November’s One-A-Day Q&A – Question #20

20 11 2016

Q: Is it best to start by selling your own product and then branch out into licensing or the other way around?


A: I was talking to a licensor not too long ago who has a lot of licenses, but started getting very exasperated with the way the manufacturers were producing her products.  They said that they would have her approve each product before production, but they did not, and she grew frustrated with the mistakes and how the quality of the products were lacking. I do see this happen quite often, so you have to understand that even though having the ‘right of approval’ is in your contract, getting them actually include the approval process in their company or manufacturing processes – even if it’s in the contract – is still often a real challenge.

What was interesting about that scenario is that she decided to combine manufacturing with licensing, keeping her best licensees and then manufacturing and distributing her own products in key categories where she couldn’t find the right fit.

I also see people that start out manufacturing and then decide to move into licensing. While I wouldn’t say this is the norm, it is becoming more popular and necessary to have some sales results, with which you can leverage those sales to generate licensing opportunities and deals. The more of a defined audience you have, the interaction you have with that audience, as well as your actual sales results, gives the manufacturers something to ‘crow’ about.  Today manufacturers are risk adverse, as you have heard me say often, so they want something to show them that you’re the artist to take a chance on.

So some artists and creators start with licensing and move to manufacturing and some start off manufacturing, distributing and selling products to gain traction in the licensing arena.  It really just depends on you, your art and sales style. Not to mention, luck-o-the-draw and who you know.  Think about what is the best way for you to leverage your talents as quickly as possible, as you get to know this very complex industry.






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