Successful YouTube Marketing For Toy Companies – 5 Key Steps

The toy industry has been reliant on TV advertising to drive sales for at least 60 years at the time of writing. The times they are a changing though, or arguably they already changed and we’re guilty of still looking backwards in the toy business hoping for the return of the easiest marketing ‘golden bullet’ we ever had. TV is certainly not the cheapest media, but historically it had proven to be effective at driving sell in and sell through retail.

Now we’re in this weird twilight world where some of the biggest new brands in the toy business (arguably the most ground breaking) have been launched without the traditional approach to marketing. YouTube has been set to become the number one toy marketing tool for at least a decade now, but as with all these things (a bit like how we knew how mighty Amazon would become nearly 20 years ago!), it takes a long time too go from inevitability to full reality. We have arguably now hit the tipping point where the media driving most impressions and most toy sales is You Tube.

The challenge for toy companies though is there was a simple way to play with TV advertising – write the cheque, shoot the TVC, book the media, fill the shelves & job done. Things aren’t that simple any more, but just because things aren’t simple doesn’t mean toy companies shouldn’t already have embraced YouTube and all it can deliver for us.

This article sets out our recommended 5 steps for successful YouTube content marketing, as follows:

  • Be clear on your objectives from the start
    • As the cliched saying goes – if you don’t know where you’re going, you aren’t going to get there. We have been approached by people wanting a ‘really cool YouTube video’, but who don’t know any of their fundamentals e.g. who are you trying to communicate to, what action do you want them to take/what impression do you want to make etc. If you want to effectively demonstrate a slightly more complicated product that can lead to one content direction, if you are chasing virality or the creation of super cool playground currency that directs your content in an entirely different direction.
  • Walk Like An Egyptian – build a pyramid!
    • Some people will have super viral content which hits billions of views globally, and if they have planned & executed well they may well have a super smash hit on their hands. BUT, and this is the biggest BUT about You Tube marketing – you can’t guarantee virality. You can make it more likely, you can facilitate it to some degree, but if you put up videos based on the premise that the only way they can be successful for you is if they become the next biggest thing on the internet your chances of success are probably thousands or millions to one!
    • To increase your chances of being effective & successful on YouTube, we usually recommend building up a ‘pyramid’ of activity and objectives. At the bottom are some real basics i.e. product demonstration – why should someone want to buy the product, why is it fun etc? Then you can build brand awareness on top, then you can sell individual products and direct to e-commerce platforms. And then, and only then, can you make the peak of the pyramid ‘virality’. Our constant refrain is to cover all the basics at the base of the pyramid first, then build the content/campaign up to the peak of virality once the basics are covered!
  • Create really compelling content.
    • This almost doesn’t need any explanation – if your content fails to be compelling, fun, engaging, shareable, entertaining etc., then it is not likely to be effective.
    • This by the way is not about creating really compelling content in your opinion or to the group of twenty something hipsters in your office! It is about creating really compelling content for the target consumer/viewer of your content…, which in this instance means kids and/or parents of those kids, and if you don’t have a really good handle on who you are targeting, you arguably are not ready to make any content/spend your company’s money on marketing collateral which is very likely to miss the mark.
  • Work it baby – don’t fire & forget! Need to market the content.
    • Another fundamental mistake we found toy companies making is to presume that YouTube content will be a successful sales driver on its own e.g. they think it works the same way as TV advertising, where you can ‘fire & forget’, by buying the media & placing the ad on air. YouTube is not the same as TV! TV networks are selling you focused, dedicated air time to a significant chunk of your target market. They are guaranteeing to air your TVC to a certain size of audience, and although they can’t guarantee it will be compelling or effective you can more easily claim to have hit a certain critical mass of people.
    • You Tube doesn’t work that way. As of 2018 (the most recent stats I can find) there are more than 5 billion videos on You Tube! Which means there is almost one video for every person on the planet…in fact 400 hours of You Tube content are uploaded every minute! So, this is an entirely different platform vs TV advertising. With You Tube you need really compelling content, but then you need to conduct marketing activity on your content to give it a chance of standing out among billions of other videos. The way to conduct that marketing efficiently is beyond the scope of this article (although we’ll cover that in future articles), but the bottom line is don’t expect to ‘fire and forget’ with your YouTube content – you need to really actively push it, you need to invest in both content production and marketing of the content to ensure it gets in front of enough target consumers to do what you need it to do – in short, you have to fight to get eyes onto your content versus the billions of other videos they could be watching!
  • Work with the best people in the biz – You can do a lot of simple but effective stuff on YouTube yourself, and your local video production company can make you a low end demonstration video, but to be really effective you need more high level thought & strategy in the planning stage and more quality in the production to stand out. We’ll come back to how to work effectively with influencers & other endorsements on You Tube in later articles, but whether it’s marketing consultancy or creating compelling content you definitely get what you pay for! We’ve often seen clients who think nothing of spending $30k on producing a TVC trying to get away with YouTube content costing a $few hundred. Sometimes that type of content is fine, but again that all comes back to the objectives.

We have a venture producing YouTube content for toy companies. We also offer a marketing Consultancy service advising toy & game companies on how best to deploy content marketing to successfully launch and promote toy brands and products. For more information/to find out how we can help you, click here: