Get the (Licensing Expo) Meeting You Only Dreamed Possible

15 06 2016

LE16- Website Header- Logo and dates-01-01If you haven’t already heard the great news, the Licensing Expo has created a free digital Matchmaking Service for the benefit of their attendees and exhibitors. Through this system, the user can effectively and efficiently find and schedule the right meetings with the right people. This new service streamlines the entire Licensing Expo process and greatly increasing the opportunities for success.

Here’s what you really need to know to make the most of the Matchmaking Service. For attendees and exhibitors of Licensing Expo, who have registered and received their email confirmation, you will need to click on the link to access the service and set up your brief Matchmaking profile. It is extremely easy and simple to do.

Here’s where it gets pretty exciting. Exhibitors may request meetings online with both exhibitors AND attendees. This is groundbreaking. Also, attendees may request meetings with any of the exhibitors (but not with other attendees).

That’s the general idea of how the Matchmaking Service works and is structured on the home page.  Now here are some tips, which, if followed, will make the system work better for you.

1. Profiles should only include what and who you are looking for.
When completing the Profile section titled ‘My Interests’ you will want to only check off the categories listed which apply to your business, or as Licensing Expo puts it: “those types of companies (which) you are interested in securing new partners.” For example, if you are a publisher looking for new characters, just check-mark ‘characters.’ If you also checked off ‘publisher,’ then the system will send you all the publishers and characters, including your own competition, and it’s up to you to filter them out one-by-one. You can avoid having to do this by only checking off the categories you are looking for and by not including your primary business category.

2. Be specific and don’t check all the boxes.
I see people in the system who have checked every business category under ‘My Interests,’ which indicates the desire to secure partners in ALL product areas. While this may be true, I believe this will get more rejections, especially from those in the highest level and decision-making positions. Those who are approving appointments and reviewing your profile will really appreciate a more detailed description of ‘what you do’ and specifically ‘what you are looking for.’ So I recommend you be selective and DON’T check all the boxes, and DO get as specific as possible in your profile description.

3. Do your research.
Get into Matchmaking database and spend time carefully looking at whom you wish to request a meeting. Several of my clients are already getting appointment requests, but there are some individuals who are sending out requests that, frankly, for various reasons, don’t make sense. I suggest that when making or responding to a request, thoroughly research their website, as well as read their profile to make sure it’s a good fit BEFORE you make or accept a request.

4. Write a note.
Take the time to explain why you would like a meeting and why it could be important to them.  This will probably be the most influential factor in getting an appointment with someone you don’t yet know. If you have properly filled out your profile with all the important details and specifics, I am sure that it will help immensely. However, I still recommend writing a personal note.

5. Take rejection like a pro.
Remember it takes 10 to find one. Don’t be hurt if they don’t approve the appointment. And certainly, don’t take anything personally. The proper response to rejection is NEXT.

6. Keep your schedule online.
Make sure you put your complete schedule into the Matchmaking Service, so it will be able to accurately schedule your appointment times without any conflict.  If you don’t do this, then when you are attending classes, have booth duty or are busy with other appointments, the system might double book you.

7. Schedule more appointments at the show.
As I mentioned, the closer we get to the show the more people will be online getting serious about their schedules and actively making appointments. It’s a numbers game, so save some of your requests to schedule appointments right before, or even while you are at the show. I suggest that during the show, you constantly use the database to re-request appointments and fill in your schedule. Look for people who have registered at the last-minute, who may be incredibly important to you, yet may have fewer appointments. There is sponsored free Wi-Fi at Licensing Expo and it has been pretty good the last few years, so you shouldn’t have any problem.

I hope everyone will get on the Matchmaking Service and give it a try. It’s really a great opportunity to reach out in a targeted way to get the appointments you need that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Remember, there Matchmaking Services are at booth #A85 and there is space available for holding meetings. Have a great show…and I hope you meet your match!

Note: This blog ran simultaneously today on the Licensing Expo Blog.





Eight Strategies for Effective Licensing Sales Lead Follow Through

1 06 2016

Picture1For the licensing industry, the spring and summer trade show season is where many artists and creators hope to find their big breaks. It is an exciting time of year for property owners and businesses looking to make connections within the industry. Right now, many will attend and exhibit at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, the largest licensing trade show in the world. Here, the entire industry revolves around sales and strategic partnerships, which will be developed between the creators and brand managers with manufacturers, retailers, advertisers, the media and other producers and distributors from around the world. Billions of dollars are spent and made.

Everyone is trying to attract the attention of attendees and exhibitors, and vice versa. With such a tremendous visual barrage constantly battling for attention on the trade show floor and surrounding the entire event, it is can be very easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the original purpose for being there—getting great leads.

Keep in mind that the time, money and effort that has been put into either attending or exhibiting at the show will be completely wasted unless you are properly organized and follow through with the leads generated. Be aware – internet research suggests that between 50 and 80 percent of all sales leads are never followed up on. This is the most common and expensive mistake a businessperson can make.

I recommend following just a few simple and effective planning methods to prepare for the next industry trade show, which will keep communication flowing, maximize follow-through and follow-up and prevent this costly error.

1. Treat everyone with interest and respect. A lead is someone who is ready and willing to engage in a conversation. Either they are someone that you could do business with directly, or they might be able to introduce you to someone who can. Some contacts will become leads, some leads will become prospects, and some prospects will then become clients. You never know who you are talking to or what’s going to happen, so make sure you treat every lead as if they were your client.

2. Keep your ego out of the way! This is as true in business as it is in everyday life, and there has never been a better time to follow the theory of “less is more.” Letting someone else talk and share their news and information is always the best way to gather data and allow relationships to grow. Being prepared to listen and ask lots of questions is the best way to get them talking and interested in you.

3. Everyone is different. Always try to look at your prospect from their perspective. What is it he or she needs? As you are listening, try to read between the lines. Pay attention to his or her, tone, level of interest and body language. And try not to get overconfident or self-conscious. Remember: You have hundreds of potential leads to talk with. If they are interested, great; if they are not, politely move on.

4. Collect the who, what, when, where, and why. Whether at the show or after you return to your business, you need to gather as much specific information as you can to keep the conversation moving forward from lead to prospect to deal. The five Ws, as they are referred to in journalism, are a time-tested, focused and valuable method for collecting the facts. I strongly suggest you use this technique. It is easy to remember and it provides you with a practical and profitable way to organize your thoughts and business, as you progress with each encounter, meeting and follow through during and after the show.Picture2

5. Organize and prioritize your leads. Don’t wait until you get home to designate and separate your hot, warm and cold leads; it is too easy to forget the details. Writing on business cards works, but attaching them to larger cards or in a notebook gives you more room for writing. Taking thorough notes during the conversation and after each encounter assures that you won’t miss a beat when it comes to that all-important follow-through.

6. Always follow-up within 48-hours. While many trade show attendees and exhibitors do not follow-up at all, the remainder often follow-up in a less than timely fashion. In general, research shows that responding within 48 hours of a prospect contacting you, dramatically increases your closing rate. If you have so many leads that you cannot contact them all within two days, then you should at least reach out to as many as possible within the week. Remember: This is the culmination of all your efforts. You must do this or nothing will happen.

7. Personalize your follow-up communication. Always personalize your communication, as much as possible, but it’s most important with your ‘hot’ leads. This is where your customized presentation pays off the most. Make sure you send your prospects exactly what they requested and what you promised.
Turning a “no” into a referral. There is no doubt that you are going to receive your fair share of no’s at any trade event. Accept it. Don’t worry about it. Here’s how to use it to your advantage. Ask those who do like your art, brand, character or property, who else they would recommend you speak with. This means that even if you can’t do business with someone who admires your business, they might very well refer you to someone who can, if you ask.

8. Think of ways to keep in touch. Whether through emails, phone calls, a newsletter, or other systems, develop a plan to continue to communicate with your prospects on a regular basis, hopefully moving them from leads to clients.

Deals rarely close after one meeting, phone call or trade show encounter. It takes continuous effort and persistence to shift each communication to the next level. Property owners, businesses and artists must remember to keep following up until a deal is secured. Once that’s done, you must make sure to continue asking questions of your clients, and listening to the answers, to promote a long and healthy business relationship. Many people don’t want to “bother” their leads too much, but it’s important to remember that is why everyone is here. Continue to follow-up and be pleasantly persistent.

Note: This article was written for and originally published by ‘The Licensing Book,” Summer 2015. With constant inquiries about how to organize your sales and trade show efforts, I know this article will be appreciated again.





Six Tips for Creating a Trade Show Ready Portfolio

11 05 2016

Portfolio development and trade show planning is one of the most asked about topics in my business. Understanding how to trade show test one’s portfolio is important for artists and designers to know if their portfolio has what it takes to cut through the clutter.

Kitty Ice Cream by Joan Marie

Kitty Ice Cream by Joan Marie

There are many types of portfolios—enough to mirror the creative minds we have in this amazing licensing industry. And while everyone’s work is unique, putting together a compelling portfolio presentation to grab attention while distracted prospects are running the gamut of brain aerobics required at trade shows, is certainly a challenge.

Here are some solid techniques to maximize the effectiveness of your portfolios while attending trade shows:
1) Portfolio Size
The size of your portfolio for a show will depend greatly on how long you have been in the art licensing business, and whether the artist is participating as an exhibitor or attendee. An artist who has been in the business for 10 years with a consistent art style—who might add 5 to 10 collections a year—will probably have 100 or more collections to choose from.
Manufacturers want to see a body of work, enough to keep them interested and know the artist is committed to the business. If artists are exhibiting at a major trade event, then think in terms of presenting 20 to 30 collections in a variety of themes and developing a system to access most of any viable work. If you are walking a show, keep it light and bring your newest items and a few solid collections which you want to exploit further.

2) Portfolio Organization
Artists must make sure to organize their portfolios for a trade event by theme, since that is how manufacturers buy collections. They seek out art to fit their product line needs for everyday (including seasonal-fall, winter, spring, and summer), holidays (Christmas, Halloween, Valentines, and Easter), occasions (Birthday, Graduation, and Baby Shower) and niche themes/lifestyles (cooking, flowers, spa, sports, country chic, lodge, beach). Organizing collections in other ways will just make it more difficult for the manufacturer and is likely to frustrate them and turn them off.

3) Portfolio Review
Licensees want to see what artists have that’s new. So while an art style may interest them, new art keeps them coming back to ‘see what you’ve got.’
Creating new art for key trade shows is vital, as is sharing new collections throughout the year. Think about how many collections you will create (approximately) for the year, and plan out the releases based on trade shows you will attend. Artists should launch new collections at trade shows and plan on having other new releases following major events to keep the conversations going with potential.

4) Portfolio Flow
Portfolios should ebb and flow. Artists should add new items and take out old items regularly—that’s the way to keep it fresh! Also, they should make sure to keep their newest art at the beginning of the themed sections in their portfolio.
Artists can absolutely continue to use images and collections that were shown last year, or even from years before. However, take out designs that no longer fit the artist’s style, or are no longer ‘in style’ or ‘on trend.’ Think realistically about how long the art will be relevant in the marketplace, and, therefore, to manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If artists are trend driven, it may be one to three years. If artists are very traditional in their themes and style, then eight to 10 years would not be an unusual length of time to keep some art in their portfolios.

5) Portfolios Technology
If an artist has a booth at an upcoming show, it’s best to have duplicate copies of your portfolio for multiple viewers. In addition, make sure there are hard copies and digital versions available. It is important to put the portfolio in a tablet, phone or computer which does not require the Internet to access the images. The last thing artists want is to be dependent on the Wi-Fi in a large convention hall, hotel or conference center with spotty reception. Keep images at an appropriately high resolution for how they will be shown: 300 dpi for print portfolios and look books, and 72 dpi for electronic images.
Use touch-screen computers or tablets to make it easy for anyone to glance through a portfolio at his or her own pace (without having to learn your technology). Keep it simple. I don’t recommend attending a meeting with so much high-tech equipment and business paraphernalia—artist’s phone, tablet, computer, briefcase, and hardcopy portfolio—that they are utterly incapacitated by trying to juggle them all. Think light; think efficient (less is more).

6) Website Portfolios
While physical trade show portfolios are important, just because artists are exhibiting in a booth or attending a show, doesn’t mean that someone an artist meets with won’t quickly check-out the artist’s website. In fact, isn’t that what every artist is hoping for?
For this and many other reasons, it is important that an artist’s website be up-to-date before he or she attend a trade show. The online portfolio should include enough of the art to show a breadth of themes and the depth of an artist’s capabilities. But I don’t recommend that artists show your entire portfolio. It’s not wise or necessary to have every collection out on your site. Of course, artists should take as many precautions as possible by using a watermark on the art and copyright on each piece and/or collection. Some artists do prefer a password-protected portfolio area, especially if they have extensive work to keep organized.

Reprise: My article was written for and originally published by ‘The Licensing Book,” Spring 2015. I am happy to share it again after so many requests for information about portfolio development.  And my sincere thanks to Joan Marie for allowing me to share some of her amazing art images.





Manufacturer Interview: Phil Cowley, CMO of Design Design Inc.

6 04 2016

Hi everyone, I appreciate your patience and support while I recovered from my hip replacement surgery. It feels so amazing to be back at my desk with renewed energy, a new perspective and motivation for moving life and business forward. Thanks to all of you who sent your well-wishes while I was recuperating!

www.designdesign.us

As most of you know, I believe strongly in building great, positive relationships. We find in art and character licensing, the 80/20 rule is just as true as it is in all the other industries. Specifically, this means that 80 percent of your revenue comes from only 20 percent of your clients. So in practical terms, to actually grow your revenue, you need to connect with as many people as possible. This means attending trade shows, talking to other artists, getting on the phone, asking those in-the-know for advice and finding industry events where you will meet the manufacturers and the decision-makers who will become the cornerstone of your licensing business.

The more you learn about what manufacturers want and are looking for, from the manufacturers themselves, the better you will be able to provide the appropriate art, in the proper format, to catch their eye and close your deal.

Not all manufacturers are willing to share this information. Fortunately there are some who will, such as Design Design’s Chief Marketing Officer,  Phil Cowley. I have worked with Phil on many occasions and he is such a wealth of information. In our interview, he shares intriguing insights about how manufacturers work, and specifically how Design Design works with artists.

Below I’ve listed just a few of the topics that are covered in this interview. I admit up-front, that the 30-minute length, is much longer than your average web interview. But I just couldn’t edit out any of the details. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and you’ll learn something, I’m sure. And thank you Phil for your time and so much valuable information!

  • What are the color and design trends for 2016?
  • What are the three most influential industries, when it comes to paper product designs
  • What is Design Design’s inside out approach to the marketplace?
  • What are their six key product categories?
  • What percentage of their product line is new each year?
  • How much art do they license?
  • How many artists do they work with?
  • How often does Design Design release new product?
  • What is the hardest greeting card (and other products…) category to fill?
  • Who are their primary retailer channels of distribution?
  • What exactly do they want from artists?

Final note: There are some audio issues on this interview due to internet fluctuations. We apologize in advance for making you have to listen extra-hard in a few places. This interview was taped in November 2016. The delay in publishing was due to my surgery. On all accounts, thanks for your understanding!

If you are interested in sending your portfolio of art to Design Design, Phil asks that you go to their Artists Inquiry page and download their Artist Guidelines for Artwork Submissions, which I’ve also linked to here for you. Please read this important information and then you can send your relevant artwork to their Senior Director of Creative, Tom Vituj at tom.vituj@designdesign.us

 

 

 





Fall is Here; Time to Prepare for New Growth

17 09 2015

Fall is a profound time of year for me.  While the leaves of the trees are dying, in reality I know that it is simply preparing itself for renewal. I find the falling leaves a comforting and productive movement.  It feels right to clean out the cobwebs and clutter of our lives and thoughts and shed the old as we get ready for growth.

So I went on the internet to look for quotes which express this inherent inspiration.  What I found was a Japanese proverb, not exactly related to autumn, but inspiring, nonetheless. The proverb is: fall_down_seven-95425

So, if it feels like fall is here and you are ready for something new, but aren’t quite sure where to find it, I collected and put together these guiding principles to help you with your endeavors. These will guarantee you make the most of September through November, traditionally a very productive time period, before enjoying the holidays.  I strongly recommend you take advantage of this advice, or before you know it, Christmas and then the New Year will be here (…I mean didn’t summer just fly by? And here it is mid-September already).

Take just a few minutes and review these tips and then answer each ‘biz question,’ as honestly as possible and apply the principles directly to your business.  I am quite sure many or all of them will hit a nerve and create a new connection.

  1. Attitude is everything. – Your frame of mind affects every action (and inaction). Don’t let you’re your moods control your life, or you will be overtaken by the current and forced down stream to a destination you never intended. Only your inner force and self-determination can keep you on track and get you to your ultimate goals.
    Biz question: Is there anything I need to change about my attitude, perspective or life to improve my business? If so, what?
  1. Stay focused on your goals. – It takes belief and a strong desire to concentrate on the changes necessary to achieve success. If your goals are clear, then it is easier to stay focused.  So begin by clarifying your goals before you get so frustrated you can’t or won’t take action.  If you are unsure of the process, or the next steps required, then seek the advice you need.
    Biz question: Do you have clear and measurable goals for your business and specifically for this fall time frame?
  1. Spend time wisely. – Time, unlike money, is something that you can’t get back. So every day you want to be as fully present as possible in each task you do, as well as choose those activities with care. Make sure your time and efforts are contributing to the wonderful aspects of your life, relationships and business endeavors.  The worst thing you can do is to spend your time on auto-pilot.  There is very little joy (or productivity, for that matter) in it.
    Biz question: How can I spend my time right now to get the best results for my business, both now and in the future?
  1. Be open-minded. – You never know where the next inspiration, great idea or deal will come from. To be open-minded you need to find ways to stay mindful and aware. Take the time to explore new activities and people and be open to new influences and experiences. A closed mind, frankly, has nowhere to go.
    Biz question: Are you open-minded to the fact that you might not know where the next awesome idea, opportunity or contribution to your business may come from?Picture2
  1. Pick a path. – There are many pathways leading to your ultimate goals. But to get anywhere you need to pick one and stick with it long enough to get there.  Then along that path, there will be many obstacles of varying degrees and nature which require decisions.  One time you may feel that breaking that obstacle down, bit-by-bit, is the right answer.  In another case, going around it works fine.  And sometimes you even have to find a new path. My father used to jokingly say, “You can’t get there from here, you have to start someplace else.”  And often that’s true. If the path dead ends or goes off course, then you MUST find a new way to achieve your goals.
    Biz question: What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?  Can you identify the top five reasons in priority order?
  1. Read between the lines. – Whether you are enjoying this blog, having coffee with friends or meeting with business professionals, reading between the lines is an imperative skill. Always go deeper than the surface. What do you need to learn, know or understand about what’s happening to get the most from the experience? Everything is happening for a reason and seeking the essence and purpose of the moment may be exactly what you should be doing to find the wisdom you need.
    Biz question: Can you look beyond the obvious tasks throughout your day and find the non-apparent insights that provide guidance for your business?
  1. Never lose hope. – Hope is the energy that drives all ambition and motivation. It is an essential element in all our endeavors and losing hope is like losing your engine. You must constantly be on guard against the negative emotions that deplete hope and eventually will prevent you from succeeding. No matter what the challenge; don’t  give up.
    Biz question: Can you identify your hope and how it powers your progress in business?  If hope is waning, what can you do to refuel?
  1. Create awesome habits. – What you do today and every day will become the habits of tomorrow. It’s important to choose actions that create the right habits. Discipline yourself to create the specific habits that you need to grow.
    Biz question: What business habits would you like to create or improve upon that will help achieve your goals? (You might want to read or revisit my blog titled: “An Art Licensor’s Continuing Education” to help you think about the wide variety of topics and skills needed to build a licensing business.)




An Interview with Jim Davis, Creator of Garfield

19 06 2015
(c) PAWS, INC.

(c) PAWS, INC.

Jim Davis stopped by The Art+Design Resource Center at Licensing Expo last week and he granted us, what turned out to be a very heartwarming interview. I also learned that today, June 19th is Garfield’s 37th Anniversary. So Happy Birthday Garfield! I love how cartoon characters age so gracefully!

I asked Jim specifically about he regained control of his intellectual property rights, which were earlier owned by UFS (United Feature Syndicate) and what’s in-store for the future with Garfield. (In advance, please excuse the naturally loud background noise on this video, which was difficult to avoid and edit out at Licensing Expo.)





FREE Ask J’net Q&A Tomorrow; Plus Sales & Trade Show Follow Through Techniques Course

15 06 2015

LE Banner crop versionI used the term whirlwind in yesterday’s blog, referring to the feeling of attending and coming home from the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.  But now it doesn’t even seem to capture the essence of all the leads, ideas, contacts and knowledge to be learned and shared from a week at the show.  So I am going to change my reference and just call it what it is: a wonderful ‘tornado’ of opportunity!

If you are experiencing the same overwhelming feeling from looking at your notes and leads, combined with the pressure of having to follow-up intelligently on everything, then take a break and listen to the Ask J’net Q&A tomorrow.  This one-hour, live phone event is dedicated to questions about ‘After the Trade Show…’  There is still time to register and get your questions in the mix, so register now and put your question at the bottom of the form.

I think you will find the Ask J’net Q&A really helpful, whether you are sorting and making decisions about how to follow-up with each and every person you met at the Licensing Expo, or whether you walked the show floor or are just thinking about attending Licensing Expo next year and are wondering what to expect.  Both of my classes this week will help you with these processes.

Ask J’net Q&A TOMORROW

Again, my FREE Ask J’net Q&A will focus on ‘After the Trade Show Questions.’  Feel free to ask about:

  • things you saw at the Licensing Expo;
  • trade show events or etiquette that perhaps didn’t make sense to you as a first-timer;
  • things which still confuse you;
  • how to evaluate opportunities
  • how to close deals
  • and how to make the most of your time there through your strategic follow-up.

Ask any questions important to you right now and put them on your registration form. This Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for  -TOMORROW- Tuesday, June 16th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT (you will receive your Classroom Access Information at least one-hour before the class). Register Here.

Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques THIS THURSDAYIMG_0630

You won’t want to miss Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques. on Thursday, June 18th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT. This live phone event will be 1.5 hours and the cost is $75. After your purchase, you can attend live or after the event you will receive … an audio (MP3) file, 60+ page PowerPoint presentation (PDF format) and video link to watch the entire class at your convenience. We know everyone has a different way of learning, so we offer more ways to learn than other training events in the licensing industry.

This class has 3 parts which cover the:

  1. Organization of your follow-up, how exactly to
  2. Follow Through carefully and accurately on your leads and
  3. Sales Techniques that will close the deal and grow your business.

You may place your questions on the registration form, and they will be answered during the live event.

The training will focus on the characteristics of licensing sales, which you won’t find in a traditional sales class. You will receive your Classroom Access information the evening before the class, June 17th, via email. Register Here.

Keep asking great questions and you’ll receive the answers, that’s for sure!








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