We have many features this week, but we’re starting with the next in Ahmed’s series of posts that were inspired by the MobileBeat conference. Today he talks about how physical goods like stickers and toys are spurring more awareness of his app. This could be an example for app developers who are thinking about exporting their virtual characters into reality.
I first made Mongo stickers back in March and quickly ran out as kids loved these things. I then made a big order of 20,000 stickers from a company called Mello Smello in my hometown of Minnesota. Since Go Go Mongo is a game about healthy eating, I decided to send out a few rolls to pediatricians. We started getting a great response, as 10% of the offices we sent the stickers to responded back wanting more! We also started seeing parents ordering stickers from our website.
We started to see this sales cycle happen:
Kid gets sticker -> Parent sees URL -> Parent checks website -> Parent downloads game
Because of this we tried the opposite by offering stickers in our lite version hoping to get the opposite effect.
Parent downloads lite version -> Parent orders stickers -> Kid gets brand recognition through sticker
However, we found that this method was less effective, perhaps because we buried the sticker form in the options screen.
Although our stickers are free to our customers, I saw the power of physical goods and the fact that kids were identifying with Mongo. I then decided to look into producing a plush toy for Mongo. Lorraine wrote a blog post about this a few months back as I was still getting prototypes made, but now, I am happy to say that I finally have a finished plush toy of Mongo and it is now being manufactured overseas.
Through this process, I learned that in many instances, it is much easier to make apps than make plush toys! There are so many design considerations to make, so many safety guidelines to follow, and also so many little details tied to importing into the US!
I engaged a design firm, Fuzion Inc, out in Rhode Island to help me through the process. Although they were expensive, they were able to really hold my hand through the entire process (they specialize in kids products). I chose them primarily because went to school with the chief designer, Yena, back in 2008.
Now with the plushies, I hope to extend the cycle by working like this:
Kid gets sticker -> Parent sees URL -> Parent checks website -> Parent download game -> Kids like Mongo -> Parents buy Plush toy
Although the first run of Mongo Plushies will allow us to break even, all subsequent orders of the plush toys should have better margins (unlike the $0.99 apps that I’ve been trying to sell). The plush toys are available for pre-order on my website (http://www.gogomongo.com/plushies.html) for a limited run of 1000 units. I hope these become collector’s items!
Written by Ahmed Siddiqui, founder of Go Go Mongo! a series of iOS games aimed to help children eat healthier.