Crowdfunding Series Part 2: Storytelling


In Part Two of our Crowfunding series, our team aimed to determine how to best tell stories. We sat down with our in-house storytelling machine, Mary Wissinger, and learned a thing or two about the process. 

Mary is working on her fourth Kickstarter campaign, all of which have been successful. She has crafted the narratives of several different Kickstarter campaigns including a variety of children’s books and the creator of our favorite mid morning pick-me-up, Silo Coffee.

To Mary, Kickstarter “Gives people and small companies the chance to launch a product or idea while they are securing the capital. Dreams become more attainable for people who are willing to put the work in.” Mary also appreciates that Kickstarter “allows consumers to be more involved in the process.” It offers people the whole picture; how it is done, why it is done, and who helps make it happen.

John also believes that this is the main reason for Kickstarter success. “Because of so many things in our culture we are not focussed as much on the product itself, rather how and why the product was made and being wrapped up in the story. I think part of that is because we are so overwhelmed with superficial, artificial, and quick relationships and we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.” He says that we should be “tapping into a whole knew level of human experience. You are no longer selling a product you are selling an experience that that product will bring. Know your target customer in and out. Know what kind of experience that customer wants and then sell them that experience.”

Components of Storytelling

Media Outreach: This is basically everything outside of the actual campaign page that helps to build a following for the product or idea. It should be content that would drive people to the Kickstarter page and includes social media posts, interviews with press, blog posts about the campaign, etc. Mary describes one interesting aspect of this component, “As you are funded or picked up by the media there are constantly things being added to the narrative surrounding the campaign.” The important thing, as John mentioned in Part 1 of our Crowdfunding Series, is to get people excited about what you’re doing.  

Campaign Page: The people who run the campaign will build its page, which means they tell the story in it’s most original form. No matter how the story is being told there are several basics to effective storytelling. For starters the campaign page should have something that grabs people's attention, this typically is the job of the campaign video which we will get to later. But in general the campaign page should highlight the issue or need that the product or service will meet, go into product details as transparently as possible, and then encourage people to back the campaign. Because this page is designed to be a comprehensive view of the product or idea, it is important that the whole story can be found there.

The campaign page of Genius Games' latest Kickstarter project

The campaign page of Genius Games' latest Kickstarter project

Mary gives us another tidbit of advice when it comes to telling a story, “The appeal whether emotional, funny, or informative, needs to be interesting.” She goes on to explain that our attention spans are short, 7 seconds to be precise, which only gives the campaign a small window of opportunity before the idea is tossed out of sight and out of mind. “I think about how I want them to feel or what I hope they think after seeing or hearing about the project.” And her answer is simple. “Inspired.” After a campaign grabs a consumer’s attention and sparks inspiration the only thing left to do is call people into action. “Kickstarter is so much about the community, [and] this is when you get to invite people to join you in your project.”

Campaign Video: “The campaign must have a good video.” It’s the thing that grabs people and gives them the best idea of what your project is. It lives at the top of the campaign page so it is the first- and hopefully not the last- thing that people see. The Kickstarter Video is essentially the face of a campaign so it’s important to make it count.

Mary and John have worked together on several incredibly successful Kickstarter campaigns. Her perspective offers us yet another experienced voice on our way to understanding effective Kickstarting. Next week we will tackle the art of visual graphics in Part 3 of our crowdfunding series.

About Mary

Mary was, not that long ago, a music teacher at a North St. Louis school. After making the tough decision to leave her teaching career she began a new journey of self-discovery through a game of vulnerability. This game led her to TechArtista where she began partnering with Genius Games and since has been an integral part of many successful Kickstarter campaigns. More about Mary’s vulnerability game and her story can be found here.  

If you would like to dive a little deeper feel free to email Mary or message her on Slack.