The Importance of Reviews for Crowdfund Campaigns: Learning from Clans of Caledonia
“typically we only do previews for these types of games because the quality of the products we typically get are not manufacturers… This is a prototype that is more finished than most finished games… we are punching cardboard which we have ever done for a prototype” — Man vs. Meeple Review of Clans of Caledonia
The opening statement in the Man Vs Meeple review is everything a crowdfund campaign should strive for, and everything Clans of Caledonia has achieved. It’s finished, it’s polished, it’s tested, and it’s been in the hands of trusted reviewers and shown over video from independent sources. This is how a crowdfunded board game should be done. This is how to take a euro game about Scottish whisky and raise 230,000 euros (whiskey helps too).
The Reviewers Matter:
Any crowdfund campaign worth your time has a series of quotes or logos from reviewers. What a keen eye might notice, however, is that with the presence of logos and simple quotes is a lack of meaningful content or links. The absence of links or content should be a red flag for any backer, and is paramount for a crowdfunder to acquire. There are too many websites who will happily give quick and dirty write-ups to announce an upcoming crowdfund, but poor quality or suspect reviews can do more harm than good for your campaign.
What crowdfunders and backers alike can learn from Clans of Caledonia is the importance of putting a functional prototype into the hands of trusted influencers. In the aftermath of the involvement of influencers on Fyre Festival, the emphasis on trust cannot be stated enough. The Clans of Caledonia team went to trusted reviewers with a high-quality product and it shows through the highly sharable reviews that they created. Unlike the hollow promises from influencers now being sued for Fyre Festival, with Clans we have playthroughs, in-depth analysis, and glowing reviews in video and in long form text. These are all easily sharable pieces of content that will circle the board game community and enhance the initial crowdfund offering.
There are a lot of other things the Clans of Caledonia team has done right. Images, a simulator, campaign specific rewards, realistic stretch goals, a money back guarantee, active social media, and more. However, it was the plethora of quality reviews that stuck with us the most. Many campaigns have overlooked or avoided creating quality reviews, but with the crowdfund space becoming so competitive and backer trust in decline, reviews are becoming increasingly important.
Many crowdfund articles offer the advice of starting your marketing campaign before you launch — compiling emails, creating a splash page, being active on social media, and building buzz. What they miss is how important it is to build that early buzz with trusted reviewers, and not just acquiring empty news articles.
This is the critical lesson we can take away from Juma Al-JouJou’s successful crowdfunding campaign: how to market your product through reviewers and influencers. It is perhaps one of the most important steps you can take to turn a good campaign into a great one, inspire confidence in consumers and get them to click that reward button. It’s not just about having a mash of different reviewer logos, it’s about the quality of those reviewers. It’s about having video of your product in the hands of other people and spreading their excitement. Ultimately, you may not have a game about whiskey or a crowdfund video done with a Scottish accent, but you better damn well have some good reviews.