Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Manufacturers

11 12 2009

Every month during my FREE FRIDAY Q&A and during nearly every consultation, I get asked how to find manufacturers. So today and Monday I am going to address two essential parts of finding manufacturers.

  • Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Manufacturers
  • Eight Resources for Generating Your Art Licensing Lead List

I’ll start by reminding you that it’s not just any manufacturer you are looking for: it’s your business partner. So let’s make sure we begin with some smart criteria, the ‘Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Manufacturers’ to help determine which ones to consider.

Look for manufacturers that:

  1. Do licensing on a regular basis – Don’t try to recreate the wheel. There are as many manufacturers that don’t do licensing, as do. You are looking for manufacturers who already are excited about the possibility of utilizing licensing to grow the depth and breadth of their business.
  2. Are accustomed to working with artists – There are many manufacturers who do licensing, but it is often with the larger properties only; those who have media exposure, mega brands and/or evergreen characters. They are often not interested in art licensing, and so be it. Again, it’s better to find those manufacturers who love and appreciate art and artists than try to move the whole company in a new direction.
  3. Share a similar style philosophy with your art – It can be obvious or subtle, so you need to look carefully at your prospect and evaluate where they are comfortable in the art world. If they are a traditional manufacturer, then your bold graphic take on the holidays is not likely to ring their bells.
  4. Don’t have an artist quite similar to you – I know we all like to think of our art as being totally unique. But in truth, manufacturers and consumers for that matter will place your art style in a category in their mind: bold and graphic, whimsical and silly, traditional, retro or modern. What you want is to find manufacturers in which you fit their overall style, but they don’t have someone just like you. This way you can fill a niche for them to help the manufacturer diversify their product lines. Or at least you won’t compete with their existing products mix.
  5. Are in the types of stores that fit your art, designs and goals – And last, but certainly not least, where does the manufacturer you are considering have distribution. You hope it’s broad and plentiful, as well as fitting with the core of your retail philosophy. If you see yourself as a Target and Nordstrom property, then you don’t want Wal-Mart and Dollar Store distribution. I admit this is sometimes very difficult information to get before you pitch a manufacturer. So if you don’t know it; don’t worry. But it does mean you need to get the information when you speak with them in person at a later date.

Watch for Monday’s blog as we explore ‘Eight Resources for Generating Your Art Licensing Lead List.’

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