Entries in kickstarter videos (2)
By Scott Kirkwood
So you’re producing an advocacy video. In most cases your goal is to inform people of a problem, offer them potential solutions to that problem, and get them to take some action toward that solution, like giving money, signing up for emails, or making meaningful change in their daily lives. If only there were a microcosm of videos that included some of these same principles, a laboratory where we could all learn from successes and mistakes. There is. It’s called Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is one of those brilliantly simple concepts that never would’ve worked before the web explosion. It’s a way for creative people to share their ideas with a massive audience, and get the funding they need to take the next step. Surf Kickstarter.com for a few minutes and you’ll see writers, photographers, videographers, bands, and inventors all competing for your attention and, ultimately, a few bucks. Kickstarter is the hub that connects people with an ambitious project to individuals with money and a desire to help out. Sound familiar?
Sales pitches are generally made in a 3- to 4-minute video pitch. As you would suspect, successful videos have quite a bit in common. Here are some of the biggies.
1. EARN THEIR TRUST. The unlikely love story entitled “Josephine and the Roach” is introduced by a likable, if quirky, filmmaker. The writers of “Oneironautics: A Field Guide to Lucid Dreams” start off by telling you about one of their dreams. The maker of the RedPop iPhone button talks to you from his living-room table. If you can tell a human story using a charismatic figure, it’s a huge advantage. But the broader idea is to earn the viewers’ trust from the outset. That might amount to presenting certain facts in an authoritative way, ensuring quality production techniques, even using consistent fonts in your captions and quality music as a backdrop. Once you see the “face” of an organization, whether literally or figuratively, you’re more likely to be engaged in the story they’re telling.
2. ILLUSTRATE THE PROBLEM QUICKLY. All of these videos mentioned here are about 3 minutes long, and they’ve all prompted people to cough up some serious cash. “Josephine” illustrates work already achieved by the filmmaker, and points out the need for some digital assistance. The lucid dreamers point out that there are many stuffy books on the subject, but none are accessible to the Average Joe. And the couple at Quinn Popcorn explains how they want to make microwave popcorn that tastes great. As most journalists and marketing gurus will tell you, if you can’t explain a problem succinctly, then you don’t really understand the problem. Find a way.
3. ILLUSTRATE THE SOLUTION QUICKLY. Problems without solutions are just depressing. If you’re producing an advocacy video, you must have some sort of solution in mind. State it simply, so viewers can get on board. Josephine’s director will use digital manipulation to erase a puppeteer’s presence. RedPop will create a button that makes it easy to take photos at a precise moment, and shoot again and again. Quinn Popcorn will use a compostable bag, green suppliers, and even let you add the flavors yourself. All are simple and compelling. Your solution might be to donate a few dollars, to write a member of Congress, to sign on to an online petition. If you want action, make that action clear, and explain how it will help.
4. TELL VIEWERS WHAT'S NEXT. Your potential supporters will want to know what happens if they lend their time or money, or simply sign up to receive your emails. Without some idea of the next step, they’re unlikely to join the effort. Kickstarter funds for RedPop will go toward mass production, Quinn Popcorn’s money will go toward distribution. Your advocacy work might be complete in days, weeks, or years. But viewers will want some idea of what they can expect. Don’t leave them in the dark when the video fades to black.
5. BE THE KIND OF GROUP THAT PEOPLE WANT TO SUPPORT. This last item isn’t always easy to achieve, but it’s important. Marketing gurus will tell you that people don’t just buy products for their usefulness, they buy products that label them as the kind of person they want to be. If you buy an iPhone, you’re part of a tribe. If you buy a Prius, or an SUV, or a bike, you’re not just purchasing wheels—you’re saying something about yourself, too. The most effective Kickstarter videos make viewers think not only, “Is it worth $10 to see this project funded?” but “Am I the kind of person who supports quirky filmmakers, nerdy dreamers, or a better bag of popcorn?” Ten dollars allows you to say “Yes, I am.” The same goes for supporting an advocacy movement. So don’t just try to persuade viewers that you’ve got a good idea—show them they’re the kind of person who should belong to your tribe.Scott Kirkwood is editor-in-chief of National Parks Magazine, a passionate reader of publications like Wired and Fast Company, and a regular contributor to TDN.