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Since Kickstarter launched in 2009, crowdfunding has taken the entrepreneurial world by storm. Prior to crowdfunding, even the smallest company couldn’t successfully launch without significant personal capital or outside investment.
Crowdfunding results, however, have been nothing short of amazing. As of April 13, 2017, a total of 12.7 million backers have funded 122,878 projects by pledging an incredible $3 billion.
While the crowdfunding platform boasts 122,878 successful projects, another 220,528 failed to reach their fundraising goals. So what sets the viral sensation apart from the funding flop?
While a few factors are important -- a creative, exciting product, enticing rewards and a realistic goal, to name a few -- strategic use of visual storytelling is by far the most vital tool an entrepreneur needs for success.
According to an MPW Media study of almost 8,000 Kickstarter projects, pages with video are 85 percent more likely to achieve their fundraising goals. More specifically, 48 percent of projects featuring video met their funding goals, while only 26 percent did so without.
Still, the findings are fairly abstract. To put them into greater perspective, we’ve scoured the crowdfunding site and found 19 of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns that effectively utilized engaging visual presentations:
When TGT launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its “new kind of wallet” in 2012, the startup was only looking to raise $20,000 in order to produce the TGT wallet line, including supplies and manufacturing. But thanks to an engaging video and vivid visual storytelling on the project’s page, more than 7,500 backers raised an amazing $317,424 for TGT in just 35 days.
TGT’s Kickstarter campaign page greets viewers with a video that not only catches their eyes, but also holds their attention. Without a word of text, the video visually explains the many ways to use the wallet, and the series of “models” -- a variety of derrieres -- keeps audiences interested.
In fact, the entire page features colorful images of the TGT wallet and its various designs, as well as plenty of wow factor in the form of wallet-laden hind ends.
War and Pieces caught on quickly, raising more than double its $50,000 in just three days. The game’s creators produced a video that could easily have been broadcast to kids on a Saturday morning. Audiences are immediately intrigued as the video features the family playing a life-sized version of the game.
Footage of the supersized game version is followed by plenty of family fun, as the entire gang is shown having the time of their lives playing the game and laughing around a family table. The obvious entertainment is contagious, and it’s no wonder viewers wanted in on the fun.
Proving you don’t even need a good product if you tell an engaging story, Zack Danger Brown raised $55,492 in 2014 in a Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad. Yes, you read that right. Almost 7,000 people pledged anywhere from $1 to $110 to help Brown buy a few ingredients and follow a basic recipe.
The entire farce couldn’t have appealed to such a large audience without a video that ironically took the campaign entirely too seriously. Brown addresses the camera, speaking as if potato salad were a scientific paradigm or philosophical quandary. His narrative draws in viewers, then shocks them with its simplistic subject.
The potato salad video can be an example for any entrepreneur looking for an engaging way to address audiences through basic narrative. Because, after all, Brown raised more than 50 Gs to make potato salad. He had to be on to something.
How do you tell an engaging visual story about fonts? After all, by definition they relate specifically to the written word? The team behind Font Awesome 5 found the answer: Infographics.
The Font Awesome campaign featured a series of diagrams and data visualizations that not only described the product and its uses, but the variety of rewards offered to an array of support tiers.
A video that easily could have become a dull narrative was spiced up with humorous dialogue and a cast of amusing characters. The project went on to surpass its $30,000, and more than 35,000 backers pledged more than $1 million to the campaign.
It only makes sense that one of the greatest examples of visual storytelling on Kickstarter can be found within the Faces of Courage campaign. After all, the project itself is a book of images.
Mark Tuschman, a photographer of 35 years, spent the past decade documenting women in developing countries and the lack of control they have over their own lives and bodies. The result is Faces of Courage, a book that highlights their predicaments with vivid images.
The photos included in Tuschman’s book were already so moving, using them to create a powerful Kickstarter page was only natural. The commanding and emotional stories told by Tuschman’s images inspired more than 500 people to pledge more than $60,000 to support the book’s publication.
Sometimes a Kickstarter campaign finances the creation of visual content. The worlds of painting and animation combined for the first time in a feature-length film through Hugh Welchman’s Loving Vincent. The story inspired almost 800 backers to pledge more than £53,000 toward the project.
The Kickstarter campaign allowed the film’s creator to train 40 painters to contribute to the film., which would otherwise take years to complete.
Telling a visual story on the Kickstarter page was easy for Welchman. He simply created a video with animated content from the film. In Loving Vincent, every frame of the film is an oil painting on canvas -- in the style of Vincent van Gogh. Motion is created by repainting the film to create the next cell.
How can an entrepreneur create visual content to support the creation of visual content? In Celia Rowlson-Hall’s case, she designed a provocative video about herself and her prior creations.
Rowlson-Hall also promoted her project, MA, a modern-day silent film, with a series of photos capturing the locations she planned to film.
The strategy worked. More than 600 Kickstarter backers pledged more than $53,000 to support the film, which will tell the story of a virgin mother travelling through the dessert to give birth to Christ in Las Vegas.
Kickstarter projects supporting the publication of graphic novels are hugely popular on the crowdfunding website, and Williamsburg Shorts is no exception. After all, if supporters are motivated by visual content, then wouldn’t they be even more likely to support the creation of a visual story?
The creators exceeded their initial goal of $7,800 when 318 backers pledged more than $15,000 toward the project.
What was it about Williamsburg Shorts that so motivated audiences to support the publication? The project was promoted with a video that offered a clear portrait of a neighborhood of immigrants, including actual scenes from the community of Williamsburg, as well as images from the comic book. In fact, the entire page is filled with vivid stills from the book.
One of the hardest tasks an entrepreneur can face is creating a need within audiences -- especially when it’s a need they never knew they had. The creators of Memobottle created that need with a variety of visual strategies, and far-surpassed their AU$15,000 goal when more than 6,000 backers pledged AU$261,148 to the project.
So how do you convince people they need yet another water bottle? The team behind Memobottle created a video showing a variety of unique yet convenient ways to use Memobottle. They also presented a series of water conservation facts through animated infographics. The combination formed a visual story that effectively created the need for Memobottle among viewers.
Some Kickstarter campaigns promote products that are so innovative, all audiences need to see is a demonstration, and they can’t wait to back the project. One look at the 3D-printing pen, and more than 26,000 backers were sold, pledging $2.3 million to get 3Doodler off the ground.
WobbleWorks, the creator of the 3Doodler, filled its Kickstarter page with images of the pen in use, as well as its creations. Seeing is believing, and the accompanying video showed audiences just how easily they can print 3D creations with the hand-held device. If the product sells itself, the simplest visual presentations are often most effective.
Motion is a vital element of visual storytelling, which made the medium perfect for the makers of Sisyphus kinetic-art tables to promote their products. Sisyphus is described as a kinetic sculpture in which a ball rolls through sand to create an infinite series of mesmerizing patterns. While the words may conjure certain images in readers’ minds, seeing the art in action evokes a meditative feeling that audiences wanted to repeat at home.
The Kickstarter page’s close-up images and videos of Sisyphus apparently did the trick. While a $50,000 goal was set to get production of the coffee- and end-tables off the ground, almost 2,000 backers pledged almost $2 million toward the campaign.
Marketers have long harnessed the power of images to evoke emotions within audiences, feelings that will then drive them to take a desired action. Nostalgic images can promote childhood feelings such as joy, fun and security. The strategy was ideal for the Smithsonian Institute when it campaigned to conserve Dorothy’s ruby slippers, worn by Judy Garland in MGM’s classic, The Wizard of Oz.
The iconic shoes had seen better days, and funds were needed to restore them to their previous wonder. Just by displaying favorite images from the film, the Smithsonian inspired support for the project. And once audiences were feeling plenty nostalgic, they saw the sad condition of the famous footwear. What else could they do but pledge their support of the restoration?
The technique worked. More than 6,400 backers pledged an astonishing $349,026 to support a product they could never own.
How were almost 3,000 backers inspired to pledge more than $350,000 toward the construction of a theoretical building? The Entheon creators, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, designed a video that vividly walked audiences through a virtual version of the proposed art sanctuary.
Thanks to the successful Kickstarter campaign, Entheon , a three-story, 12,000 square-foot exhibition of artwork, will open its doors later this year. Sounds impressive, but had audiences not been treated to breathtaking and mesmerizing visual effects via the virtual tour, it’s unlikely the project would have raised more than five times its original goal.
Fancy showerheads are a dime a dozen, but the creators of the Nebia Shower used vivid imagery to inspire more than 8,500 backers to pledge over $3.1 million toward the Kickstarter project.
The Nebia Shower not only provides a superior shower experience by atomizing millions of tiny water droplets, but it uses 70 percent less water than standard showerheads -- both aspects clearly illustrated on the Kickstarter page.
Powerful imagery including video of both the shower system in use and tropical waterfalls immediately associate the Nebia with luxurious delight and relaxation in audience’s minds. The Nebia team combined the persuasive images with infographics reinforcing the efficiency of the system.
Once upon a time in Minnesota, a local television show was destined to become a cult classic. Mystery Science Theater 3000 ultimately recorded 197 episodes for broadcast and cable across 12 years. The Emmy-nominated comedy was cancelled in 1999, but thanks to Kickstarter, it’s coming back.
While it should have been easy for MST3K creator Joel Hodgson to illustrate his Kickstarter page (after all, his project is video content), he presented the campaign from a surprising angle. Instead of simply including footage from the series’ original run, he added the show’s signature silhouette characters across the bottom of a comical campaign narrative.
Thanks to almost 50,000 backers who pledged more than $5.7 million toward the project, MST3K is currently producing 12 new episodes.
Who would believe a project named Exploding Kittens could raise $8.8 million in a month? And what kind of person would back such a concept? Thanks to creative visual storytelling, more than 219,000 backers understood they were supporting a hilarious family-friendly card game.
Exploding Kittens’ creators had good material to work with when designing their Kickstarter campaign. The cards are already illustrated with outrageous comics of exploding kittens and other characters. To explain the game, they simply animated those images. The result was a sequence that not only grabs audience attention, but holds it throughout the presentation.
Entrepreneur Ryan Grepper only needed $50,000 to launch production of his portable party disguised as a cooler, but he illustrated the device so brilliantly that 62,642 backers pledged $13.3 million to bring the project to life.
In his Kickstarter video, Grepper includes plenty of images that evoke feelings of summertime pleasure -- family picnics, camp fires and afternoons on a boat. He also illustrates plenty of uses for the Coolest Cooler and its innovative features. The Kickstarter rewards are even illustrated with bold and colorful infographics.
How do you teach a toddler to code? Is that even possible? While such a lesson may be difficult to comprehend, the team behind Cubetto got its point across with video.
The Cubetto is a toy that teaches young children the basics of coding with colorful blocks. Cubetto’s Kickstarter video illustrates how the blocks are placed on the game board to direct a smiling cube where to move across a colorful mat.
Sound too complicated for a toddler? Probably, but fortunately for Cubetto, seeing is believing. With an original pledge goal of $100,000, the campaign went on to raise $1.6 million thanks to explanatory visual content.
Imagery allows even the most complicated of processes to be explained visually, systematically. Such was the case with the Undress. The garment was specially designed so the wearer can change clothes anywhere without flashing extra skin.
Verbally explaining the Undress would be difficult for even the most expert wordsmith. But with video, infographics and other images, the creators could easily illustrate the product’s specially-designed features and how to properly use them. The campaign went on to raise more than $615,000 to launch the fashion design.
Have you supported a Kickstarter campaign that captivated you with its visual message? What elements caught your eye the most? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
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