Why product reviews are so important to The Toadstool (guideline to reviews 1/3)

I am really passionate about my business and want to share what I’m doing with as many people as possible. That means that blogging, reviews and customer interaction is an integral part of what I do especially as I’m trying to provide my existing and future customers, with something special and unique.

I want to give my customers not only details of the toys I stock and their provenance and supply chain, but also independent reviews that they can trust as well as other helpful information such as how to get the most out a toy and buyer’s guides. In other words, as well, I want to provide a reliable, independent one stop shop for both developmental toys and everything there is to know about them.

The difference between product reviews for the big brands and for The Toadstool.

So part of that I want to do is to make sure that independent reviews of the toys that we stock offer customers the best possible information which is balanced, fair and trustworthy. And as a small independent retailer it’s important to understand that what independent reviewers say about my stock has a very different value than reviews which are provided for the big brands themselves, benefitting all their retail channels.

The major toy companies want to get exposure and increase awareness of their brand. This is often because they’ve just launched a new product and thus they’re raising awareness for all their retailers and retail channels. In 99% of cases this means they’ve already produced and invested a lot in the product they’re promoting. Whilst they might take feedback on board for developing new toys in the future, they’re highly unlikely to modify the product or its packaging in light any reviews.

We all know the saying “Any publicity is good publicity” and for the big companies, the actual review / post content can often be of little importance (assumption) if they can use these reviews to buy what is known as “follow links”  to their website which will result in the big brand ranking artificially higher in the natural search results and just getting publicity.  Big brands and retailer chains can spend a lot of money achieving that.

And for The Toadstool?

But for me, it’s very different and it’s much more personal. Of course when I send out products for review I want to show off The Toadstool, its toys and what it stands for: quality, durability, play value and design. But I also want parents to be able to make an informed decision when it comes to buying a toy, not just about whether a toy suits a particular child and how it works but about its carbon footprint and fair trade credentials which are factors determining the price points.

That’s a fundamental part of The Toadstool’s ethos, that I should give parents as much independent and honest information as I can. So I want my reviewers to encourage people to stop by (virtually speaking) by providing them with balanced, fair and useful information about all aspects of a toy. Whilst I want them to be honest about any negative aspects of a toy or product, what isn’t helpful to my readers is if a reviewer focuses most of their attention on that one negative aspect and neglects the many good things about it, or worse still reviews for its suitability to a child or situation for which it clearly wasn’t designed for. (more on this in blog 3/3)

So when I send out a toy for a review, it’s not about getting as much publicity as possible. In fact even a brilliant review rarely has much impact on sales although conversely a slightly negative review can stop a product’s sales in its tracks.  I care about what you say about my  toys and it can make the difference between whether I continue to stock them or not (put them in sale). For me and for my customers, what I hope for from a product review is an independent but balanced, comprehensive view of the play value, eco value and quality of a toy and a thorough look at all its qualities and how suitable it is for the purpose its designed.

Now as a small independent retailer we also need to list higher in natural search results, but we can not afford spending lot’s of £££ to pay and negotiate a follow link. So we hope that those bloggers who believe in us and our values and whom want to support us in our efforts will be so kind to grant us no-follow links. If you feel like you would like to support us to, please grab our badge and display!

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8 responses to “Why product reviews are so important to The Toadstool (guideline to reviews 1/3)

  1. A great post Niki – totally agree all reviews should be balanced. We love your toys, saw some Brio in Bruges recently funnily enough! With reviews we tend to focus on the positives and what we love about a brand. Perhaps that’s because I have the blogger/marketer hat on :)


  2. I am so with you on this Niki. I think it is so important to get and give a balanced view on something. I am always constructive in what I say and rather than give negatives, I explain where there can be room for improvement. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo, great to have you on board :) x


  3. We love the toys you stock here but I think you know that already :) I always give the the most information I can – both in words and pictures and sometimes video too. I will always highlight any issues, but will give a balanced opinion. #PoCoLo


    • Yes Thank you Mary, you are a great #ToadTest team member!

      I would actually put balanced literally: if you love 90% of the toy, make sure the text to point out the one negative does not take more then 10% – and summaries your love for the item afterwards. The series of blog posts was developed after being misinterpreted in a twitter feed, where someone took my words out of context.


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