3 Ways to Tell Your Inventors’ Stories
by AMY OPHEIM, freelance marketing consultant
If you’re like many companies in our industry, your lineup includes toys and games ideated by external inventors. Why? As Peggy Brown of Peggy Brown Creative Consulting says, “Inventors provide a fresh perspective and different approaches to products that aren’t hampered by the confines of any one particular corporate culture. Really good ideas flourish best in the wild!”
Not only do inventors’ products add variety and innovation to your line, but they also provide a unique opportunity to touch your customers in a way that sets your brand apart from the competition — they give you a story to tell. And, lucky for you, toy and game marketers have so many channels at our disposal with which to share these incredible inventor stories, including these three key outlets.
Kim Vandenbroucke, inventor and tabletop game developer at Brainy Chick Inc., says, “I find that having an inventor’s name on the box, either on the front or with a bio elsewhere on the package, is the best way to promote inventors.”
And this is exactly what some savvy manufacturers are doing. Melissa Mohn, senior product developer at Peaceable Kingdom, a MindWare brand, says, “All of our Peaceable Kingdom games also showcase an inventor photo and short bio on the back cover. It’s a great opportunity for the inventors to get their name or studio name out there. And, with more than 2 million copies of cooperative games sold since their start in 2011, it’s great exposure.”
Inventors are also a great way to draw customers to your trade show booth or favorite brick-and-mortar store. Frequent inventor partner Educational Insights (EI) flies several of its inventors to Toy Fair New York each year so that buyers can meet them in person and make a more meaningful connection to their products.
“Educational Insights strives to be an inclusive and relatable brand,” says Lisa Guili, general manager at EI. “Promoting the inventors behind some of our products contributes to the authentic nature of our company culture and brand. Featuring our inventors’ bios on our packaging and bringing the inventors to live events provides a way for us to connect buyers, kids, and parents with the … real person with an interesting story behind each product we produce.”
SOCIAL MEDIA AND LIVE PROMOTIONS
“Inventors bring the enthusiasm,” says MaryJo Reutter, principal of You-Betcha Interactive. “Manufacturers would do well to expand beyond the typical and go really guerrilla with their inventor product marketing. Sure, we can help you at Toy Fair [New York], but what about crazy, unexpected places? This is where our products will stand out. And while we’re at it, be sure to expand any event by letting us show off the games and toys on a social media livestream. Anywhere we can engage with our target audience and get super excited about our products is where we should be.”
And she’s right. Inventor experiences are perfect for unexpected places and social media. Post those bios, create photo albums, and ask your inventors to livestream or pre-record a video for your social channels.
Highlighting inventors is also a great way to stay on the inventor community’s radar, ensuring a steady stream of incoming ideas. “Featuring our inventors on packaging and other marketing materials adds to the genuine nature and authenticity of our brand, which is great,” Guili says, “but acknowledging our inventors has also strengthened our connection with the inventor community, helping us attract new inventors and solidifying our relationship with inventors we’re already working with. It’s a win-win.”
The bottom line is that promoting your inventor relationships is good for your bottom line. Chicago Toy & Game Group Inc. Founder and President Mary Couzin says, “Consumers want to connect with the products they buy. They want to know the story behind the products. At our Chicago Toy & Game Fair, attendees list on our feedback surveys that meeting the inventors is one of their favorite things to do at the Fair.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!