This weekend I travel to Melbourne at attend the Toy & Hobby Expo. It's the big event of the year for wholesalers and retailers to attend and splurge their yearly budget on games, toys and the latest and greatest.
Last year was my first time exhibiting and I went down with a happy go lucky attitude and welcomed come what may. This, in hindsight, was the wrong thing to do.....
Just as any team competing in an event, a gameplan needs to be implemented. A strategy on how to handle buyers, agents, sales reps, wholesalers, distributors and general sticky beaks.
Sounds a bit over the top...but lessons learned from last year have formulated an attack plan to rival a T 65B X-Wing targeting the soft spot of the Deathstar!
1. The sample hunters - "Do you mind if I take one of these and show it my clients?" Chances are those said clients should be at the Expo. If they aren't the person who can make a buy decision, then ask for their contact details for you to send a sample if they request it after initial contact is made.
2. The "where do you get these made" curious Georges - I'm always open to discuss game development and manufacturing with other fellow indy designers looking to publish, but I'm more wary of a rep or agent from a major retailer asking these types of questions. For starters they would no doubt have their own manufacturers and know where most goods are produced.
3. No badge but lots of questions? A puzzle and hard to gauge. A lot of big retailers do hide their badges as they don't want people like me running after them to hand over promotional material and say how wonderful Pocket Sports are. A careful game of cat and mouse with this type because it could very well be another exhibitor from across the hall having a sticky beak.
4. The price negotiator - and usually promiser of large volume. These guys know who's new, ripe and supple. A good story of how many they can sell and how much money they can make me. One guy last year wanted shipments direct from the factory but price has to be reduced because of this and that....several visits over the 4 days and shakes of the head as I was apparently breaking his balls on price! I'll be ready for him this year as the boat well and truly sailed last year’s price!
5. The distributors - the prized catch? I certainly used to think this.....but once they're pulled over the side of the boat (or perhaps the other way around), they start to go off. It's a difficult industry to get your games into stores and on shelves. A lot of that happens when distributors introduce products to store owners. They can talk it up, leave it out, sell it themselves at retail and send the reps out spruiking a certain game is the hottest thing since....the last hottest thing.
Now I should say, distributors hold the keys to many stores and are an important piece to the puzzle. I like them....I really do.....but like everyone else, they are no more concerned about my game than any other of the hundreds of products they sell and purchase. If the relationship is mutually beneficial then getting an email or phone call from them SHOULD be good news..?
Whoa....hold up Hamish! Seems like those are negatives? Not at all.
They are all part of the experience and all will be present again this year. It's about flipping the script and upping my efforts.
1. Sample hunters - Yes, sure. No problems. I've got some older stock here I can give you?
2. Curious George - I have various factories I use all over China, most independent and family run. Have you ever been to region bordering Russia and northern China? No..? That's where I get them made :)
3. No badge - Would you mind if I grabbed a business card from you? What’s your best business email I can reach you on? You work for Hasbro, don’t you?
4. Price negotiator - Wonderful...large order you say? Would you mind filling out an order form and we'll consider your proposal and get back to you :)
5 The distributor - come on in. Take a seat. Let's talk fair honest numbers and know I can't give anymore than standard industry rates. Let's agree on MOQ. Let's set out exactly what you will do, where you will represent me and how. Let's work together :)
Yes.....a good game plan. Of course if someone turns up with a briefcase full of money to take things off my hands......I'd better be ready for that too, just in case :)