How to Grow Your Small Toy Business

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I’ve been asked this year to judge the Goddard/Eco Childsplay 2009 Best Green Toy Contest. Sponsored by Goddard Child Development Centers and Green Options own Ecochildsplay, it is both a great opportunity and one that has me thinking.

How does a small company compete against the big guys in the toy industry? In particular as pointed out by Wendy Johnson, with Birchtree designs writing on the contest Facebook page:

Hey, how about doing a contest of eco-friendly, local handmade items? There is no way we can compete with large corporate manufacturers. Also, not sure how eco-friendly a product it can be if the materials are coming from all four corners of the earth, is being made in another country, and then shipped to the US?

That’s a good point! And so I thought about and found that, hey- this IS just that kind of contest!

It has a few key attributes.

1) It’s free – unlike other toy contests which require an entry fee – this one has no cost to enter – just fill out the application and send in two samples.

2) The rules are simple – just have the toy readily available for purchase

3) The toys are being judged on play value and “Eco-ness” not on popularity.

I started thinking more and realized that established sellers on Etsy,  like the members of  Natural Kids trying to grow their businesses have just as much a chance of winning as a brand name toy maker.

As a marketer, I’m used to these unexpected twists and turns. I’ve worked in toy and consumer products marketing for years- and the toy business is tough! But, unexpected opportunities arise.

This is one that makes sense for small eco toymakers. The market for green toys is growing. Parents still need to buy primarily online to find great green toys, but that is changing. Visibility to consumers And to big toy companies (buy me out anyone?) is key to growing a sTwittermall business. So, I hope any toy ecopreneurs out there will consider entering – it’s free to enter; it’s free publicity. It’s sponsored by a Green Options blog and judged by a Green Options Writer (and you know we know green!)

You can find more about the contest, comment and post photos of your products on the best Green Toys Facebook Page and download the application here.

Follow me on  Twitter @mcmilker for more contest updates

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