Fun and Games (and Marketing): Loaded Questions' Eric Poses on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

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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.”

Learn more about Loaded Questions at LoadedQuestions.com, or check out the Loaded Questions Facebook page.

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.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

Eric Poses, owner and president at game company All Things Equal Inc., creator of the popular board game “Loaded Questions” and dozens of other games. Follow Loaded Questions on Facebook.

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is instructional design manager of enterprise training at MarketingProfs. She’s also a speaker, writer, attorney, and educator. She hosts and produces the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. To contact Kerry about being a guest on Marketing Smarts, send her an email, or you can find her on Twitter (@KerryGorgone), Google+, and her personal blog.

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Why Yik Yak Poses a Threat to College Campuses

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Social media has been used for years as means for brands to connect with their fans and show transparency, and for friends and family members to keep in touch with each other. The common denominator here is transparency—you know who the posts are coming from.

With Yik Yak, it’s a different story.Why Yik Yak Poses a Threat to College Campuses

Yik Yak is a social media conversation app only available on mobile devices that lets users engage in conversation (what are called “Yaks”) with other users within a 5-mile radius. The caveat here is that the social app is completely anonymous, so app users never know who they’re interacting with. That means there’s no transparency, and that’s a big problem for parents and high schools, but more importantly, college campuses.

Unfortunately, we’re all aware of the tragedies that have occurred on college campuses over the course of the last decade and beyond, and there’s the potential that Yik Yak only compounds that problem for college campuses as they try to find ways to monitor and measure the social content being posted from within the confines of their campuses. Because of the anonymity of the social network, colleges are able to see the content being posted on campus, but they don’t know who it’s coming from, and that’ a scary thought for campus police everywhere.

Now, should something be posted that looks to be threatening, USA Today does report that Yik Yak cooperates with law enforcement in terms of releasing the information of the user who created the post, as highlighted in Yik Yak’s privacy policy. While that’s certainly beneficial for immediate threats, what that doesn’t assist with is the day-to-day cyber bullying and sexual harassment that takes place on social media on college campuses.

That’s exactly what happened at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, where Grace Rebecca Mann was bullied on Yik Yak before being murdered, to which a fellow student was charged with first-degree murder in the case. According to the CNN article, Mann was a member of the Feminists United group on campus and had been outspoken about the school’s rugby team, which reportedly called for violence against women. From that point on, Mann was harassed on Yik Yak before allegedly being murdered by a former member of the rugby team.

And it’s not just college campuses that are affected by the anonymity of Yik Yak. Elizabeth Long, a student at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, started a Change.org petition to have Yik Yak shut down after her suicide attempt and depression was the subject of multiple Yaks throughout her school. 

The biggest issue with Yik Yak is that users can say whatever they want, about whoever they want, without repercussions, for the most part. While Yik Yak does work with the authorities for major incidents, there’s still a lot of demeaning content that’s slipping below their radar, and it’s plaguing both college campuses and high schools across the world. 

With that said, teens and young adults need to be smarter about the content that they’re posting—whether it be anonymous or not—and college and schools around the world need to be more aware of the social media environment that exists on their campuses.

Image via Shutterstock

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