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Revolutionizing Toy Marketing The Rise Of FUNfluential By The Toy Insider With Deborah Stallings Stumm


Revolutionizing Toy Marketing: The Rise Of FUNfluential By The Toy Insider With Deborah Stallings Stumm

Launched in January, FUNfluential by the Toy Insider emerged as Deborah’s innovative response to the evolving needs of the influencer marketing landscape within the toy and family industries, a platform where toy companies and family-oriented brands could connect with a curated network of influencers. 

Revolutionizing Toy Marketing: The Rise Of FUNfluential By The Toy Insider With Deborah Stallings Stumm

With a career spanning various high-profile roles in the toy industry, including Vice President of Sales and later, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Deborah has been a pivotal figure in shaping market strategies and fostering growth.

“Most recently, before launching, I was with one of the fastest-growing toy companies in the industry. And we worked with a lot of influencers,” Deborah recalls. It was here, amidst the dynamic interplay of traditional toy marketing and the emerging influencer economy, that the seeds for FUNfluential were sown.

“FUNfluential started to crystallize in my mind when I thought, ‘Wow, we could really create something very specific to the toy and family industries’,” Deborah states, revealing the strategic focus of her venture. “Partnering with the Toy Insider, the leading media company in the toy industry, was an obvious choice to combine our strengths and bring this exciting project to life”, she adds. Her approach to building FUNfluential was grounded in simplicity, usability, and cost-effectiveness, with a clear goal to “make it simple to use, make it cost-effective for the toy and family brands, and bring opportunities to these creators.”

Deborah shares her firsthand experiences dealing with the influx of influencer inquiries during her tenure at a prominent toy company, “I would have influencers reach out to me all the time, which was amazing and very flattering. But it was also very difficult to manage”. The sentiment was universal—there was a pressing need to harness the potential of these eager creators but no straightforward way to do so. “So we created software that is easy to use for toy companies and family brands,” she explains. 

Streamlining Success: FUNfluential’s Approach to Authentic Campaign Management

“We give our companies and brands the ability to do a very highly curated search of our creators”, Deborah begins. By employing filters that drill down into granular details, FUNfluential ensures that brands connect with influencers who are not just relevant but perfectly aligned with their campaign’s objectives. “If you’re a preschool company, wouldn’t it be amazing to identify families that have preschool-aged kids?” she poses, highlighting the critical importance of context and relevance in influencer marketing. 

FUNfluential’s platform also champions the creative freedom of influencers. By allowing brands to outline their campaign briefs with precision while encouraging influencers to infuse their unique voice and creativity, the platform fosters a symbiotic relationship between brand needs and influencer authenticity. “You want to give creators the freedom to add their own voice,” Deborah advises, underscoring the belief that the true power of influencer marketing lies in the personal touch creators bring to their content.

Revolutionizing Toy Marketing: The Rise Of FUNfluential By The Toy Insider With Deborah Stallings Stumm

Cultivating Quality: FUNfluential’s Influencer Network

The Toy Insider’s annual event, Sweet Suite — a playfully named tradeshow that attracts top toy and family influencers from the United States and Canada — serves as a fertile recruiting ground for FUNfluential. “That was a great place for us to start. We already knew these folks were vetted quality creators in the toy and family industry,” Deborah points out, highlighting the advantage of tapping into an already curated pool of influencers.

However, FUNfluential doesn’t limit its search for talent to this exclusive event. “Anyone can apply to be a FUNfluencer,” Deborah states, opening the door for a broader range of creators to join the platform. This inclusive approach is balanced with a rigorous vetting process, where human judgment plays a critical role. “We have people looking at every single creator application,” she adds, emphasizing the personalized attention each application receives.

The criteria for selection extend beyond mere follower count. “Yes, we consider followers, but that’s not the only criteria,” Deborah clarifies. Engagement rate, content quality, and even the age of the influencer’s children (for product relevance) are considered, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of potential FUNfluencers. 

FUNfluential’s Seamless Integration with Social Media Giants

Revolutionizing Toy Marketing: The Rise Of FUNfluential By The Toy Insider With Deborah Stallings Stumm

“We have gone through an extremely rigorous process with all of the major tech companies -Meta, Google, TikTok- to get approved and to access data”, Deborah explains. “Our software is smart enough to bring all of that in through the APIs of these major tech companies,” she elaborates. 

For brands, the allure of FUNfluential lies in its advanced search capabilities and the ability to filter influencers across key platforms. Recognizing the paramount importance of Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube in the toy and family industries, the platform facilitates targeted searches that align with a brand’s specific campaign goals. 

FUNfluential also enriches the decision-making process with its innovative ‘view profile’ section, which provides brands with comprehensive data, including follower count, engagement rates, and recent posts. “They literally have a report card about the creator,” Deborah shares, illustrating how brands can gauge the potential impact of an influencer before initiating a collaboration.

The platform also generates detailed reports that encapsulate every aspect of a campaign’s digital footprint, including posts, images, videos, and crucial metrics. Furthermore, FUNfluential calculates an estimated Earned Media Value (EMV), offering brands a robust measure of their campaign’s success. “The reports are very tangible, and it takes very little time to be able to implement all of this”, Deborah concludes. 

FUNfluential’s Commitment to Innovation in Influencer Marketing

“We want to be on the cutting edge of trends. However, we want to be doing what is most important to the toy and family industries”, Deborah says.

Revolutionizing Toy Marketing: The Rise Of FUNfluential By The Toy Insider With Deborah Stallings Stumm

“Every conversation that we have with our customers, we ask what we can do better and what features they would ideally like to see in future versions of the software”. Deborah believes this collaborative approach not only fosters innovation but also cements FUNfluential’s role as a partner invested in its clients’ success.

The strategy behind FUNfluential’s evolution is twofold: staying abreast of technological advancements while ensuring those innovations align with the specific needs of the toy and family industries. “We’re going to be on the pulse of technology, but also making sure that it makes sense for our industries,” Deborah asserts. 

The Strategic Expansion and Vision of FUNfluential

“We are going to continue to add more and more FUNfluencers,” Deborah affirms, emphasizing the careful balance between quantity and quality. This commitment to vetting ensures that each new addition brings not just numbers but genuine value and relevance to the platform’s community.

At the core of Deborah’s vision is the recognition of the challenges currently faced by many in the industry. “Many companies who have been running influencer campaigns have been doing them manually” Deborah explains. “With FUNfluential, we allow them a more exceptional and efficient experience”. FUNfluential aims to transform an often cumbersome approach to influencer marketing into a seamless and rewarding endeavor.

Furthermore, Deborah identifies a significant opportunity for innovation: “It is not realistic that every company in the toy and family industries can always be on the cutting-edge of technology” she observes. FUNfluential intends to democratize influencer marketing, making it a viable option for companies regardless of their size or prior experience. She believes this inclusivity is crucial for smaller companies or those that have been reluctant to engage with digital marketing strategies due to resource constraints or lack of familiarity.

Looking towards the future, Deborah anticipates that FUNfluential will become deeply entrenched within the industry, “I think we will have more toy companies, more family brands, and then of course, more FUNfluencers that are joining us as well,” she predicts. With FUNfluential by the Toy Insider, she aims to serve as a key player that connects this ever-growing community.

Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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