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Do I need content strategy for a Kickstarter campaign?

Do I need content strategy for a Kickstarter campaign?

All Fixed Up, children's book app by Shelly Bowen on KickstarterFunny you ask.

Twenty-eight days ago, I launched a Kickstarter campaign for Red Piggy Press to test an interactive children’s book concept and raise seed money. We have 48 hours left. Two days. And as of this moment, we have not reached our $15,000 goal. If we don’t, we get nothing.

This suddenly feels like a high stakes game. If we raised next to nothing, the test would have been clear. But getting very close so very near the deadline … this sounds like a mistake in planning.

Content strategy, as you know, is the planning, creation, and governance of useful, usable content. I’ve always said this should be useful and usable content for both the business and consumer — and today, I’m adding the media.

I’ve worked with dozens of companies on content strategies that focus on long-tail objectives: improved branding and relationships, increased clarity, visibility, engagement, and loyalty, higher conversions. But I have not practiced content strategy for a short-term all-or-nothing product launch, which is essentially what a Kickstarter campaign is. My biggest mistake? Assuming they were similar.

They are not. In a short-term launch, you need to have all your Dominoes lined up BEFORE you push the first one over.

Here’s what I would do differently next time for a product launch:

  1. Months in advance, develop relationships with the media (and your target audience) by giving them something of value. I made the mistake of thinking I couldn’t reach out to media until after the project went live on Kickstarter; after all, we didn’t have a product to show. But at that point, it was practically too late to get attention, make friends, and ask to contribute a guest blog post or get an interview before the campaign was over. Especially for an unknown brand.

    We have plans in place to revise Red Piggy Press’ blogging strategy and content marketing strategy to create long-term value … and achieve short-term gains when those product launches loom. In this case, it’s related to the research we’re doing for mobile interactivity.

  2. Plan for a whole campaign of content; not just the Kickstarter or product landing page. I knew to do this, but we were so wrapped up in usability studies to determine the right video message and awards, we didn’t plan ahead for the 4 weeks of content needed to keep our audience engaged. Instead, we created content — text, videos, and images — by the seat of our pants, and very quickly began to feel like an interruptive KPBS fundraiser.

    We now have plans for a series of videos, freebie research to help parents, and how-to content.

  3. Plan to surprise. Our users loved new twists and turns, additional awards for them, and seeing us in the media. We had no surprises planned.
  4. Don’t expect they’ll understand — or care — about the urgency of your campaign. Or understand Kickstarter for that matter. There is a learning curve. Help them out by building clarity into the content.
  5. It’s a full-time gig. Even if we had all our ducks in a row before we started, staying on top of the user generated content, and adjusting the content moving forward, and following up with content marketing placements was a full-time job. If you have other projects — as I do! — expect to be working nights and weekends during the campaign.

I love to work with PR departments to develop effective content strategy that is consistent in the media and on branded sites. But with the media, you need to be prepared for the unexpected and be ready to roll on with new content.

Additional Kickstarter Insights

  • Don’t expect Kickstarter to save the day. They do feature campaigns … but with so much volume, they’re not likely to feature yours.
  • You can get your Kickstarter campaign approved by them long before you launch. This helps with timing considerably.
  • July and August are probably not the best months for testing a concept like this. Our target audience is busy with kids out of school and vacations.
  • Backers are most active (at least for us) in the morning and evening. Middle day was eerily quiet.
  • I couldn’t have done this by myself. I needed the Red Piggy Press team and it’s community to pull it off.

Did Red Piggy Press make their goal? Go see!

Author Shelly Bowen

Shelly Bowen, Pybop's chief content strategist, has led teams of writers and creatives to develop websites and interactive content for more than 15 years. Read more about Shelly.

Contact Shelly

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