12 September 2019 | 29 Comments
I’m not much of a bourbon or whiskey drinker. But this weekend I learned about a Maker’s Mark strategy that fascinated me, and I wanted to share it my understanding of it with you (this is secondhand information).
If you go on the Maker’s Mark website, you can sign up for free to have your name engraved on a recently born barrel of bourbon.
Afterwards, you’ll receive a certificate (by mail or email, I’m not sure) with your barrel number on it. You can use that number to track the age of your barrel on the Maker’s Mark website.
Why the tracking element? Because it takes 5-7 years for a bourbon barrel to age to maturity. When that day comes, Maker’s Mark will invite you to Kentucky to claim a bottle of bourbon from that specific barrel and go on a tour to see how it was made. I think you get to personally dip the top of the bottle in red wax there.
I absolutely love this! It reminds me of the personal investment I feel when I back a Kickstarter project–I was there from the start! And I get updates along the way (though hopefully no Kickstarter project takes 5-7 years to fulfill!). Some tabletop projects even offer the option of having each backer’s name printed on the box or in the rulebook.
Even without Kickstarter, I wonder if this is an option that publishers like Stonemaier Games could consider. Like, say we have a new game coming out in spring 2020. As we’re getting close to the production date, what if I shared a few details about the game with our e-newsletter subscribers and gave them the option of entering their name and e-mail on a Google Form. Their names would be printed on the side of the box bottom (only visible if you open the box) or maybe on the inside of the lid or the rulebook.
Over the next few months, I could send those people one update a month that reveals how the game is being brought to life. When the game arrives at our fulfillment centers, they would have a special opportunity to order it (I’m not sure how that would work, as we tend to announce our games to everyone at the same time).
I see this as a win-win situation. For the consumer, they get a sense of ownership and pride in the game, and they didn’t even need to spend any money up front. For the publisher, you get a rough estimate on the number of early adopters, and you increase the chance that they will actually order the game because of the emotional investment.
I may try this on a future game, just to give it a try and see how it goes.
Have you ever done something like this, whether it’s putting your name on a barrel of bourbon, a board game, or something else? How was the experience for you?
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