FOMO Factor: Kickstarter Marketing vs. Print-on-Demand Marketing

I've participated or run in several Kickstarter campaigns back in the old days when making five digits was newsworthy. My KS marketing experience may be a bit dated, but it still presents a striking contrast to marketing a catalog of print-on-demand products.

Immediacy: Strength or Weakness?

When I first ventured into POD games, I thought immediacy would be the one strength they had over a kickstarted product. You don't have to wait twelve months or longer to get your game. You know it will fulfill. It will never go out of stock. It can be updated and adjusted bit by bit based on player feedback. All this seemed like an all-around strong offering.

POD says "You can buy this game whenever, get it in 1-2wks!"
KS says "You can probably only buy this game now, and wait 12mos."

And yet it seems that very security and unlimited access is a weakness for POD marketing. Unlike a KS campaign, there isn't a time-sensitive offer or a sense of existential risk to the game. The game's existence is assured, so there is no sense of a closing window. There is no urgency to open your wallet RIGHT NOW as there is in a KS project on the verge of funding.

As Jon Bolding accurately explained,

KS says "You can help me make this thing, which won't get made otherwise."
POD says "Here's a thing I made, buy it if you want."

FOMO Factor

This all comes back to the concept of FOMO, the fear of missing out. This is the same logic that drives the "Disney Vault" or other artificial scarcity. Loss aversion is a powerful motivator, one that KS uses in full force. However, restricting access or cutting off supply is anathema to my goal of creating many overlapping "long tails" that aggregate into a self-sustaining business.

This all brings me to the sale I held last weekend during Origins 2014. For about five days, I significantly lowered the prices of all of my games to the point where I juuuust barely made some reasonable earnings. I kept my promotions to one tweet a day for the most part. Here's how the campaign performed.

This ultimately led to 88 sales over the course of five days, which is higher than the entire month of March which had been my best sales month of the year so far. Unfortunately this didn't actually earn as much as March, but at least that's 88 more of my games going to someone's table. Little by little, I hope POD's tortoise will make gains on KS's hare.


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