8 Characteristics Of Successful Toy People
Have you ever noticed how some people in the Toy industry seem to keep on being successful?
There are some people who just seem to achieve great results/great output on an ongoing basis.
There are reasons for their ongoing success normally. I’ve analysed the most successful people we know or know of in the industry and have come up with the following list of habits/characteristics of those people:
1. Determined and relentless – whether you are a sales person or a creative, a CEO or a marketer, we are all in the business of achieving results. We may have different specific measurables, but in the end we need to achieve positive results. The fundamental characteristic of people who achieve positive results in our industry and others is an inner drive to get the right results, no matter if it’s hard, if it takes months/years or whether our colleagues falter along the way.
2. Great ‘gut’ feel for Toy product – when you look at all the great and the good in our industry, it’s hard to find one without a good feeling for what will sell.
3. Strong emphasis on risk management – at the risk of sounding like someone’s accountant, really need to emphasise the importance of risk management – understanding what the downside is if things go pear shaped is critical to achieving success. Sometimes the best decisions you make in this industry are the products you chose not to launch, as much as the ones you actually did launch!
4. Relationship building focus – there is an inescapable truth in our industry which you can’t avoid. Not that many people move out of it. This is a great industry, so understandably far fewer people leave it than enter it. Therefore if you have the classic ‘hunter’ mentality of making a quick killing in your dealings, you may reap the negative karma for the rest of your career in some cases. To continue the clichéd analogy, if you choose a ‘farming’ approach instead of nurturing and building relationships first, with deals a close 2nd, then you are much more likely to have sustained success. Dump a load of junk on a buyer one year, forget about listings the following year.
5. Use the data – data is a critical component of planning and influencing in this industry. Whether it’s last year’s sales curve, past sales history, advertising spend versus EPOS analysis, product P&Ls or something else, the reality is even the most detached creative minds benefit from understanding the data. At the simplest level if you can’t reach implications about what makes a strong seller via reading sales data, you will struggle.
6. Negotiating and influencing skills – this one comes in towards the end not because it is less important, but more because it is one of the most obvious of the 7. The other half of selling after determination & relentlessness, the ability to positively influence/persuade another human being or organisation to take the action you need is crucial to prolonged success. You might be trying to convince the Walmart buyer to list your product, you may be trying to persuade your company’s management to invest in a product line, you may be selling a concept, but if you can’t influence other people, you won’t achieve good results.
7. Know your strengths & weaknesses, find the right help - one of the advantages of career progression is that the higher you get in an organisation, the more you can structure teams around you to fill the gaps in your abilities & aptitudes. But even if you are a one person operation, the same applies, because you still need a series of relationships/paertnerships to make things happen. First you must be capable of being honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do well, then you find help in the areas you need.
8. There’s nothing as valuable as a post mortem – insanity is purportedly doing the same thing as before while expecting a different result. Herein lies the importance of the post mortem. Human beings generally hate to make mistakes & to fail, especially in view of other people inc. peers/employers. However, the reality is that massive mistakes occur all the time. I’m not going to tell you where I made these mistakes, but I have two $1.5m mistakes on my Resume. Because blowing that kind of money makes you really analyse & investigate where things went wrong. In both of those instances, believe it or not, the mistakes were made for the right reasons. One was comparatively (!) small potatos versus the opportunity and was kind of inevitable if we were to get the big results we got. The second was the wrong product execution for the right reasons. Also in both cases there was a little inward looking organisational delusion, which a post morterm identified, reducing the risk of it happening again.
Some things work in the Toy biz, some things don’t, but we shouldn’t be failing for the same wrong reason time after time.
And so there you have it, my suggestion of the 8 characteristics of successful toy people.
All the best
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