In a continuing series that highlights toymakers who have evolved their business comes The Haywire Group. See how a newly created division is raising its profile (and those of its partners) using a unique fundraising initiative.
Tired of being offered the same ole stuff to buy in local school fundraisers, Mike Fisher, vp of The Haywire Group was inspired, as were his co-workers, to create a new fundraising model that carved out a unique business opportunity.
This aha moment for the toy manufacturer eventually led to the creation of It's all FUN and GAMES!, a brand new and separate division (www.itsallfunandgames.org) that has partnered with nearly 29 A-list manufacturers on a fundraising catalog. Filled with about 100 games, it will go head-to-head with the usual suspects like candles, cookies and wrapping paper come Back to School 2012/2013. Interestingly, revenues from these categories has been steadily declining over the past few years.
"We have sent out comprehensive information kits and reached out to educators, trade magazines and Parent Teacher Organizations as well as attended industry events to a really great reaction," says marketing manager Tami Murphy, a six-year company veteran who is truly excited to lead the initiative.
Her enthusiasm will no doubt be shared by the built-in sales force of kids who will finally be selling something they are familiar with and definitely passionate about. Add to that that schools will receive a 40% return on sales and earn free games for classrooms and it's not surprising that the unique program is making the grade with educators. Students also receive a custom Farkle game (Legendary Games) with their school name on it and a Spot It! sampler game (Blue Orange) with each catalog.
Not surprisingly, the catalog has attracted well-known toymakers such as Late for the Sky, Workman Publishing, Mindware, Peaceable Kingdom, GameWright and Bananagrams anxious to tap into both a new and existing customer base with a selection of games for every interest level, age group and budget. A brochure will be shipped with each order showcasing independent retailers in an attempt to drive traffic to local businesses and well as provide a place for consumers to purchase additional games from a favorite company.
"We were excited to be part of Haywire's catalog initiative because as a company that values education and literacy, we're always looking for new ways to present our games to the school audience. Naturally, we want to see our word games in homes and classrooms across the country. The catalog seemed like a creative formula for reaching a new market and helping schools raise vital funds," says Norman Getting, vp at Bananagrams, Inc.
In the short term, Murphy hopes to spread the word about the program and sign up as many schools as possible. Looking ahead, the hope is to eventually publish several catalogs yearly that correspond to key gift giving seasons.
"We want to reinforce to schools that games have a place in the classroom. We also want to give teachers more access to games and eliminate the need for them to spend their own money to bring fun into the classroom," says Murphy.
There is still work to be done on the new initiative, but the company is well on its way in infusing some fun into traditional "fun"draising.