How Much Does Presentation Matter?

19 May 2016 | 23 Comments

This will be a short post since I’m spending most of my time this week at Geekway to the West in St. Louis.

A few weeks ago I was preparing to host game night. I had baked some cookies the day before, so I put them out on the table. They looked like this:


I almost walked away, leaving the cookies for people to take from the bag when they arrived.

But then I stopped. I looked at the bag. I love chocolate chip cookies, but if I walked into someone else’s home, would I want one of these cookies? Hermetically sealed in plastic, chocolate sticking to the bag?

I’d probably still take a cookies, but I would hesitate first. I’d go into the experience of eating the cookie with the preconceived notion that they weren’t a big deal.

As I stood there, I realized that there was a strong parallel between the presentation of these cookies and the art on a Kickstarter project page, updates, and product design. The presentation can either draw me into a project and inspire confidence in the creator, or it can make me hesitate and wonder if I want to reach into the bag.

So I got a plate and took another picture:


They’re the exact same cookies, but the presentation is completely different. The sticky bag is gone, replaced by a clean plate. The cookies are arranged in such a way to invite people to take them. I removed any cookies that had broken in half. And for the sake of the photo, I applied a filter.

Here, have a cookie. Presentation makes a huge difference, doesn’t it?

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23 Comments on “How Much Does Presentation Matter?

  1. I learned this lesson the hard way in our presentation of a miniatures game on kickstarter that uses models from multiple manufacturers in boxed games. We did a bad job on the first presentation of these models by using the manufacturer’s images which ultimately led to comments like “hodgepodge” and others. We did not take the time to paint all of these models in one scheme for better aesthetics and to show they all work well together. Ultimately, we cancelled the kickstarter for this and other reasons…

    We relaunched- but not until we fully painted in cohesive schemes each group of models. These were the same exact miniatures- just- painted and photographed well in a single setting. The difference during a relaunch? Comments changed tone to “These look great together” and “Love these miniatures”… and we’re now looking at a successful campaign.

    So totally agree. Presentation is everything. And the first impression you make is only made one time… take your time and make it count.

  2. Presentation is absolutely important, far more so than the cookie example, because that scenario seems more like a post-project update than a project parallel (You’ve already hooked people in, and are then making their confidence drop with lazy presentation later).

    Continuing to use cookies for parallels, there’s also the fact that no matter how much I’m 100% confident I’ll enjoy a Millies cookie more, if its’ in a bag thrown on a side table and there’s Maryland cookies on a plate on the table, you can bet I’m eating the cookies I actually know about =-)

    I want a cookie…

  3. First off, congratulations on the artwork/design of Scythe. I love the oil painting look.

    Secondly – as a first time board game maker – the difficulty I run into with presentation is the cost of having a good presentation done, whether it be a video for a KS or a self funded project. Some of the art and all of the graphic work for the demo version have been done by myself, and it’s very time consuming.

    By the look and sound of it, to get interest in a KS board game project you need to at least have some upfront funding to have art and videos done if you can’t do them yourself. Not to mention: finding the right talent at the right price is a huge time sink for a game company run by one or two people.

    1. Mike first off congratulations on starting thw process to make a game. It is very exciting and I wish you luck

      Now to your point- you use the word “need to” have art etc. Technically the answer is no you don’t need to do any of that. There have been projects funded that have very basic art/ videos.

      But in reality you are asking an entire group of stragers for money for something that currently doesnt even exsist. So yes those things, good art, polished videos, etc. help.

      The point of this article isnt just to make a brilliant intro video though. It is more to present what you have as best you can. I.e. for your intro video maybe you cant make a professional one. But you can appear in a basic one showing excitement and enthusiasm, and maybe a snapshot or two of people playing your prototype having a great time. Maybe you cannot have all art done, but you can have a small amount to convey where you are going. Alot of it really is the little things like maybe linking how to play videos, or putting the rule book up that are the “plates” here. You need tonget across to your potenfial backers that you have a fun game, you are excited about it, and it is a real thing you just need to get it into mass productiom and finish up a few areas.

      You are trying to sell this new thing, the more effort in, the more you get out. And remember the only timeline you have is your own. So take the time you need and then go for it! Good luck =)

      1. Bill: Good point. I’ll take it a step further to say that presentation isn’t just about imagery–it’s about the words used on the project page and the correctness of those words. Avoiding typos, misspellings, grammatical mistakes, confusing phrasing, etc can make a big difference in the way people perceive the presentation of the project.

  4. ‘I removed any cookie that had broken in half.’ Does that mean you ate them?

    But I definitely agree, if a kickstarter project has poor presentation I probably don’t give it enough time to even think about backing it, there are too many better presented projects to consider. For cookies however, I’d be happy to eat them, had a friend who added green food colouring to cookies once and I still ate them (I think he was hoping no one would eat them so there’d be more for him…)

  5. I just wanted to chime in real quick to thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this entry. I’ve been at a convention all day, so it was nice to see your thoughtful comments. They made for a great read!

  6. Now I want a cookie :)
    Presentation is a huge deal, both in Kickstarter campaigns but also at conventions, since your potential customers/backers have a way to directly compare your project to the other ones. Presentation makes the difference.

  7. Jamey Great Blog entry!

    I am a professional baker, and currently run a bagel factory. Over the years I have learned one very important thing ” people eat with the eyes”.

    For instance if I leave bagels to rest too long they get “bubbles” on the surface or alligator skin as we call it. It is a sign of a lot of fermentation. The interesting thing is a lot of fermentation is tasty very tasty in fact. Just look at a sourdough loaf- they are covered in these bubbles and taste fantastic!

    The problem is people expect bagels to be nice smooth and shiny, they see these bubbled bagels and do not think twice about them- they just get left un-purchased. If I send a shipment to our customers with this issue, there is a good chance I will loose that customer. As a baker I live with this sad reality that the best tasting bagels I make don’t sell and have to be donated as waste to food kitchens etc.

    Yes ou can try to educate people, hand out samples, get them to try things- and that will work to a degree. But you are also going to have a large number of people simply walk by before you can even attempt to educate them on how good the product is because they don’t lie the look of it.

    The product people see has to be interesting and engaging otherwise even if it really is the best bagel, or cookie, or game- it will not sell.

    This doesn’t mean large production costs, or over the top videos etc. But it does mean taking the time to get out that plate and spiff things up a bit- effort in results out as they say… (and now I want some cookies…)

    1. That’s fascinating to hear!

      Personally, I think that ‘alligator skin’ would make me curious and make me think it’s more like bread. I might ask about it.

      The shininess of bagels always seemed a bit odd to me; the crust feeling plasticky compared to the crust of some top breads.

      I’m certainly not your average customer though. ;-)

      I definitely agree with you regarding the notion that some things done to improve presentation can be even detrimental to the product.

    2. Maybe it’s because I’ve got my biz-exec hat on, but the solution seems pretty straightforward. Segment the “alligator-skin” bagels by inventing a fancy name for them (If it’s French or Italian, even better!) and charge a high premium. Make sure you increase the presentation around them to go with the premium price. (e.g. Surround with paper dollies or carnations)

      When customers ask about them, make sure you have your story in line. You’re going to educate them on these being the most delicious bagels, that they’re made with special care, and that only the top bakers can develop these. They are worth the price premium.

      Make sure your story remains consistent. To you they’re not a big deal, but to the customer they need to be the most amazing thing that ever existed. You might even go as far as to state that you’re the only baker that makes that brand of bagel! (Which you probably are. Under that brand, anyway. ;-))

      Before you know it, you’ll have a large following of customers looking to acquire just those bagels. And willing to pay your premium for them! Which should more than offset any additional marketing and education costs that slow down the transactions. Once critical mass is achieved, word of mouth should lower the education costs increasing your margins.

      Of course, pulling it off requires your business to have a lot of things lined up. Sort of like how Starbucks manages to get customers to pay a premium for (at this point) fairly average coffee. So it may work for you. It may not. Worth some thought, though.

      I know if I ever find myself in your store I’m going to ask for the alligator bagels. ;-)

      1. You covered it in more detail, but I was gonna say the same thing in a nutshell – If you’ve got something that’s awesome and tasty but has a different look that’s a huge opportunity for a re-branding! Make it something new and exciting to customers and sell it on those traits!

        1. Thanks for the comments Jerason and Aron.

          In concept I agree on the angel. But just as with presentation being important. Knowing your capabilities and customer base are just as important.

          If I had a small operating or a bagel shop per se’ very easily done. We could segregate and move the product.

          However my particular operation is wholesale where I bake well over 250,000 bagels in just one day. Our customers are supermarkets, convenience stores, schools, delis, and bagel shops (yeh bagel shops don’t always make their bagels crazy huh ;)

          So yes I could segregate bagels and wait till I have enough to sell pallet’s worth. (which my factory doesn’t really have room for)

          But even if I find the room most customers would reject it outright. Most Supermarkets etc. primarily push the mainstream product most people will buy sometimes they may take a risk on things here or there but often not in the corporate world of our food supply system. The education would have to be several buyers whom then have to educate their bosses, whom then have to educate the distribution managers, whom then would have to educate the store managers, whom then would have to educate the bakery managers, whom then would have to come up with plans to educate their customers. In short a huge amount of work Some stores may buy in but likely not want to do the work.

          Ultimately in our operation it would a huge investment for very little chance of payback. It is best in my case to focus on our core business and do that excellent. But every company is different. So for me if I make some with “alligator skin” I am simply taking them home =)

          1. Ahh.. yeah, being in the middle of the supply chain makes that whole discussion different. At that stage making them ‘take-home’ is probably your best bet.. might do some on-the-fly marketing research if you end up with more than you can easily eat yourself and try giving some samples out for friends and family. Might be able to parlay it into something in the more mid-to-long term if the feedback is positive.

  8. Always something I battle with in my being because Kickstarter is a place to Kickstart.

    We’re all drawn to the cookie on the plate more than in the bag, but not every Kickstart creator can manifest the proverbial plate; especially the new ones.

    So while you’re TOTALLY correct about the effect presentation has on a campaign’s sales strength, I’d advise us all to move with caution when “judging by appearances” on Kickstarter. Pearls are found inside of clams.
    My $0.02

  9. Jamey,

    I’ll comment on the other end of the project…Delivery. For both of my KS projects, I had fabulous artisans craft pieces for me which I then measured and weighed, found the right size box, determined the amount of bubble-wrap/Styrofoam peanuts, taped/secured labels, completed the insurance and/or customs forms, and drove it to USPS for either domestic or international shipping….when it arrived, it was all about the presentation.

    Almost to a person, the Backers sent me a picture, a note, or both commenting on the “professional” look of the box, which included their pieces, along with a signed letter from me, thanking them for their support. Though very much an amateur in the production and distribution of hand-crafted pieces worldwide, it was important for my Backers to never feel as though they were dealing with anyone less than a professional where presentation is so vitally important.


  10. People will always pay more for more. Whether it’s a cookie, a business card, or a KS campaign — what you show the world is a relfection of how much you value your own offering. Do it all the way, or don’t bother IMHO.

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