Tell us a bit about yourself and import/export.
My name is Jordan Draper, I’m a board game designer, artist, traveler, and co-founder of Dark Flight Games. Import / Export is my fourth game, and by far the deepest and most strategic to date! It features the theme of importing and exporting goods from across the globe, paired with a unique economic engine, as well as some classic elements from games such as Glory to Rome and Container.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched I/E?
I’ve always kept an open line of communication with past supporters of my games who love to play test new titles, and the word of mouth has really helped to build up a following. I prefer to design and develop games over marketing, and so I’ve been testing a free marketing strategy that simply involves connecting with people who are passionate about what I create and helping them out with anything I can along the way. I really appreciate having a continual honest conversation with other like minded gamers.
You did two other small campaigns before import/export. The campaign for I/E got over 1000 backers. What did you do differently on that one?
The first major jump can be attributed to a mailing list that has slowly been building over the last year. Over 30% of the backers for I/E were from external sources (compared to only 10-20% on past KS campaigns) and the majority of those backers were brought in on the first day through a mailing list email I sent out via Mail Chimp.
What is your best marketing tip?
Message and connect with anyone and everyone who shows any interest in what you are doing! It has also proven to be incredibly important to help others out when they need it as well without expecting anything in return. If you have a great product and you treat everyone who supports you like family, even at your own expense, they will market your product for you far greater than you ever could.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched the I/E campaign, what would it be?
I made a large mistake of creating an exclusive gameplay item as part of a limited reward tier to encourage early backers, as I personally don’t mind if I can’t collect everything in relation to a game. Many backers voiced their distaste for exclusive gameplay items, and luckily I was able to make the item available to everyone before the campaign ended, but it would have saved me a lot of time and effort had I simply set things up differently from the beginning. Luckily I have learned that exclusive items are looked down upon and I will be avoiding them entirely in the future.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
I launched in late January, partly because the game had finally been prepared for launch after several months of delay, and because January is a great time to launch a Kickstarter. I would avoid launching anytime between October and December.
The beginning and the end of the campaign are when most of the backers pledge. Whats your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop?
I focused on planning giveaways, interviews, and previews for the middle of the campaign to perk interest and it seems to have worked out. It’s easy to become discouraged during the middle of a campaign when you are only receiving as little as a few backers on a particular day, but this all balances out and it’s important to keep a holistic mindset and continue your marketing efforts.
How often do you send out updates and what do they include?
I send out updates roughly 2x per week during the campaign and once every 2 weeks after it ends. I always include insights, improvements, and then ask backers for feedback or involvement to help shape the game into a better experience. Updates are a powerful tool to learn more about your product, and there will always be great insights if you ask for them! I also think including exciting graphics in updates is essential to perk interest.
What’s your tactic regarding stretch goals?
I like to include new usable gameplay content when I can and plan ahead so it doesn’t cause delays at the end of the project, even if every stretch goal is unlocked. I personally believe the quality of the game should be top notch from the beginning, so I try to avoid quality upgrades unless they are incredibly expensive and require a very late stretch goal.
What is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
Graphics and competence. People need to visually understand what you have created, and they need to understand why it’s great through your technical writing and unique personality. It takes a lot of work to run a Kickstarter, especially entirely by yourself, but you have to keep a solid mix of professional and personal interest at all times.
Do you regret something you did on your previous campaigns?
I love to learn and adapt through mistakes, so I don’t regret anything that is part of a learning process. I’m always looking to the next project with insights from my past work.
What is your favourite board game at the moment and why?
I think it’s impossible to have one favorite, but some games I’ve enjoyed recently include ‘The Pyramid’s Deadline’, ‘No Thanks!’, ‘Indonesia’, and nearly everything from Reiner Knizia.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
I would say the customer service ethic of Jamey Stegmaier, analysis of Reiner Knizia, playful simplicity of Oink Games, and quirkiness of 2F.
Anything else you want to add?
If you have a passion and you are afraid to pursue it, set aside time and make it happen! There will always be excuses, but there is only one way to get results.
Where can people reach you?
Anyone is welcome to reach out to me at info@darkflightgames or through our website www.darkflightgames.com