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Wednesday, 14th March, 2012, 05:40 PM #1
Hydra (Lvl 25)
Creating a retailer-friendly Kickstarter project
Kickstarter projects are all the rage in the RPG community at the moment, and many fantastic projects are getting funded. From RPG sourcebooks to dice, to terrain, the assortment of projects grows continually.
One thing that Kickstarter creators should consider, though, is making their Kickstarter project retailer friendly. Now this doesn't apply to all Kickstarters - some may not be able to make this work (especially those creating print-on-demand books - there's no margin to offer a retail discount), and others are large enough that they're able to raise money for a traditonal print-run. This article is geared towards those smaller projects which aren't intended to go through traditional hobby retail channels. The ones which aren't raising funds for a 5000-copy print run.
Creating a retailer-friendly Kickstarter project is not an easy task, but itís far from impossible.
Gary Ray of Black Diamond Games talks on his blog about what a retailer would look for in a Kickstarter project. In short, a retailer would be looking for a 40%-50% discount on a product (plus free shipping); and under those conditions might purchase 3-4 copies. In addition, a retailer is naturally uninterested in the very reward types upon which Kickstarter is based. The retailer wants Kickstarter to work like the hobby games retail channels, and the project creator is not using the hobby games retail channels for a reason.
The difficulty here is that the goals of the hobby retail channel (the retailers) and Kickstarter are not aligned. From the retailerís point-of-view, heís ďpurchasingĒ a product; from the project creatorís point-of-view, heís not ďsellingĒ a product, heís raising funds for one.
So, how can it work for both? Letís look at the projects Black Diamond Games chose to back:
- Journeys to the West offered the book to fans for $50, and five copies to retailers for $75. In addition, five autographed copies were available for $85 total.
- Random Dungeon Generator as a Map offered the poster to fans for $17 and ten posters for $50.
- Gaming Dice in Chocolate and Sugar offered a set of dice to fans for $15 and eight sets to retailers for $100 (not much of a discount on that one).
If your largest cost is your own time (i.e. you make your product yourself), then youíre in a much stronger position. You can offer substantial discounts if you donít have a high locked-in per-unit production cost.
So the general template for a retailer-friendly Kickstarter project look like this (make sure you do your math first - you donít want to actually lose money!):
- One of your rewards is one copy of the physical product. It may have other rewards attached (credit rights, input, what-have-you) but retailers wonít care about that. View this as a basic ďpre-orderĒ price; this is the retail price of your product, and is designed for FANS (not retailers) to grab a single copy of your product.
- Partway up the reward structure offer a RETAILER reward. This will be 4-5 units of the physical product, have no ďvanityĒ rewards (no credits, NPCs named after you, creative input, access to private forums, etc.); however it should be set at about 60% of the value of (the basic product x 5).
- You can offer autographed copies to retailers; thatís something they may be interested in. Donít add more than a few bucks for those, though, unless youíre really super-famous.
- This is obvious, of course, but ensure that the price youíre selling to the retailers (60% of the price youíre selling to fans) doesnít lose you money. Because youíre charging the fans much more, youíll be making up the value to them with the rewards that the retailer isnít interested in; for that extra 40% or so, the fan is getting the intangible perks.
There are numerous sources of advice for Kickstarter creators around the web. Here are some useful ones; I'd recommend reading these before enthusiastically launching into your project:
Wednesday, 14th March, 2012, 07:24 PM #2
Gallant (Lvl 3)
We'll mark up the candy a couple bucks to improve the margin. That's not really an option on gaming items.
Wednesday, 14th March, 2012, 08:07 PM #3
Hydra (Lvl 25)
Thursday, 15th March, 2012, 04:50 AM #4
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Brick and mortar stores are another sales channel for selling your games, a subset of customers that will never be reached through the usual online marketing methods. In exchange for splitting the profits, retailers who are likely to carry your cutting edge project are going to do a professional job of promoting it (especially since they're getting a BUNCH of copies they'll need to sell). Since they put extra effort into getting this product and they're getting more copies than they would normally acquire, they'll need to be knowledgeable and passionate about matching it with the right customer.
Cutting edge projects like these differentiate our stores from our competitors. Even though they'll be tiny slivers of our sales, showing them off says our store is special and unique. It's a place you know you'll find something different and interesting.
We also end up taking these kinds of products to local game conventions to prove our cred and make additional sales of "what we think is cool." For example, right now we're one of the few (if not only) stores that sells Frog God Games products -- because it's cool and we think they're worth supporting.
Thursday, 15th March, 2012, 02:47 PM #5
One other thing to keep in mind, is that the multiple copy discount ... 5 copies at 50% off ... should also be offered to fans as a perk.
If you offer that discount to retailers only, you are losing a set of potential customers.
From a gamer perspective, if your product is an adventure module, a DM probably does not need 5 of it.
But if the product is a Player's Handbook, 5 copies would be 1 for everyone in the group.
If the product is a hand-painted halfling rogue, 1 may be enough. If the product is a box of hand-painted orcs and goblins, 5 boxes may not be enough.
Battle maps, etc.
So don't overlook the fact that some fans will also want volume discounts.
Thursday, 15th March, 2012, 04:11 PM #6
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Another thing to consider when creating a retailer tier is attempting to maintain contact with retailers after the project if you plan to have additional product available. It's great to sell a retailer half a dozen books, but what if they need more later? Most consumers won't be in that boat, but retailers can support that "long tail."
Thursday, 15th March, 2012, 05:25 PM #7
Hydra (Lvl 25)
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