Fan Funded: The Most Exciting Thing in Marketing Today

There’s a type of marketing being done today that is changing the way companies are built, and not nearly enough people are talking about it.

Sandy Petersen's masterwork: Cthulhu Wars
Sandy Petersen’s masterwork: Cthulhu Wars. … Yes that’s my copy.

You probably don’t know Petersen, but he created one of the most successful cult roleplaying games out there: Call of Cthulhu. It’s a game that’s hung on around the edges of the tabletop game industry for decades, profitable at times, running on sheer determination at others.

The problem with Call of Cthulhu has always been that it’s a niche product within an already niche market. So it’s expensive to produce it, and then it’s tough to get into enough game stores for their players to see it, and then it’s very expensive for those players to actually buy. You lose a ton of customers along that sales pipeline, and there’s so many barriers going through the channel that logistics has crushed the company at times. And their marketing has never been terribly impactful (I bet you’ve heard of Dungeons & Dragons, but never Call of Cthulhu).

Cthulhu from Cthulhu Wars. ... Is it still a "mini" if it's bigger than my hand?
Cthulhu from Cthulhu Wars. … Is it still a “mini” if it’s bigger than my hand?

Petersen wanted to make his dream game, a sort of magnum opus: A $200 board game (that’s approximately triple the price of your average board game in that category today) with huge, detailed plastic figures, high quality pieces, engrossing backstory … there’s no way something at that price point could have been done in that industry the traditional way.

So Sandy created a new company, Peterson Games, and launched a Kickstarter for Cthulhu Wars.

Cthulhu Wars launched with 4,300 backers and $1.4 million in backing (i.e. presales). Now they’re working on “Onslaught Two,” and they’re launching it the exact same way. It already has 4,400 backers and over $1 million in presale funding.

More importantly, in the process of building that crowd backing, Petersen created a dedicated, even rabid fan base.

A couple weeks ago, Gary Hennerberg wrote about how important it is to create “raving fans.” I’ve never seen anything create raving fans like these crowd funding campaigns.

So how big can this whole fan-funding thing get? Lets talk about Exploding Kittens.

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

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