When Stretch Goals Work (and How to Pitch Them)
When done correctly, stretch goals can bring in additional revenue, strengthen your product and help you more fully realize your vision. If you don’t handle them with a deft touch, your backers may think you’re holding out on delivering a complete experience, hiding crucial components of your product behind de facto pay walls.
The Best Projects To Add Stretch Goals To
There are a few categories where stretch goals are common, and in some cases expected. The tabletop and board game category is where stretch goals are most utilized. Because these games are made up primarily of printed pieces (cards & playing boards) and plastic or wooden parts (dice, meeples, tokens, etc), it’s easy to price out a basic, MVP of the game without all the bells and whistles. If the game gets funded without a penny to spare, the experience still feels complete. Anyone can play and enjoy the game no problem.
But it’s just as easy to “plus” up individual components for pennies more a unit. Going from a basic card stock to a plush linen paper is as easy as checking a box on your print order. It’s similarly simple to find higher quality meeples made of metal to swap out for your basic plastic units. Most importantly of all, these are costs you can easily calculate well before your campaign goes live.
So any project that utilizes printed pieces or mass-produced, swappable parts are great for stretch goals to increase the quality of the finished piece. Categories like:
- Board Games
- Card Games
- Comics and Graphic Novels
- Design Books
Before you commit to offering a stretch goal, have a reasonable assumption your campaign will actually get funded. Don’t start throwing out stretch goals when you’re one week in and 5% funded. And definitely don’t launch with stretch goals on your page. That said, be prepared to jump into action if they suddenly become feasible.
Where To Steer Clear
Porting a videogame from one console to another, though much easier nowadays compared to when we were all blowing on cartridges, is still a complicated process, fraught with hiccups, bottlenecks and debugging. Many crowdfunded video games have an MVP that delivers a copy of the game on PC, generally through the Steam Marketplace. From there they add PS4 Xbox One, Nintendo Switch etc. in the form of stretch goals. Obviously, this is exponentially more complicated than changing the paper quality on a deck of cards. Those funds go directly towards hours, and unless you can get pretty accurate with your estimates, it can completely gobble up whatever gains you’ve made beyond your funding goal. So tread lightly with any stretch goal that goes primarily towards salaries of additional employees—once you promise it, you’re on the hook, no matter how long it takes to complete.
This is true of many software development crowdfunding projects; when backers are funding a development cycle rather than the manufacturing of a physical thing, it’s more difficult to forecast the expenses involved in improving your product. But unlike a physical good, you can iterate on your idea indefinitely through updates once your base product goes live. So it may be best to save those incremental improvements for after you’ve established yourself.
Films and performance projects also have a hard time with stretch goals. If you are a creator in this category you are trying to bring your unique vision to the stage, screen or elsewhere. You wouldn’t use extra money to add characters to the script, right? While some projects call different funding milestone’s “Stretch Goals,” things like “additional rehearsal time” and “more PR” don’t change the core story or improve your original vision. The point here is to focus your messaging on selling your story, not the logistical hurdles each additional dollar allows you to clear.
Lastly, there are stretch goals that add little value to your project, regardless of what category you are in; “swag” stretch goals. It is easy to put your game or company logo on a t-shirt and pack it in with every reward over X amount, but it adds little or no value to the product people are actually plunking down their hard-earned cash. Few people will wear your swag, so don’t use any “extra” money to reward your backers with hoodies, caps, keychains or whatever. Reinvest what additional profit you have into improving your product or reaching new audiences.
Getting Backers on Board
Let’s say you have a great idea for a stretch goal. How do you go about pitching it on top of pitching your original idea?
Prepare a visually engaging graphic that easily spells out what milestones you are trying to reach, and what your backers can expect at each milestone. Always make it clear what they are getting out of it, and keep them updated as you get closer to a new milestone. Get backers invested in your success by making it feel like their success. Cheer them on when they share your campaign, thank them if they increase their pledge level.
The key here is to make each stretch goal attainable at regular intervals throughout the course of your campaign. That way you can provide regular updates with good news, as opposed to hitting five milestones in the final hours. You can also tie stretch goals to things other than your funding level. You can tie some of these rewards to the number of backers. Find a way to reward your community when you reach 250, 500 or 1,000 backers. Show them that it isn’t ALL about money (though you know that more backers = more money).
Another great idea is providing incentives for your backers to join your Facebook page by offering a new piece of artwork for every 100 likes. That’s a super cheap way to grow a community around your project, and makes backers feel more involved in your success.
Exceeding your funding goal can feel like a windfall. But each additional backer most likely equals one additional unit of your product that needs to get made and shipped, so you’ll quickly realize that all this extra money isn’t actually extra. Make sure your accounting is air tight before adding features and extras that inflate your bottom line.