The KiddyChart’s guide to surviving the Toy Fair

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It’s big, its bustling, and its a bit scarey. At least that was what I thought before I went. Actually, its only two of those things really…

Today was my first trip to the Toy Fair, from Playmobil forts, to Book Babies, Hex Bugs and traditional wooden toys; you name it, I have just played with it. Or at least, spoken to a man or women that can help your child play with it….

I went as media; with a view to hopefully working with some of these brands on the site, as well as covering the event. My kids were no where to be seen; they would have caused havoc. I even joked with Playmobil that I would have liked leaving my son on their stand all day. They could look after him, right?

Waking the floors taught me a thing or two about preparing for it. Primarily, its a sales gig. People are there to sell their toys, marketing them is seen as a secondary function for everyone there. However, that doesn’t mean that KiddyCharts and other magazine, news and advice sites within the parenting sector can’t get a good deal out of the fair.

It’s all about having a plan….

  1. Work out your introductions in advance; practise them in the mirror – you’ve got a minute. Not quite an elevator pitch but similar
  2. Don’t sell yourself in that introduction – think about what YOU can offer then brand, whether its great coverage on your site, or a way of building brand awareness with your readers. Its not about what you can get, its what you can give. Of course you need to say who you are, but keep it brief and relevant
  3. Be upfront. If you are interested in “marketing collaborations” then say so, whether its reviews, giveaways or sponsored articles and advertorial. Any sales professionals you talk might be able to get the card of the marketing person, so help pointing you in the right direction
  4. People are there to sell big. This can already put you on the back foot. You might be an industry commentator, or someone that helps to build brand awareness through their parenting or toy industry blog. You are not going to be shifting 1000 units of Book Babies‘ new doll. However, state this upfront and ask to speak to the PR or marketing for the brand on that particular stand and you can follow up with an email after the sales show is over
  5. Wear something to help you stand out. You aren’t LEGO. People will remember you though if you do or have a bit about you. I wore pink coat and was showing Little Star to everyone in disturbingly (!) chatty fashion. Lots of people commented on my coat. Less on the inane chatter. When I follow up, they will hopefully remember the pink starry lady :-)
  6. Be friendly. This is obvious of course, but it helps to be chatty and to make people laugh. I know this is hard if you are a little bit terrified of the CEO of Micro Scooter as they stand in front of you, but go go go!
  7. Be personal. If you have children and they love the toys, say so. Most people love to talk about their products, and if you genuinely like what they do, it comes across well. D be careful that it doesn’t come across as sycophantic though. It helps to be anecdotal, but not too gushy
  8. Make sure you ate breakfast, get lunch and have a drink. You’ll function better, and come across as more professional if you’ve got a nice croissant inside you. Make sure you brush the crumbs off though!
  9. Put effort into the follow up. You may have 20-25 great PR and marketing contacts at the end of the day. Don’t forget to follow up with them to see what content can work for both of you. Some you spoke to, and some you didn’t. Perhaps as many as half were details passed on to you. Make sure you email, follow them on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn; whatever details you have. This way you can follow up your leads effectively, and keep the seeds of those new relationships going
  10. Don’t be apologetic. You aren’t a Waitrose buyer, or a Tesco one either; but that doesn’t matter, you can still offer something of value, usually good coverage, to whomever you are chatting to
  11. Don’t expect to chat on each stand for an age. As people are primarily there to sell, if they discover you aren’t a buyer, they may want to move you on; gently. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get what you want out of that little chat, or that you aren’t in a position to help the brand with marketing. It also doesn’t mean it can’t be pleasant and leave them with a lasting impression of your site, you or your business. Use that time you do get to:
  • Introduce yourself
  • Say what you can do for them
  • Get marketing and PR contact details
  • Confirm you will send an email outlining ways you can work with the brand to help them. Job done.
  1. Have confidence, baby….in everything. Your site, yourself, your value to the brand you are chatting to… If you come across as knowing what you are talking about, then the brands will stop and listen.

I have learnt a lot in my whirlwind 6 hours.

Most importantly though, I hope to be able to bring the KiddyCharts’ readers some new and exciting products over the next few months thanks to the lovely people I have met….

So watch this space!

Image above courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Helen

Helen is a mum to two, and social media consultant and website editor. Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts now works with big family brands to help them promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. Helen also helps other organisations with their social media and blogging strategies, including working part-time as a community manager with Truprint. She can often be found hanging about on social media, and trying to avoid stepping on the Lego her kids keep leaving lying around.

 

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