Musings on Getting From Here to There
Art Licensing: The Road Slowly Travelled!
Yes! We are very excited that our Halloween figurines finally reached the retail markets this month and can now be seen in stores and shop windows throughout the US. Yes, you can even see them on our driveway where the candy witches will sit with a bowl of candy on her lap because our front sidewalk will be torn up this week and our wee friends can’t even get to our porch! Yes, we are gratified that money is starting to come in!
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Categories : Business Development & Management, Manufacturers, Planning, Product Development
I often get asked about Print on Demand (POD) products, and whether or not this is a good idea, or if it undermines one’s ability to license products to traditional manufacturers.
Making products available for sale on your web site is very appealing. And certainly the companies who offer POD are growing, and offering more types of products and better quality, than when this new era began.
Print on demand is basically, one-off printing, giving you the ability to buy one mug, one t-shirt or one tote bag with one of your designs on it. And let’s face it, it’s exciting to finally see your art, characters or designs on product. But this is not licensing and it’s not necessarily the way to grow your business.
I don’t think that utilizing POD in the early stages of your business is such a bad idea, but let me point out some POD catches that you might not have considered:
- If you want to manufacture your own product, rather than licensing it, POD is not the way to do it. POD products are really the most expensive way to purchase products, since you don’t get any volume discounts when you produce them one at a time. If you want to be a retailer, then you need to get serious about finding manufacturing vendors, warehousing your products, getting sales reps, etc.
- If you use POD to create mock ups for your web site or trade show booth, then potential licensing manufacturers may see those products and think you have already licensed those product categories. It may actually turn them off, rather than increase your appeal.
- If you sell products on your web site, be prepared to tell manufacturers about your sales results. Clearly manufacturers who want to license an artist would love to have some sales statistics to guide them in their decision. When a potential licensee sees that you have been selling product on your web site, they may very well ask you how the sales are going. If you say you’ve been selling product online for years, or even a year, and then tell them you’ve had sales of 327 units, they won’t likely be impressed. The fact is that if you don’t actively market your products, to a wide market consistently, then no one but your relatives and friends will buy them. Remember that selling products requires more than just putting the up ‘available’ sign on your web site. Of course, if you do market your products and sell 1000′s and 10’s of thousands, then you have got an amazing story to tell and you can probably use that information as leverage to close a licensing deal with a similar manufacturer who would love to create the product for you.
- POD products are often not well designed. They are essentially blank promotional products, in which you have a limited and fixed amount of space to place your artistic image. They can be inflexible, to say the least. My point is that these products, no matter how stylishly you place your art on them, are unlikely to sell and will rarely convince a well-seasoned manufacturer that your art belongs on products. They also don’t help build your brand identity. You can do better by creating artistic and inventive product designs through mock-ups.
I think overall that an artist will rarely make a great deal of money for the effort that POD products take. And they CAN potentially inhibit or turn off manufacturers and may be something you will have to explain. So think carefully about why you have POD products on your web site, or why you are considering adding them. If your goal is to create products for yourself, friends and family, then go for it!
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Categories : Business Development & Management, Getting Started, Manufacturers, Planning, Product Development
As I make calls to manufacturers, I’ve been thinking about the many benefits of licensing, and specifically those for artists and manufacturers in the industry (who are commonly referred to as the licensor and licensee, respectively). I suggest that your understanding licensing benefits from the perspectives of the Licensor (Artist, Brand/Trademark Owner, Cartoonist, Designer, etc.), Licensee (Manufacturer, Retailer, etc.) and Agent (Representing the Licensor) is important when it comes to developing marketing plans, making sales calls, managing your trade show booth and negotiating contracts, to name a few instances.
Let’s start with the Licensee, since many of my readers are Licensors and might not have analyzed this subject from the manufacturer’s’ point-of-view.
For a Licensee, licensing can:
1. Generate incremental income from the sales of licensed products.
2. Create additional product lines by borrowing brand equity from various properties and artists.
3. Provide credibility to the manufacturer’s product line through the licensing of high profile brands and properties.
4. Expand awareness of all products in a manufacturer’s line and attract new customers.
5. Target more audiences through the use of different licenses.
6. Help build a competitive advantage when you have a variety of lines making up your product mix, and even offering exclusive properties (brands, artists, etc.) that your competition doesn’t have.
7. Develop more product lines without adding more expense or work load to the creative department.
8. Find HOT talent and trends.
9. Increase market share, which is the percentage of total sales volume in a specific product market (bedding, craft kits, tea towels, etc.) captured by one manufacturer or brand.
10. Create efficiency. Manufacturers with their own production facilities or factories gain efficiency, and more profit, when operating at an optimum level. Often manufacturers start off producing basic products and then add licensed properties so they can run their plant 24/7 and take advantage of economies of scale. Likewise, manufacturer/wholesalers gain purchasing power with suppliers by increasing quantities on production orders and building better relationships with their factories, thus obtaining lower prices and reducing their costs per unit.
11. Open new channels of distribution by offering product designs and styles which require different retail options, such as mass market, specialty stores, home shopping networks, catalogs, internet, dollar stores and deep discounters.
12. Increase a manufacturer’s retail shelf space with a broader, as well as stronger, product mix.
For a Licensor and their Agent, licensing can:
1. Generate revenue or an additional income stream based on the intellectual property (IP) rights (art, cartoon, designs, etc.) you own.
2. Leverage the equity you have built through your brand.
3. Enhance brand positioning through product design and messaging (website, advertising, catalogs, product, packaging).
4. Strategically grow the value of the brand via product (and artist’s) exposure and sales.
5. Generate product without an up-front investment.
6. Help find partners with important production expertise to create relevant brand extensions.
7. Help find partners with existing and well-targeted distribution channels.
8. Protect your intellectual property. When you register and use your trademark, such as through licensed product sales, you then have the right to use legal action in claims against fraudulent use.
9. Promote stronger relationships with existing customers and find new customers for your brand.
10. Build a competitive advantage though exclusive licensing opportunities.
Put this list on your wall or somewhere you can access it and review it over time. Perhaps when you are making a call to a potential manufacturer you can ask yourself, “Why do I want to license my art to them?” And more importantly, “Why would they want to license art from me?” Being able to understand the benefits of licensing to both the Licensor and Licensee is crucial to developing those answers.
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Categories : Business Development & Management, Getting Started, Licensing Agents, Manufacturers
Oh, there definitely was excitement in the air at the International Licensing Expo this year! From those exhibitors I spoke with, I heard there was a good flow of traffic and solid leads coming in. Many exhibitors, who I had just seen at the Surtex trade show, thought that the traffic was much better. By the end of the first day in Las Vegas, their leads exceeded those of Surtex. Other exhibitors, who had not attended Surtex and had no basis for comparison, also seemed pleased with the amount and quality of leads.
Of course, there are lots of variables at any trade show.
The diversity of properties exhibiting at the International Licensing Expo is wide and interesting. While the major players are there with huge fortress-like booths, there are fine artists, graphic designers, agents representing lots of artists, character properties at various levels of development and international properties we’ve never heard of. It’s such a great showcase for what’s up-n-coming!
Kudos to Advanstar for offering the ‘launching pad’ mini booths at the back of the trade show floor this year. Finally there is an affordable way for a creator to test the show and gain some exposure. These small booths went for under $2,000 and were perfect for 1 person or a very tight-two. I still always recommend going to the show before purchasing a booth. But now you can, well, launch your art licensing business without taking a loan out on your house-jewelry-dog—you fill in the valuable ‘noun.’
Another shout out to Advanstar for a new show floor plan, which improved the experience for buyers and exhibitors. Sections were organized with forethought and attention to traffic flow. The ‘art & design’ area wasn’t crammed in the back corner. In addition to, at least, feeling bigger, it was surrounded by the ‘agents & brands’ and ‘fashion’ areas, which made sense.
If you have an agent, they will undoubtedly have a presence for you in their booth at the show. However, there is a new growing trend with artists and properties having dual booths. One solo booth, so you can show a broad range of work, in addition to a second agent’s booth, where your property is one of many they represent. Two examples are Jim Benton, who always has his own booth, and at least one of his properties represented by Cop Corp. Also Ileana Grimm, who is represented by King Features, but has a rockin’ corner booth of her own to show off her extensive (and mind-bogglingly funny) lines of humor. This trend has grown out of the fact that there is simply not enough room in any agent’s booth to give an individual artist’s work, what I would consider, extensive coverage.
With the wide range of properties at Licensing Expo, you also get a much broader profile of manufacturers representing a full array of product categories, more international manufacturers and more ‘lookers’ (those just coming to see what it’s all about). Yes, there are more people and opportunities. But you definitely have to filter through all of them to get those ‘A’ level leads and cultivate those relationships. Here are just a few questions you should ask show-walkers, to filter out the ‘lookers’ from the real leads. (Tag this blog, so you can use these questions for your next trade show).
- What’s your company do? (What has it done that I would know/understand?)
- What are you looking for at the show?
- What are you interested in, or caught your eye (in my booth)?
- How can I help you?
- What exactly would you like me to send you? Do you need it immediately, or can I send it by _____. How does that sound?
Don’t be afraid to ask potential clients, whether you’re in a booth at a trade show or talking with someone on the phone, about time frames. If it’s vague, you have more time than with someone who tells you directly, ‘I will be making a final decision next week and heading into production.’
Once you determine exactly what the booth visitor has done, and can do with your property or art, then you can discuss sending them some low res samples.
This Friday you can ask me anything you want at the next Ask J’net Q&A…it’s FREE FRIDAY on June 28th from 9-10 am Pacific/12 noon-1 pm Eastern time. Please register as soon as possible to send your question(s), and I will also send you a copy of my ‘Trade Show Follow-Up Techniques’ class (full one-hour audio and 25-page PowerPoint Presentation through a download link) just for contributing. I will answer as many questions as possible during the hour and hope you can join me!
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Categories : Events, Licensing Agents, Manufacturers, Trade Shows, Trends
It’s still the trade show season for many in the licensing arena. For instance, I am heading to Las Vegas today for the International Licensing Expo.
You may be reading a lot on line about the shows, or perhaps you went to or exhibited at Surtex. Whatever the case, we all can use some help organizing, streamlining and staying excited about following-up with sales leads. Yes, sales leads.
To address these and other pressing questions, I will be holding another FREE FRIDAY Ask J’net Q&A class, where you send me any licensing or art licensing questions and I answer them in detail at no charge. The one-hour Ask J’net Q&A will be on Friday, June 28th at 9:00 a.m. Pacific and 12:00 noon Eastern times.
Maybe you have questions you want to ask about following-up with prospects, contracts, negotiating, pending deals that need insight or attention, trade show preparation, or a totally different subject. It doesn’t matter!
For everyone that registers and sends in a question for this Ask J’net Q&A, I’ll also send you a copy of my one-hour, ‘Trade Show Follow-Up Techniques’ class. When you sign-up online and send in your question, you will receive a link to download the complete audio file and PowerPoint for this class. No strings attached.
The ‘Trade Show Follow-Up Techniques’ is free to all that register AND send in their question. The course covers 11 techniques for following-up on all your sales leads, plus valuable personal check lists and future trade show check lists. It concludes with six important sales and marketing questions, plus one critical question – you must ask yourself and answer honestly – if you want to be in this business.
Just register on my website and put your question at the bottom of the registration form. Then you can listen in to the live call on Friday, June 28th when I will answer as many questions as possible (the Dial-In#/Access Code will be emailed to you the day before the event). Whether or not your question is answered, the information you receive will be worth your time. I always say: ‘It’s the questions you don’t know to ask that will get you!’
So REGISTER NOW and join me on June 28th to hear the answers to crucial questions, and ALWAYS, get more than you asked for!
Also, congrats to Wendy Arbeit, one of my clients who just got picked up by her top agent pick!
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Categories : Art Licensing Business, Events, Getting Started, Licensing Agents, Manufacturers, Planning, Resources, Uncategorized