TCHO chocolate and social marketing — what a combo!

Recently I was introduced to TCHO chocolate — not the actual product, unfortunately, just the brand — through a post by Ryan Jones on his blog m-cause. (Thanks Ryan!)

TCHO is a new, San Francisco-based chocolate company founded by former NASA software developer Timothy Childs — now “Chief Chocolate Officer” — and Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto. According to their website, TCHO is about bringing a depth of dark chocolate experience from “the pod to palate” by creating a “direct, transparent connection between the farmers and the consumers.” Beyond philosophy and values, the stuff just tastes incredible, judging by the numerous rave reviews posted on the website and across a range of blogs reporting on news both culinary and cutting-edge.

I was struck by TCHO’s community and social media approach to marketing and communications.

Borrowing from digital developmental processes and nomenclature, TCHO launches “beta” versions of their product, and then invites the community to provide feedback to help them perfect it. All the comments are posted for everyone to see. Although TCHO calls this their TCHO Beta Testing program, it feels much more familiar and intimate, like someone you know inviting you into the kitchen to try out their latest recipe and tell them what you think.

As far as promotion is concerned, TCHO seems to be leveraging the connections provided by online networks, rather than traditional advertising, which I suspect they hardly can afford at this point. They’ve sent product to food and confectionery bloggers, and were featured in a series of videos produced by boingboingtv. A blog on the website features posts from — as far as I can tell — TCHO management and employees, which provides a sense of the people behind TCHO and their passion for chocolate. I only wish they allowed comments to the blog to enable more direct dialog between TCHO and the wider chocolate-loving community. It’s also strange that the site refers to finding the right people to work for the company and “our” approach to chocolate making, but no where can you find a list of the principle players’ names, faces and profiles.

Currently, their sales and distribution appears to be strictly web-based, directly from manufacturer to end-consumer. Sadly, TCHO doesn’t yet ship to Europe. So for the time being, I’ll just have to sit here and drool.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “TCHO chocolate and social marketing — what a combo!

  1. I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.🙂

  2. Thanks for the kind words about TCHO, Steve. And your criticisms of our site are well-taken: reader comments to our blog posts are coming soon; and a full cast of the TCHOsen will be on the site in a couple of weeks. Cheers. Louis

  3. Stephen Rothman

    Great to hear from you Louis! Hope I can sink my teeth into a piece of Chocolatey or Fruity this side of the pond sometime soon. Steve

  4. Did Louis Rossetto find you on his own, or did you send him an email about your review, Steve? If the former, it’s a perfect example of the power of blogging! I like his fast and customer-pleasing responses. Hope I can find some where I live! I love chocolate!

  5. Stephen Rothman

    Hey Linda, no, I didn’t contact him. Considering that TCHO seems to be getting the word out through online social media and communities, I’m not surprised he picked it up. To get the chocolate, you can order online direct from their web site. I don’t believe they are distributed any place else at this point. Would love to hear how you like it. I’m sure they would too!

  6. Stephen Rothman

    Hi Ben, thanks for your complimentary feedback. Sorry I just discovered it today. For some reason WordPress put your response in my spam file.

  7. Tiffany

    Oooh… Makes me think of another role for social marketing… Not just to distribute a message – but to back one up. In a world where some of us are always struggling to communicate the next “revolutionary” product upgrade, this brings to life a really, really cool way to support a product’s benefit… The fact that they’re not afraid to let you see every part of the process. That goes SO much farther than “the cocoa beans are roasted 20% longer” or something like that. If ever there is a marketing brief for TCHO (or I suppose there already is!), it would be so smart to use their use of social media as their reason-to-believe…

  8. Stephen Rothman

    How true. Having nothing to hide is perhaps one of the most potent reasons to believe.

  9. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "marketing" - JabberTags

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