Imagine getting your hands on a rare $200 board game. Now imagine your friend spilling an entire can of Coca-Cola on it minutes after you start to play. This is the kind of problem that Trey Baughn set out to solve when he created BGSHIELD.
In this episode, we talk about how Trey created this unique product, how he proved to people it works, and what he’s going to do next!
You can learn more about Trey and BGSHIELD by going to his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.
Check out the Weird Marketing Tales website if you haven’t already. If you want to follow Weird Marketing Tales on social media, go to @WeirdMarketing on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Go to @WeirdMarketers on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
0:00 How Trey Baughn Party-Proofed Board Games With BGSHIELD
2:51 How on earth is BGSHIELD even a viable product?
4:50 BGSHIELD works shockingly well…but getting people to believe that is hard
8:02 Why Trey started working on BGSHIELD
14:04 How did Trey get BGSHIELD to work?
16:04 Where is this actually selling?
19:39 Crowdfunding vs. eCommerce launches
25:59 Going viral by causing cringes
29:04 Convincing people BGSHIELD was for real
31:47 Finding the right audience for this product
36:30 Using Board Game Geek to establish social proof
38:21 What comes next for BGSHIELD?
42:34 What Trey wishes he knew from the beginning
Brandon Rollins: Never in a million years, would I have thought “oh, I should put some cat vomit on this. See if it works.”
Trey Baughn: I like to be as creative as possible, but that wasn’t on my radar either.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. No.
My name is Brandon Rollins and this is the Weird Marketing Tales Podcast. On this podcast, I interview small business owners, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals who are doing things that you probably didn’t know was possible.
And on today’s show, my guest is Trey Baughn, creator of BGSHIELD. How’s it going, Trey?
Trey Baughn: It’s going well, Brandon, thanks for having me.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, absolutely. I have been actually looking forward to this one quite a bit, because what you made with BGSHIELD is just so cool that I wanted to get on recording.
What is BGSHIELD?
Brandon Rollins: First, I want to ask you in your own words, what exactly is BGSHIELD?
Trey Baughn: BGSHIELD is an invisible protective coating that is designed for board games, cardboard, tabletop games to essentially party-proof them from disaster. What that means is if you’ve ever played a board game, you’re playing at a table, you’re having a great time. You’ve got people with potentially food and drink around and an accident happens.
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be disastrous because, as you know, water, beer, wine, does not mesh well with cardboard. And so what our product does is it applies a permanent invisible coating, essentially a shield to the surface of the board game. It works exceptionally well on the core components of board games.
So think about the board itself, the main board of the game, and then the boxes, as well. You know, you might protect playing cards with card sleeves. It’s not a perfect product for that. Those are gonna be best case for, for cards, but our product there’s really nothing out there that protects the core components and that’s what we’ve aimed to do is use this protective coating to apply to the game itself.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah and it’s the first thing I’ve ever seen like it out there right now. And that seems to be the consensus view online because I haven’t found anybody who’s said to me, “this already exists.” I think you, you actually created this from scratch. What I think is interesting to point out here is that a lot of board gamers, they’ll buy really expensive board games.
And if you’re not in the game industry, you, you wouldn’t know this, but a lot of board games are upwards of a 100, 150, $200 these days, especially your gigantic ones. So obviously spilling, like, a giant glass of beer on it is pretty devastating, cuz it’s really expensive. And a lot of these to make it worse, they come from Kickstarter and they can be hard to get replacements for too.
So it’s actually really heartbreaking when you spill something on them.
How on earth is BGSHIELD even a viable product?
Trey Baughn: Well, not only that, I mean, if you think about the impact of COVID over the last couple of years, you know, all the trend lines for the board game industry are pretty much going in one direction. So you’ve got the volume of board games going up. You’ve got, you know, purchase habits of hobby gamers going up.
But as you mentioned, you’ve got the prices of those games going up. The one thing that might be going down is the broken supply chain that has happened over the past couple of years. So not only are you now spending more for each board game. But to your point, it might be harder to replace it, not only because they didn’t make that many of ’em, but the, the opportunity to, to make them ship them to you has become more challenged as well.
And that it applies both to the brand new hot off the press Kickstarter board game that has been crowdfunded with all the bells and whistles, but it also applies to the old, when I say old, you know, 2010 classic board game, that is almost impossible to replace now because it’s not being reprinted.
So you’ve got a lot of games in that category too, that are still very, very good games. A lot of the people in this industry are not only hobbyists, but they would consider themselves to be collectors. Anytime you collect something, whether it’s stamps or coins or cardboard games, there’s an element where you wanna protect your investment.
And that’s what we hope to do is provide a way to protect the game itself, especially something that is, uh, a hobby where you’re participating in this hobby to have a great time to have a great experience. Most great experiences in life, involve people around the table. And when that happens, you know, food and drink are usually a part of that too.
This is just one more way to protect, uh, something that you enjoy.
BGSHIELD works shockingly well…but getting people to believe that is hard
Brandon Rollins: Absolutely. And early on in the show, I wanna make it clear to listeners that I’ve actually run a little bit of advertising on your behalf and it helped you get the pre-orders started. And I mention this because around January or maybe a little earlier, when you reached out to me with this, I was like, “I, I can’t believe this is an actual thing.”
When I tried it out for the first time, I was actually really surprised to see just how well it worked. I applied it to, um, I don’t know, some sample of a game that I got that I never really played. And wouldn’t be concerned if it got messed up and I just poured a whole bunch of pink lemonade over it, just outside just to see what would happen.
And it rolled right off. And from there, I thought, well, that’s just practically gonna hand us video advertisements right there, because it was like something out of an old school infomercial, like late 2000s with, um, Billy Mays or something. And it, it actually works.
Trey Baughn: It does. It works exceptionally well. I think even better than I could have hoped when I was working through my own supply chain, trying to source the right coating for, for this application, or different kinds of coatings all over the world that do different things on different surfaces.
But trying to protect cardboard from moisture is a difficult challenge, but it works well. And you brought up a great point. It’s really the proof of concept that has been the most important obstacle here because people see it. It’s a, it’s a product that it’s very easy to see. It’s a high concept problem that you’re trying to solve, and it’s easy to see the benefits, but it’s, you know, “is this real?”
Does somebody, is this fake or is somebody making this up? No, it actually works. And I spent months trying to kind of prove to myself whether it really worked as effectively as I, as I needed it to. And I’ve tried everything, Brandon, I’ve tried just about any food, drink you can, you can name and right when we started, you asked me kind of “what is this?”
And I, I hesitated using the word waterproof for a couple reasons. One, you never wanna quite say something is completely waterproof, right? Because then somebody’s gonna dunk it in a bathtub and prove you wrong. But I also stopped short and we really came up and I think you were instrumental in kind of helping me craft this concept of being party-proof because it’s not, it doesn’t just block drinks. It really works well against all kinds of food. I don’t think I’ve found anything that has really been able to cause serious damage to a board game. And I’ve tried everything from pizza sauce to popcorn, which includes buttery fingers.
I’ve tried peanut butter. I’ve tried oils. I even tried motor oil on the game Downforce one time. My family thinks I’m a little crazy, but I wanted to kind of prove to myself over time that this is… really does what it is. It really is an invisible shield and, so far, so good. I’ve gotten great feedback.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, I think I’ve actually poured some olive oil on some games that have been covered with BGSHIELD. And I just wiped it off, which just doesn’t happen with olive oil. You don’t just wipe olive oil off, but sure enough, it worked.
Why Trey started working on BGSHIELD
Brandon Rollins: I know that you identified a need that was in the market for people that needed something to protect their games, and, and that came from observation. But what I’m curious about is what made you just actually decide to start?
Trey Baughn: Well, I have not been in the hobby game industry all that long. I was, and I think we’ve talked about this before, but I was for over 20 years, I was a very avid fantasy baseball player. I was playing in some high profile leagues, and I have a lot of friends who are involved in the major league baseball industry.
And. Long story short COVID hit. I kind of put that away. I kind of stopped cold turkey and just took a break. And right about that time, my brother-in-law got me involved in some hobby board games, kind of introduced me to things like Lords of Waterdeep and things like that. And it scratched the same itch in my brain that fantasy baseball did, which was…
You know, I love to win. I’m very competitive. It had a lot of elements of calculating and strategy that I enjoyed from the statistics that I was tracking for years in baseball. So it, it worked, it just kind of filled that space that I had given up and it caught on quick and I became kind of a, you know, hobby board game addict over the last two or three years.
But the origin story is we were playing Lords of Waterdeep one night and we spilled some beer on that board and really caused a disaster. And I knew then that if there was a way to protect that we had sleeved cards, but those were fine, but the board got messed up. And I just thought, you know, if there was a way to protect board games, I think it would make sense for a lot of people that was before I knew where the industry was really going. And so I just kept talking about it. I bet I talked about it with my family and friends for probably a year before I really started to think I could do this, this is possible not only to, to find a solution, but to market it and commercialize it.
And so I spent another six months or so really trying to source the product, the right coating, the right application, all the things you have to consider to make sure that it, “is it easy, is it affordable? Is it permanent? You know, what kind of after effects or damage would it do?” And I had to go through all those trials and tests to find the right product and the right application.
And once I found that it really all came together, it’s really now about marketing and getting the word out and making sure that people understand that it actually does what it says it’s gonna do. So you’ve been a help in that and I appreciate all that you’ve done for me for that, but it’s, um, it’s a product that’s is pretty fun to see people light up when they realize that it actually does what we say it does.
Brandon Rollins: It’s a lot of fun to watch people’s reactions. And I appreciate your trust and your kind words, as well. I’ll say that the thing with marketing is. I mean, when you’ve got a solid product, the rest of it’s very easy when I’m just able to take videos of the product, just doing its thing with, or without music.
You put that in front of people and they’re like, there’s no replacement for that. No amount of clever copywriting can make up for when the product’s not there. So in that regard, you made it quite easy for me.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. I, one, one other thing I’ll add is, you know, I, I like to say I’m the first customer. So I had very, very high expectations. For example, I needed, I needed something that could be applied. At home, right? You don’t have to take this or send your game off. You can do this at home. It needed to be safe. It needed to dry quickly. And probably most importantly it needed to be completely invisible and not cause any problem at all with the game itself.
And I had high expectations, so I tried some things that didn’t work, but I needed to make sure that my game collection was protected, and then I started, you know, teasing it out to other people, making sure that my observations were consistent with what they had and, and it just kept snowballing from there.
And, you know, I’m constantly trying to make sure that it’s easy to, for people to apply in a safe way that really does offer invisible protection from spills and accidents. And so far, I’ve had some great feedback. I had a, someone contact me early on that said, “Hey, this would be perfect because now I feel more confident to be able to share some of my favorite games with my gaming group.” You know, some people have said “I have, I have the games I’m willing to bring to the table with my, with my friends, but I do have some games that I’m I don’t feel comfortable bringing out. And now I have the confidence to do that.”
And I’ve also had some really funny stories. I had a girl contact me early on that said, “Hey, will this, will this protect against cat throw-up?” And. I said, “you know what? I, I think it will.” And, uh, sure enough, she verified that it did.
She said she had a cat that was notorious for climbing in her board game boxes and sleeping, eating, and throwing up in there.
Brandon Rollins: Oh, my goodness. Yeah. That and dogs. Um, they’ll, they’ll do that sometimes.
That’s one of those things that you never think to test. I know you, I assume that you’ve got like a trash bag full of, like, old thrift store Monopoly games or something that you’ve just poured things on for version one and two and three until you finally got the final copy, but like never in a million years, would I have thought like, “oh, I should put some cat vomit on this. See if it works?”
Trey Baughn: I like to be as creative as possible, but that wasn’t on my radar either.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. No.
How did Trey get BGSHIELD to work?
Brandon Rollins: So a minute ago, you just kind of casually said that you um, tested out a bunch of different formulas to eventually get to the one that would work. How did you acquire the manufacturing skills needed to make BGSHIELD?
Trey Baughn: Well, I’m not, I’m not a chemist. Uh, and so I’m not, uh, I’m not the manufacturer here. So really my skillset was being clear about the qualities and functionality that I needed and then trying to find and source a manufacturer that could partner with me on that.
It took me several different trials and errors for different things. I mean, nobody’s doing that, right. People make coatings and sealants for all different kinds of applications, but nobody really in the world is doing it for, for board games. And very few people are doing it for cardboard. Once you really narrow down that, that market, I had to be very specific about the qualities that I needed, but I was thankful I was able to find a manufacturer that was very eager to try that. And, uh, we made a few tweaks here and there, but it works perfectly now.
Brandon Rollins: See, that’s awesome. I imagine that’s gotta be quite a bit of back and forth just to get to that point though.
Trey Baughn: It is. I had to convince them that there was a market for this. I had to convince them that there was a need and really had to do a lot of research. I had to do a lot of research on the board game industry over time. Again, some of those trends that I mentioned early on are all, you know, all pointed in the right direction.
And I would say too, you know, this is a global hobby. Board game enthusiasts are really well connected all over the world. And if you can find a solution that is universal in the sense that a lot of people needed and wanted, I thought it had, I thought it had legs. I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide value for people like to play board games with friends and family at the table.
Where is this actually selling?
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So, so far what’s been your most successful sales channel for this?
Trey Baughn: Well, you know, you know this better than anybody, but one, one of the more difficult decisions I had in the beginning was whether to crowdfund this or not. And at the time we discussed Kickstarter, and Kickstarter has been very influential on the board game industry. You, you mentioned earlier about that, it’s kind of the place that people expect to see the new, the new hotness, whether it’s a product related to the board game industry or a brand new game itself.
So that was a big decision and ultimately I decided not to crowdfund it. Part of the reason was because I was ready. I had the supply, I had spent so much time doing research and sourcing, sourcing the product that I, I really had it ready, and I didn’t need to wait too long to go through the crowdfunding effort.
It would’ve been nice to have funds up front to do that, but I had everything ready to go. That was one reason. The other reason was because. It just felt like I didn’t need to do that. I felt like it was a product that could prove itself without having to go through the crowdfunding process.
And so I decided not to do that. It was always something that I could bring back later on, but it opened the door actually. Um, we had a bunch of sales in the beginning. It was word of mouth, created a website. It was, it sold from our website, basically fulfilling by me. And then we had a big sale, uh, Board Game Geek was interested in selling the product through their BGG store as really an upgrade.
You know, they sell all kinds of different upgrades, promos and components for different board games and they felt like it would be a perfect fit for what they sell through their store. So I sent them some samples and kind of the same thing you mentioned, you know, they were a little skeptical at first, but a few applications, you know, and seeing it firsthand, they were convinced that it, that it worked well and that it would be easy to add to their inventory. So we sold, I think, first 500 bottles to BGG and, um, so far, the feedback’s been very positive and that it’s been great to be able to kind of partner with them, to make it available as another upgrade.
So you can buy metal coins today for your games, you can buy, you know, upgraded plastic tokens to replace cardboard tokens, but there’s not that many ways to upgrade again, the core components, the board itself, and even the box. And we’ve actually found some other benefits and we’ve worked for, we’ve worked on some other products as well.
I’ve just recently relaunched another product that does some other things besides just waterproof the game board. But it’ll protect games from UV damage. If you happen to have a, a shelf nearby a window, there’s actually a board game store where I live that has displayed board games in their window.
And they’ve been there about a year and all those games in their window are pretty heavily, you know, faded from UV damage. You can tell. So if you live in a city, or have a situation where your games are close to the window, it’ll protect against that. So just, we found some ancillary benefits that we weren’t promoting right from the, from the beginning, but we’ve found that they can be kind of added to the advantages and benefits of this product.
Crowdfunding vs. eCommerce launches
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. And one of the fun things about working on the project, especially early on was we were still figuring out exactly what people were gravitating toward. And that gave us a chance to pivot our strategy based on what people were actually wanting. And actually, if I can just interject a couple of other things here you had mentioned possibly going to Kickstarter or another crowdfunding site, like game found early on in the process. And I think a lot of people when they have an invention in mind, not something like a board game for that, Kickstarter is like the de facto publishing platform, in a lot of cases. But when you have an invention, a lot of people these days immediately think of crowdfunding, especially if they’re young. And I think it’s interesting that you didn’t do that at all. At least not at that early stage. And that is because, well, if you’ve already got a product ready to go and it’s minimum viable, and you want to see if it is actually gonna work on the market, without going through all the hassle of doing a campaign, you can actually do that.
I think a lot of people get caught up in the glitz and glam of a campaign, and forget that you can just set up a Shopify store set up pre-orders, have a little landing page, collect some email addresses, and do something like that. It probably won’t make as big of a splash immediately, but for some purposes, it doesn’t matter.
You just want to test an idea.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. I think that’s true. And I, I still struggle, you know, with whether I made the right decision on that. Hindsight is 20/20, but you know, there was a part of me too, that did not want to disappoint my customers. And by disappoint, I really mean, would the demand have been so high if I had crowdfunded that I, you know, my supply chain would’ve broken. And this was right before a lot of supply chain challenges were every industry. But, I mean, I’m manufacturing a product. It’s a, it is similar to a new board game, but it is different in some ways there are some other elements that are required.
And I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. And so I really made the decision. I had it ready. But I also made the decision because I think I would’ve, I was happier fulfilling, you know, early adopters of a product rather than getting a huge influx of demand right out of the gate.
There may be ways to revisit crowdfunding in the future with changes in the product or, or new products that we launch. But I’m glad I made the call that I did and we’ve had good success. But it would’ve been, it would’ve been interesting to see, you know, what would’ve happened if we had crowdfunded it, as well.
Brandon Rollins: It, it would’ve been an interesting kind of parallel universe to inhabit for a little while. I do think that you did save yourself a lot of hassle with getting, like, a thousand orders at a time and having to fulfill those, cuz we actually found out later when you sold a bunch of copies to Board Game Geek, that it’s actually quite a hassle to bottle a lot of them all, all at one time.
And that would’ve been quite a bit worse with Kickstarter. Especially if you had sold like more than you had sold to Board Game Geek and that could have been a formidable obstacle.
Refining the pitch
Brandon Rollins: Another interesting thing that I was also thinking about a moment ago and didn’t wanna let slip by, is that, because this was so new and so early, and because you had gone with a, a kind of pre-order into sale strategy instead of waiting several months and then going to Kickstarter, you could actively run advertising campaigns and get sales while you were doing tests.
So instead of using like, oh, cost per click or something or landing page email collection cost or something as a metric to see what kind of messaging worked, you could actually look at sales and that makes a big difference. Because we went in thinking, okay, we’re gonna say, this’ll protect you from the heartbreak of losing a game.
But then later on you thought, “well, why don’t we pitch it as a board game upgrade?” Some conversation you had with somebody must have given you the idea. And then I wrote some ad copy around that and then come find out that was actually some of the best performing ad copy. And you were actually able to directly make sales from a test instead of kind of having to wait for it, which I thought was quite cool too.
Trey Baughn: Exactly, there was this timing decision that needed to be made. If I crowdfund, you know, surely you get the benefit of upfront cash flow for the promise to deliver later, but then… what is that timeframe versus, “well, what if I just use the time that’s in front of me right now to begin to kind of trickle in sales and slowly begin to fulfill orders in real time?” Which creates cash flow and I can grow the product through the day to day cash flow of sales.
I mean, so it’s a, it is still a tough decision, but I’m glad we did it that way. But yeah, I think we learned a lot through that because. We were able to iterate the messaging to the end user. “What is the real value here?”
And like you said, you know, we found out that we really kind of pitched it as the ultimate upgrade because you’re probably not gonna waterproof all of your board games. A lot of people have a lot of board games, right? There’s tons of people on Board Game Geek that have thousands and thousands of board games.
It’s really not made for that person. We’d certainly sell to them if they wanted to do that. But it’s really made for the person that, you know, really cherishes their favorite board games and really wants to protect those. It’s the games that come out and hit the table the most often. It’s the games that cause the most kind of memorable experiences at the game table with, with friends and family around.
And so if you start there and kind of work your way through your collection, I think it, I think that’s where it, it makes the most sense. That’s the way I use it. My favorite games and I’ve heard from a lot of people, a lot of customers and a lot of people who have seen our product on social media say, “oh yeah, that makes sense.”
“You know, it would really help me protect this.” I’ve also seen. A lot of, “oh man, I wish I had had that when this thing happened to my board game.”
A lot of stories like that, a lot of, a lot of sort of regrettable stories where people say, oh yeah, this would’ve saved, you know, my Castles of Burgundy game that night that John came over and ruined my game.
A lot of stories like that.
Going viral by causing cringes
Brandon Rollins: Mm-hmm. I think that one of the most interesting things I found in doing the advertising specifically regarding the messaging, which we went heavy with, just like showing things, being poured on board games. One of my favorite parts was people just commenting like that it hurt to watch, or that they cringed the entire time, because it was just watching something spill on a game.
Trey Baughn: I still get that comment the most, probably. That’s the most common theme is, “Hey, that product looks really cool, but I can’t please don’t make me watch that it’s painful to make me watch you try and ruin, ruin a board game.” And I have an unlimited amount of videos on my YouTube channel and even ones that I haven’t even uploaded of just really getting creative and trying to find ways to, to mess up a board game.
And I’ve, I, thankfully I’ve not ruined many board games. You wouldn’t know that by watching, uh, those YouTube videos, but I’ve tried just about everything that you can think of. And so far, so good.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, I think based on those people’s reactions and just what you’ve told me now about creating videos where you just try to creatively, um, ruin games, you are better positioned than I think. No, definitely any other client I’ve got right now to just go really big on TikTok because we know people respond to this stuff and nobody else is doing it and people would watch it.
Trey Baughn: Well, the interesting thing about TikTok. I mean, there’s, there’s a thousand interesting things, but sometimes you need dumb luck too. I had a video that I put on TikTok that I had put on maybe 10 or 20 videos of doing various attempted damages to board games, but the one that really kind of went viral with, uh, I think, I think it was over 1.2 million views was just pouring some water on Tidal Blades, the game, but that’s not what got people fired up.
It’s that I was able, when you put the coating on the game, it creates an invisible shield. You can’t see it, but it really makes the surface hydrophobic. It basically repels water and any kind of liquid. And when you put a paper towel down on the game to absorb that liquid, it will literally just suck up the water because the water, really no friction on the game itself to, to prevent the water from, from sitting there or from going anywhere else and that putting a paper towel on that game and, and sucking that up caused kind of a viral reaction on TikTok that really had a big impact.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. And a lot of people, that’s funny enough thought it was a Bounty ad or something like that. Like an ad for an, a napkin.
Trey Baughn: They did. They thought it was the, the quicker picker upper, for sure. And you know what I’ll, I’ll take whatever they think. It got it, got our name out there and it was pretty helpful.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, that was interesting to watch. So switching gears a little bit, I, I was just thinking, what issues did you run into during the development of BGSHIELD?
Convincing people BGSHIELD was for real
Trey Baughn: Well, we, we talked about a few, I mean, still today, I do think the proof of concept challenge is the biggest challenge. It’s “is this real?” You know, you see something that looks really cool. And immediately I think people go through kind of a two step process, I think. Wow. If that worked, it’d be amazing, but surely that can’t work, it looks too good to be true.
And I’ve, I’ve not completely solved that. I mean, right now, one of the ways that I’m attempting to solve that is to make some lower price or potentially free samples available. We, we sell the product in two sizes, basically enough to do 10 games and enough to do 20 games, and two separate bottles.
But until now, I really haven’t had a way for you to kind of sample the product. So I’m putting together some very small bottles that would allow you to do 1, 2, 3 games for a lower cost than what it would cost you to buy the bottles themselves. And it’s just an opportunity for somebody to verify that the product does what it does.
It’s easy to apply it. It truly is invisible. It doesn’t leave your game with any kind of film or color or damage or anything like that. And so I don’t have those on the website as of this moment, but will soon. And hopefully that will be a way for people to kind of see that it truly does work in a way that, you know, they can apply easily from their own.
Brandon Rollins: That might help because it is, I have observed the same thing. It’s been the trust issue. The thing is it, it’s, that’s the problem with creating something that is just kind of, so out there that people don’t really have a precedent for it. This is the essential weird marketing problem.
You have to prove the concept before anybody will buy it. And some of that you can do with reviewers and some of that you can do with videos, but at some point you just have to, like, keep saying it so that people believe it’s legitimate. And that is not an easy thing to do, at least at first.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. And I admit that, I’ve misread a few things, for example, I really thought that the market would start with board game cafes. I spent months doing research and building kind of a database of all the board game cafes. Let’s just limit it to the US for now.
Thinking they have a high investment of a collection of board games that are constantly being used in a way that potentially would cause damage, you know, any given day. And so I sent out samples, I bet I sent out hundreds of exam, of samples to many, many board game cafes.
Finding the right audience for this product
Trey Baughn: And I got, I got some great responses, but I didn’t get the overwhelming response of, “I absolutely have to, you know, protect my library of games with this product.” I thought that I would, I thought that was where I would wanna start. So I then kind of quickly pivoted to, to the board game hobbyist.
And you helped me do that, Brandon, but we really found people who were passionate about their own game collection. And that’s really where it, it took off. I do think I wanna revisit the board game cafes in the future. I still think there’s a market there. And there may be a market for, you know, down the road, I’ve thought that board game stores, retailers, could potentially offer this product either as a retail product that you could buy when you buy a game, you know, from their store or potentially as a service where a board game store, you walk in, you buy a game, you, you don’t need to buy a full bottle of BGSHIELD, but for a couple of bucks here or there, you might be willing to pay the store as a service to go ahead and open your game, waterproof it right there before you walk out of the store and be on your way, knowing that your brand new 60, 70, 80, $100 game is now fully protected, to me, that makes sense.
And that may be, you know, an avenue that we pursue in the future.
Brandon Rollins: I think both of those are real possibilities, especially once the brand gets a little more recognition, and much of that will come with time.
Trey Baughn: Agree. Absolutely. Yeah. So, I mean, and we get, we get ideas from customers. We’ve had some great ideas on… would this work on this kind of component? And sometimes the answer’s yes. The things that don’t work are very, very thin cardboards, so cards and sometimes paper thin money.
They’re just no matter what you do to ’em, they’re just so thin that any kind of moisture would cause some kind of damage, but it works. It really works like a dream on core components. I mean, if you, the other great thing that I haven’t mentioned is it doesn’t take very much to offer maximum protection.
You apply it with a very small piece of felt, kind of a felt square. You can literally just kind of hold it over the top of the bottle. Douse it just a tiny bit about three milliliters, which is not very much at all will do a full size game board, one side of a full size game board. So if you think about Great Western Trail or Horrified, a 20 by 20 game board it’ll do with one or two of drops on the felt. It’ll do the whole game board by itself. It’ll be a permanent invisible shield that, that protects it from spills.
Brandon Rollins: And part of the pitch, the copywriting that we put on the website was that it would protect like 20 games for $60 or something like that, which comes out to $3 a game. And the bottles are really quite small, but I mean, it, you get like 20 games out of a single one.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. So if you’re thinking from an ROI standpoint, you know, I can think, you know, again, being my own customer, I can think of all the times that I’ve spent money to upgrade a game or “how much money do I spend on sleeving these cards or buying a new insert to make sure that the components aren’t damaged?”
I mean, for $3 a game, I would happily spend that if I knew that it would protect the, the board itself or even the box from damage if I played it at a cafe, a restaurant, a family member’s home, wherever I take it. If I knew that I could protect that, let’s say $100 investment for three bucks, I would do that all day.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, absolutely. A thing that you had said a moment ago about initially thinking board game cafes were gonna be the easiest place to start and then finding eventually it was the hobby gamers. This is a super common experience for people who are just starting to pitch a product for the first time.
And it’s part of why I tell people to go through the process to start selling something anyway, to start marketing it anyway, early on, because no matter what you say, no matter what you do, you’re inevitably going to be wrong about something. Like, the smartest, best, brightest possible people. You can find Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, every, every single entrepreneur you can name drop is gonna be wrong about something on first, on the first try. And the only way you find this stuff out is by testing it out. The earlier you do that, the closer you get to something that’s gonna work.
Although in your particular case, I think you actually really do have a very good shot of getting this into game cafes and possibly having game stores do it as a service as well.
Using Board Game Geek to establish social proof
Trey Baughn: I hope so. And you know, back to what I was saying was kind of the top challenge of proof of concept that was really helpful when BGG, the BGG store, was willing to kind of bring it in their inventory and make it available. That really helped because it did, I think alleviate some of the skepticism that your average board game consumer would say, “is this real?” Well, now it’s being sold at BGG and they verified the product. They used it. They understand the market for board game upgrades and components and promos. They understand that better than most. So that was a good fit.
It was a good fit in their store. And I think it helped a lot of people get comfortable with a product that otherwise is kind of hard to, easy to see the benefit, but hard to grasp sort of, you know, the truthfulness of the claim.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, absolutely. And I should say, I know that we’re quite a bit into the show at this point, but if anybody wants to see a video of this in action, if you are happening to stumble across this podcast on the blog, if you scroll down to the transcript, you’re gonna see videos of BGSHIELD just sprinkled throughout this.
So anybody who wants to see that can find it there, and you can see kind of where the difficulty with proof of concept came from as well.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. Yeah. And the website’s been important. I mean, it’s a very visual product. So, our website is kind of a mixture of emotion, right? So mixture of the emotion and sort of the surprise of seeing, and the pain, like you mentioned of seeing board games, being spilled, food, drink in, you know, on cardboard, but also sort of the science of understanding that it actually has a method to the madness of why we developed this and why we promote it and, and what it’s designed to do. So hopefully it, hopefully the website’s a good mix where it will appeal to either of those two sides of the consumer and, so far so good. It, it looks like it’s, it’s working.
What comes next for BGSHIELD?
Brandon Rollins: Absolutely. So what comes next for BGSHIELD?
Trey Baughn: Well, you know, I’m actually pretty excited about a new product that we’ve launched. It does something different. It’s still under the banner and brand of BGSHIELD and I’ve coating our original bottle and labeling the, the waterproofing party proofing coating came in a blue bottle. And so our new product, again, still under the BGSHIELD banner, but comes in a, with a green label and it really does something totally different.
It actually offers some, some really neat benefits that our original product is not. Number one, there’s really no easy way to clean a board game. I know that sounds maybe as strange as waterproofing, but we’ve just come through COVID for the last few years, people are now starting to game at conventions and get together with gaming groups, but people are still a little concerned about germs and viruses and things like that.
So our product, our new product, our green product will completely clean and sanitize any surface you put it on. That includes cardboard. It includes application. You can put it on your phone. You can put it on your car keys, but it essentially creates a surface barrier that, that you can’t see, can’t touch, can’t smell that kills germs and viruses on contact. It essentially makes the surface so that they can’t even grow there. So number one, it’ll clean any component, any board game. So, dice are great. Metal coins are great for this, the actual cardboard itself. Really any component you can think of is perfect for this.
The second thing it’ll do is I already mentioned earlier, it will that same kind of invisible layer is a natural UV protectant. So it will protect your board game boxes and cardboard from fade. So if you have, I mean, think of all the people that are employed in the board game industry that are just fantastic artists, you hate to see all that hard work go to waste if a board game is faded.
This will protect that it will also offer some limited stain protection. It’s not equivalent with the waterproofing formula of our blue label product, but it will offer an extra layer of stain protection, basically giving you extra minutes to kind of get a board game cleaned up.
If there is a spill, it’ll protect against fingerprints and things like that. And then, the final thing, which I’m really still working towards kind of proof of concept here is: it, it will actually permanently protect hand painted miniatures that people, you know, that’s a whole hobby in and of itself.
A whole segment of board gaming. People will paint hand painted miniatures, but it will protect that paint to an exceptional level. And it’s a safe, easy green product. I mean, it’s, it’s food safe. It’s easy to apply. It’s easier to apply than our blue product, actually, it’s just a spray. But it will protect paint to a level where you can feel comfortable playing with your miniatures, that you’ve taken hours and hours and hours to paint.
So I think there’s a market there for that as well. We’ve just recently launched this product it’s available on our website, but some of the marketing efforts that I’m working on are not really baked yet, but that’s what I’m excited about right now.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, and many folks are hardcore. So just being able to say, you can use this on miniatures alone is gonna be a massive sales pitch for the right people. That’s a very dedicated crew.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. I mean, wargaming. That has caught on just as much as anything, again, a, a subset of the gaming industry. But it’s, it’s huge. There’s some really talented artists out there that are really good at this kind of stuff.
And. I’ve seen a lot of people paint a lot of components, including figures and miniatures, and then they just sit there. I mean, they’re great to display, but some of these games are intended to play with the actual figures that you’re painting and this will protect it, sanitize it, and make it so that you feel comfortable, you know, having a good time with your investment.
What Trey wishes he knew from the beginning
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s going to be a big deal when that comes out. So one last question for you and this is something that I’ve gotten into the habit of asking everybody. What advice would you give to somebody who’s just starting out a small business for the first time?
Trey Baughn: Yeah, it’s a great question. I, my personality is gonna basically require me to say that I don’t think you can over research. There’s certainly a time where you just need to test your idea against the market to see if you’re fulfilling a need. But as long as you have a clear value proposition, as long as you can clearly solve a problem or, or at least identify a problem that you’re trying to solve, that that customers can relate to.
I don’t think it can hurt to, to kind of continue to do research, to be sort of an expert in your field. You know, there’s always gonna be experts out there that know more than you, but it can’t hurt to do that research up front to truly try to understand your customer. That would be my advice is take the time on the front end before you launch to really build out kind of your go-to-market.
As long as your value proposition is clear, then the more research you do up front on the front end of launch, I think can only help it. It just helps. It helps you practice your kind of pitch, your pitch for “why is this product needed? Who does it help and what does it do?” I think that’s, that would be the advice that I would give.
Brandon Rollins: I think that’s good advice to end on. It’s hard to overdo market research and product research, of course, is gonna be huge part of market research too.
Trey Baughn: Agreed.
Finding BGSHIELD online
Brandon Rollins: So let me think. Where can people find you online?
Trey Baughn: We can be found at bgshield.com. We can be found on just about any kind of social media you can think of. We’ve got a TikTok page. We’ve got a Instagram, I’d say I’m probably most active on Instagram. It tends to be obviously very visual. There’s a big board gaming community on Instagram.
We are on Facebook. We are on Twitter. The best place to check us out is bgshield.com. And that’s gonna have all the information about our product, how to find it, what it does, how to use it.
And we’ve got videos out there too on YouTube.
Brandon Rollins: And for anybody, who’s hoping to click on those and check it out, that is all in the show notes and the transcript down below.
All right. Well, thank you very much for coming on the show. I’ve really enjoyed having you as guest.
Trey Baughn: Absolutely. Thanks, Brandon, appreciate the opportunity to talk about something that’s fun and hopefully some value to some, some gamers out there.
Brandon Rollins: And I think it will.
My name is Brandon Rollins. This has been the Weird Marketing Tales Podcast. If you’d like to find us online, you can go to weirdmarketingtales.com and on pretty much every social media you can think of, or either @WeirdMarketing or @WeirdMarketers.
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