A New Energy at the International Licensing Expo 2013

24 06 2013

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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2 responses

2 07 2013
Daryl Slaton

This is a great follow up to Licensing Expo! Thanks for what you do for all of us “followers!” I would like to mention one trend: Advanstar is repositioning the Art and Design section for next year’s show to provide more double corner booths to promote traffic. We even had a hard time booking one for next year as more designers are “investing” in space at Expo!

29 06 2013
Lisa McMillen

Thank you for your insights! The questions are great to remember when speaking with any client. As an artist just investigating licensing, having the show information and comparison to Surtex is invaluable.

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