2 July 2018
Last week I spent a few days in Seattle (family and work). While I was there, I had the pleasure of going on the Theo Chocolate factory tour, something I didn’t know existed until quite recently. I wanted to talk about it briefly today, as I learned a few things that I’d like to apply to marketing and crowdfunding.
The 1-hour tour was broken into two parts, both led by a friendly tour guide. The first part was spent learning about where Theo’s cocoa beans come from. We learned about why Theo works with specific farms and the care they take to prepare the cocoa.
Crucially, during this part of the tour, we were given chocolate samples (starting with 85% dark and working down towards 45%) to munch on while we were listening and asking questions. I think this was really clever as opposed to waiting until the end of the tour for samples–I was much more present as a result.
We then transitioned to a glassed-in room right in the middle of the factory where we learned step-by-step how the cocoa is processed and turned into chocolate, one machine at a time. And not just machines–we saw a number of people moving around the factory. The tour guide reinforced the care and attention that goes into making the chocolate at Theo.
At the end of the tour, we were surprised to learn that each of us would receive a 20% discount that day at the Theo gift shop. The shop was right there–we didn’t need to go online, and we could start eating the chocolate immediately if we wanted. I found myself walking through the store, picking up random things to buy (and I wasn’t alone in doing this).
What does this mean for other companies and entrepreneurs?
The story matters. By the end of the chocolate tour, I felt like I had a personal connection to Theo Chocolate, a company I had never even heard of until a week or so ago. I think every company and entrepreneur has an opportunity to create that connection by telling their story, whether it’s on their website, in person, or via formal tours.
It’s a great reminder to me that I should make it easy for newcomers to learn the Stonemaier story. This is kind of shown on the About page of our website, but it doesn’t really inspire the personal connection I’d like to strive for.
What does this mean for Kickstarter creators?
The two biggest parallels are:
- the one-time special discount: I wasn’t bargain hunting for chocolate. Rather, receiving the 20% discount made me feel special, and it gave me a nudge of urgency to act now. Kickstarter creators can do the same thing by offering a discount on reward levels as compared to future retail pricing.
- the ability to taste the chocolate during the tour: Each backer wants a different type of “taste test.” Some want to test the game on Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator. Others want to read the rules or make a print-and-play copy. Or maybe they’re like me and they want to watch/read a few reviews.
What does this mean for tabletop game publishers?
For me, the Theo Chocolate tour was a great reminder of the impact of sharing behind-the-scenes information about the design, development, and production processes. Sure, this information typically only reaches people who have already opted in to consume it, but I think the transparency reinforces their loyalty and trust, especially if I’m open about both good and bad news.
Has a tour ever had this kind of an impact on you?
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