Despite today's increasingly techno-savvy forms of entertainment, everyone has most likely played at least one board game. Most of us have played much more than that. After all, board games give us a chance to rest our eyes from computer screens and interact in a more physical way with our friends and family. Board games are so popular, in fact, that we're all familiar with a variety of "house rules" associated with individual games. Those who especially love board games may even have created their own unique game and find themselves wondering how to get it out into the mass market.
Generate buzz. When you approach a game manufacturer, you need to be able to show that your product is marketable. As the Toy Industry Association states, "Some manufacturers will purchase an outside idea only after the item is actually on the market and has demonstrated consumer appeal and sales." Attend toy conventions as an exhibitor to showcase your product and make a few sales. A good one to try out is the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, which, according to its website, gives your game face time with 15,000 or more potential buyers. If you're under the age of 19, you can also enter your board game in the Chicago Toy and Game Fair's Young Inventor Challenge.
Network. Once you've proven your game's marketability, network. Join trade associations to get in on the latest news in the toy and game world and attend their various conferences. Consider joining the Toy Industry Association as an Associate Member, a classification reserved for companies actively engaged in designing, creating and marketing new toys and games. With this membership, you also will be able to attend and/or exhibit at their annual Toy Fair, an event reserved exclusively for those in the toy and gaming industry. At the Toy Fair, you will be able to network with retailers, manufacturers and media representatives.
Take your game to a manufacturer. The Toy Industry Association recommends taking your product to small and mid-sized game manufacturers, who are more likely to hire outside inventors than budget for in-house inventors. Do your research first. Contact the manufacturer to make sure they are open to outside inventions. Make sure you market to the right company; don't try to sell a board game to a video game manufacturer.
Hire an Agent. If you're struggling to get your product before a game manufacturer, consider hiring a toy agent or broker. These professionals already have relationships with companies and are better positioned to get your product noticed. The Toy Industry Association reports that many of these agents are former toy-manufacturing executives who work for a commission of 15 to 60 per cent of the inventor's royalties. Tthe Toy Industry Association also states that you can find these professionals in the business phone book under "Toy Consultants," "Inventors" or "Patent Agents." Invention promotion firms also act as agents for game inventors at roughly the same commission rates. The Toy Industry Association recommends researching whatever firm or agent you wish to use. Ask for references, check with the Better Business Bureau and request a list of toys and games the firm or agent has placed with manufacturing companies in the past.