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January 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 1




Tools:

It's a Digital World

How Manufacturers Use the Web to Reach Retailers


“Search engine marketing is a good investment.” Renee Trinca, Schoenhut Piano Company
This generation of kids was born into the Internet and sometimes finds it more real than the “real world.”  Innovative manufacturers have been following their lead, realizing that the Web is a vital tool for reaching retailers in a cost-efficient, creative manner — especially when compared with the high price of trade shows.

TDmonthly Magazine talked to pioneering toymakers and asked them how the digital realm helps them reach buyers and retailers.

Be Where the Buyers Look

Location, location, location:  It’s the same as real estate; being where the buyers are is paramount to online success.

Tony Cross, president of Mic-O-Mic Americas (Gift Guide), has found a treasure trove in the online search engines keyed to the awards that Mic-O-Mic has won. 

“ToyDirectory and the websites of award grantors have been a far better source of potential new and actual new customers than print ads,” he told TDmonthly.

Renee Trinca, president of Schoenhut Piano Company (Gift Guide), also found search engine technology to be crucial for success:  “Search engine marketing is a good investment. We budget extra for the last quarter to increase hits and sales during the busy holiday season.”

Email, Email, Email

Faster than the Post Office and more powerful than a room of stenographers, emailing is the key to quick updates and customer contact.

Matt Peake, manager of Top Shelf Holdings LLC (ToyDirectory), said, “people are busy, so it can be hard to get return calls.” 

Kathryn Cooperman, vice president of sales, marketing and operations at U.S. Games Systems (Gift Guide), is a firm believer in “email blasts to our own customer list.”

But where e-mailing is a “reach out and ding someone” methodology, the biggest haul in customers comes from ...

... Working a Website

Robert Tonner, CEO and head designer of Tonner Doll Company (ToyShow) explained how “a good deal of our ardent collectors almost know before we do that we’re coming out with something new. They scan our website news page daily for new product announcements.”

By making their websites as complete as possible, they provide an up-to-the-second one-stop to the latest news. 

Schoenhut used a designer for the initial page, but the office staff does the updates. U.S. Games Systems also went outside to a professional designer. The key is thoroughness.

Trinca pointed out that “a link on our wholesale website that invites retailers to offer our products,” really helped to reach retailers.

And the Future?

As per Jeffrey Katzenberg, famous Hollywood executive: “More, better, faster.”

Cross is looking to video ads and better online databases, as is Cooperman. Trinca plans to do the same, as well as to expand all facets of Schoenhut’s online presence.

Every day, in every way, the Internet allows manufacturers to reach retailers without regard for geography and costly face-to-face presence.

Here are some products offered by the aforementioned companies:




Age Range: 3 and up
Category: Musical Toys



Its compact size makes this drum just right for little drummers. Discover just how rewarding and exciting making music with your own instrument can be. The drum is tunable for more versatility. It helps develop listening skills.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9424      (added 9/19/2006)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $124.99
Age Range: 9 and up
Launch Date: December 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



By award-winning designer Robert Tonner, this collection includes limited edition Wonder Woman, inspired by “Silver Age” art concepts from DC Comics. She is 16” tall with multiple points of articulation for powerful poses, movement and mobility. Tonner Character Figures, based on classic superheroes appearing in DC Comics, feature hand-detailed face painting, rooted hair and authentic costuming inspired by the superhero’s life from origin to secret identity. Launch date: December 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9721      (added 10/23/2006)
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AD


Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $124.99
Age Range: 9 and up
Launch Date: December 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



Inspired by “Silver Age” art concepts from DC Comics, this poseable, limited edition doll stands 16” tall. Tonner Character Figures, based on classic superheroes appearing in DC Comics, feature hand-detailed face painting, rooted hair and authentic costuming inspired by the superhero’s life from origin to secret identity. Launch date: December 2006.
— Supergirl is one of the first two original dolls released in the Tonner Character Figures Collection.
— "The fine-quality 'ingredients' that make up each Tonner doll include hand-painted faces, finely engineered articulation and beautifully crafted contemporary clothing made from some of the finest fabrics available,” Tom Courtney, visuals and merchandising director for Tonner Dolls told TDmonthly.
— Award-winning designer Robert Tonner created this doll.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9722      (added 10/23/2006)
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AD


MSRP: $109.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Wooden Toys



This action-inspiring playset will have young ones make knights and wizards climb castle walls and fight for the king's honor across a working draw bridge. Figures who don't watch their step will be cast into the dungeon, thrown out of windows or made to fall through the courtyard's working trap door. Even the set's two warhorses aren't safe from enemy fire. The set includes six flexible wooden figures, two flags and two warhorses.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7801      (added 5/5/2006)
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MSRP: $12.00
SKU or Item #: HM104
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Card Games
General Games



The History's Mysteries Card Game is full of intriguing subjects such as the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, crop circles, ghost ships and more. This rummy-like game is as fun as it is interesting to play while players strive to collect different mysteries and score the most points. It's based on the History's Mysteries series on The History Channel.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9656      (added 10/10/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Mark Zaslove is an entertainment industry veteran in developing content (writing, directing and producing television and feature films) for the major studios, including Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing and recipient of the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies), Mark is also Head of Content Development for Nice Entertainment. Read more articles by this author

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