What makes the best Kickstarter videos the best, and how do you go about creating a cinematographic masterpiece for your crowdfunding campaign? I get a lot of questions about crowdfunding videos and what they should look like, and I’m constantly fielding requests to comment on videos people create for their campaigns. So, to save my inbox from the onslaught (and help out those who are too shy to ask), I thought it was high time I wrote an article on the subject.
You don’t need to be a crowdfunding genius to work out that video is an important element of your campaign. In fact, it’s probably the most important. Showing is always far more effective than telling — and a film is much easier to click on than a lengthy paragraph is to read — so if you can afford to, hire a professional.
If money’s tight and you need to shoot your video yourself, then it’s time to enlist the help of someone with an iPhone or iPad. Don’t despair! It might sound low budget, but you can shoot a good quality video with either, in fact, if they’d been around in the 70’s George Lucas might have used one and Star Wars would have looked very different (dash cam on the Millennium Falcon, anyone?).
Creating anything new is an incredibly personal experience. People like people (mostly), so make sure your video tells your story. The story behind who you are as a creator and why you started your mission. Honesty enables your backers to fall in love with your story, play a role in it and get behind your campaign. I feel like it’s all I ever say but…people fund people, not ideas, missions or projects. You have to be likable, or backers won’t hand over their money.
We want to get information about your idea quickly, not devote a whole afternoon to it. The best Kickstarter videos are all under three minutes, so follow their example and keep it short!
When it comes to crowdfunding videos, there are tons of ‘listicles’ (articles that take the form of lists) out there parroting rule after rule after rule. Ignore them. In my experience, the most successful videos on Kickstarter follow a similar structure.
You want to inspire your audience. Avoid asking directly for ‘help’ or ‘donations,’ instead ask them to contribute, to become a partner. Together, you can make something spectacular.
The front page of your video (the bit backers see before they click play) is called the splash, and it’s important. Make sure the first frame of your video is an image that will encourage a click. Expressive, beautiful, mysterious and (unsurprisingly) sexy are the big winners in this game.
I don’t care how good your idea, video or product is, if you introduce it to me over the dulcet tones of heavy metal, I’m not going to invest.
All the best crowdfunding videos have background music that has spirit and leaves an impression (although I should point out they don’t dominate the finished video). A quick search for ‘inspirational music’ on marmosetmusic.com is usually all it takes to find the perfect track. You may try searching music also in royaltyfreemusic.com or in audiojungle.net where you can find tracks starting at $1 or search in the audiolibrary of Youtube for absolutely free music.
Now, I would generally advise people to stick to the structure above. However, some campaigns (and campaigners) are built to break the mold. Watch this video and come back.
Here’s a quick breakdown of my favorite Kickstarter video.
So all those things I said about sticking to the rules? Yep, Casey broke some. His video started with a simple and effective explanation of the problem. In fact, he devoted a whole 27 seconds to demonstrating just how widespread a problem it is, showing us a ton of poorly designed iPhone docks. He knows a huge proportion of his audience will sympathize with his experience, and he’s compelling them to keep watching. You’ll also notice these first 27 seconds are accompanied by a somewhat anxious backing track — fast, shrill notes building to a climax.
The 28th second, that’s where it all changes. That shrill music gives way to inspiring, deliberate beats; the camera pans confidently around a new dock, and it’s almost a relief to see the iPhone sitting snuggly having spent half a minute watching it jumping all over the place. The atmosphere change gives the new dock the real ‘wow’ factor. Gone is the hand clumsily disconnecting the phone from the docks, now the iPhone is removed in one swift, confident motion.
In my defense, I said early on that he did it all wrong (except that, in this context, it was right). Now comes the introduction, the personal element. Casey underlines why he decided to create this product, and it’s a reason that will resonate with everyone who’s kept watching up until this point — frustration. Then he jumps to…
Now Casey shows us what he hopes to achieve and the features his product will incorporate. He highlights why his product is different from his competitors and he makes it obvious that he has the solution to a problem many people are experiencing.
There was no team in this video. Casey was the frontman (never an easy job), but he does talk about ‘we,’ so we the audience know there’s a team working behind the scenes.
Casey tells us what technology and materials he will use to produce the dock and then we get to see him in a factory. We’re building a picture of him as a capable guy who’s happy to get his hands dirty. In short, we’re starting to trust that he knows what he’s doing. And just in case we weren’t? He highlights the quality of his product by letting us know that this is the same technology Apple uses. Clever, since Apple fans are a) his target market and b) love absolutely anything related to the brand.
Now, the real outcome. We get a nice succinct description of the new dock and its features, a refresher on why it’s head and shoulders above the competition (cue frustrated, jittering hand once again popping into shot to emphasize the problem). Oh, and a nice little name drop because ‘Jeff thinks it’s great’ (Jeff’s the VP of Apple, for those of you who didn’t know).
Casey finishes his work, washes his hands (because that’s what a guy you can trust would do) and then tells us how excited he is. He’s trying to kinder a similar excitement in his audience. If he succeeds, we’re that much more likely to help him out.
Just to emphasize how Apple friendly the new dock is, the video ends with a demonstration of how well the dock works with other Apple products — because what self-respecting Apple enthusiast owns only an iPhone?
So what’s the reason why I love this Kickstarter campaign video so much? Because Casey knows his audience. He’s targeting Apple owners exclusively, and he’s made sure to mirror that brand’s established video presentation style. He’s evoking similar feelings in his audience as they’d experience watching Apple unveil its latest product.
Oh, and he raised $25,000 in the first two hours after launch. By the time his campaign closed, a total of 12,500 people had chosen to back the Elevation dock, and Casey and his film raised a cool $1.5 million in the process.
Which is why I think Casey and his team deserve the accolade for Best Kickstarter Video, but the crowdfunding world moves quickly. Who’s to say that, in a few short months, I won’t be sitting here writing an article about that brilliant video you’ve just made? Get inspired by other best Kickstarter videos in here.
After all, success has a formula — you only need to discover it.