Key Idea: We spent 1 month perfecting our Kickstarter video, and raised $200,000.
Your Video is the Most Important Part of Your Kickstarter
There’s no question about it: your video will make or break your campaign.
Kickstarter campaigns without a video are 85% less likely to succeed. Although the rest of the campaign matters, the video is really the thing that will determine your campaign’s success.
Fortunately, Kickstarter is a very public medium. If you’re serious about launching a successful Kickstarter, your first step should be to get familiar with what makes a good Kickstarter video.
The first step in your journey should be to watch the 100 most funded Kickstarter videos. They’re only 3 minutes long, so that’s about 5 hours of video. Set aside an hour a day this week to do this. Here are the top funded Kickstarters of all time.
As you watch these videos, you’ll start to notice patterns. How do founders introduce themselves? How do they explain the problem? What kind of music do these videos use?
I spent about 3 weeks prior to our video shoot, just scripting, planning, and preparing for our video. We ended up raising over $200,000. I’d like to share a few Kickstarter video tips we learned through making a six-figure Kickstarter video.
1) Write and Shoot 3 Different Intros
Your intro is the most important part of the whole video. If you fail to catch their attention, they won’t see the rest of your video.
That’s why I recommend writing and shooting three different hooks. These hooks should be interesting, attention catching, and should get people “sucked in” to your video.
I recommend shooting 3 different hooks, because it can be difficult to actually tell what will work best from a script. You have to actually see it in video form to see what’ll be most impactful.
Hooks come in many forms. Some of the most common types include:
- Shocking fact,
- Problem statement,
- Cool technology demo,
- Testimonial from well known source,
- Founder introduction
My favorite intro of all time is the XPand Shoelaces video:
2) Describe the Pain in Graphic Detail
One thing you’ll find in almost every successful Kickstarter video is a graphic description of the problem they’re solving.
Take the gloves off. Your goal is to get your audience to cringe. You want them to feel an emotional stab in their heart. As if screws were being scraped on a whiteboard.
It’s usually a mistake to just position your product as “something cool you should buy.” People who won’t spend $10 for vitamins will spend $1,000 for medicine. You want to sell a cure to a problem.
Before you present the solution, or how amazing your product is, you need to get them to feel the pain of the problem you’re solving.
You should use detailed language, and footage, to demonstrate what the world is like without your product. Then, describe how you solved that problem.
3) Position Your Product as the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
My mom always told me to be modest. When you’ve done something well, let others discover it for themselves. Let others praise you. Don’t praise yourself.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Kickstarter, that’s bad advice. Throw your modesty out the window.
Your Kickstarter video needs to position your product as revolutionary and game changing. Yes, even if you’re selling a new coffee pot or water bottle. You need to get your buyer’s eyes to widen and say “WOW!”
The best person I’ve ever seen sell is, probably, Steve Jobs. This might seem like a tangent, but I highly recommend watching his 2007 iPhone presentation.
The way he sells the product, and how he positions it as the most innovative thing to hit the phone industry, is incredibly masterful. You’ll probably find some unexpected Kickstarter video tips from watching it:
Notice the subtle implications: this is a game changer. This is going to solve all your problems. A lot of work went into this. This product is amazing.
Sometimes it’s said, and sometimes it’s implied. But the underlying message is this: this is the best thing since sliced bread.
4) Film Your Video in 5 to 10 Locations
Pay attention to how Kickstarter videos are edited. You’ll notice that, every 3 to 10 seconds, there’s a change of scene. Sometimes it’s just a change of camera angle, but often times it’s a complete change of location.
People on the internet are naturally bored. They need to be entertained. If you can’t keep a viewer’s attention, you won’t be able to get them to buy.
For our Kickstarter video, we filmed in:
- An outdoor cafe – “doodling design ideas” scene
- An indoor conference room – “design team at work” scene
- A gym – “intro” scene
- A forest with monkeys – “I traveled the world” scene
- A hotel room we rented – “person doing exercises with nice background”
- An apartment – “previous products are terrible” scene
- A rice field – “random nice looking shots”
- An abandoned restaurant – “product demo shots”
You’ll want to think about where you’re shooting early on. Plan your shots. Often times you’ll need to get permission beforehand.
We had to negotiate with the co-working spaces to film there. We offered free social media mentions in return. These things can take a bit of time, so plan accordingly.
5) Audio Quality is More Important Than Video Quality
Your audio quality is more important than your video quality.
Here’s the thing: if they can’t hear what you’re saying, it won’t matter how nice your video is. If given the choice between spending $500 on a microphone, vs. a slightly crisper camera, spend it on the microphone.
Get a good wireless lapel microphone. Make sure you get one that can attach to a digital camera.
Here are a couple more tips for improving your Kickstarter video’s audio:
- Thread the wireless microphone under your shirt so it doesn’t show on camera.
- Make sure no clothing touches the mic. Otherwise, you’ll get a scraping sound.
- Turn your body away from the wind, so the wind doesn’t blow into the mic.
- Speak loudly and clearly. You’ll get better audio, and come across more confident. Smile.
Finally, you’ll probably want to pre-record most of your script. At times, you’ll record audio on scene. Most of the time you’ll end up using the audio you pre-recorded.
Why? Because if you record audio in 10 different places, the sound quality will change from location to location. The reverb from the walls will be different, and it will be disorienting to viewers.
You’ll want to use the wireless mic when you’re doing “face directly talking to camera” shots. Aside from those, you’ll probably want to pre-record the audio.
6) Yes, You Should Hire a Professional Videographer
At first, I thought I’d shoot my Kickstarter video on my smartphone.
Wow. In retrospect, that would have been a disaster. Our videographer literally saved our campaign from mediocrity.
Here is what our videographer did for us:
- She helped select and negotiate with locations for shooting.
- She helped us review and rewrite our script
- She provided all the camera and microphone equipment
- She helped us select the music
- She helped us get the right lightning
- She helped us plan our shots (which shot goes with which location)
- She directed and co-ordinated the other people we had in our video
- She helped calm us down on shoot day, because we were so nervous
- She edited the video
- She timed and adjusted the music to different emotions of the video
- Etc etc etc
Simply put, I honestly doubt we would have raised $10,000 if it weren’t for our videographer.
So, here’s a Kickstarter video tip for ya: hire a pro. You can put it on your credit card and pay it off when the Kickstarter cash comes in. Whatever you do, don’t try and shoot it on your iPhone.
7) Include at Least One Funny Scene
This is a subtle point. But if you watch a lot of Kickstarter videos, you’ll notice one thing in common: the successful ones usually have a bit of humor. There’s one or two moments where you end up smiling or laughing.
For our video, we put a banana next to our product, with the text “Banana for Scale.” This is an internet meme joke. Not everyone got it, but the people who did loved it.
Adding humor to your video means adding something tongue-in-cheek, casual, and something that shows your personality. Doing this makes you seem more human. People also tend to trust people who make them laugh.
It might sound crass, but a bit of subtle humor will probably improve your conversion rate.
Don’t go overboard with it. You’re not shooting a Comedy Central video. But you’re also not shooting a documentary. Have fun with your video, and let a bit of your personality show through.
8) Change the Music to Guide Emotion
Music has a big impact on emotions. You can see this in action in any Hollywood film.
In the tense moments, they play tense music. In the tender moments, they play romantic music. Most movies would be quite dull without background music.
The same is true of your Kickstarter video. Most people know they should have music in the background, but most people don’t think enough about how to use music to guide emotion.
The music should change as you move into various sections. For example, you might play excited music when you’re talking about how innovative your product is. You might play more elevator-like music when you’re asking people to back your campaign. So on and so forth.
Think carefully about what emotions you want your viewer to experience in each scene. Then, time changes in your music to those areas.
You can use songs with a similar beats per minute (BPM), or speed up or slow down the same song. You can also cut between different areas of the same song.
9) Get Into the Nitty Gritty Product Details
Get into the details of your product. The more you tell, the more you sell.
If you spent weeks choosing what zipper goes on your bag, say that. If your coffee pot is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, say that. If you worked with engineers across 3 countries, say that.
For example, the Baubax Jacket (raised $9 million) basically tells you with all the features in their jacket, over and over again:
Don’t be afraid to elaborate on what makes your product amazing. Often times it’s the nitty gritty details that really sells them.
There are typically two scenes in your Kickstarter video where you’ll talk about your product:
- The Product Intro Scene. This comes after your “explaining the problem scene”. The script for this section usually starts with something like “Introducing the XYZ, the world’s first ABC.”
- The “How We Built It” Scene. This is usually the scene where you show the team working on the product. Things like 3D renderings, prototypes, and people testing the product do well here.
In both of these scenes, you want to use detailed, imagination-invoking language to describe your product. Your viewers should leave the video feeling like you put a lot of time and care into making the product top notch.
10) Leave Out the Campaign Details
Here are a few things you should not include in your Kickstarter video:
- Number of early birds
- Early bird percent discount
- Stretch goals
- Shipping price and locations
- Product pricing
Leave out anything related to the structure of your campaign. Why?
Because you’re going to end up changing these as you learn more about Kickstarter.
You might find that your price is too high to convert Facebook Ads. Or, if you decide to hire an agency that charges a % of your campaign, you might decide to charge shipping after the campaign instead of during. That way, you don’t pay 30% of your shipping to the agency.
We ended up changing our early birds, pricing, shipping, etc many times before we launched. And we even changed some of that a few times after we launched. Give yourself the flexibility of not having it hardcoded into the video.
11) Your Backers are Backing You
Finally, know what your backers are backing you more than your product.
You need to build a connection to your viewers. This applies on both a verbal and non-verbal level.
Make sure you SMILE. Relax. Let your emotions come through. Shoot a little bit of extra footage, especially when you’re just joking around with your videographer or models. Those can end up making it in the video.
Dress well. Look good the day of the shoot. If you’re a guy, shave. If you’re a gal, light makeup. Don’t overdo it, be yourself.
Tell your story. Your video is both the story of your product, and the story if you and your own adventure. Tell your story in a way that lets people relate to you.
Get Ready to launch
I hope these Kickstarter video tips were useful. I can’t wait to see your video. If this guide helped, please email me your video when you launch – I’d love to see it.
How to launch a successful Kickstarter, Step-by-Step
If you’re launching a Kickstarter soon, and want to learn the exact strategies we used to hit a $200,000 campaign, check out our Kickstarter course here.