The Toy Fair is a really important part of the calendar for the toy industry, and we have visited it over the last few years. It can be hard for toy companies, and bloggers to know how to prepare for the event, and to work out what they can do to get the best out of it from their readers.
Recently, KiddyCharts participated in an Ask the Media video on the topic, and you can see this below:
What else can toy companies and parents learn from bloggers about the event, and the toys that are featured?
In working on the video, we thought about a number of different topics related to the event which should help parents, and those exhibiting understand bloggers, their motivations, and their content a little better.
How can exhibiting companies better support bloggers and content creators?
Be Open. Be more open to the fact that bloggers actually have a key role to play within the toy industry; we’re not as big as The Guardian, but we have a good deal of klout with our audiences.
Be Upfront. It is vital to be up front about whom is the best person to chat to on your stand, and to point the blogger in the right direction too.
Be Approachable. Approachability to so important for us all.
Be Flexible. Finally be flexible to working with bloggers in different ways. Compensation, creators and their platforms come in many different shapes and sizes these days, and what works for one blogger, just might not work for another. You don’t know the ideas we have until you engage with us. There is an awful lot of creativity and talent within the influencer industry, so give it a chance to shine. Just look at all the printables we produce for our audience, and you’ll see exactly what we mean! And NEVER underestimate the talent behind a site like ours either; our background is in digital marketing; (working with Channel Mum. This most definitely isn’t as unusualas you might think. Many bloggers have careers, inspiring ideas, and creative minds that you could do well to add to your marketing portfolio.
How do bloggers choose what topics to cover on their blog?
Really it’s what we think that our readers will like of course. Mine are predominantly parents, who are looking for free resources, and tips on education and learning; so we cover everything from entertainment, to advice for parents on some of the more challenging aspects of parenting. We like to have a little bit of fun mixed in with the slightly more serious post here and there.
How important are toy reviews to bloggers?
At KiddyCharts, we love to give our readers free resources to help them entertain their kids, and it makes total sense alongside this for us to offer them ideas of other ways they can entertain and educate. This is true for all bloggers; reviews of toys that their readers will like often complement their content well.
As we said before, we cover whatever we think our readers will want to see; either as a review or indeed a giveaway. Our readers, and parents in general, love a good giveaway.
Just like KiddyCharts, most bloggers choose the brands they work with to fit with their audience, just as other media outlets do. If a blogger is keen to work with your toy brand, it is largely because they think its a great fit for their audience, and will help your toy brand reach that audience.
How often do you work with toy companies?
Generally we are running giveaways once or twice a month; except in the run up to Christmas and Summer when we have two special toy events. Why not pop along and check out our Christmas Advent Giveaways, which have just been released for this year?
In these giveaways, parents can get some great prizes to entertain, and then offer to their kids for Christmas. Our readers love a bargain, and you can’t beat a free toy giveaway! Lots of bloggers work hard on similar activities in the run up to Christmas. Tired Mummy of Two always does an amazing Christmas Tombola too!
For our reviews, we generally don’t like to inundate our audience, so once a week maximum. Though we do try to keep it much less than this as an average over the year.We want to mix it in with the other content that we produce for our readers.
What makes the Toy Fair a good show for your site, and for bloggers generally, to attend?
It is an excellent place to meet face to face with some of the companies that we have already built up a rapport with after working with them. It is really nice when brands we have worked with want to meet with us too, as it can be tough to find the right person to talk to, as Counting to Ten pointed out to us recently. The fair is also amazing for finding out about new products from some of the old favourites, as well as discovering new toys and ideas.
Jacinta3 also attends the fair regularly, and is usually on the look out for brands that are doing something a little different, as well as smaller companies. In addition, organisations that are taking a more ethical approach are something to watch out for this year. In particularly, anyone that is looking to help reduce plastics and packaging gets our vote, and a few other bloggers are keen to see this too.
An example of discovering new companies worked brilliantly for us last year when we discovered The Toy Project; a fabulous charity that provides toys for disadvantaged kids. We have tried during the course of the year to ask companies to donate to them in return for coverage, and lots of agencies have been really open to this idea. We’d love it if more were able to do this. As my kids get older, and the toys we cover less relevant to them, it would be wonderful if other kids could benefit from the coverage we provide the companies that we work with.
How do you plan a visit to Toy Fair?
Meticulously, like a lot of bloggers! We like to book in appointments with some of the companies that we know are going to be there. Some of the bloggers that we have spoken to even look at the floor plan, and book according to this. PinkOddy and Over 40 and Mum to One are a little more organised than us because they do this! We also like to attend on Press Day as we have found that exhibitors are more open to discussions with bloggers on these days.
It can be tough as a blogger competing with lots of the massive news outlets, so its important to come armed with an idea of why its important for brands to take note of our smaller, but more engaged audiences. KiddyCharts is not the Daily Mail, but we still get well over 460k views in a year on the site, so are well worth chatting to. Our social reach is massive too, with 1.9million views a month on our Pinterest content.
As the Incidental Parent pointed out, there can be a bit of a “your name’s not down, so your not coming in” attitude to us smaller fry. It is really wonderful when a brand realises the pulling power of our smaller, engaged audiences though. And we’ll thank you for it too with great coverage and hard work!
What do you look for on the floor at Toy Fair?
Toys that spark the imagination, and for that little something that stops you in your tracks. Originality is king. Content is king in blogging, and for toys, it is all about trying to do something that little bit different. We recently played a board game as a family, Pandemic, that meant you didn’t play against one another, but as a team. That is something we have never seen before, and that’s what we want at the Toy Fair. It is also what parents want too; something to spark imagination and new skills in their kids. A toy that grabs and holds our, and so our reader’s attention.
When and how should exhibitors start pitching you for Toy Fair?
To be honest, we really don’t mind. But after Christmas is probably best as otherwise most bloggers won’t quite be there yet in terms of ideas of what they are going to be doing there.
In terms of how companies should pitch; we’d like to know the key contacts, and what you are likely to want to do with bloggers within the year. Is there an ambassador program? Is it on a gifting basis? Do you have budget available, and if so how is this allocated? The larger bloggers tend to run their sites as a business, and so need to understand how the brands they work with compensate for time and effort. Gifting is perfectly OK of course, but both sides need to be clear up front what is expected from whom and when.
Emma from Bubba, Blue and Me made an excellent suggestion too; for brands that are going to the Toy Fair to shout out to bloggers before the event on Twitter, to show they are keen to hear from them. It can be difficult to know who to talk to, and a little heads up is always a good thing. Why not copy @KiddyCharts and Emma too?
Are there specific types of toys or stories you’ll be looking to cover after the Toy Fair?
Innovative, and anything that encourages the industry to look more at both waste, and its consumption of plastic; or excessive use there-of. We’d love to see more people in the toy industry think about their legacy – wooden toys always catch my eye. And this year, we’ll be looking at anything that helps to reduce environmental impact, and encourages environmental responsibility in our kids. Parents that I have spoken to want all industries to be more socially responsibly; from fashion to retail. The toy industry should be no different. Educating and encouraging our kids, through play, and by buying toys that are ethically sound helps to keep green issues at the forefront of young minds that will make a massive difference to the longevity of our planet.
Phew. That was a little longer than I thought it would be! Hope this is a useful guide for the Toy Fair for you all, and do come back and see us again soon. Subscribe if you would like too as well. We’ve got some amazing Printables on the site!
Thanks as always for coming to see us.