Your Crowdfunding Campaign Failed. Now What?
Your campaign missed the mark. That’s a huge bummer, and a tough reality to confront. Obviously, you don’t want to give up (otherwise why would you be reading this?). But what can you do? How can you set yourself up for success the second time around?
It’s hard not to take failure personally, especially on a project you put so much of yourself into. That’s why it’s important to take a step back and let the dust settle. The worst thing you can do is start a new campaign right away. The easy excuse for a failed crowdfunding campaign is simply “bad timing,” but that rarely tells the whole story. You’re guaranteed to get even less support the second time around if you jump right back in. Instead, treat this experience as yet another stage in the prototyping phase, and like any prototype, your energy is now best spent getting critical feedback. Generally, campaigns run into a few common issues that prevent success.
- A funding goal that has the perception of being too high.
- Notice I said “perception” here. If you did your research and set a conservative funding goal (that can’t go any lower), but people still think it is too high, then you need to rethink your MVP (minimum viable product). You may have to scale back what you can deliver to get your idea out the door, and add to it in later iterations.
- A Bad Video
- Was it obvious what you were even pitching? Did you present a clear problem that your product is the solution for? Was it too long? Kickstarter lets you see how many people watched your video to completion and (even more importantly) shows you conversions to pledges. Successful campaigns generally report between 30%-45% view-to-completion and about 6-10% conversions from viewers to pledges. If you are well below those numbers, you need to rethink your video.
- Overall Lack of Professionalism
- Does your page look like you threw it together in a single night? Does your product/company even have a logo? A name? What about your thumbnail? Look at your page with a cynical eye. Does it project confidence? Or does it feel like someone trying to sell you “Rolexes” pinned to the inside of their trench coat?
What Went Right?
Chances are you gained some support for your campaign. Whether you fell far short of your goal or missed it by a few hundred dollars, first look to your current support base to understand what drew them to your project in the first place, and what ultimately got them to pledge. Look for common themes. Did they find your video compelling? Did they pledge because of you, or your product? What was the most compelling piece of your pitch? These positive pieces of feedback are what you’re going to build your second attempt on. A solid foundation from which you can improve on.
Unless your campaign violated Kickstarter’s or Indiegogo’s terms and conditions (and was removed altogether), your campaign page will stay up for as long as you let it. Your original backers will still receive updates. This is the best way to get feedback and answer the questions above. Maybe you can ask them to complete a survey. When you are ready to relaunch your campaign, make sure you give them a heads up before you go live. As a token of thanks, make a special “early bird” reward tier that offers a slight discount that these returning backers can take advantage of.
There is no set sweet spot for when to relaunch. It can be anywhere from a month later, to years later. The reason for this is because you need to show potential backers “What’s changed.” If it takes you a few weeks to make tweaks to your pitch or your product to appeal to a larger audience, and you can explain the improvement, go for it! If you need to take a few more months or years to really hone your craft, understand your industry and build a larger network, so be it. It’s all on you.
Update - Some insightful blogs from the creators of failed campaigns:
- Why the Highways & Byways Kickstarter Campaign Crashed & Burned - He had been doing documenting a very thorough dev diary on his game, but in the end he realized he, "made Highways & Byways without once asking “what do people want?”"
- Waters of Nereus / Cosmic Run: Regeneration (Canceled) - This new idea seemed to boil down to one simply thing: "I think it was a mistake to try to fund two games at once."