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A Few Thoughts on Marketing Your Kickstarter Project
Kickstarter is a site that allows anyone to raise money from an online community in order to fund any sort of project. Here's a primer on how to turn your vision into a reality.
Kickstarter is a site that allows anyone to raise money from an online community in order to fund a project. The site is growing at rapid rates and is an oft cited example of how the Internet is helping connect creators directly to their fans.
If you're unfamiliar with Kickstarter, odds are you'll probably start hearing about some of it's success stories. It's empowered some truly amazing projects (like Diaspora, an open competitor to Facebook raised $200,000 or a watchband that turns any iPod nano into a full touchscreen watch which raised just under a million dollars - pictured below).
A friend recently asked me to advise him on whether Kickstarter would be a viable place to get funding for a website he wants to create. I figured I'd share my notes with you all - in case you find reason to analyze Kickstarter for your projects. I welcome any and all feedback.
As an important disclosure, I've never run a Kickstarter project. I've talked to a few folks that have, but what follows is essentially me applying my marketing experience and gut instincts to the behaviors I've observed on the site. I've done this withbthe same rigor I would for a personal project, but take this with a heavy grain of salt.
Interested in different points of view? See these two GREAT posts:
If you're not inclined to read a longish post on this today, here are the following key points covered in this post:
1. If your project is a business, and not a passion project, you have no business being on Kickstarter.
2. Understand the psychology behind giving money. Why would people fund you? Help them understand why they should.
3. You have 5 key marketing assets you can create: Video, Social Proof, Pricing Levels, Partners & Description. Use them well.
4. Drive your own traffic, no "build it and they will come."
Field Notes: Marketing Your Project
Kickstarter is an online community that is primarily interested in supporting passion projects, a large number of which are artistic in nature. It may not be the right fit for many commercial projects.
Here's a simple heuristic for deciding whether Kickstarter is right for you; how passionate are you about this project for non-financial reasons? If you want to build something because there's a clear market need and you understand your customers really well, that's awesome - but not really a good fit for Kickstarter.
If, instead, you want to build something because you think it's totally awesome. If your idea keeps you up at night, works you into a frenzy talking about it and represents a core piece of you, of your identity, that would make you really happy to share with the world, then read on - Kickstarter might be a good fit for you.
Once you've got your passion project figured out, setting up a page on Kickstarter is quite easy. Your page gives you the ability to create 5 key marketing assets, which you can use to tell your story with the goal of recruiting visitors into fans and/or customers. Here are the 5 key marketing assets (in rough order of importance): Video, Social Proof, Pricing Levels, Partners, & Description.
Before diving in, start with creating a simple creative brief. Define the high level project you want to create in 1-3 sentences, then start describing why people should care, what you want the final product to resemble, and the process involved in creating it. Spec out the minimum budget you need to successfully complete this. The budget required is important - this should be the true minimum it would take you (be scrappy!).
Once you have that, categorize your nice-to-haves -- think of ways to improve the project with more money/resources (and write them down, you'll use them to encourage extra donations if your project reaches full funding.
Finally, in all materials you create, acknowledge the psychology behind people giving money: the more likely it seems that you're going to succeed at your goal and the more people care about that goal (or about you), the more likely people are to give it to you.
Kickstarter is built with some of this in mind. They help a lot just by acting as an escrow -- capturing the commitment to fund from the user, but only actually making the transaction if the project raises its minimum amount. You can build upon this good start by focusing on providing details in your marketing assets that that make it clearer that you are likely to succeed. Here's a few psychological triggers that I know about (I probably missed a few - please add to this list!)...
Social Proof and Reciprocity are fundamentally built into the Kickstarter platform -- but look for ways to include them further. Now use this creative brief, and initial thinking you've done on the psychology of persuasion, to create your marketing materials:
Video: Your video should be personal, a message from a real person on camera describing this project and it's value. Exude your passion for this thing. Let people know you want this project more than anything. You ever hear a little girl ask her parents for a pony? Channel that child! High production values can definitely pay off here, especially if they help showcase the look and feel of the completed product, but fancy tricks aren't required... being real beats being slick.
Social Proof: One of the most prominent visual cues on a Kickstarter Page, the first thing people see on your project, is how much has been raised, how much is needed, and how much time is left. Getting help from your friends, family, and fans to help you get that crucial first 20-30% can pay off extraordinarily well. Consider co-ordinating your outreach so that you can have a good start to the project in the first few days. Here's an exercise - come up with 3 different strategies you could use to raise 25% of the total in less than 48 hours. Try all 3 over the first 6 days.
Pricing Levels: Here's where Reciprocity and recognition come to play. Having well constructed pricing steps with interesting rewards can really help move someone up to the next level of affinity. These rewards should be specific to something tied to you and/or your project. A lot of people give the completed project to donors at certain levels. Behind the scenes access can also be very cool (consider setting up a paid newsletter at www.letter.ly or www.tiny letter.cc and giving free access to donors). Maybe it's recognition (thanks on your website, a producer credit). Maybe you'll name the project after someone. Get creative.
Think about visitors as coming to your page and quickly deciding, based on how much your project video & description speak to them, what their affinity is for the project. The more affinity they have, the more they'd be willing to give (up to their discretionary spending limit). You should use the price levels and corresponding rewards as a way to move folks up to higher levels.
Levels will very for different types of projects, but I think common levels are $1, $5, $20-$35, $50-$75, $80-100, and so on. Craig Mod has a compelling argument for using $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500 (source: http://bit.ly/cDMvKE).
Partners: consider trying to recruit people to help you promote, these could be collaborators, sources, advisors, or anything else that makes sense, but find a good way to include people in your project before you launch the Kickstarter and give them recognition in your marketing materials (description and or video). This can help create social proof, and subtly encourages those folks to help you promote.
Description: If someone is on the fence about supporting your project, they'll read your description closely. Answer common questions, find ways to show them your credibility, passion and appreciation for their support. If you know any sales letter copywriters, ask them to review and help you here. If not, enough passion cures all other ills.
That's what I've put together from a few hours of research, but this is a topic that could definitely use more testing and observation. If you like this article and want to read more, tweet me at @tylerwillis and let me know and I'll write about it more. Heck, maybe I'll put it up as a book on Kickstarter :)
Have you got an idea or observation to add? Please share it in the comments - all the readers of this blog have told me how much they value the comments you all leave, keep up the good work!
The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
What’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota?
This is a mysterious map. Obviously about music, or more precisely musicians. But what’s Eminem doing in Missouri? Kanye West in Georgia? And Wiz Khalifa in, of all places, North Dakota? None of these musicians are from those states! Everyone knows that! Is this map that stupid, or just looking for a fight? Let’s pause a moment and consider our attention spans, shrinking faster than polar ice caps.
Can passenger airships make a triumphantly 'green' comeback?
Large airships were too sensitive to wind gusts and too sluggish to win against aeroplanes. But today, they have a chance to make a spectacular return.
Vegans and vegetarians often have nutrient deficiencies and lower BMI, which can increase the risk of fractures.
- The study found that vegans were 43% more likely to suffer fractures than meat eaters.
- Similar results were observed for vegetarians and fish eaters, though to a lesser extent.
- It's possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, though it takes some strategic planning to compensate for the nutrients that a plant-based diet can't easily provide.
Comparison of fracture cases by diet group
Credit: Tong et al.<p>The results showed that vegans were especially vulnerable to hip fractures, suffering 2.3 times more cases than meat-eaters. Vegetarians and pescatarians were also more likely to suffer hip fractures, though to a lesser extent.</p><p>One explanation may be that non-meat eaters consume less calcium and protein. Calcium helps the body build strong bones, particularly before age 30, after which the body begins to lose bone mineral density (though consuming enough calcium through diet or supplement can <a href="https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/" target="_blank">help offset losses</a>). Lower bone mineral density means higher risk of fracture.</p><p>Protein seems to help the body absorb calcium, <a href="https://www.bonejoint.net/blog/did-you-know-that-certain-foods-block-calcium-absorption/#:~:text=Historically%2C%20nutritionists%20have%20warned%20that,may%20increase%20intestinal%20calcium%20absorption." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">when consumed in normal levels</a>. The recent study, along with past research, shows that people who don't eat meat tend to have lower levels of both protein and calcium. When the researchers accounted for non-meat eaters who supplemented their diets with calcium and protein, fracture risk decreased, but still remained significant.</p>
Credit: Pixabay<p>Another explanation is body mass index (BMI). Non-meat eaters tend to have a lower BMI, which is associated with higher fracture risk, particularly hip fractures. In the new study, vegans with a low BMI were especially likely to suffer hip fractures. That might be because having more body mass provides a cushioning effect when people fall.</p><p>Still, the study has some limitations. For one, White European women were overrepresented in the sample. The researchers also didn't collect precise data on the type of calcium or protein supplementation, diet quality or causes of fractures.</p><p>Another complicating factor: Producers of vegan products, such as plant-based milk, are increasingly fortifying foods with nutrients like calcium and protein, so modern vegans are potentially at lower risk of deficiency.</p><p>The researchers wrote that their findings "suggest that bone health in vegans requires further research."</p>