18 February 2019 | 36 Comments
There’s a chocolate company I really love called Lake Champlain. Their truffles are huge and delicious, but they’re really expensive, so I typically wait until the day after certain holidays to buy a few boxes at a discount (a business practice I avoid for Stonemaier Games).
When I was checking out, this banner appeared at the top of the page:
A mystery, you say? And it’s chocolate? I was intrigued. So I clicked the banner, and it took me to this page:
Oddly enough, I don’t like surprises, but there was something exciting about the prospect of getting a little unknown element in the package. I also liked that even though I was paying $5, the chocolate is valued at “well over” that amount. $5 is no small amount, though I already had $40+ worth of chocolate in my cart, so it didn’t seem like much to add a little more (classic “foot in the door” technique).
Last, I was able to select dark or milk chocolate (I chose dark, though I like both).
What does this mean for other companies and entrepreneurs?
My biggest takeaway from the experience is that it delighted me. I love doing things that positive emotions in customers.
And yes, it’s an upsell, potentially for a product that Lake Champlain is struggling otherwise to sell. And my impression may change when I actually receive the package (I’ll post a photo when it arrives).
But at the moment of purchase, the prospect of a mystery gift made me happy. So I think it might be a technique worth paying attention to.
What does this mean for Kickstarter creators?
I’m not so sure this method of a “mystery” reward or add-on works on Kickstarter. Kickstarter’s guidelines state, “Projects can’t mislead people or misrepresent facts, and creators should be candid about what they plan to accomplish.” It’s a fuzzy area, but despite that, I’m not sure backers would respond well to it.
Depending on the project and what the mystery is, I think this technique could be used on the pledge manager. At that point, it would likely feel similar to how I felt while buying the chocolate. I think the challenge, though, is that it depends heavily on the project. I think consumables (food) and art may work well, while entertainment projects and their backers may not benefit from it.
What does this mean for tabletop game publishers?
I was trying to think if a mystery gift could work on the Stonemaier Games webstore, but here’s the challenge: Purchases from our website are heavily brand-dependent. If you buy a copy of Scythe, you probably only want other Scythe-related products. And if the mystery product is something you want, you probably already added it to your cart or already have it, meaning the mystery could create redundancy (or the concern for redundancy).
I doubt it would add the same level of delight as mystery chocolate. I think maybe it could work if we had a variety of universally used products–things you could use in a number of games that weren’t too expensive–but our metal coin sets and realistic resources are $30. Dice are another option, but even our custom dice are fairly game-specific.
So it’s probably not an approach we’re going to consider (unless someone mentions a brilliant idea in the comments). There might be other tabletop game publishers whose product lines might allow them to make it happen, though.
What do you think about the concept of a mystery add-on gift? In which situations could you see yourself saying yes to it, and in which situations would you not consider it?
UPDATE: The mystery gift ended up being dark-chocolate quinoa crunchies. Yum!
This series features innovative strategies from non-Kickstarter, non-tabletop game businesses as they might apply to creators and entrepreneurs.
If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on his blog each year, please consider championing this content!