Kickstarter and the Emergence of Project Trolls


teaching

“Oh just delete that email. It’s from a project troll.”

We’re in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign, and we’ve been getting a lot of emails about our project. Many of them are from our awesome backers – which we love to get. But we’re also getting a number of emails – 11 and counting — from what we’re internally (and by virtue of this post, publicly) calling project trolls – which we could do without.

In the two years since we did our last Kickstarter project, an industry has sprung up around crowdfunding. That’s cool. Businesses see a need and fill the hole. But apparently these businesses seem to thrive on project trolling. Their whole outreach philosophy seems to be to find projects (which I highly doubt they even review) and then send a (likely form-letter) email telling us that they see flaws in our project or that we likely don’t know how to market it or that they could help us run it better or they know of some analytic insights that we’re likely too stupid to be able to comprehend on our own or some other variation of “nice try, but you’re not doing it right” – which is not cool. Fortunately, they boast that they can help us.

Here’s the thing: The way to get my business to do business with your is not to insult mine. Even if it’s a backhanded “Nice project, but…” kind of way. I don’t know when or how that became acceptable. I’m not sure if they use this approach because it actually brings in business or if it’s just a matter of casting a wide net and hoping to catch something (I’d lean toward believing the latter). But knowing absolutely nothing about us – other than maybe the fact that we put a Kickstarter project up –isn’t the way to get us to work with you. In fact, it makes me never want to work with you.

The way to win my respect – and my business – is to come at my project or company with a real understanding of who we are and what we do.

If you had anything more than a not-even-scratching-the-surface level interest in our company when it comes to our Kickstarter efforts, you would have seen that we raised over $21,000 on our first project – a milestone achieved by less than 5% of projects – and that we’re maybe not as clueless as you are assuming when it comes to this project. You would see that we have a statistician and an actual rocket scientist as founders, so if they can’t figure out the “confusing charts and graphs of analytic data attached” (verbatim from an email), then maybe your graphs and charts need an overhaul.

If you are approaching me, tell me why you want to work with us, not why we need to work with you. I want you to bring ideas that you will implement, not come in and tell me what I’m “supposed” to do.

Because here’s the thing: My business is doing pretty well, we even have money to spend – and will have even more after we finish our Kickstarter – but we’re going to spend it on people who put in time and effort and don’t junk up our inboxes with spammy emails. In other words: Businesses other than yours.

But hey, since your “checking out our page on Kickstarter,” you should totally back us while you’re there.

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