Eight Resoucres for Generating Your Art Licensing Lead List

14 12 2009

In my last blog post, I discussed the ‘Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Manufacturers.’ Now let’s move to the next step which is generating your art licensing lead list.

Keep in mind, that your lead list should only cover the product categories you are targeting and should not be so extensive that you can’t call them all personally. A list of 30 companies may grow to 100, reduce to 40 as you find out the companies are not, in fact, a match and then grow again. Lead lists are organic.

  1. Trade Shows and Directories—Trade shows and trade show directories exist in your specific product categories. You can even find exhibitor lists before and after trade shows on the association and trade show web sites. All Art Licensing’s Resources/Links page has links to the most popular trade shows for artists.
  2. EPM Communications Sourcebook—This annual Sourcebook includes licensing decision-makers from manufacturing companies, as well as properties and agents. So while it is not an inexpensive database, and you may use only a fraction of the information, it is the most reliable in the licensing business. In the long run, it will save you valuable time and money in getting names, phone numbers and email addresses.
  3. Trade Magazines—As you read trade magazines in the product categories that you wish to target, check out companies that seem to be a good fit for you and your art. Always make notes about their product lines, employees and new deals with other artists, so when you are ready to contact them you have the information at hand. Research Factoid: License! Global just released their November issue which includes their choices for the top 100 licensees. While many of them won’t be appropriate for artists, as they focus on the big name brands and properties, it’s still a great read and a very important resource year after year. http://digital.licensemag.com/nxtbooks/advanstar/license1209/index.php
  4. Shopping—Spend time shopping in the stores and outlets for products you want your art to be on. This will be time well spent as you explore the manufacturers that distribute licensed art. You will probably also see ‘private label’ products with art which don’t identify the manufacturer. Deals may be done with manufacturers or by the stores directly (D-T-R: Direct-to-Retail). There are more and more of these done every day as stores work harder to have unique product. Research Factoid: If you find products that feature art, and artists copyright, but no manufacturer information you may be able to track them down if they have an RN number. This stands for Registered Identification Number, which is part of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and is used to identify manufacturers and importers of all textile related products. Go to the following web site https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/TextileRN/wrnquery$.startup and plug in the RN number to query who the manufacturer is. Wish it worked for everything, but it does work on plush, bedding, apparel and more, so give that a try.
  5. Use the Internet—The Internet continues to be the primary source for researching manufacturers and information on how to contact them. Although larger companies are less likely these days to list their phone number and address on their website, it may require a bit more searching to get these numbers. But when you get frustrated, just think about how we used to do it before the Internet.
  6. Networking—Again, thank goodness for the internet, blogging and social media. Now you can talk to other “licensed” artists, and you should. Networking may become a primary source of ideas and leads.
  7. Licensor Web Sites—I am still amazed at how many artists list all of their licensees and their information. It’s a great resource when you find a licensor’s web site that notes the manufacturer of their product lines.
  8. Ask for Recommendations—If you talk to a manufacturer who doesn’t think you are right for them, ask who they would recommend you talk to. This is a really overlooked technique that allows you to tap into the brainpower of the manufacturers who know the business best. And if you were thoughtful in your presentation and had many relevant reasons you felt they would be interested, then you didn’t waste their time and they may be very open to sharing a thought about other partner options.

In looking for prospective manufacturers, there are many opportunities to find them and do research before including them on your lead list. The more well targeted you are in your lead lists, the more manufacturers will respond positively to your presentations. Over and over again, the number one complaint that manufacturers make is that they receive too many presentations that are not relevant to their business needs. Do yourself and the manufacturers you are seeking a favor by doing your research and targeting your presentation to their business. They will appreciate and recognize your focus, and you will make progress faster.

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