When it comes to making the web do work, Dimension 9 LLC is one company that knows how to strategically crack the whip. With 30 years in the gift and souvenir industry, the company has spent years perfecting products and learning from peers. Trendy toys have come and gone, websites are more essential than ever, and social media is a permanent fixture. Now, thanks to the momentum of its smash hit YooDara line and careful planning, Dimension 9 employs all its virtual and social resources to make a lasting impression.
"Dimension 9 was started based on a need that we saw in the retail market for a specific product, which was the collectible good luck charm," explains Ross Johns, director of sales and marketing. "We felt that we could be more successful if we made a product that was an experience, rather than something that was just a physical item, hence the YooDara website." The actual toy is small enough to fit on a keychain, made of wrapped string to resemble a three-inch worry doll with a punch of personality. Each one of the 36 characters has a name and positive message corresponding with one of four tribes. Though the toys have been promoted on numerous news networks and talk shows, their appearance is not their sole engaging feature. What makes the entire line stand out is its extreme online interactivity.
From the moment a YooDara character charm is purchased, its owner is able to use a smart phone to scan the Quick Response (QR) code on the back of the package. This code brings the owner to a registration site to fill out an adoption certificate. From then on, users can track the character, play games with it and other users, and create wish lists for any characters or accessories they want to collect. The charms are exclusive invitations to the YooDara online community, which is hosted on the YooDara website and is more tightly knit than an average social media fan page.
Marketing manager Laura Overstreet notes an enthusiastic response so far of users registering on the website. "The more you register, the more features on the website can be unlocked," she explains. "We have several thousand users on the site now, with more registering every day. June was a record month for us in gaining new registrants." Users can send postcards to friends, upload pictures and videos, and play games. While Johns notes that the company has definitely seen a lot of activity through Facebook and Pinterest, Overstreet points out that of all its social media outlets, Twitter is best for reaching people who do not know about the product. YooDara's social media following is only a small part of its online presence and comes second in priority to the home website.
The newest company technologies are two mobile apps, which have become outstanding site attractions. One is an avatar builder that lets users go online to customize and build their own YooDara, choose what colors and eyes they want for their character, and then make up a name and powers for it. The second popular app is called Dr. YooDara, a divining ball that users can ask questions so that the app generates a result. The move to develop mobile apps that correspond with the line's website and social media was a strategic one, and part of a learning process. "We found that there is no tried and true method or approach that tells you what to do to attract the masses," Johns admits. "It can be an expensive process. You have to put your best ideas out there and revise them as you go along, either minimize or take away some ideas completely. We needed professional contracted help to develop our website." The result is a colorful, straightforward site that has all the polish and liveliness of a clubhouse without sacrificing navigational ease. There are pages for games, a personalized page, retailer locations and other content exclusive to registered users. The challenge, Johns found, was not developing content, but rather avoiding becoming so engrossed in the website that it becomes difficult to determine whether or not it is user friendly. "When you're involved with a site on a daily basis, you take for granted that you know how to maneuver within it," he points out. "It's essential to be able to take a step back and evaluate whether or not a first-time user will understand intuitively what goes on." For Dimension 9, this meant approaching YooDara's website design by first creating a map of what specific elements were needed and at what stages those elements should appear. There were many revisions involved in the process, but the end result has propelled the biggest national craze since the Beanie Baby.
For those envisioning a website as involved and interactive as that of YooDara, Johns advises establishing how a finished product should look before even purchasing a domain. "Make the roadmap and page layouts, then find an extremely competent web builder to help you carry it out," he says. "It's like building a house. You need a great contractor."
Though the company suggests a retail price of $6.99 per unit, most retailers sell the characters for $9.99 each, which yields an approximate 50 percent profit. Complimentary product samples are available to retailers through the YooDara sales website, but the company prefers to relay complete ordering and pricing information via phone. As specialists in gift products, Dimension 9 and YooDara cross into every retail division from drugstores to amusement parks. YooDara has been Dimension 9's fastest growing product in company history and with such an active online following, Johns and Overstreet say they can only anticipate more and more growth.
For more information:
Dimension 9 LLC
P.O. Box 12500
Prescott, AZ 86305
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