You don’t need to be a crowdfunding genius to work out that a compelling video is instrumental to your campaign’s success.
Yet for the video to leave the desired digital footprint it needs to match the criteria most Kickstarter videos fail to meet—that is, to be sellable and shareable.
If you want your Kickstarter video to go viral, you need to evoke emotions in people such that they cannot resist but share their newfound gem with family and friends.
But as you try to impress people with outstanding visuals and a witty script, be careful not to get too caught up in it.
Make sure your video explicitly demonstrates the problem you are trying to solve and casts your product as the best solution.
Throughout this article, we’ll explore the most important points of making a successful Kickstarter video, from the structure to the characters and music.
Not to leave this without a practical touch, I’ve picked two best crowdfunding explainer videos through which we’ll explore together what works best, and one not-so-great video—of which there are too many!—to show you what to avoid.
We’ll break them down and run over actionable Kickstarter video tips and lessons that go beyond the obvious to boost your next creation.
Let’s get started!
If you have been into crowdfunding for a while now, then you’ve most likely heard of Volterman.
Maybe not as the most funded wallet campaign in crowdfunding history—which it was—but from the character’s catch-phrase, “I’m not Superman, I’ve got Volterman.”
Side note: The observant among you may also recall that the campaign was actually run on Indiegogo, not on Kickstarter, but given its huge success, I decided to include it here. In fact, everything said in this article can be applied to both Kickstarter and Indiegogo videos.
Did you feel something?
Now, that’s exactly what you need to evoke in people.
This video received over 600K views on YouTube, and 19K backers on Indiegogo, and was a driving factor in raising nearly $3 million for the campaign.
There’s a lot to unpack, so I’m going to focus here on the structure. Let’s dismantle the whole bundle of interconnected elements that led to this monetizable sensation.
The video introduces Rob as a regular person that we can all relate to.
It lets that sink in just long enough before pointing out that he’s so much more—thanks to the product.
With this, it implies that the viewer can be so much more too if they only get Volterman.
An easy marketing strategy that makes the product accessible and taps into one of the audience’s fundamental desires, that of the ego and the need for higher social status.
It goes on to briefly introduce us to the product in a series of animated renders. These display the wallet’s stunning design and the technology it is packed with.
Slick transitions that send Rob from a nondescript studio to the rooftops of a city, transforming him into a superhero in the process, along with the beautiful renders showing the technology within the wallet, set the high-end tone for the rest of the video.
Finally, it introduces the concept of the video, with the line:
“The smart wallet helps Rob in a variety of situations.”
All this in 25 seconds. At which point the audience is hooked. Now it’s important to not let that interest slip away.
In a series of cool little episodes, the video shows us the problems we all face in everyday life.
Many people lose their wallets, have them stolen or find themselves in pressing the need for wifi connection.
These problems are general. We all face them.
And though we generally accept them, we’d gladly welcome a solution.
Did you catch how Rob took a pause before he jumped into the daunting problem of dying batteries?
Of course, you did.
It was a deliberate choice by the filmmakers, shown in a way that would make you feel super uncomfortable even if you thought you weren’t affected by it.
Tactics like this fall nowhere in the formula of a great crowdfunding video, but you’ll master them over time by developing a sharp eye for detail and insight into people’s minds.
It is problems like these—brought to life in visceral scenes—that inspire a need which the next point will address.
Obviously, stating the problem is just half of the equation.
The viewer is enticed by someone pointing out the problems they face, but they’re really here for your solution.
To this end, the video is packed with engaging content and dynamic visuals to demonstrate Volterman from different angles—the solution in different situations.
It reinforces the audience’s desire by using this over-emphasized problem-solution format, to constantly remind the audience of why they are watching this in the first place.
You lose your wallet, Volterman notifies you. You need to make an urgent call, Volterman shares a wifi hotspot.
You got the flow, and so did the audience. Problem? Solution!
Compelling, straight-forward and action-prompting.
Through this repetition, it indirectly plants the idea in the viewer that Volterman can solve all their problems.
Choosing your characters is probably one of the most important aspects of a crowdfunding video.
Are they relatable? Can I trust them? Are they funny? Cool? Serious?
In Volterman’s video, there are several characters featured in its different scenes, but it’s Rob and his girlfriend who steal the show.
In fact, the entire video could have been centered around Rob alone. After all, it is technically Rob who takes the lead role in most of the scenes.
But the video avoids that pitfall. And it’s for the better.
Otherwise, it would have lost so many people who were attracted to the notion of Rob and his girlfriend’s relationship, subconsciously picturing it achieved through Volterman.
You’ll see this tactic on display several times throughout the video, especially towards the end.
You may have also noticed that there is not a single scene in the video which talks about the team and their qualifications. If present in a video, the team members are characters too, after all.
People like to see the founder and team, to decide whether they seem sincere and capable enough to trust with their hard-earned cash.
Yet here, the quality of the footage coupled with a brief scene—that feels more like an outtake—implicitly shows the team’s competence.
If they could put together as slick a video as this, surely they could do the same with their product!
What am I buying? How is it better than what I have?
Once we’ve established the problem and its solution, the “why” or the benefits the audience will reap, and inspired trust and confidence with the characters, it’s time to show what you’re getting with the product.
The compelling visuals explicitly show all the tech that goes into Volterman. Animations and renders deconstruct the wallet. The features are called out and shown to work in each scene.
Anti-theft camera. Super slim. Portable Wi-Fi. GPS tracking. RFID protection…
A lot of these are emphasized again and again throughout the video. But did you pick up on the one thing that’s missing? What does a wallet do? Carry money!
If you rewatch the video, you’ll notice that its “plain wallet” functionality is shown, right at the start, when Rob pays for his cab ride. But beyond this, no mention is made of that “feature.”
It may seem obvious why this was left out—because it’s obvious!—but there are too many videos that list every single feature of the product. And they just end up seeming like they’re trying too hard.
Give your audience some credit, and realize that they might know more than you think.
Like with this Kickstarter video, focus on the features that make the product stand out from the competition. Let the others fade into the background.
The background is also an important place to display ephemeral features, things that don’t necessarily have to do with the product itself but could be features of the viewer’s life if only they had Volterman.
With an expensive watch around his wrist, a Tesla as his vehicle of choice, classic shoes and impeccable style, the character casts Volterman as a high-end addition to his look.
Why did you just watch the video? Now what? How did Volterman raise $3 million?
With crowdfunding videos, many viewers are not aware of the next step they should take. “How do I buy this?” is a question we’ve all faced.
It doesn’t matter if your video costs $50,000 or $0 to make if you shot it on an Arri Alexa or your iPhone if the audience laughed out loud or cried—if you don’t include a call to action at the end, it was all pointless.
Tell the viewer to back your campaign, to share it with their friends, to follow your progress.
Side note: Big brands don’t need to tell viewers to buy their products at the end of an ad, because their viewers already know what to do. Advertisements for them merely raise brand awareness and create an association in the audience’s mind, so that when they next find themselves pondering a purchase, they subconsciously lean towards that product.
In the case of Volterman’s video, there are, in fact, two call-to-actions squeezed in the last 20 seconds of the video. After the apparent end of the video, we have the first call to action.
A seemingly out-of-place shot of Rob cuts in, where he asks the production team between shots if the audience has understood what they should do next.
This is immediately followed by a direct shot of Rob, speaking to viewers through the camera, asking them for help to make this product a reality.
As we saw from Volterman, lots of things go into making a successful Kickstarter video.
Although spending more money and hiring a professional video production company can help your chances of launching a successful Kickstarter campaign, there’s much more to it than that.
Our next example will simply blow away your financial expectations of video creation.
While a lot of Kickstarter video tips come in handy when creating stellar footage, bear in mind that there are no boundaries to creativity.
The video for Baubax, the best travel jacket, breaks almost all the rules. Yet it has raised over $9,000,000 on Kickstarter!
“But I don’t have $100K to invest in a video,” I hear you say.
Baubax showed the world that raising nearly 8 figures does not have to cost you your next child. It’s known for being one of the most successful, low-budget crowdfunding videos—it was made for around $3,000!
This makes it an absolute winner, especially considering its ROI, or return on investment.
Let’s find some of the ways in which this video stood out.
The video starts with an intriguing phrase:
“The world’s best travel jacket. Period.”
OK, maybe that’s a stretch. But now I’m curious.
Right from the start, viewers are enticed to see what it is that makes it the best. And the rest of the video doesn’t keep them waiting.
Knowing that they didn’t have the budget for crazy scenes, visuals, and fancy scripts—did you notice, there isn’t even a voice over!—the creators of the Baubax Kickstarter video opted to go for a solution that they could afford.
And in the process, created something where the scenes speak for themselves.
A little video editing later, some superimposed titles, and boom! $9 million! Well, maybe there was more to it than that…
The video jumps straight into presenting the product, as we follow a nameless character on his travels—from his hotel room to the airport and onto his flight.
The series of rapid-paced shots demonstrate the inconveniences people face while traveling, and how the characters bypass them easily thanks to Baubax.
As an example, take the scene showing the Baubax-less guy’s struggle as he tries hard to inflate his neck pillow.
This is contrasted with our Baubax champion who takes mere seconds to inflate her built-in neck pillow, get her eye cover on and nod off for a restful nap.
With so many features that are simple to picture, the video creators decided that they could be much more succinct in the way they present their product.
While some of Baubax’s features are shown in a problem-solution fashion, many of them are presented as solutions alone.
The audience will get it. There’s no need to emphasize.
Shots don’t drag out, and features aren’t expanded upon. It’s the closest you’ll find in a video to the “list format.”
And this works perfectly for their style.
The characters in Baubax’s Kickstarter video—who may or may not be the creators—are a wide range of everyday people.
If you watch it again, you’ll notice the sheer amount of characters involved. And unlike the Volterman video, they each play an important role.
The production team researched their varied audiences and tailored the video to address all of their needs. They positioned Baubax as the best travel jacket for the keen runner, the traveler, the business person, men, women, in all colors and all styles.
While we usually advise that you, the creator, appear in your crowdfunding video alongside your team, Baubax’s personableness relies on appealing to each audience member, no matter who they are.
You’re a person. You need Baubax.
The video shows the product, the benefits, and the price. It steadily builds an argument that this is the greatest jacket ever designed. And it ends with two definitive calls to action:
“Back us Now!”
“Please please please […] share this project”
After the cool video and all the tons of features, the audience is very likely to want to buy it and share it with their friends—and this serves as a great reminder for them to do so.
These two crowdfunding videos were shot using completely different styles and budgets. But both had the same success in inspiring people to share the campaign and raise more money than the creators had targeted.
To wrap this section, let’s look at what happens when that creative spirit is found lacking.
Whenever you’re trying to learn something, it’s always most beneficial to learn from the successes of the best. Yet there are things you can quickly pick up by looking at the failings of the worst. And it’s fun!
The first iBackPack video was part of a campaign that raised $77,000. A lot, you might think, but less than 10% of what it raised in its later Indiegogo campaign, with its improved video.
The modifications they made to their original video definitely played a key role in their success on Indiegogo.
Side note: The iBackPack campaign was plagued with other flaws as well and ended with an FTC investigation and nobody receiving their perks.
As we saw previously, the product presentation is arguably one of the most important factors.
This Kickstarter video begins with a series of close-ups that don’t even allow viewers to understand what they’re looking at. A zipper? A speaker?
Not even a single shot of the whole backpack is shown.
When the viewer finally thinks they’ll see the backpack, the scene swiftly transitions to their innovation manager who presents their idea. It might drum up curiosity, but between that and the over-the-top orange transitions, it’s not telling us much.
It’s been 20 seconds of floating uncertainty and I bet a good fraction of viewers probably got so confused that they simply gave up.
In the following shots, there’s a big difference between styles.
If it doesn’t come together cohesively, people know something’s wrong. It switches between webcam footage of the innovation manager in what looks like her bedroom, to sun-kissed stock footage showing people designing a backpack.
Note that I said “a backpack” and not “the backpack.” In most of the footage of the product, people have backpacks, but not the iBackPack. Did you notice? The group at 00:40—why are they even shown?
Remember I said you didn’t need to show obvious features?
Here, the video team decides to tell us that their backpack has pockets that can hold dollar bills, that it’s shock-resistant, that it was designed from scratch. The defining feature, according to the innovation manager:
“So, what differentiates the iBackPack 2.0 is the number of pockets and organization available.”
Really? Pockets? On a backpack? Please, tell me more…
One of the fundamental tenets of the film is to show, not tell.
Avoid lengthy definitions.
The video is also littered with technical jargon, specific to technology and backpacks, that doesn’t actually show the benefits. Remember, it’s great to tell the technically minded how many mAh your battery holds—but remind them why that matters to them.
She doesn’t stop there but goes on—for around 3 minutes—to unimpressively break down every single feature of the backpack. Cutting between poorly-lit footage and hissy sound and fancy stock images with the same tired orange transitions.
While the team—if there was one, we only see her—attempted to diversify the footage with the brief scenes of nameless characters interacting in the office space or in the park, these seemed totally out of place as they didn’t convey any meaningful information about the product itself.
This brings us to our last and final point. The thing this video lacked, above anything else, was the vision. Know why you’re shooting what you’re shooting. What is the aim? What is the story you’re trying to tell?
Have a vision, and the rest will follow.
When it comes to general advice on how to make a Kickstarter video, there are tons of listicles—articles that take the form of lists—out there parroting rule after rule after rule. Ignore them.
Making successful Kickstarter videos is simple, and rules are made to be broken.
The best advice I can give you is to learn from what’s been done.
Refer to these takeaways with a pinch of salt—but don’t forget that these practical pointers have worked time and again in our million-dollar campaigns.
In my experience, the best Kickstarter videos all follow a similar structure:
As you’ve already guessed showing is always far more compelling than telling—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.
It might sound low budget, but you can shoot a good quality video with a modern smartphone. In fact, if they’d been around in the 70s, George Lucas might have used one and Star Wars would not have looked the same (dashcam 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.
And if you’re not likable, or you’d rather not appear on the screen, get a likable friend or hire actors to stand in as you and your team. Rewrite the script, so that like Volterman, the video revolves around a character other than the founder.
People are first appealed by their emotions before they go about processing stuff with logic. And a good character is the first step to creating that appeal.
We want to get information about your idea quickly, not devote a whole afternoon to it. The best Kickstarter videos are all under five minutes, so follow their example and keep it short!
See what I did there?
You want to inspire your audience. Avoid asking directly for “help” or “donations.”
Instead, ask them to contribute, to invest, to become a partner. That together, you can make something spectacular.
No, we’re not talking about throwing your phone into the pool. Or about the “splash” it will create as it virally ripples across the net and changes the world.
The front page of your video (the slide backers see before they click “play”) is called a splash, and it’s important. Make sure the first frame of your crowdfunding video is an image that will encourage a click.
Expressive, beautiful, mysterious and (unsurprisingly) sexy are the big winners in this game.
Take the Baubax splash, for example. It points out every amazing feature it contains. All complemented by two pictures of a cool guy wearing his Baubax. The point here is not to specifically call each feature out—at that size, the text is barely visible!—but to show everything that this jacket offers, and surprise the viewers from the get-go.
And if you do manage to read it. A built-in neck pillow? iPad pocket? Drink pocket?!
What are these things? I want to find out.
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 Kickstarter videos have background music that has spirit and leaves a positive impression. But be careful that it doesn’t dominate the video and overpower the message.
A quick search for ‘inspirational music’ on marmosetmusic.com is usually all it takes to find the perfect track. You may also try searching for music on audiojungle.net, where you can find tracks starting at $1, or search in the audio library of Youtube for absolutely free music.
I hope the insights we have just unlocked together helped you unveil what makes the best Kickstarter videos the best. And who’s to say that a few months down the road, I won’t be sitting here writing an article about that brilliant video you just made?
After all, success has a formula—you only need to discover your own.