One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal as a project owner is cross-promotion. Cross-promotion comes in many forms and in the crowdfunding space with an emphasis on supporting projects and word-of-mouth, it’s a golden opportunity if you can work with another successful project to effectively promote your own project or cross-promote one another.
The most common method of cross-promotion is to rollover your existing backer audience from your first successful, or even failed project, to your next campaign. This has the benefit of rallying your existing fan base and people already familiar with your brand by informing them of your next project and how to get involved. Not only will this promote your new project, but possibly provide a boost to the beginning of your project that can accelerate its success. If you have a successful project and aren’t doing this sort of promotion for your next one, you’re doing something horribly wrong.
The most powerful way to utilize rollover cross-promotion is to chain your projects together so that as one is being delivered, the next one is starting. That way, when your backer has their shiny new widget in hand, you tell them about the next new shiny widget they can help bring to life.
But there are a few caveats that I would keep in mind when using rollover cross-promotion.
First – If you haven’t distributed rewards from your previous campaign and you haven’t been staying engaged with them through the process, and/or delivery of the prior rewards is delayed, the absolute worst thing you could possibly do is contact your previous backers and ask them to back your new project.
What message does that send to your backers? “Hey, I know I haven’t given you what I promised from the first campaign, but you should give me more money for my next one! Oh, and the new project is going to take time away from the first one so it’s going to take even longer!”
You don’t have to explicitly say this, but it’s exactly what they will perceive. If you’re lucky, they will ignore you. At worst, they’ll railroad your new campaign and publicly lynch you for deceiving them. It’s generally not a good idea to go back to the well looking for more support until those rewards are in route or in the hands of your backers.
The exception to this is if you are staying engaged with your backers. If you have a product that takes 6 months to make, but you have some other product you want to share with them 3 months after your previous one, STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR BACKERS. It’s good for you, it’s good for them, and it’s good for your next project. Keep them updated, share with them the incremental production information, show pictures, share funny stories about the process. When you launch your next project, they will be excited to see what they can be a part of next if you’re still providing an engaging experience with the first and reassuring them that the new project won’t impact the prior one.
Second – Don’t be spammy. Don’t just say “Hey, look at my new project!”. Tell your previous backers the story of your new project, summarize the new project, share how the prior project and this one are connected. Share with them how excited you were to have them be a part of making the first one possible, and how you can’t wait to work with them again. Don’t be fake, just tell your story.
Lastly – If you are rolling over the backers from a previous unsuccessful attempt, take the time to tell them why they should back you again. Why is this campaign different? What, if anything, have you changed? It’s not easy, but you need to be willing to explain and take ownership of what you did wrong during the first one for your backers to stay on board for your next campaign.
Your typical flavors of cross promotion include things like having an external person talk about your project. This can be anything from a blog post or prototype review to a podcast interview. So if you’ve got a comic book, find comic book resources to review your project. Or, if it’s a gadget, hit up your favorite gadget blogs to run your project by. Board or Card game? Boardgamegeek.com should probably be on your list. You get the idea.
Another typical cross-promotion is to have someone external to your project (preferably someone with a following of their own) show their support for your project. If you’re lucky, you can get famous or well-known people in the same space as your project to tweet about you, or even be in your video to help.
Two great examples: first, Fangamer Retrowear [ Kickstarter | Kicktraq ], a t-shirt project where you can buy classic designs from their previously sold-out releases. They brought in Tim Schafer of recent Doublefine Adventure fame to play the role of comic relief in their video. If you’ve not seen it, it’s worth watching all the way to the end.
At the time of this writing, they’ve got about 20 days to go, and are already approaching 150% of their goal. I’d say cross-promotion is working well for them.
Next up, Pixel Lincoln [ Kicktraq ]. With less than a week to go, they worked together with Sentinels of the Multiverse to create custom characters for a Sentinels booster pack that will be included for anyone who upgraded to the “Bonus Pack” level. This announcement came out on July 12th. Take a look at their pledge trend and what happened on that day:
After they’d done so well and completed their successful campaign, they continued their efforts by working with different folks in the gaming and crowdfunding space to create a special release “Celebrity Pack” that, I must confess, includes yours truly.
Now, despite the fact that they made a kick-ass card of me and I could be biased, the concept is genius. The campaign is over, but you know each person in the “Celebrity Pack” will want to promote it when it’s released, and what better to do than to include lots of folks in the pack who have audiences of their own and are sure to tell everyone about THEIR awesome kick-ass card when the game hits the shelves.
You can’t ask for much more than that. I mean, look at me, I’m talking about it right now because of it!
Last, but not least, is a hilarious example of cross-promotional cameo extremes. Clang [ Kicktraq ], who wanted to revolutionize swordfighting games, stepped up their video to not only be really funny, but had the illusive Gabe Newel from Valve making a crowbar, a hat tip to the Half Life series and a little bit of an inside joke to all the Half Life fans chomping at the bit for HL3:
So, there are a few creative ways you can use typical cross-promotion to help bolster your project from beginning to end.
What about taking it one step further? Something I’ve discussed with folks on this topic and theorized about are the synergistic opportunities with the normal ebb and flow of most projects and how they impact one another. You can see it happen organically when a clump of popular projects pop up all at once. They tend to reinforce one another and pass backer attention back and forth. What if this effect was engineered on purpose through cross-promotion? Instead of the same project owner talking about their new project, two or more completely separate projects might work together to cross-promote one in the middle of their campaign when the other one is just starting?
I’ll try to not get all science up in here and I’ll save you from the explanation clip from The Core, but this method is somewhat like wave interference in which two waves, or in this case – the movement of two projects, can cancel OR amplify one another if timed accordingly. It’s the same way that noise cancelling headphones work, but instead of stopping the noise, we’re using the backer-base from both projects to amplify the exposure of one another simultaneously.
For example, if we have typical project A and typical project B. Alone they are successful, follow the same generic backer profile and pledge accumulation curve with the goal being the green dashed line:
But, what if project B launches 12 days after project A and they both use the opportunity to cross-promote one another in some interesting way at the beginning of B. What you’d get is something that could look like this:
Notice how you could feed backers back and forth during that cross-promotion period, which would have the cumulative effect of accelerating the pledge activity and cause both projects to reach their goal earlier. What could you do with 4 or 5 extra days above your goal? Can you imagine what impact just this small offset would have if you could figure out how to do it effectively?
It’s an intriguing thought, and one I’m curious about. It could potentially be performed with multiple projects all in succession, but it would take quite a feat of cooperation and timing to make that happen.
However, while at Gen Con this past weekend, I noticed that Impact Miniatures “Spherical D14 and D18” project was unintentionally doing something very similar to this very concept.
After talking with Tom Anders at the Game Salute booth, I noticed they were cross-promoting a button from “Button Men” that used the dice from their project. After chatting with them, I realized they are using a flavor of this sort of cascaded reinforcement using cross-promotion but in an interesting way.
Impact Miniatures took the purpose of their campaign to fill a niche for missing dice, art from the “Unexploded Cow” project from Cheap Ass Games (also on Kickstarter), then applied it to be used in Button Men – a different game all together. What they’ve done is not just normal cross-promotion. They’ve actually integrated the cross-promotion of their own projects into a triangle between Cheap Ass Games’ “Button Men” game, art from the Unexploded Cow” project, and the dice from the “Spherical D14 and D18” project.
I had to know more, so I chatted up James from Cheap Ass Games & Tom Anders from Impact Miniatures.
[Kicktraq] What made you both decide to try a cross-promotion like this?
[Tom] I had one of the fans of Impact! who was also a Buttonmen fan mention to James on his Facebook page for Cheapass Games that our new D14 and D18 dice would make interesting new Buttonmen. James posted back on Facebook that he agreed. From that post by James which came to my attention I sent a request to create a Buttonman using the D14 and D18 and James let me know he had Unexploded Cow going on KickStarter and he was the one that proposed the cross-promotion using the triangle between our two KickStarters and Buttonmen.
[James] Button Men have always been a great promotional item, and of course they were tailor-made to sell dice. So that makes them a perfect promo for new dice sizes! Plus, anything that we can do to cross-promote two concurrent Kickstarter campaigns seems like a smart idea.
[Kicktraq] Had you talked about the cross-promotion before your projects both launched?
[Tom] The subject came up while my KickStarter for D14 / D18 was running but before Unexploded Cow had started for Cheapass on KickStarter.
[James] No, this was apparently on the recommendation of one of the Impact Miniatures fans, who posted on Cheapass Games’ Facebook wall, and got the whole thing rolling.
[Kicktraq] James, what made you decide to use something not directly related to your core project?
[James] I’d have probably made Button Men for Unexploded Cow even if this cross-promotion hadn’t come up… I’ve done it many times before (BRAWL, Diceland, The Big Cheese, and others). Plus it was an excuse to get two more really nice pieces of cow art from Cheyenne!
[Kicktraq] Do you feel your efforts have been effective, and in what ways?
[Tom] I would say yes. If nothing else you are interviewing us for an article on Kicktraq which is a nice item to have happen in my opinion. We both have pretty strong Facebook followings and being able to direct our followers to each others KickStarter is free advertising for both of us and that is never a bad thing. Having the Unexploded Cow Buttonmen on display at my booth at Gen Con allowed me get some folks to stop and talk about them (stoppage factor at Gen Con is always good). It gave me a chance to show them the D14 and D18 prototypes we had at Gen Con and then to let them know the characters are from Unexploded Cow from Cheapass and is on KickStarter right now. So free advertising from my booth for Cheapass and I gained the stoppage factor for people coming over to my booth to talk. That is a plus for both of our businesses in my thoughts.
[James] We’ve definitely seen cross-traffic from the Impact Kickstarter and I presume it’s been working both ways. We’ve had a great time promoting the buttons at Gen Con and it’s one more fun thing to talk about in our updates.
Impact Miniatures’ Spherical D14 and D18 project has about 4 days to go, and is doing rather well and working towards that next stretch goal:
Cheap Ass Games’ Unexploded Cow project also is doing well:
And there you have it. A few examples of how you can use cross-promotion to effectively promote your own project or cross-promote others in the same boat as you!
Your dream is within reach! Good luck to you!