Eric Poses is owner and president of All Things Equal Inc., a company that develops, markets and distributes dozens of popular games, including "Loaded Questions" and the "Awkward Family Photos" board game.
In 1997, Eric embarked on a 16-week, cross-country drive, selling Loaded Questions to retailers out of the trunk of his car. Recently, he reprised that journey, bringing his family along with him in an RV to visit retailers and game enthusiasts across the country.
It's been a long journey, but his tenacity has paid off. All Things Equal games are available at retailers, including Target, Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon, and hundreds of specialty stores and websites.
I invited Eric to Marketing Smarts to talk about how he got started in games, how the marketing landscape has changed since he had his first big idea, and whether he'd use crowdfunding if he were launching his first game today.
Along the way, we touch on social media, content marketing, the continued relevance of events and traditional channels, and much more.
Here are some highlights from my conversation with Eric:
Embrace new and emerging technologies—like crowdfunding—to launch new products (08:58): "Over the course of the last 18 years, I've invented maybe 20 different games. I happen to love the Kickstarter model, even though I haven't used it. I know it's been successful for a lot of new companies, and some old companies that have transitioned to this new way of financing an initial production run.... I've tinkered with the idea of doing a Kickstarter campaign, but it's a little self-serving.
"But for new companies it makes total sense...[for companies that] don't have a foothold in the industry and don't have the contacts with traditional retailers. Amazon's been great. You can put your game up there and market it, and let the world know about it after you have this Kickstarter campaign. Amazon has become one of my top accounts over the years. I see sales increasing every year as people are doing online shopping [more and more]. "Exploding Kittens" is an amazing phenomenon: nine-million dollars and no one's really played it!"
When focus groups tell you that your product idea's not a winner, listen (21:55): "With every game I develop, we do pretty extensive game-play sessions. We contact meet-up groups locally. We have people we've found through Craigslist. We'll interview people, have people sign nondisclosure agreements, and fill out forms of how the game play session went, but we'll bring people to our office all the time while we're trying out new games and get feedback....
"I'd say the thing I learned most is when the game play sessions suggest that people don't really like your game, maybe it's time to rethink before you go to production. I tend to get wrapped up in an idea and I love it and I'm working on it for months and months. And, in the past, the Joke Game being one example of a game I created that had really negative feedback, I printed 10,000 copies and decided to go for it. And you don't just do that with $50,000 usually. Thankfully, T.J.Maxx and Marshalls bought the bulk of my inventory that I had left over."
Eric and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.