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Strong Point - A Year in Review 2023

Updated: Jan 5

With 2023 nearly behind us and the Festive period almost over, we thought we'd take a look back at what 2023 brought us here at Strong Point Games. When we started to think about what we wanted to include in this review, we realised we've had one heck of a year! A year filled with new challenges, exciting opportunities, a year in which we have met and had the opportunity to work with some amazing people, and a year in which Strong Point as a game has grown and gone from strength to strength.

A New Manufacturer!

The year began with us receiving our first order of stock from our manufacturers in China, Boda Games. We first met the Boda Team at the UK Games Expo in 2022, they really understood our requirements and we received excellent communication throughout the whole production process. Tracking the shipment on its journey from China, through the Suez Canal, and finally to its arrival in the UK was almost a game in itself, as we took turns predicting where we thought it would have got to on its travels! Even Big Sheils (aka Gill's Mum, height 4'11'') made this her daily entertainment. Making the switch from our initial manufacturer in the UK to the one in China was no easy decision, but from a business sense it was one we had to make. It allowed us to reduce our price to customers which was one of our aims for 2023. Our intitial retail price was one we often debated, but sadly with the cost of UK manufacturing we weren't able to lower it to where we wanted it to be, especially as we plan to continue our efforts to get more retailers to stock the game. Having the games made by Boda has meant we can retail Strong Point at a cost more in line with our competitors too which has had a hugely positive impact in our Christmas sales campaigns.

Northumbria University Business Clinic

During the early part of 2023 we forged links with The Business Clinic, part of the Northumbria University Business School. As part of this collaboration, we worked with two fantastic groups of final year Business students who had the task of producing a Consultancy Report based on a brief we gave to them. We can't thank the students who put so much time and effort into their reports, or The Business Clinic staff, enough. The two groups conducted some amazing research, something we ourselves would have struggled to find time to do, and both groups produced fantastic reports that have already impacted some of the choices we have made about how to take Strong Point Games forward. Their recommendations we are sure will help us help us grow and help us plan how to take the next step.

Games Exhibitions

The summer took us to our first Expos. In June we exhibited for the first time at the

UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham. 4 days, 50,000 board gamers, and a whole lot of fun. Long tiring days and so many amazing people to meet and new games to buy. If you are unaware of how big a hobby, how big an industry, board gaming is, go to the Expo and it will open your eyes. If you already are a fan of board games, go to the Expo and it will also open your eyes!

At the end of August we travelled to Perth to exhibit at Tabletop Scotland, the largest board games convention north of the border. Once again, we had a blast, made friends with some fantastic people, demonstrated Strong Point to a whole new audience, and bought even more games for our collection! When Si buys a new game he says it's research. He's been doing a lot of research recently!

We were lucky enough to be interviewed at the event too by Kirsty & Phil at Ludus Vulpes, they also challenged each other to a head to head match which was great fun to watch.

Like most people in the games and/or retail business, the last month or two have been our busiest by far. We've been out and about to various parts of the country bringing the game to new crowds, and reconnecting with some customers who have been asking "Are you bringing out more questions!?" That's a yes, definitely a priority in 2024!

Trade Fairs & Christmas Markets

Since September we have been at the The Crafters Roadshow at Gateshead Metrocentre, Living North Christmas Fairs in both Newcastle and York, and we attended the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC in Birmingham for the first time. As usual, we had a fantastic time sharing the concept behind Strong Point with hundreds and hundreds of new faces, and the response from so many of them was amazing. It always brings a smile to our faces when we get the common response of "Oooh, I like that, that's clever", whenever we explain how Strong Point works! The fact that so many people like the idea helps fuel the passion and drive to keep us going to make the game the success we believe it could be.

Simon even got to talk to Jason Forrest from a local radio station on his home turf down in the Midlands while he was at the Festive Gift Fair at Birmingham NEC.

Listen Here:

As well as the large events mentioned above, we have continued to try, where possible, to support events in our region, the North-East. These have included Wylam Makers Market, South Causey Inn Christmas Market, PNE Makers Market at Alphabetti Theatre, and a repeat visit to our first ever market event, The Ouseburn Christmas Market.

Business Support in the North East

In the latter part of the year we were lucky enough to work with the North East LEP and North East Ambition who set us on course for some amazing opportunities. We've had support from Digital Pathfinders at Sunderland Software City and also put in touch with Nicola Kilkenny from the Nat West Accelerator Programme. We were successful with our application and have had the support of the programme since September. It's had a big influence on our business working in a cohort with many like-minded business people who have kept us accountable and focused on reaching our goals in 2024 and beyond.

We'd definitely recommend applying for this national programme if you're a small business owner or budding entrepreneur.

Gill won a photoshoot with one of our fellow cohort members, the fabulous

Lauren McWilliams Brand Photgrapher & Strategist after taking part in her 5 Day Let's Get Visible Training. Lauren is based in the North East but works with many clients nationally.

The day of the photoshoot, Lauren blew us away with the organisation she had put into the experience. We spent the morning at Sands of Tyne Coffee Shop, where Lauren photographed the game, ourselves and a some very lovely people, including Amy & Dave, Simon & Helen. They're all board game fans and enjoyed playing the game while Lauren created a portfolio of fantastic images for our Website and future marketing campaigns. Lauren did a fantastic job of making the whole day fun and relaxed and we have a huge new gallery of great photos to use. If you're a business looking for someone to help with photography and marketing we really couldn't recommend Lauren highly enough and she has some very exciting packages to offer for 2024. Since the photoshoot Gill and Helen, pictured above with Lauren have both been part of her first Visibility Rebellion which your can find out more about on her wonderfully vibrant website.

One of the volunteers Lauren asked to help, another Simon, turned out to be a Strong Point Super Fan. He's our most loyal customer ever with a game purchase tally of six since we launched. He originally bought the game at Ouseburn Market and has since bought five more as gifts. Simon, if you're reading this, you're a Strong Point legend!

We're extremely grateful to you all for your fantastic support and also for these fab video testimonials!

We've worked with many other fantastic people and businesses throughout the year. We have a lot to thank Brenda at PNE for who has mentored us since Day 1. Gill is forever attending events and courses to gain more knowledge and improve her business mindset and thoroughly enjoyed her Daydream & Doodle Day with Ann English back in September.

We could go on and on, we hope we've given you an interesting insight into some of our activities over the last twelve months in business and we'll keep a few other exciting opportunities and plans we have in the pipeline for the New Year under wraps, for a little while anyway.

Happy New Year, have a wonderful and prosperous 2024.

Gill & Si

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