What To Do When The Manufacturer Calls You – And FREE Advice From Ask J’net Q&A

14 09 2014

The next FREE Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for this week on Wednesday, September 17th at 12 noon PDT/3:00 pm EDT.  Here is the link to sign-up, and don’t forget to put your question at the bottom of the registration page.  I try to answer as many questions and possible, and it usually winds up being between a dozen and 20 questions within the hour long session. So join me for some tantalizing lessons about licensing and answers to your questions!

What To Do When The Manufacturer Calls YouRing Ring

I think we are all so used to pitching ourselves on and in social media, websites, blogs, emails, letters, and presentations that we forget how many incredible manufacturers there are looking for licensed art every day. You probably wouldn’t believe how many times I hear from an artist: “A manufacturer called me for some art and was not sure what to say.” or “What do I say when a manufacturer calls me?”

When a manufacturer can’t find exactly what they need with their existing licensees and contacts, they are very likely to head to their files to peruse leads they received from trade shows, emails and searching the internet.

If you have a great list of questions ready, then you will be more than prepared for any initial conversation with a manufacturer.  The goal is to ask intelligent questions, stay organized, take notes and get them talking.  Here is a list of some questions you might consider asking:

‘How did you find my art?’ or ‘How did you hear about me?’ If you are not sure about how they got your name, this is an important question. This will also let you know if they found you through LinkedIn, Licensing Expo, your own website, or a directory, which is great information to help plan your future marketing.

‘What pieces of my art or styles are you most interested in?’

‘What types of products would the art be used on?’

‘What products do you produce?’ This is a more general way to ask the question, if you aren’t familiar with the manufacturer. I would also suggest getting to a computer and logging onto their website so you can quickly review their product lines while you are talking to them.

If they are discussing development of a very specific program and need, don’t hesitate to ask more precise questions:

‘Who is the primary purchaser of the product line(s)? Will this be our target customer?’

‘How big is the program?’ (Or ‘What kind of product runs would you do for a program like this?)

‘What material will they made of?’ ‘What size and color are they?’

‘When will the products launch in stores?’ and ‘Do you know what stores they will be featured in?’

‘When would you need the art?’

‘What type of files do you prefer?’

‘Would the art be used as is, or with some changes and refinements?’

‘When will a decision on the art be made?’ and ‘Who will be involved in making the final decision?’

‘What do you pay similar artists for this type of program?’ or ‘What’s your standard royalty for this type of licensed product?’

Of course, you may not get all of these questions out in a short and fast-paced conversation.  And many of them may not even be relevant to the conversation (yet).  Nevertheless, it’s a great list to get very familiar with or even post on a bulletin board near your work station.

Chances are, that if you get a call from a manufacturer, they will have some need in mind and will be prepared to discuss many of these details. I encourage you to ask ‘open ended’ questions that do not require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  This way they will have the opportunity to talk and expand into the specifics and you get to learn more.

Be sure to do as they have asked, and end your conversation with a recap of the next steps you will take and when you will follow-up with them and how. The more exact you can be in your communication, the better for everyone.

The bottom line is to find out what their needs are and how can you help. Your goal is to move the conversation forward one or more steps towards getting a final contract.

Answers to Your Licensing Questions and the Top 10 Mistakes Every Art Licensor Should Avoid

29 07 2014

Tomorrow at 12 noon PDT (3 pm EDT) is my next Ask J’net Q&A.  Please join me for a lively discussion of all things ‘licensing’ and make sure you send in your question(s) to be answered.  There is still time.

Here is a link to register for tomorrow’s live event. The morning before the event you will receive the Dial-in Number and Access Code to join the class, so watch for it in your email.  I look forward to answering as many questions as possible in the hour, and as always, the Ask J’net Q&A is FREE for everyone who registers.  Don’t let your questions go unanswered!

top 10 imageIn the meantime, think about how you can steer clear of these: Top 10 Mistakes Every Art Licensor Should Avoid

  1. Not Understanding the Licensing Industry – anytime you even consider opening a business you need to understand its related industry. Knowing your market and marketplace is vital to running and growing your business.
  2. Not Knowing that Your Web Site is One of Your Most Important Marketing Tools (and Treating it Like One) – Overlooking the importance of your web site is a critical mistake you want to avoid. Your website is your 24/7 sales hub, and unless you know how to convert web visitors into buyers, you should find a professional to design your site.
  3. Not Realizing that Mock-Ups are Critical to Your Success - Manufacturers have a lot of choices for art, characters, brands and properties these days. So what used to be a bonus move on your part, is now the expected form of presentation. You really need to go the extra step to help manufacturers envision your creativity on their product types and, if possible, their exact products.  In today’s competitive world, being a product designer is critical to your success.
  4. Not Getting Good Advice – You will come to many forks on the road to success, with critical decisions to be made.  Decisions can be made through guesswork and intuition, but also getting good advice at the right time WILL save you time and money along the way. Early on, you need to identify who you can go to for various types of and levels of advice.
  5. Not Knowing Who Your Audience is – I find over and over again that coming into the licensing arena artists are very confused about who they should be targeting.  If you don’t know who your target audience is for business-to-business efforts, not to mention your consumer reach, you are throwing your efforts away.
  6. Not Spending Time Selling – If you know who your audience(s) is, but you refuse to spend time selling to them, then your business will not be successful. Frankly, many artists are looking for help with agents and other professionals, so they can spend more time ‘being creative.’ And while I agree with this, you can’t spend ALL of your time on the creative aspect of your business.  It’s still a business, and you need to spend time ‘selling’ to get an agent and then to support and manage them.
  7. Forgetting That It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint– Many lists of ‘mistakes to avoid’ contain this axiom, but that’s because IT’S JUST SOOOOO TRUE! If you are in it for the long haul to achieve maximum results, then decide how to pace yourself.
  8. Not Knowing That Timing (and Luck) Matters– Sometimes you have to recognize that the right idea at the wrong time, just won’t fly.
  9. Not Building Relationships– All-in-all, licensing is a relationship business. Make sure you are doing everything you can to build and maintain relationships. Licensees, those manufacturers, sponsors and retailers, are your business partners, just like your agent. So time invested in the relationships is critical to your business growth.
  10. Not Trusting the Team You Have Chosen – If you’re hiring people to help you, trust their advice. You chose them for a reason, I hope, so take advantage of their expertise. Look for someone with a good track record in the industry who understands the market. Then let them do what you’ve hired them to do, otherwise, what’s the point?

Now the Real Work Begins as Exhibitors Head Home to Follow-Up on Leads

19 06 2014

In our last ‘during-the-show’ post, I am sharing news from some very excited Exhibitors. I look forward to hearing about all the deals that get closed.

Silverfish Press
The art of painter Stanley Meltzoff catches a wave of licensing success with high quality product that is appropriate to the brand. Meltzoff’s images of fish and fishing lend itself perfectly to certain categories. Mike Rivkin, president of Silverfish said, “We have cutting boards, calendars and puzzles already signed. We’ve had interest for commercial floor mats, sunglasses, and different storage boxes, possibly tackle boxes. It’s been a pretty good show.”

Mike Rivkin of Silverfish Press

Mike Rivkin of Silverfish Press

Ileana Grimm’s designs continue to be clever and original. Taking everyday themes and giving them a twist of “Grimm” humor, coupled with minimalist strong line, bold color characters, Grimm sparks laughter in quick quips in her designs. Her character Pearl, an outspoken woman, is a cornerstone property that is licensed through King Features, has had interest from many categories of potential licensees including new greeting cards. Meanwhile some of the other Grimm characters, such as the new cranky black cat named Zoe, have seen categories of interest for mobil stickers and publishing deals, as well as international licensing representation in France, Ecuador and other parts of South America.

Ileana Grimm and Pearl

Ileana Grimm and Pearl

An Emphasis on Connecting With New Target Audiences and Diverse Properties is Seen at this Year’s Licensing Expo

19 06 2014

Here we are on day three of the Licensing Expo. There is still so much to talk about. Let me share the experience of another attendee who is walking the show for the first time, Dean Bernal.

Rosenthal Represents
A big draw for art licensing agent, Rosenthal Represents, has been a new giftline from artist Debby Carman. Going by the tagline “gift products celebrating lives transformed through recovery”, Elise Rosenthal says, “It’s designed for anyone, and their friends and families, who have had a connection with battling addiction, gone through rehabilitation programs, or is in recovery of any kind from illness or substance abuse.” Carman’s recovery line is added to her other emotional cause line, unFurrGetable, designs for products for pet bereavement. Several of Rosenthal’s artists, particularly Lizelle Phillips and Charmbiance, have received attention for dinnerware, jigsaw puzzles, seasonal flags, fabric, giftbags rugs and floormats.

Elise Rosenthal of Rosenthal Represents

Elise Rosenthal of Rosenthal Represents

B.B. McBee 

Creating a buzz at the Licensing Show is newcomer, B.B. McBee. Three years in development, the cute bee character in his bomber jacket, was flying high in seeing licensing interest for use of the character on common household medical supplies, as well as children’s book publishing. Randi Storm, said, “We’ll exhibit again next year because we’ve made a lot of good contacts.”

Randi Storm of BB McBee

Randi Storm of BB McBee

Art Branding Insights and More From Licensing Expo

18 06 2014

And to round out today’s experience at the Licensing Expo, I am bringing you some details from two agencies that specialize in art licensing, including the interview below with Pam Goldwasser. If you want to learn more about big art licensing brands and dollars, make sure you don’t miss listening to this interview.

The Buffalo Works
Representing several artists, Buffalo Works is one of the busiest booths in the art+design zone. According to Pam Goldwasser, of The Buffalo Works, “We’ve had a lot of interest for the art of Jim Shore, DiPaolo and Robin Davis.” Categories for licensees have included home décor, such as pillows and wall art, as well as housewares, traditional giftware and stationery. The products, featuring the art from The Buffalo Works artists’, are sold across all channels of distribution from high-end, exclusive stores, to specialty and mass market retail outlets.

Totemic Universal
“This year’s show is evidence of what Totemic is all about. We’ve been approached by licensees for our artists who have retail connections for niche, boutique-like products only. They want anything that other places can’t or won’t offer,” Juaquim Burch said. Recently acquiring the Tony Curtis brand, Totemic will use its long-range brand building to educate and communicate the full story of the legendary star and his exceptional art as they begin the licensing process for the brand. In addition to the Tony Curtis line, highly visible offerings from Totemic are the work of Develter, specifically his Chin collection, as well as Utopic Joe, and its core art brand for Laurel Burch, which have all been approached for international representation.

More Updates from Our Art+Design Exhibitors at Licensing Expo

18 06 2014

With a combination of cool typography, empowering quotes and timeless, colorful doodle art, GirlNation wants to take over LicensingNation.
Co-President Vicki De Roeck, said, “The categories are limitless with the right partners. GirlNation can really be found in every department in a department store because it’s an overall lifestyle brand. At the show, we’ve had a lot of interest in room decor, specifically girl’s bedroom rugs, name boards and wall art, as well as scrapbooking storage and accessory products.” As far as the overall experience at Licensing Expo, Co-President, Deb Dittmer praised, “We never expected the assistance and helpful information we’ve received from our neighboring booths and other exhibitors. Everyone at Licensing Expo seems so willing and authentic to help us succeed.”

Here’s a bit more from GirlNation:

Pop the Balloon™
While his creation might look like it belongs in Vegas at Circus Circus, not Manadalay Bay, the site of this year’s International Licensing Expo, Carlos Neville and his new Pop the Balloon™ property is definitely in the right place. Neville, a former circus performer with a formal education from the School of Visual Arts in New York, took his talents and blew up a story about a red boy balloon and his dog, Helium. Pop bursts onto the scene in his debut at the Licensing Expo. “I thought Pop would start out with stationery and publishing, but I’m pleased with all of the interest in the toy and premium promotional item categories,” Neville said.

Pop the Balloon

Pop the Balloon

Scott Christensen Seascapes

The seascape paintings of Scott Christensen arrive all the way from Australia looking to license a natural flow of categories such as beach towels, bath mats and shower curtains. Knowing that his seascapes sell well in galleries and as acrylic reprints, Christensen has chosen 50 of his seascapes that lend themselves well to a host of licensed categories. Christensen explained, “Since I’m in Australia, I’m looking for a U.S. licensing agent at this show and I’m showing examples of how the art looks on products such as towels, surfboards, beach tents, and other items. I’d like to have an agent represent the seascapes to these products, as well as see their vision to take the designs to other product categories as well.”

Scott Christensen

Scott Christensen

Ellen Crimi-Trent
She has gone to the dogs. In one of the more unique license extensions we’ve seen in the art+design zone, Ellen Crimi-Trent’s art designs have gone beyond her agreements for traditional items such as aprons and stationery, and have entered the pet products arena. An agreement with Yellow Dog Designs has put Ellen’s designs on dog collars and horse harnesses. “They keep selling out. Pet owners are buying them fast. It’s amazing,” Crimi-Trent said. For her Schoolies™, an educational brand with lovable new characters, Crimi-Trent has added the assistance of Knockout Licensing for representation. Already with agreements for publishing, at this year’s show Schoolies expects to meet with toy companies to choose a master toy licensee as well as pursue international licensing representation.

Ellen Crimi-Trent

A World of Manufacturers and Potential Licensing Deals

18 06 2014

It’s day two of Licensing Expo and we’re hearing a lot of great stories from individual exhibitors and attendees about the show.  Today I’m sharing the types of leads that some of the exhibitors are getting because I think everyone would be interested to hear about the diversity of manufacturers that are attending the show.

Bren Bataclan
A debut booth for Bren Bataclan features his paintings of close-up children’s characters. While Bataclan’s ultimate contact at Licensing Expo would be a computer animated series development, he has been approached by some very interesting prospects.
“Two different U.S. licensing agents came by, and I had some possible licensees for luggage, cakes, beverages and healthy snacks, which are all exciting, but maybe the most interesting contact was for a children’s skin care product line. Kind of like Clinique for kids. I’d never thought of that category before. I like that idea,” Bataclan said.

Bren Bataclan

Bren Bataclan

Tacky People -
Donna Meistrich and Terry Blumberg’s Tacky People company in the Art+Design Zone at Licensing Expo is a fun and refreshing expression of unity and diversity. Today they are on a mission to bring gigantic smiles to more faces with their line of fun and wacky Tacky People. Based on reactions from friends and product sales, Meistrich and Blumberg decided to exhibit this year at the Licensing Expo and share their collection of more than 50 images and sayings, plus characters ready to develop for animation and publishing. “The most interest in our property has been from cartoon animation companies,” Meistrich explained. “Also pin and magnet manufacturers, as well as a cruise ship merchandising company, which all are a perfect fit.

Donna and Terry greet those interested in 'Tacky People'

Donna and Terry greet those interested in ‘Tacky People’

Donna Meistrich and Terry Blumberg license 'Tacky People'

Donna Meistrich and Terry Blumberg license ‘Tacky People’

Storaro Collection -
In the early 80’s, 3-time Oscar winner for cinematography (Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor) Vittorio Storaro, developed his double impression film technique. Extending into licensing, Storaro’s collection of famous architecture with related statue image doubles into distinctive licensed pieces.
“We’ve gotten leads for  luggage and aprons. These are perfect contacts we’ve made at this show, and we are very impressed with the interest we’ve received in the apparel category, including  women’s leggings. That is a terrific extension for our brand,” Alan Alberoni said.

Giovanni Storaro pictured here in front of his father's portrait.

Giovanni Storaro pictured here in front of his father’s portrait.

And here’s a little bit of news about our attendee ‘matchmaking’ service at the Art + Design Resource Center.


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