This is the story of a board game marketing expert. We have said this before – board games are pretty great. More and more, the world is beginning to agree. The board game world is in a renaissance with more options, popularity and (most important to big business) dollars spent than ever before in history.

The internet has made marketing and self-distribution easier but the big advancement that blew everything up was crowdfunding. If you look at how board games are created and produced, crowdfunding is like the soulmate that it wandered the world for centuries to try and find only now to be finally joined in harmonious capitalism.

Stanford educated marketing specialist Nalin Chuapetcharasopon fell into board game crowdfunding by happy accident. In her short time in the crowdfunding space, she helped launch a handful of campaigns from idea to execution earning more than $13M for clients on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Thank goodness for you and me, in addition to her terrific business Crush Crowdfunding, she has recently launched the website Meeple Marketing with vast knowledge and resources specifically geared to launching and marketing a board game. Wonderful information that the internet desperately needed. Here are a few we think are incredibly helpful:

We had the opportunity to chat with Nalin and after instantly realizing how amazing she is, we knew the importance of sharing her thoughts and story with you. A great person and board game marketing expert, doing great things. This is something you should read and share with at least one other person. 

Your marketing expertise and resume speak for themselves, but what brought you to board games?

Truth be told, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who played board games growing up; board games weren’t really a big thing at all in Bangkok, Thailand where I grew up. Luckily in graduate school I met people who loved board games and introduced me to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming: the complex strategy, the beautiful artwork and the hours of fun. Actually, I’m now married to one of them and board games were definitely a huge reason we got close.

As for crowdfunding, I fell into my role of helping creators launch their projects completely by accident.

We love a good accidental career story, what happened?

In 2015 I had just finished my Master’s degree from Stanford University in California and started working as a Marketing Manager at a local startup. They wanted to launch their product to the market with crowdfunding so we connected with local agencies in the area. Turns out, an old friend worked at one of those crowdfunding agencies and they were trying to hire for a position that I was an absolute fit for. 

That first foray into crowdfunding had me completely hooked on working with creators in the launch phase of their projects. 

With my background in marketing, I’ve always been interested in what makes people tick and the psychology behind their wants and needs. Crowdfunding, launching a product that is completely new to the market, is like marketing on crack because it combines everything from pricing, to target market identification, to advertising, to attractive design (and more!) into one very condensed period of time. This, combined with the fact that creators and entrepreneurs I meet in this line of work are the most passionate and driven people I’ve ever met, makes it an absolute dream to get to wake up every day to work in this industry.

Why do you think it is an interesting time for board games right now?

At a macro level, the board game industry is expected to grow into a $12 billion industry by 2023. When you’re looking at board games and crowdfunding, Kickstarter has quickly become one of the most well-understood channels for launching a new game. So much so that games is now the largest category on the Kickstarter platform. Even well-known publishers head directly to Kickstarter to take advantage of their huge audience and the early-adopter mindset of the crowd. Here’s an example: Frosthaven, the highly-anticipated sequel to Gloomhaven, recently broke records by raising over $12 million for their game.

Games being the largest Kickstarter category is a big deal. What is it about Kickstarter and board games?

What I truly love about Kickstarter as a channel for launching board games, though, is that you don’t have to be a huge name to find success; any indie game designer can also find massive success on the platform. Crowdfunding has dramatically decreased any barrier to launch for any product: you just need a great idea and a solid plan for execution. This is especially true since Kickstarter has a large and ever growing audience who “shop” on the platform and seek to spend money without expecting a product to arrive for months (even years) into the future. In this new world, anyone with hard work, dedication, and an understanding of the marketing mechanics for success, can reach their goals. 

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for someone who is planning on launching a crowdfunding campaign for a board game?

From a marketing standpoint, a successful game launch needs two things: a good product and a dedicated audience. 

As a game designer, you must put yourself out there to playtest the product as many times as possible so that you can get feedback, iterate and optimize. This is the only way that you will achieve your goal of creating the best game possible for people. Think about it, there’s no way to know if a mechanic works, a theme truly fits, or a character will be loved (or hated) unless you put yourself and your game out there. 

The second part of this is having a dedicated audience. This second part is where most people struggle. Having a good game isn’t enough; you also need to be able to drum up enough hype for your game and lead people through a series of psychological steps to get them from “not knowing your game at all” to “superfans who can’t wait to pay money for it although it doesn’t exist yet”. As you might expect, it’s not going to be an easy feat, but it is absolutely possible to do. 

You recently launched Meeple Marketing, a great resource for the board game community. Can you tell us a little about that and what made you bring it to life? 

This second part and the struggles I see with board game designers is one of the key reasons why I created Meeple Marketing

I realized that game designers are pros at helping each other create a game that is fun and engaging. This is absolutely due to people like Jamey Stegmaier, Gabe Barrett, James Mathe, and others who have paved the way to offer a wealth of information on this topic. 

However, I found that there lacked a place where game designers can specifically learn how to market their own board games. Looking at it in this way, it then was a no-brainer to launch Meeple Marketing since I already had the obsession with board games, the background in marketing and the experience in crowdfunding.

I think we can all agree that information is desperately needed, what do you hope to do about it?

My number one goal with Meeple Marketing is to see to it that game designers have all the tools, training and resources to market their board game. Designing a game is enough of a challenge, there’s no reason to also go running around the internet to learn how to get the word out. 

Honestly, it’s only been a few weeks and I’m so glad I launched Meeple Marketing! I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from game designers and an overwhelming response that the articles and step-by-step guides have been helpful in getting people to put themselves to work marketing their games!

You just launched Meeple Marketing, what is next on your agenda? 

Now I’m in the process of helping people on a deeper level when it comes to marketing their board games. 

1. I’m cultivating a group of enthusiastic game designers who want to learn from each other and grow with each other when it comes to marketing their new board game. Join us if you want to learn marketing with other game designers!

2. I’m launching a new podcast called the Board Game Marketing Podcast. On it I’ll be interviewing game designers who have successfully launched their game on Kickstarter so that new game designers will be able to learn from their successes! Side note: if this is you, I’d love to have you on the show

3. I’m also working on getting the most actionable marketing tactics out to game designers. Soon I’ll be releasing things like pre-made templates for different parts of the marketing journey and a big collection of places to promote games. 

Just for fun, we have to ask someone as passionate as you, what is your favorite board game?

This is probably the most difficult question since there are just so many games that I love! The ones I pull from the shelf most often are: 7 Wonders, Stone Age, A Feast For Odin, Manhattan Project, Small World and King of Tokyo. I received Splendor as a Christmas gift last year and it’s something that is starting to come off the shelf quite often, too! 

A Board Game Marketing Expert | Interview with Meeple Marketing | In Closing

So there you have it, proof that board game marketing expert Nalin is an asset to the community and doing great work. Nalin, we appreciate what you are doing and are excited to keep track of all the big things you have on the horizon. Everyone else, go to Meeple Marketing right now to take a look for yourself and then share this article or her work with at least one friend or family member. Get the word out, the time of board games is now!