Marianne M. Szymanski is a double decade branding and consumer product researcher. At age 23, she created Toy Tips, an independent toy testing and research company.
Over the last 27 years, Toy Tips has created experiential marketing partnerships and brand activations with companies including Target, Pennzoil, EBay, Hilton Hotels, Rayovac, Energizer, Hyatt Hotels, Kmart, Amazon, Disney, JCPenney, Curad and Toys 'R Us.
Marianne has been an active media personality for more than 25 years. Her segments appear on media outlets including Oprah, CNN, FOX and hundreds of domestic and international television stations. She was a cast member on Good Morning America for eight years and currently is a regular guest on FOX News in Chicago, offering viewers her research results and opinion on the latest toys and consumer products.
Marianne is the creator and author of Toy Tips: A Parent’s Essential Guide to Smart Toy Choices and created Toy Tips and Parenting Hints Magazine. She received a BA in Psychology from Marquette University and a Publishing Certificate from Stanford University. Marianne also teaches two entrepreneurship courses at the University of Southern California in the Grief Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business and Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Marianne is a contributing journalist/writer for American publications and writes case studies for Harvard Business Publishing.
Marianne Szymanski created Toy Tips at age 23 and for close to a triple decade has been an independent toy reviewer and media guest across the world.
Toy Tips is an international child development research group that conducts on-going academic and scientific research on products from the toy and juvenile product industries. A national author (A Parent's Essential Guide to Smart Toy Choices/Wiley), entrepreneur, speaker, lecturer and media personality, Marianne has led her organization's unbiased tests of over 185,000 products from more than 3450 manufacturers so far.
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A former retail sales representative for an international toy manufacturer, Marianne saw the opportunity to provide parents with unbiased information they can trust on how to select products that enhance a child's development. This inspired the 1991 formation of The Toy Tips Research Institute, a year-round program of toy evaluation and testing that does not accept fees from manufacturers.
In 1996, she launched Toy Tips Magazine to provide parents with unbiased information about toy reviews, toy safety, durability, learning value, age appropriateness and enjoyment. Seventeen million copies have been distributed through retailers, hospitals, pediatricians and educators. Renamed and sold in bookstores in 2007, Toy Tips & Parenting Hints, the publication has grown to include research on parenting, child safety, travel and juvenile product reviews. In Summer, 2018, an online version of Toy Tips & Parenting Hints will be available free on the company website at toytips.com.
Toy Tips research has been regularly featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN Gift, The Today Show, The Discovery Channel, FOX, Lifetime, HGTV Classic Toys, Oxygen, The History Channel and close to 300 local new stations across the country. From 1992-1998, she was the resident toy guest on ABC's Good Morning America, and logged 53 segments. Currently, she hosts her own monthly segment on WFLD in Chicago.
Marianne is the 1996 recipient of the Wisconsin Small Business Association Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and a delegate of the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business in Washington, D.C. She is an adjunct professor at The University of Southern California in the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Marshall School of Business and also teaches Economics and Business Foundations of Public Relations in the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Marianne's work has been published in research journals in the United States and the United Kingdom and she writes university case study curriculum for Harvard Business Publishing. She holds a dual degree in psychology and marketing from Marquette University and a certificate in publishing from Stanford University.
Marianne believes that corporate social responsibility and PURPOSE is just as important as growing and managing a business. Millennial and Generation Z consumer shopping behaviors are proving that companies who report messaging of compassion and purpose besides profits are rising in popularity.
The Toy Tips Research Institute was created to serve parents, grandparents and educators with unbiased and independent researched facts on play. The toy report cards published from this research and available free on toytips.com was the PURPOSE Toy Tips created for the end consumers of toys: children.
Marianne felt it was important to serve her local community with her messaging. She created the Toy Tips Toy Lending Library in conjunction with the Franklin Public Library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For over 10 years, residents and educators have been able to browse and borrow "Toy Tips tested and trusted toys” from Marianne’s reviewed collection.
Marianne’s other philanthropic efforts include a position on the marketing commitee of the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, the Chair of the St. Francis Hospital Foundation and a past auxilary board member of the Boys and Girls Clubs in Milwaukee, WI. Although, her favorite volunteer job she ever had was being a Cub Scout Leader for 5 years!
She currently serves as a judge at The Strong (Museum) in New York and at CHITAG for their Kids Invention Program.
Marianne has been a mentor to many rising entrepreneurs for eleven semesters teaching Entrepreneurship to undergraduate and graduate students at both the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA and Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.
Her expertise and training come from nearly three decades of owning her own business and managing a team as a trusted toy testing and research organization. Marianne believes everyone is able to create and develop their own personal brand, “It's the right mix of confidence, a viable and profitable idea and understanding your own personal values that can set any entrepreneurial dream into a journey.” -Marianne
Marianne’s expertise in personal business coaching provides fuel for dreamers wishing to be active entrepreneurs growing start-ups and rising entrepreneurs looking to expand current small businesses. Corporate clients include businesses in need of media training, casting entrepreneurs for production, licensing IP property for creative or brands working with teen social influencers on brand activations.
Brand Activation and Experiential Marketing Events
To be successful, “brands” have to think like a publisher, content creator and experiential marketer.
We do that by creating authentic and custom branded stories of a new brand through a network of “Toy Tips” approved influencers. Each member on our team of influencers is put through rigorous verification checks on authenticity. Our strength is celebrity and teen social influencers and millennial moms reaching digital channels, mainstream media and earned placements.
Marianne personally oversees every project and is the point of contact. Our team buckets content into categories to maximize reach, adhere to FTC rules on social platforms and highlights corporate assets for best engagement.
Coaching and Consulting Services
Marianne is a mentor to those on their own entrepreneurial journey providing advice and business coaching. She is a consultant to new businesses, existing business projects and rising entrepreneurs. All clients are given an opportunity to tap into Marianne’s network, which is an asset when creating business pitch competitions, casting entrepreneurs for producers and even 1:1 coaching sessions.
1:1 Personal Media Training
Media training for ½ day, full day and SKYPE sessions.
Marianne spent more than 20 years growing the Toy Tips brand, creating media and social platforms, publishing magazines and becoming an influencer with activation/reach and earned media placements. Companies and individuals are given personal training on moving a brand forward in front of the camera and in a digital space.
Marianne offers advice through articles for business owners on all facets of entrepreneurship. She is a published author, Professor of Entrepreneurship and is currently teaching at the University of Southern California Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. She also writes case studies for Harvard Business School Publishing.