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Karen Klein: Define Yourself. tBR Person of the Week

Define yourself, know what you can provide and especially what you can’t provide and always look for Integration!

Who am I? So much and so little…

  • Professional Agent and Consultant in the Toy market, providing sales, strategy, and distribution services to new, small & medium companies

  • Mom blogger writing about conscious parenting, skill building and the love of play

  • Mindful-Mom, biological and foster, each with a different experience and learning

  • World-lover: Born in France and lived there until age of 14, then moved to California, Czech Republic and Israel. Traveled to Cuba and Kenya in a special way (more can be read in my blog)

  • Active socially, especially about kids

When giving my elevator pitch, I find it quite tough, and coming from a marketing degree and career, knowing your elevator pitch is a must, even tougher😊.

My main and original profession allows me to meet all kinds of people and companies from around the world. I call myself “International Kid matchmaker” because I “match” between brands and kid products with distributors, buyers, retailers around the world.

I help expand sales, getting new products to buyers decision table, follow up on orders and customers and make sure all orders are processed. Most importantly, I go through a very important checklist myself BEFORE taking any product to any potential buyer.

Buyers are overwhelmed with emails and offers. If I check, beforehand, all what they need to know, I can bring the line right to them, with all conditions needed. This saves them time and effort. They know they can trust me on that. It is always possible they will refuse a line, possibly because they had a bad experience with a similar type of product or that category does not work well in their local market or because timing is wrong, but we at least both know that the products are fully commercial and passed the “checklist”.

Summarized, here is The Checklist:

  • Pricing study for the whole value chain: It is not enough to calculate the targeted SRP. You should define all prices for the whole chain, from FOB selling price, wholesale price and SRP price, so you assure the whole value chain can earn their expected margins.

  • Packaging: we all know the importance of it, but not everyone understands what has to go in front and what could go elsewhere, how text and visual should be incorporated, how and when to make the packs multi-lingual and how to deal with so much to say in a small space.

  • Conformity: European and US testing is a must. Other countries usually deal with it locally.

  • Marketing support (POS, samples, website, social network budget…): Today it is no longer all about products. Brands need to bring the whole solution how to sell in stores or online, all the necessary tools to help sales, not just to the stores, but including sell out from the stores to the end consumers. Here comes the part of the integration which I will explain later in this article.

  • Selling conditions: Even though there are some industry norms as far as FOB / ex-works, payment conditions, MOQ, those are super important terms to discuss and agree PRIOR to approaching any type of B2B customer.

So my job includes, at least until this Covid-19, connecting people, which I love, strategic thinking, which is an amazing process to go through with each company (understanding what they bring to market, where they want to go and who are their competitors, what will make them stand out), worldwide broad-mindedness because dealing with India or Canada is completely different, each with different expectations, as well as following up or pushing for a call! Part of my job has always been announcing the “BAD NEWS”, informing those great creative developers that they have forgotten to consider pricing and that their great product is not commercial enough.

Therefore, I urge all new companies to incorporate marketing and sales needs during the early development stage.

When you have a vision or an idea, you draw it first in your mind, then on paper or computer. You then start creating a sample, locally or in Asia, getting a prototype until you reach the exact product you had in mind and dreamt of. Many times, it involves lots of details that are important like technical features or a specific design.

One main feature that is too often forgotten during that early development stage is “TARGET PRICE”. Without this element, is a great product may come in at a high FOB price that makes the SRP too high to make it to market and stay there. The main objective is not just to get into shelves once but to get there, get bought by end consumers out of the stores (sell out) and get re-orders from the chains for a long-term product life. This is the goal of any company. No one can live on first orders only.

Even in the cases when I get involved “too late” in the process and if I believe the products are ready at a wrong price, I don't give up. I will look for alternative ways to market, possibly direct to consumers, through online or subscription, direct to retail… and that is where few years ago, I switched many of my connection and sales from distributors to direct to retail, selling directly to chains such as Regio in Hungary, Pick N pay South Africa, Citta del Sole in Italy, Noriel in Romania, Anvol in the Baltics…

On top of this, Covid-19 allowed me some time to finally add an important part to my business, that is B2C…and here is why integration is key.

B2B cannot live without B2C. The loop is “whole” when parents hear about a product, ask about it at a store or look for it online, buys, shares feedback and the demand grows… In my case, it was clear that I wanted to share with parents the games and products I believe in and why, so they can connect, buy, experience, share, recommend and that way, I can close the loop, help the brands grow in full.

This is what I do in my blog. I recommend on toys and games that I believe help on certain skills for children. But more importantly, I share about my parenting experience, which has been so top of mind in the last 14 years. I share about mothers in Kenya, whom I met last year in a volunteer trip I organized. I share about the people and parents behind toy developers and basically anything that has to do with parenting and toys!

This is the integration of two of my passions and everyday occupations.

This is the integration between professional and personal.

This is the integration about providing to toy companies services B2B and giving advice to parents B2C, where the knowledge and experience I gathered with time, and hard work, help from one side to the other and in both directions.

I welcome you to find integration personally and professionally.

I invite game developers to my SPECIAL Blog “PEOPLE TO PEOPLE”, where not only the products are showcased but the persons behind the products are.

I invite new and small brands to think strategically how to integrate marketing and sales into early development.

I invite moms and dads to learn from great mothers in a small village in Masogo, Kenya (can be read under “Blog special”).

Karen Klein



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