Creating a retailer-friendly Kickstarter project
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    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:
    Whether this can work for you depends on your production costs. If youíre producing a print-on-demand book (which costs, say, $15 to make) you probably arenít in a position to offer a discount - unless youíre able to persuade the fans that $50 is a good price so that you can give five copies to retailers for $25 each. That can happen, of course, so donít discount it; itís just a bit harder to do.

    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.
    So, in summary: offer fans intangible perks, offer retailers discounts instead, donít lose money.

    Other Advice

    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:
    Last edited by Morrus; Wednesday, 14th March, 2012 at 05:48 PM.

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