Final Push – Bailiff, break out the Right Guard

Final 28 hours of the Meeple Playing Card KS campaign. How does it look? 83% there, and I’m 90% towards a coronary.


There is sort of a general assumption with a Kickstarter project – you get a 1/3rd your backers in the first few days. 1/3rd in the slow middle, and `1/3rd in the final push. I can’t rely on this for the Meeple deck for two reasons.

1)    Total number of backers is low at about 205. The final push 1/3rd assumption is based in a lot of ways on getting your current backers to get real “viral” and that requires a certain density of backers to create compelling social noise. 200-ish could too few for that.

2)    Because this is a re-launched campaign, it got an artificially fast start. I got most of the backers from the first launch to jump on very early in this campaign. Expecting an end with the same vigor is probably misplaced hope.

Most of the stats on Kickstarter programs say that if you get to 50% of the target, you almost always make it. This campaign might buck that trend, which in a lot of ways makes it more interesting to me. It brings up some interesting questions. The two I’ve been dealing with today are “Straw-Man money” and “what WON’T I do to make my campaign hit it’s goal?”

What I’m Not Willing to Do

When your campaign is close, it’s easy to get tempted to do things that you find annoying when other people do them. Because I knew marketing would suffer by trying to do 12 campaigns in a year, I really feel this pressure today. One of the things that normally bugs me is when other campaigns ask me to do a “cross-pitch.” In almost all of those offers, it’s someone I don’t know with a very small campaign asking for help from a very successful campaign. Often those small campaigns are for really inferior products.

I’ve been asked probably 100 times for a cross-promotion on previous campaigns, and I’ve done it exactly twice. In those two cases, I felt like the project I was asked to cross-promote was both really good (something I would/did back), and appropriate for the folks who likely backed whatever I was doing at the time. And both times, the person who asked didn’t do it with a form letter that was obviously spammed to every other project in the category.

Today I was tempted to be that guy and send out 50 form emails to anyone who has ever done a playing card release. I decided not to go that route (I just couldn’t be ‘that guy’). But I did cross promote to two previous groups that I had personally sold too: The backers of the Miskatonic School for Girls, and Castle Dice games. I owed both of those groups an update on expansions anyway and I felt like since it was me again, it wasn’t too spammy.

I also requested a shout out from one very well known playing card creator/group called Uusi. I not only backed their awesome Pagan cards when they came out, but after sharing it on Facebook, so did one of my sisters. Their campaign was a real motivator for us, and as our styles couldn’t be more different, I felt like they wouldn’t look at us as any sort of competitor. I have no idea if they’ve shared the link, but I didn’t feel bad asking.

Straw-Man Money?

The tougher question that comes up now though regards “Straw-Man” money. KS has a policy that you can’t contribute to your own campaign. But it is a very common practice for folks to do this through a friend or relative. Some folks put this Straw-Man money into their campaigns at the beginning in hopes of getting a big boost that feeds on itself, and later they take the money out. Check out this graph:

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 12.25.51 PM

This project had a $10K goal. And amazingly, on day 1 a single person dropped $10K into the campaign… odd that… Then after the campaign had reached a level of success that allowed it, and just 8 days before the end, that backer left and took the $10K with him/her. That at least LOOKS a lot like Straw-Man money.

The other main use of Straw-Man money is to get a campaign to “just fund.” This is very common in certain areas of KS – just look at how many 100% funded kids books there are on KS. This is a pretty logical thing to do because not everyone running a KS campaign needs every single dollar to make their project a reality. Some people use KS just as a way to get some pre-sales on a project they are going to release anyway. Some folks use KS as a way to raise “all the money they can’t afford to put in themselves” as well.

For the Meeple Deck, I have an Underfund Goal (a goal amount that won’t totally cover all of my expenses). I didn’t do that as a marketing trick, but because I fully expect to sell a lot of these decks at gaming conventions and I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I can invest a couple thousand dollars in inventory. So, should I put in a  few hundred more dollars to make it fund? eek…

In 27 hours, I may come face-to-face with the Straw-Man decision to get the project funded. Right now, I’m torn. I’ve got a lot on my plate and having one less thing to produce this year wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen. This year isn’t about going 12-for-12 on my Kickstarters – it’s about trying hard. But over the course of trying hard on this one, I think I’m falling in love with the idea somewhat irrationatly. I really really like these cards.

I have two more tricks up my sleeve that I’m going to try out before the end of the campaign and hopefully, they will eliminate the need for me to even make the call. I did make a promise to myself to be totally honest on this blog, so whatever happens, you’ll find the truth here.

Next Up: Fallout


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One response to “Final Push – Bailiff, break out the Right Guard”

  1. lukepeterschmidt says :

    Quick comment here as one of my readers thought I should at least make this clear right away. Much more detail on it next week, but the campaign ended FUNDED with $260 to spare! and the only thing close to straw-money in it at the end was a $22 backing I did of another creator in exchange for them backing the meeple deck. Since I liked her game though, I felt good doing that. What accelerated this campaign was a free deck offer I made with just a few hours left! More next week.

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