The Anatomy of a Blockbuster Kickstarter Video

The 6 Essential Rules for Your Video if You Want to Kill it on Kickstarter


It’s hard to understate the impact a good video has on a Kickstarter campaign. We’ve analyzed hundreds of crowdfunding videos in the process of helping clients plan and execute Kickstarter campaigns. We’ve been able to identify elements that invariably present themselves in successful Kickstarter videos. You may be able to get a project funded without following these rules, but we’re confident that you will not have a blockbuster unless you follow the guidelines below:

  • Engage the audience within the first five seconds of your video
  • Have founders that tell their story
  • Simplify the project so that it’s super easy to understand
  • Make the project about something bigger than the project itself
  • Have grateful and authentic founders
  • Illustrate the limitless possibilities of the project

To help us illustrate the lessons above, we’re going to show you video clips from the campaigns listed below — four of the biggest kickstarter successes, three near-misses, and one flop. We cherry-picked the successes, as we think they’re among the best we’ve seen, but the failures were picked at random.

Star Citizen

  • What: A PC-based sim game
  • Goal: $500,000
  • Raised: $37,961,356

Pebble Watch

  • What: Smart Watch
  • Goal: $100,000
  • Raised: $10,266,845

OUYA

  • What: Android-based video game console
  • Goal: $950,000
  • Raised: $8,596,474

Project Eternity

  • What: Android-based video game console
  • Goal: $1,100,000
  • Raised: $3,986,929

RiftWalker TD

  • What: PC-based sim game
  • Goal: $20,000
  • Raised: $2,522

COLLUSION

  • What: Boardgame
  • Goal: $100,000
  • Raised: $29,413

Quebee

  • What: Personal Cameraman
  • Goal: $100,000
  • Raised: $74,881

ShootMeBaby

  • What: Smartphone laser tag
  • Goal: £70,000
  • Raised: £1

Rule #1: The Audience Must Be Engaged in the First Five Seconds

https://vimeo.com/85784691

There are differences between how videos in different categories engage an audience, but the rule is very consistent — engage quickly.

Game Campaigns

Successful game campaigns begin by engaging the audience in the game or the movement. For example, the Star Citizen video simply states “They said I was dead.” That line refers to a PC game, but it’s very difficult to stop watching after you see that line. Immediately, Star Citizen gets you thinking nostalgically.

Project Eternity, on the other hand, starts with a question that gets you immersed immediately in the game. Both tactics work and both projects successful engage with the user and begin telling the story immediately.

Hardware Projects

Almost all successful hardware projects tell you what the product is in the first five seconds, either through imagery or the founder telling you precisely what he’s doing. In the Pebble Watch video, for example, Eric Migicovsky states, “This is my smartphone. This is my watch.” This idea, which was new at the time, was so compelling and so tersely stated, that it was impossible for people to tune out after watching the first 5-10 seconds. You HAD to see what this thing could do. It was successful at both engaging the user and quickly telling people what the product does.

Videos from Unsuccessful Campaigns Squander the First Five to Ten Seconds

The videos below tell you nothing about why the viewer should continue watching. After watching countless videos, we’re confident that no one wants to look at your logo or a screen that contributes nothing to the story before getting to content that they may care about.

https://vimeo.com/85797919

Rule #2: The Video Must Tell Your Story

This seems obvious, but many founders get lost in the fog of war. If you want to have a successful Kickstarter campaign, you MUST connect with an audience. You must tell that audience about you, your dream, the status of your project, and what your audience’s support is going to accomplish. If you do NOT have these elements, the chances of your campaign failing greatly increases. Additionally, we’ve NEVER seen a blockbuster campaign that doesn’t have almost all of these elements. A good place to start is the content recommended by Kickstarter. Many of the unsuccessful videos don’t contain this critical content.

https://vimeo.com/85871728

Rule #3: You Must Simplify Your Idea:

Simplify your idea and then simplify it again. Each of the successful videos provide a very simple message that is easy to understand and easy to pass on to others. Most of the unsuccessful videos provide a very convoluted message that is hard to understand in 15 seconds or less.

Examples of Founders Simplifying Their Idea:

https://vimeo.com/85868990

Examples of Founders Complicating Their Idea:

https://vimeo.com/85868890

Rule #4: The Project Must Be About More than the Project; It Must Represent a Movement

The great projects are about more than the projects themselves. They represent a movement. For example:

  • Star Citizen is about the PC Game movement and nostalgia
  • OUYA is about opening up the TV for gaming
  • Pebble is about the “personal area network”
https://vimeo.com/85871836

Rule #5: The Founders / Entrepreneurs Must Be Genuine and Authentic

In each of the successful videos we’ve watched all the entrepreneurs seemed very genuine and authentic. There are exceptions to this, but its usually with professional actors. All of the successful founders appeared authentically grateful. Take a look at some of the successful founders:

https://vimeo.com/85801081

Contrast how the successful founders appear with the unsuccessful founders:

https://vimeo.com/85846499

Rule #6: The Project Must Have Limitless Possibilities

Blockbuster videos show the limitless possibilities of their projects. This usually comes in the form of a new direction in which their communities can take the project, such as through providing an SDK or an API.

https://vimeo.com/85872050

If you can create a video that truly incorporates all the rules above, it’s very likely that you’ll have successful campaign.

Hopefully someone finds this helpful and good luck!

About Me

I’m the CEO and founder at a full-service agency called Fresh, which gets clients their first 10,000 customers. Contact me at steve@getfresh.com or @ssvajian on Twitter.