Kickstarter is big, flashy, and exciting. New creators tend to see it as the one big goal to achieve before reaching success. Everything would be just right if you could just hit that goal…
That’s just not the case. The truth is that unless a Kickstarter is a total blockbuster, you won’t raise enough to print the game, pay your living expenses, and buy plane tickets to Hawaii. Kickstarter is merely the beginning of a long journey to establish yourself. After it, you can hope to passively sell your game and reap the rewards in the form of sales. You could also use your success to launch multiple games, building a company in the process. Alternatively, you could dedicate yourself to game design, picking up 5-10% on every game you design for different companies.
The point is, Kickstarter is just the beginning. No matter what your intention afterward, if you want to maintain your success, you need to keep the hype train moving!
For this article, I’ll be sharing eight ways that I know of which you can use to keep the hype train going for your game, your game design portfolio, or your publishing company. This list isn’t all-inclusive, so if you’ve got more ideas, share them in the comments!
For a primer on marketing, check out the Marketing & Promoting Your Game section about halfway down the page on Start to Finish: Publish and Sell Your First Board Game. Lots of useful context there!
1. Keep updating your Kickstarter campaign.
It’s an established best practice to continue updating your Kickstarter campaign after its completion. You naturally want to keep backers – essentially investors – informed about your activities and how things are coming along. The primary purpose of these updates is informational, but they have the side benefit of keeping your name and your game’s name high up in people’s email inboxes. It helps them remember who you are.
Now there are limits to that. If you overdo it, you’ll annoy people and they’ll unsubscribe from your updates. In small doses, though, this can be an effective way to keep people informed about your future projects.
2. Use your mailing list.
It’s another established best practice that you should use your mailing list wisely. In fact, you probably built one up as part of your Kickstarter campaign. Let’s assume, for the sake of simple discussion, that you did.
Once you’ve got people’s emails, as long as you can write interesting ones, 25-30% of your list members will open them up. (These numbers steeply climb if you keep your contact list clean and/or write exceptionally good emails.) On top of that, a good amount of them will click on links you include in the emails as well. That makes your mailing list an effective way to share future projects or game updates. Like Kickstarter udpates, this is a simple way to keep in touch with people you’ve already reached out to.
3. Build a community.
One of the best things you can do to keep hype going is build a community. If you can get people to show up somewhere – online or offline – and talk about common interests, that will keep people coming back over and over again. There is a lot of nuance that goes into community management and it can be time-consuming, but it’s also a good way to keep fans engaged. Unlike the previous two suggestions, a community can bring in new people too.
New creators often have mixed feelings about advertising, but the simple fact is that it’s fast, easy, and – if you do it right – effective at reaching out to new people. I recommend you start with Facebook because of the low cost of entry and the great data they provide you with. That will allow you to tweak and learn as you go.
If you’re interested in this subject, you will likely enjoy the advertising section of this article: How to Build up a Facebook Page as a Board Game Dev.
5. Take pre-orders.
I did a whole separate article on this recently called How to Take Pre-Orders when Your Board Game Kickstarter Ends. Nothing quite says “hype” quite like actual sales coming in while your inventory is being manufactured or shipped to your warehouse. Pre-orders are good because they allow people to get involved even after missing the Kickstarter, they bring in money, and because they act as an effective call to action for other marketing initiatives you take on.
6. Tell stories or build lore.
Many games come with complex worlds. If your game does, you have a big opportunity! You can build that world a little bit every day or every week through a mailing list, a blog, or social media. You can use stories to pique people’s interest in your game even after the Kickstarter campaign is complete. This might even pull in some pre-orders!
7. Keep marketing – online and offline.
For more information on this, you can see A Crash Course in Board Game Marketing & Promotion. Long story short, whatever you did to build up your audience for the Kickstarter campaign, you can do more of that to build a larger audience and keep your existing one engaged. If you succeeded in funding, then you know for a fact that you have a working marketing system, so use it to your advantage.
8. Make more games.
If you want to stay active in the board game community and get your name out there, it’s a good idea to get involved in more game projects. Whether you lead the project, design, or collaborate, there is a good chance that people will find your old games through your new games.
With a successful Kickstarter campaign behind you, you’re in a uniquely powerful position. The extra attention can help you start a business, build a portfolio of game designs, or simply create a passive income stream. It’s wise to think about what comes after a Kickstarter campaign so you can take advantage of new opportunities.
Let me know other ways to keep hype going for your game in the comments below – I’d love to hear your input 🙂