action.

11) Recency Effect: Repeat your message and make sure it’s the first and last thing folks hear.

12) Music: Use it.

Since these are all “dos,” the opposite are clearly “don’ts.” For example, don’t try to act funny if you’re not funny. Be yourself. Good luck with your campaign, and if you ever need any help, you can always reach me at neil@alleywire.com.

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