Based upon our experience working with thousands of crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and/or Indiegogo, here are some basic tips for effectively handling an involuntary suspension of your crowdfunding campaign, as well as re-launching crowdfunding campaigns in general…
A crowdfunding campaign’s most important phase is arguably its first few days and, sometimes, those days doesn’t go very well at all—in fact, the market’s initial response to your campaign may reveal serious problems with it that require significant time to solve. In such cases, there’s nothing wrong with voluntarily cancelling it, fixing whatever seems broken about it, and then re-launching it as soon as it’s better-configured to succeed. Re-launched campaigns don’t seem to suffer any significant stigmas among backers, and many initially-failing projects (including the original Coolest Cooler campaign) have found revision-and-relaunch to be exactly what they needed to do in order to succeed wildly. So, if you want to re-start your campaign, but are wondering how to orchestrate it as successfully as possible, then this blog entry is for you!
What we’re about to detail about re-launching successfully applies not only to voluntary cancellations but also to involuntary suspensions. Ideally, before you ever launched your crowdfunding campaign, you carefully read all of your crowdfunding platform’s rules and ensured that you complied with each of them. But maybe you were a tad negligent and/or forgetful and, as such, somehow earned a dreaded notice from Kickstarter’s Trust & Safety Team. Or maybe they sent you such a notice in error. Or maybe you’ve merely heard about such nightmares happening to other campaigners and, as such, you yearn to avoid meeting the same fate. In any such cases, FEAR NOT… this blog entry is also for you!
In either case (or in any case), we invite you to please remember that the path to long-term success in often long and winding with many dead ends, and that short-term failure is normal. About two-thirds of crowdfunding projects fail to surpass their fundraising goals—in fact, most crowdfunding campaigns never raise more than $10,000. And half of all startups fail within five years. So, most likely, you’re going to fail… but that’s alright! What happens to you is generally less important than how you condition yourself to respond to it. Whether you fail or succeed, it’s arguably counterproductive to dwell upon either beyond the point that it’s helpful—instead, it’s good to acknowledge both your positives with gratitude and your negatives with mercy as you humbly persist with faith in learning-and-improving toward perfection. And persistent learning-and-improvement is a vital key to (eventual) success at anything!
So, without any further ado, here’s our time-tested seven-step procedure for handling suspensions and/or re-launching campaigns...
Whether your campaign is merely failing or facing suspension, your first task should be to determine what’s gone wrong with it.
If your campaign is failing, then you should seek feedback about it from any backers that you’ve gained, since they’re often very willing to provide feedback. Your problem might be with any number of factors, including your product, your pricing, your rewards structure, your goal, your timing, your platform, and/or your presentation. We detail such factors in our “7 P’s for Crowdfunding Success,” which you may find helpful to study.
If your campaign is facing suspension, then you should review your platform’s rules and then ask your platform’s Trust & Safety team what you did wrong. Indiegogo is relatively kind to creators and generally willing to help, but Kickstarter support is utterly abysmal and (as such) you might need to ask them VERY persistently in order to ever get any answers from them. Common reasons for suspension include attempting to run multiple campaigns simultaneously, lacking adequate audiovisual proof of a working prototype, showing renderings rather than photographs, infringing upon someone else’s intellectual property rights, and/or selling your crowdfunding product on another platform. Such rules-violations are more-likely to get noticed for more-popular campaigns.
This step applies only to involuntary suspensions, although some failing campaigns may need to revise their campaign media to improve its salesmanship.
Nobody’s perfect and, as such, Kickstarter sometimes suspends some campaigns wrongfully, perhaps because a reviewer failed to notice the difference between a current campaign and a previous one, or perhaps for other reasons. If you believe that your suspension is unjustified, then you should present your platform’s Trust & Safety team with evidence (which may include previous messages from their platform) showing them that your project actually complies with their policies.
If your platform has not yet suspended your campaign, then your appeal might avert this from happening. Please note that, although Kickstarter staff may be callous at times, they are honest—so, if they promise that they’ll cancel your campaign in 48 hours, then you’ll enjoy this entire 48 hours to figure out how best to proceed. After Kickstarter has suspended a campaign, it will not reinstate that campaign under any circumstances whatsoever, although it may allow some campaigners to negotiate re-launches of such campaigns.
If either cancellation or suspension becomes certain, then you should inform your backers both honestly and openly about what’s happening, as well as what you’re planning—and you should also invite (but not require) them to provide their contact information (if possible) in preparation for any planned re-launch. Campaigners can’t do this for campaigns that have already been suspended, except for any backers whom they’d engaged in conversation before suspension was implemented.
This step applies only to involuntary suspensions that can’t be averted but haven’t yet been implemented. In such cases, after you’ve finished collecting your backers’ contact information, it’s best to preemptively cancel your own campaign before it’s involuntarily suspended. Unlike suspensions, cancellations allow you to continue to post updates for your campaign’s backers—plus, the crowdfunding community views cancellations more favorably than suspensions, as they should.
Although Kickstarter is notorious for suspending popular campaigns without either warning or explanation, it’s still the best platform (for now) for raising funds—we’ve worked with dozens of identical projects on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and (so far without exception) they’ve always fared significantly better on Kickstarter. So, if you can find a way to re-launch on Kickstarter, then it’s worth your effort to do so. Indiegogo will treat you better, though, and provides a good backup option. As for timing, unless seasonality is one of your campaign’s problems, it’s generally best to re-launch your campaign as soon as possible.
After you’ve re-launched your campaign, you should contact all of its original backers to try to persuade them to re-pledge to it. These backers can boost your campaign much like pre-launch leads, synergizing with its initial “spike” in organic attention while helping it to surpass its funding goal as quickly as possible, which is a great advantage in trying to maximize your funds raised.
After these previous six steps, a re-launched campaign becomes essentially like any other campaign—so, you can then proceed as usual with your post-launch marketing and customer service and such, as we’ve described extensively in other resources.
If you enjoyed this blog entry, then you might also enjoy this podcast episode, which presents roughly this same information in a different form. You can also find all of these same tips (and more) in our comprehensive Ultimate Crowdfunding Success Guide, along with plenty more advice for running a successful crowdfunding campaign from conceptualization to fulfillment. Please download your copy today!