This post was initiated a couple of months back when I wrote an ad about marketing for Kickstarter campaigns… I promised to go a bit more deeply into the subject of using print materials to support promoting a project.
Who Are You Presenting Your Materials To?
Before you even decide what materials you’ll need and when to start prepping your print promotions, you might need to do a bit of brainstorming and research to think of places and events where you can promote your Kickstarter campaign. Are there networking events that your audience would be at, where you could pitch your project to interested parties? Maybe there are some watering holes where you could leave postcards or business cards? Perhaps there is a public event related to your project where you could talk to people and gather support.
If you have any connections, consider talking to them about your project to see if they can give you a public endorsement, and if they wouldn’t mind if you gave them materials to hand out. Having someone else pitch your project is always more effective, as it shows that others have your support.
We had some opportunities for our roller derby documentary Kickstarter campaign to hand out postcards at local roller derby events. Think about your project and maybe do some Google searching to get inspiration on places you might go or drop off print materials at.
Overall Project Marketing Plan
You should have a tagline or elevator speech prepared for your project that you can use on various materials. You need to be able to get across in a small number of words what your project is about.
Professional imagery and design is also a bonus. You may not be able to afford a graphic designer, but if you can (or have a designer friend you can take out to a nice dinner in return for their help), then it will help sell your audience on how serious you are about your task. If you treat your Kickstarter like a real business endeavor, it will help you stand out.
When Should You Prepare Materials?
I would prepare your print promotions as far in advance as possible, but how soon you can print and put your materials out may be dependent on when your Kickstarter page link is assigned to you. You can also do some trickery to make this a moot point, if you are web clever. (More info about that later.)
Even if you don’t do any trickery, I would make sure you have your materials print-ready with everything but the final details as far in advance of the Kickstarter as you can. Or you can follow some tricks that I’ll mention later on.
Suggested Promotional Materials and Uses
You could do a double-sided card with the primary site for your business/endeavor, and advertise your Kickstarter on the other side. Or you could use the cards strictly for advertising your Kickstarter. Hand these out at networking events or whenever you are chatting with someone who is showing interest in your project. Next to flyers, these are probably the cheapest form of marketing you can put together, and there are generally a number of public businesses willing to allow the display of business cards. 48hourprint.com has a few good deals on business cards, and their quality is good.
If you have a team on your Kickstarter project, then make sure everyone has a stack of these to hand out. They don’t have to be customized for each individual, they just need to get you through the Kickstarter period.
Don’t skimp on the layout for your flyers… If you look like you are advertising lawn mowing services, you won’t get anyone’s attention. You have a little more space on a flyer to go into detail, but refrain from getting overly wordy. Keep it short and sweet. And if you want people to remember you, include tear-offs at the bottom with the web address to your project.
Flyers are a great option, as you can more easily print these out at home or find a friend with a laser printer who can help you produce these at a low cost.
I would save postcards for handing out at events or leaving at stores or businesses that are truly a part of your target demographic. Postcards are costlier, but they give you a bit more real estate to talk about your Kickstarter closing date, display relevant imagery, and give a longer elevator pitch. Again, keep it short and sweet.
Phoenix Media is a local Portland print shop that is my favorite for printing postcards.
Things You Should Include in All Print Promotions
No one is going to want to type out that ridiculously long Kickstarter link. You can use the shortlink that Kickstarter provides, but I recommend using a service like Bitly.com to create your own. This way you can directly track how many clicks you are getting from your ads, as opposed to other methods. Bitly will keep track of how many total clicks the link is getting, and how many are coming from the shortlink directly. Just be sure you only use these Bitly shortlinks in your print materials, because if you start using them elsewhere, it will severely muddy your tracking results.
You’ve probably seen those blocks on advertising materials that you can scan with a smartphone to go directly to a link… On flyers and postcards it is even more important to include them, to make it easier for users to get to your page while on the go. Incidentally, Bitly also provides a QR code that you can use in your materials. Make sure however you generate the QR code (there are a number of free generators available if you search for them), that it is going to your Bitly link, because that’s how you’re going to track the success of your materials.
The Obvious Stuff
You also should have:
- The name of your project
- What your project is/the elevator pitch
- The goal of your Kickstarter
- The end date of your Kickstarter campaign
- Any important rewards (if you have room), or at least mention rewards
- Relevant imagery
- The web site to your main site (less prominently-displayed than your Kickstarter… in case people get the promo after the Kickstarter campaign is over)
Check out our Flat Track Around the World Kickstarter flyer and postcard to see what we did for our project. (I realized too late that I did not include tear-offs on the flyer, but we were using the flyer so little that it didn’t end up mattering in the end.)
If You Want to Get Ahead on Print Materials Before Your Kickstarter Launches…
Remember how I said you could get all clever and start promoting things before you get your Kickstarter page? Well, I haven’t done this myself, but it would be possible for you to create a page on your own site that is geared toward promoting the upcoming Kickstarter, with all the details and info you can provide, and an opportunity for people to sign up for newsletter updates prior to the date… Then when the Kickstarter launches, you notify all of the signed up users that they can follow the project, and use that as an avenue to keep up with them. Once the Kickstarter begins, you would no longer really need the newsletter sign up, and you could turn that landing page on your site into a redirect to your Kickstarter page. That way you maintain your Bitly shortlink, but make sure your audience is going to the Kickstarter.
You can do this by manually coding a redirect page that points to the Kickstarter, or if you have a WordPress page you could use a plugin like “Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin” to help you out.
I’d still create a Bitly link from the get-go and do some testing before prepping your print materials, in case something doesn’t work as planned.
You could also alternatively create materials for a traditional web site in advance of the project, to get more traffic and likes on your site or Facebook page, then make new materials at the time of the Kickstarter to promote the campaign itself. However, that would be a lot of extra work and likely wasted money.
Planning Your Print Budget
You will probably want to calculate your printing budget as a part of your overall Kickstarter budget. Though you will need to be prepared to pay out of pocket in case your Kickstarter doesn’t get funded. Be cautious… One print material done well will do you far better than having a bunch of poorly-executed varieties of materials. Make sure you’ll also have time to distribute all the materials you’ve gathered. Kickstarter is time-consuming as it is. You might need to ask some friends to help you leave some things around.
If in doubt about whether it is worth it or your budget will allow it, just create some nice enough flyers to leave at coffee shops or other relevant locations, and call it good.
Staying on People’s Good Side
Whenever you can, it’s always polite to ask if it’s okay to promote your project at events where it’s not obvious that promotion is an acceptable practice. And be sure, if you leave cards or flyers, that it’s okay for you to leave them and that you are following that business’ policy. You don’t want to make enemies by not following the rules, and you definitely don’t want to waste your money posting something improperly and having it thrown away.
Are Print Promotions Right for Your Kickstarter?
There is no guarantee that you will get funders from your print promotion efforts. However, if you have a gut feeling that it would be the perfect thing for your particular project, and you have the budget and a plan, then go for it. Every little bit helps.
CHECK OUT MY CURRENT KICKSTARTER: THE PORTLAND TAROT
Questions? Thoughts? Personal experiences to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments!