Stuart Montaldo wants his brand of award-winning games, books and soon, interactive games, to become a household name. To make that happen, he implemented a strategy for making them classroom names first.
Montaldo's company, Cogno Products, is the creator of the multimedia kid's brand, "Cogno," which takes a "Star Wars-Meets-Magic School Bus" approach to fun and learning. Cogno -- a wise and friendly alien with a single giant eye -- is also the central fictional character around which the brand is based.
Last year the company introduced a weekly brain-stretching exercise called Cogno's Challenge that is designed to be used in elementary and middle school classrooms as a supplement to regular curriculum. Samples are available at www.cogno.com/puzzlers.
"We began by sending the puzzlers to teachers who were already fans of our award-winning board games." Montaldo said. "They, in turn have passed along signup information to other teachers they know. It's viral marketing at its best – the teachers and students receive fun, thought-provoking exercises, while voluntarily passing along our branded content. Also, many kids take the puzzlers home to stump their families, which places Cogno in front of parents, too."
This past September, the company introduced a second weekly puzzler service -- Cogno's Codebreaker -- which provides fun and thought-provoking exercises in English, Math and Science that mirror the creative and lateral thinking of the company's family game of the same name.
Subscriptions continue to grow, with Cogno's Challenge and Cogno's Codebreaker currently reaching more than 5,000 teachers who share the puzzlers with more than 300,000 children weekly. This totals to over 15 million impressions annually, a number that should grow by 50 percent by year end, according to Montaldo.
"In addition to building brand awareness, the puzzlers provide us a weekly opportunity to communicate with kids and teachers," said Montaldo. "We will use this platform to promote our new products, such as the first Cogno video games, which are being explored by our interactive games representatives at FOG Studios. FOG is the world's first and most successful interactive representation agency, and we are thrilled to have them managing this category for us."
"In addition to Cogno's appeal as a property -- interesting characters, fun stories, games and learning potential -- it has this effective, scalable tool to reach the target audience," said Ed Dille, CEO of FOG Studios. "The syndicated puzzlers along with other growing Cogno products, such as games and books, will provide an interactive licensee with a large install base in the marketplace. We're actively searching for development and publishing partners to bring this property to market."
A survey of Cogno puzzler subscribers showed that 95 percent of them use the puzzlers regularly. Ninety-nine percent said they'd recommend Cogno puzzlers to another educator. Almost three fourths of the teachers surveyed said they now intend to buy a Cogno game, and more than 40 percent reported that their students have asked about Cogno games and books after experiencing the puzzlers.
"It's turning into the ultimate viral marketing tool, in that it accomplishes our marketing objectives and is taking on a life of its own in terms of growth and recognition." Montaldo said.