Have you ever wondered what to do once your crowdfunding campaign is over? Whether you're getting ready to launch or in the final stages, it's essential to consider your post-campaign needs. One question you may be asking yourself is whether it's better to handle your fulfillment needs on your own or use a pledge manager to help you. In this blog article, we'll dive into your options and help you make an informed decision.
Lucky for you, we asked some tabletop gaming industry leaders, “knowing what you know now, what would you have liked to know before you picked your pledge management tool?”’.
Here’s what they came up with…
1. How much does it really cost?
While you certainly want to research set-up fees and the cost of any in-tool transactions for add-ons, upgrades, shipping, or taxes, the real price tag is bigger than just the obvious initial out-of-pocket expense. Some tools are white-glove and handle all the set-up for you while also offering backer support. Others may advertise their service as free but require just as much effort from you or your staff as running another Kickstarter campaign, ultimately adding a significant time and energy cost that can’t be recovered.
Then there’s the cost of the user experience both within the tool and after your campaign. Choosing to conduct third-party email marketing post-campaign not affiliated with Kickstarter may irritate and confuse backers who aren't clear on how they've been subscribed to this email list. Who is this company? Is this spam? Did they sell my email to a service? Ultimately, this could be linked to your brand, which might affect some backers' willingness to support your next project. Additionally, you need to factor in the expenses associated with upgrades, add-ons, and late backers, as they are additional costs to be considered.
James Hudson, Owner of Druid City Games and former Senior Director of Tabletop Games at Skybound Games has worked with such titles as Tidal Blades, Wonderland’s War, Trial by Trolley, and Court of the Dead: Mourners Call Board Game, noted —
“I think the biggest misunderstanding is what [a pledge manager] is going to ‘cost’ you and ‘is it worth it.’ The simple answer is [our pledge manager] system had the same cost as running the crowdfunding campaign in the first place, so there is no downside to having it, in fact, it’s quite silly that anyone wouldn’t use a pledge manager system with their campaign. They are literally throwing away growth for their project. A pledge manager allows you to extend your sale period and keep the momentum building for your project at a very similar cost as the original crowdfunding campaign, that just makes sense.”
2. When is the best time to research pledge managers?
Heath Robinson, Co-Founder of Infinite Black, has been developing board games and game accessories for several years. He suggests “a creator really needs to understand the options they are offering on Kickstarter, then discuss them with the company that is running the pledge manager system well in advance.” Choosing, and even committing to your pledge management partner several weeks before your Kickstarter campaign goes live will allow your chosen collaborator to suggest minor changes to reward structures to help you run the most profitable and backer-friendly campaign possible from launch to fulfillment. All of their suggestions will be based on the specific strengths and weaknesses of their tool and your unique campaign needs. While you can absolutely use a pledge management tool to mitigate problems after your Kickstarter campaign has ended, engaging with one before you launch may help you avoid those issues entirely.
3. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, who can you rely on to support you?
“Are the people that create and support your pledge manager awesome to work with? You’ll be working with them a lot!” says Dan Yarrington, Founder of Tabletop Tycoon and a professional in the tabletop gaming industry since 1996. While you’re undoubtedly the subject matter expert on your project, you may still need support to forecast all the downstream reporting, manufacturing & fulfillment data, and survey configuration details that must be included in your pledge manager to get the right answers. Faulty input data will result in flawed output data, which will increase your costs and time invested in delivering on your promises to your backers. Using the right pledge manager for your preferred level of support can help you avoid snafus, like backers receiving the wrong order by helping you ask the right questions in your survey to get the answers you really needed.
Make sure the team you hire is willing and able to help you identify and eliminate potential complications before your campaign launches, and that they’re fully committed to helping you untangle any issues that may arise once your survey goes live. For instance, do they guarantee the integrity of the data? Which specific team member will support you through your survey set-up, admin training and testing, survey launch, backer support, production support, preliminary manufacturing reporting, and final fulfillment reporting? You’re going to need to have a solid relationship with each of those people and should feel like they care about your success and your backers’ happiness as much as you do. Otherwise, you may find yourself looking for another pledge manager for your next campaign.
4. What customizations do you need, and can the tool you’re considering execute them?
“Does your [pledge manager] handle state and international sales taxes? Recent tax laws require reporting from many districts and jurisdictions so this is a must! Does your [pledge manager] integrate with your fulfillment provider to automatically transfer your backer data…without [risk of] corruption during a manual transfer?” These are just a few of the things that Tabletop Tycoon found to be vital to their choice of pledge manager.
You may need a path for your friendly local game store (FLGS) to get special rewards at retailer pricing. Maybe you’re like Brenna Noonan, who has been involved with over 40 successful Kickstarter campaigns since 2017, and you need complex shipping configurations – incorporating flat rate, weight-based and pick fees all in the same project. Do you need a path to convert late backers into repeat backers? Or the ability to add a unique loyalty product to specific cohorts within your backer pool and have it stick with them, even if they upgrade? It could be that you just need a super user-friendly backer interface that allows you to share even limited-quantity items from your last campaign and an intuitive creator dashboard like Michael Coe, CEO of Gamelyn Games and publisher of the “Tiny Epic” series by Scott Almes. Perhaps your campaign was viral and it’s really important to you that the survey tool feels like an extension of your brand and campaign rather than an advertisement for your survey vendor.
When it comes to pledge management, each campaign is its own individual mystery, and not all pledge managers are created alike. You’ve probably backed some campaigns yourself. What was frustrating or thrilling about one tool’s process versus another? Be sure to spend some time thinking about the process from your backers’ perspective and choose the tool that presents the path of least resistance between your backers completing their survey and you getting them the right rewards.
A pledge manager survey tool can be a cost-effective way to help you grow and extend your campaign, offer a ton of features that will make your life easier, and ultimately get the right products into the hands of the right backers with the least amount of stress. But, it’s worth taking the time to do your due diligence and dig in to find the one that’s the right fit both for you and your backers. Learn how you can reap the benefits of a full-service pledge management solution.