CREATE YOUR MONEY MAP (Marketing Action Plan) Develop Your Consistent Branding

27 01 2017

All businesses need branding, a set of iconic pieces which through name and graphic design will make a statement about who you are and what you do.

cymm-develop-your-consistent-branding

I am reticent to discuss design and branding too much with such a wonderful audience of talented artists, but I know that a few reminder points are always valuable – especially when we so easily lose our perspective in creating logos, designs and icons for and about ourselves.

Keep it simple.  No matter how hard you try, your logo won’t say everything you want to communicate about yourself and your brand.

Appeal to your largest target audience.

Make sure you have decided your mission and objectives before choosing your branding.

Get the opinion of those you value.

And once you have chosen your branding, be consistent.  There is nothing more important as you go forward than keeping your image consistent, because this is how you build exposure and potentially leverage your identity and intrinsic (and generated) value later in the licensing world.

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Zoonicorn is ‘One To Watch’ Finalist

3 06 2015

OneWatch_Finalist 2 copy (1)License! Global Magazine announced the top five finalists in their ‘One to Watch’ contest today. And I’m thrilled to say that Zoonicorn, one of All Art Licensing’s client’s made this exclusive list. This competition recognizes the most promising new property concepts, which are being introduced next week at the Licensing Expo 2015.Zoonicorn_300x250_1

Here, in his first interview, Mark Lubratt shares how the concept for Zoonicorn’s was inspired. Aliel, Ene, Valeo and Promithea are a magical cross between a unicorn and a zebra. Zoonicorns visit young zoo animals while they sleep, and join them on dreamland adventures to help gain confidence and learn valuable life lessons.

Don’t miss Mark’s candid and interesting discussion about building a new brand through manufacturing and licensing. Visit him at Booth E31 at Licensing Expo. Also check out the Zoonicorn website and blog.  

Zoonicorn book cover in ppt

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GirlNation Shares How ‘Changing’ and ‘Persistence’ is Important to Brand Building

26 05 2015

Girl Nation logoLast year at the Licensing Expo I met with and interviewed Deb Dittmer and Vicki De Roeck of GirlNation as they embarked on their very first trade event.  I recommend anyone who is interested in attending a trade show or thinking about building a brand from the ground up – READ THIS INTERVIEW.

J’net Q: We first met last year before the Licensing Expo. What was your experience at the show?
GN A: We had an incredible experience at the show and came away with one licensing contract! It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we launched GirlNation at the Licensing Expo! We were so thrilled to have been named one of the “Top Ten Ones to Watch” but it was our first show and we had no idea what to expect. It was great to get feedback from people at the show and also to walk the show and see the art that others were exhibiting. Being at the Licensing Expo definitely gave us an opportunity to meet people that we would never have had access to at this early stage of our business.RevisedBYOGlogo

J’net Q: So tell me again how you came up with your brand concept and which market you are targeting?
GN A: We started GirlNation shortly after our daughters left for college. We were both complaining about the wreckage they left behind in their rooms. Amid the chaos, we both uncovered extensive collections of inspiring words, quotes and images covering walls, notebooks and filling drawers. We realized that what seemed like clutter was really a huge part of who they had become. These independent and confident young women were truly influenced by these strong, empowering messages. We had the proverbial light bulb moment! As partners in our own graphics agency, we decided to take this valuable insight and turn it into a brand that would give all girls the gift of empowerment through positive messages and beautiful designs. We are appealing to girls during those difficult tween and early teen years.

CreedPoster_FullThe empowerment movement for women and girls has been gaining momentum for years. Prominent women and large corporations have been investing in this enterprise with their own campaigns. Dove was one of the first with their “Real Beauty” campaign. Cheryl Sandburg, Facebook COO, launched her Ban Bossy Campaign in 2013 and just recently, we all saw the “Throw Like a Girl” campaign launched during the Superbowl.

We have seen nothing in the commercial marketplace that allows girls to take ownership of their stake in this movement. A GirlNation brand of products would provide girls with a vehicle to express their solidarity to the movement and allow girls to unite in a global sisterhood. Although this demographic has a tendency to be fickle, we think there is longevity in the brand. We intend for this to be a brand that girls grow into and grow up with; we’ve given the empowerment movement for girls a name and an identity.

J’net Q: So I see you have made some changes in your original designs. What was the feedback that you received and how did that influence the changes you made?
GN A: Before the show we were so focused on creating art to fill a portfolio. We never really had the chance to take a step back and look at the body of work objectively to see if it was really going to resonate with our target market. Recently, we’ve been able to take a deep breath, take that step back and take a look at GirlNation with a fresh eye. We had to give the brand a little tough love. First, we realized our Girl “the face of GirlNation” needed to change. We loved her; she was beautiful but not right for the brand. She was too sophisticated and romantic and not consistent with our core message. So, we created a new girl…it still wasn’t right! We realized that there really wasn’t just one face of GirlNation, every girl is the face of GirlNation-every girl of every race, creed and color.WesiteHeaderImage

Secondly, you can see from our new website, that we’ve not only incorporated images of real girls, but have created a stronger looking identity. We have made some subtle changes to our logo, enhanced our graphics and patterns, added a GirlNation crest and revamped our creed to have more appeal to young girls. We found the original creed really resonated with women but for younger girls, the words were too mature and it was just too long. We took the same message and crafted a new creed that more reflects the attitude of tween girls.

Finally, we just took an objective look at all of our artwork and realized that some of the designs were too contrived (our acronym line) and that some of the graphics were too flat, needed more depth and needed more of an edge. We’ve kept the hand drawn doodle feel that we started with but are giving the designs more of an artsy, contemporary edge. We are so excited and energized by this new direction!

TeamJacketFierceOur changes have also been influenced by feedback we have received from buyers and agents. We participated in a workshop offered by Michelle Fifis of Pattern Observer, called “Sharing Your Work.” One of the great advantages of the workshop was the opportunity to have three buyers review and critique your work. We received critiques from a buyer for the tween private label brand at a major department store, an art licensing agent and a fabric manufacturer. They all said that they loved the message, the artwork was on trend and was appropriate for our target market. All good news and very encouraging to know we were on the right track. They had some great constructive criticism for changes to our website and we have used their feedback to make our website easier to navigate and to simplify how we were conveying our message. It was a great way to get honest feedback from knowledgeable people within the industry.

J’net Q: So how are you now planning to monetize your efforts and take your updated material to manufacturers and retailers?
GN A: We have kept in touch with many of our leads from last year’s show and continue to update them with new products and updates to our website. In addition, we have put together targeted lists of manufacturers and retailers that we think are appropriate for our brand. In addition to scouring the internet, we constantly look at tags and labels of products when we are shopping to find new manufacturers that we think would be a good fit. We reach out to them via Linked In and directly via email. We have found some success with this method of “cold calling” and have been pleasantly surprised at the level of response, it expands our contact list and allows us to stay in front of more manufacturers.

We are also taking advantage of every opportunity on the Art Licensing Show website which allows you to reach out to member manufacturers and invite them to review your portfolio. We hope to attend The Licensing Expo again in 2016! This past year we have been working with both our agency clients and working to refine GirlNation and we just knew we would not be prepared in time for the shows. Our mantra this year is persistence, persistence, persistence. You never know when the timing will be right for that perfect match of what manufacturers are looking for and what you have to offer so we feel like we have to just stay in front of them.

J’net Q: So what can we expect to see from GirlNation in the future?NotaPrincessTee
GN A: We will continue to add more pattern collections. We had a great response to our patterns from attendees at the Licensing Expo last year and from some fabric manufacturers since we’ve been back. We have added a new “Team Inspired” line of graphics and will continue to expand the collections to offer more variety to buyers. We are also working on a fun line of greeting cards that really reflects the new direction of the artwork.

J’net Q: Based on your experience over the past year, what advice would you give to other new artists who are thinking about licensing their art or developing a brand?
GN A: Do your research and really understand your target market. We were lucky to have had a strong concept so that the creation of the art was very intuitive. Eventually though, you have to take a leap of faith and get your artwork out there. This is what we did a year ago when we decided to go to Licensing Expo. We were fortunate to have met you in the very beginning and you guided us through the entire process of getting ready for our first show. You gave us concrete advice, objective feedback and were an incredible source of encouragement.Deb & VickiofGirlNation

Another bit of advice, that we have trouble following ourselves (!!), is to be patient! Rome was not built in a day! The licensing cycle is long and it’s important stay committed, keep analyzing, reinventing and adapting. In such a competitive industry, you can’t create your art or brand in a vacuum. You have to keep on top of your market and continue to evolve.

We are so grateful to have stayed in touch with you and to have had this opportunity talk with you on this first year milestone of this crazy journey of ours! Thank you for taking the time to follow-up with us.

J’net NOTE: A BIG ‘Thank you’ to Deb & Vicki for their willingness to be candid about their experiences and share them with us all! See you in Vegas 2016! Also…don’t miss the last FREE ASK J’net Q&A before Licensing Expo, scheduled for Wednesday, June 3rd, 10am PDT. Sign up now to get your questions answered! Register here.





BrokenHeart Pets Rescue – Working Hard for their Big Break

27 04 2015

S&Btalk-2I recently interviewed Daryl Slaton, partner in Tails of Whimsy, a storybook studio, and the artist/author of BrokenHeart Pets Rescue about their characters and their journey.

J’net Q: Many of my readers are interested in developing characters and character-based properties. I have been representing the publishing aspect of BrokenHeart Pets Rescue. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters?
Daryl A: Scooter. the dog, and his sidekick Boots, the cat, were once homeless but have now found loving, “fur-ever” families. They wear a broken heart emblem on their chests in solidarity with other homeless animals and their whimsical stories focus on ways to rescue and protect them. I have written the story and created the character art. My partner (and wife) Louise Glickman is a writer and designer with a public relations and marketing background, and also brings business management skills to Tails of Whimsy.

Q: How did the concept for Scooter and Boots get created?
A: Louise is from New Orleans and, though we now live in Asheville, NC, we had both given time to saving animals in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The head of the Louisiana SPCA and hundreds of volunteers developed ways to save over 9,000 pets and were able to return over half of them to their original homes! We were honored when they asked us to create something “special” to thank the volunteers for their efforts Christmas of 2005. Thus, Scooter and Boots first appeared as animation on the non-profit’s website. However, they didn’t surface again until we needed one extra banner for our Licensing Expo booth in 2013!

Q: How have you developed the market for two key characters?
A: It feels like Scooter and Boots have become late-in-life children for us. We talk about them daily and have been fortunate enough to tailor them into a portfolio of products that bring their stories to life.

BHPheads1In January 2015, we decided that we needed to test market them by building a fan base on social media. We had Scooter made into a puppet and began posting images of him around town as well as creating cartoon posts of both characters. We now have over 10,000 Facebook fans and remain active on Twitter, LinkedIn and on our blog.

Q: How have the characters and story evolved based on your ideas vs market needs?20140409_135212
A: After exhibiting our first time at Licensing Expo 2013, our initial feedback was that our story of homeless pets was “just too sad.” People loved the characters but despite repeated attempts to show the upbeat side of the Scooter and Boots’ back story, licensees and publishers remained unconvinced.

At Licensing Expo 2014, we brought puppet Scooter to “meet” visitors to our booth. The truth is, you can get away with a whole lot when you speak through the voice of a puppet. On a whim, Scooter did a short interview with ArtMoose, a production studio. I was curled up under the desk performing as Scooter, but I’m not a puppeteer. For a first time try, we got a huge response. A group gathered and applauded when the interview ended and an entertainer with her manager came by and asked Scooter to come to Sacramento for a show (which he did last August). But best of all, we partnered with ArtMoose to create a TV pilot called “Scooter News Network.” It’s ready to show to networks, sponsors and underwriters at Licensing Expo 2015. Scooter will be also doing “live” broadcasts this year at the ArtMoose booth.

Q: Why do you think your characters are different and unique?
A: I have thought long and hard about the voices of Scooter and Boots. To our knowledge, there isn’t another whimsical property that is so focused on finding homes for animals and on care and conservation worldwide. The trick has been to keep their humor and character intact, delivering their targeted message but still staying funny and fun. They are more entertainment than education and we always have to balance their voice carefully as well as keep it focused on our target audience of children 3-9.

Between 5 and 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and only 1 out of 10 dogs born ever find a home. Stray cats alone may be as high as 70 million annually in the U.S.

Q: What has surprised you both most about this journey?
A: Two things, really.

First and foremost, how long it takes to monetize a property after you’ve developed a character. A good part of my commercial art career was built on my ability to create characters for corporate branding and that I was an early champion of doing this digitally. I’m very quick and experienced at adapting them for illustrations, ads, trade show displays and animation. This comes naturally to me but creating the character is the simplest part of the licensing and publishing game. What counts most is what you do with them and how you can market them to publishers, agents, studios and distributors. Also, staying focused on your audience and message.

Secondly, and speaking broadly (there are always exceptions), characters are virtually nothing without their stories. Even though I’ve had a bit of success in licensing some character art (without a story), the biggest responses have been to my story-driven characters. Basically, if you have a story to tell then publishing goes hand-in-hand with licensing. Even with our positive response at Licensing Expo and sound advice from agents and consultants, we’ve had to learn two industries from the inside out! For the first time, we will do both Book Expo America and Licensing Expo this year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed to get noticed, get published and get signed contracts!

Q: Why do you keep persisting to get more exposure and fans for Scooter and Boots? What drives you both?
A: We love Scooter and Boots and our other properties, too. But we have to prove their commercial viability to get a deal. Publishers, licensees and manufacturers insist on credibility and exposure before they are willing to commit to new licensors. In discussions and proposals, I want to show that I am more than just a character designer and storyteller. My wife has a marketing background and we have resourced additional talent to our company who bring editorial services and social media skills to our mix. In this respect, we want to make publishers and licensees aware that by working with Tails of Whimsy, they are getting art, stories and savvy business partners.BHpetsSellSheet72Post4

What drives me? This is what I do. I love creating characters and their stories. It’s that simple. I like the idea of making people smile.

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you have received regarding Scooter and Boots’ BrokenHeart Pets Rescue?
A: Be patient and stick with it. To get from character to contract in licensing, it takes a whole lot of drive as well as financial commitment.

Update from J’net: My next Free Ask J’net Q&A, Tuesday, May 5th at 10:00 am  PDT / 1:00 pm EDT, is dedicated to the topic of Trade Shows. I will cover as many questions as possible in the one-hour Q&A relating to Surtex, Book Expo, Licensing Expo or other trade shows – walking them, attending your first year, exhibiting at them…whatever you need to know to help your business grow! Here’s our schedule page, please register early and get put your question at the bottom of the registration form. 





How to Leverage your Intellectual Property to Get the Million-Dollar Deal and AAL Showers You With April Classes

8 04 2015

Note: If you want to register for Tomorrow’s Ask J’net Q&A, there is still time to send in your question.  Also…no need to worry about missing out on all the great information! Everyone who registers THIS MONTH, will automatiacally receive an MP3 file of the class. Register Now. (More about this and our other great classes below.)

How to Leverage your Intellectual Property to Get the Million-Dollar Deal

How do you become a brand? “How do you get millions of eyes and thousands of retail doors to open and focus on your cherished property and close the big deals?” The truth is, ‘what to do’ is actually fairly simple to explain; however, ‘how to do it’ is more difficult to accomplish.

The key to brand-building is leveraging. In the licensing industry, I have defined leveraging as: using a property’s current assets and awareness level (whatever they may be) to multiply itself exponentially using less effort than the amount of growth to be achieved. Leveraging is the one marketing tool, which increases and builds on your existing state and requires fewer resources to initiate the action, than the potential gain it acquires. For example, what you want to create is a situation where you are receiving $10,000 for every $1,000 invested. Repeatedly.

No matter what stage you are at in the development of your business, leveraging what you have for future gains is critical. You might be just beginning with a concept in mind or already have a collection of original art. Perhaps you have a television property and are looking toward a movie deal. All of these scenarios are constantly being developed in the industry and are accomplished through the art of leveraging.

Consider properties such as the Uglydoll®. They were manufacturing and selling their own dolls with great success. Because of this, they were able to take their concrete sales results and use them to demonstrate and convince other types of product manufacturers of the profit potential when investing in their characters. In fact, as the popular brand developed, Uglydoll® moved from a manufacturing based company to a full licensing model. This is a perfect example of skillful leveraging moves which lead to multiple deals and a complete change in the business plan. Examples of leveraging abound in the licensing industry.

Dilbert(R)When I was first starting out in the business, I managed a then little-known cartoon character named DILBERT®. Since the comic strip was in only about 100 newspapers, I needed to broaden our fan base dramatically. One strategic move changed the course of the property’s trajectory. At that time, I knew that our core audience was currently dominated by geeks. However, I believed the largest potential audience for the strip would include the millions of business people in the marketplace, if I was able to reach them. So I decided to try and get the cartoon into The Wall Street Journal. The problem was, this is a newspaper with a 100-year-old tradition of not running comics.

While this may sound like an impossible goal, it is important to never give up on what might be a great idea. Thinking and planning ten steps ahead is a critical part of any successful leveraging marketing program. I knew exposure to this broader business audience would mean a significant increase of our overall reach, products, media and profits.

So I considered a ‘back-door’ route to The Wall Street Journal newspaper which might make it possible to publish the cartoon through display advertising. Without any budget, I pitched and found a company to pay for the ads. Each advertisement included the latest daily DILBERT® comic strip brought to you by the sponsor. This single move increased our readership, our newsletter numbers and syndication, as well as positioned the cartoon for achieving our mass-market ‘business’ publishing goals.

Always look at the next leveraging move as a challenge to be solved and conquered. Failure is not an option. And remember sometimes you have to take three smaller steps to ready your property for the really big move you have established to achieve the larger goal.

A more recent example, Meghan Dougherty and Alece Birnbach, two of my current clients are the author and illustrator, respectively, of ‘Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles’—a property about a tween roller derby team of misfits. With nothing but a concept and a target audience that was 1) identifiable, 2) reachable, 3) sustainable and 4) large enough to warrant our efforts, the creators and I have worked to build-out the concept. These are the four ‘audience essentials’ for a property that can be leveraged.

First came the web site and a blog about the characters, meanwhile summaries of a ten-book series were developed and social media was utilized to reach the core audience of derby fans with key slogans, such as ‘Slugs & Hisses,’ ‘Wheels Before Heels’ and ‘Hit like a girl!’.Hit Like a Girl!

Developing a strong following within the roller derby community, we grew our online numbers to a level that could be leveraged. A strong book proposal and three completed chapters of the first book, drove us to a good publishing deal. Having the four audience essentials in place clinched the deal, even though my clients were unknown authors. We also made the decision to read drafts of the book to 5th grade classes and secured stories in the media around the concept of a girl power-based roller derby book for tweens. This demonstrated to publishers their ability to help promote the book when it launched.

Just recently the first book was released through Sourcebooks and has received great reviews, such as this one from Publisher’s Weekly: “Birnbach’s spot illustrations and comics sequences pepper the story, showcasing skating action and hinting at the characters’ vivacious personalities. Speaking to the insecurities of middle school, parental abandonment, and the thrill of a crush, this first book in the Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles series should easily drum up excitement among readers who aren’t afraid to get their elbows bruised.” The second book in the series is due to be released August of 2015.Rise of the Undead Redhead

Leveraging moves can be small or large, for money, exposure or other benefits. But they must be tackled and nurtured continuously at every stage of a growing property. Some ways to leverage new and established properties are available through strategic alliances, sponsorships, public relations, product extensions and social media efforts. However, one of the best ways to begin leveraging your property is at trade shows because you can reach so many influential decision-makers and potential partners at one time, when they are all gathered in one place. You can conceivably create in 2 or 3 days, the same number of connections and viable leads as you can develop in a year’s worth of your own sales efforts.

A licensing trade show is a great place to launch your next wave of exposure and strategically position your property for a new growth phase. The investment here can create great returns. When you have planned for and understand your next potential moves, it’s much easier to develop a clear message, direct your marketing materials, meet the right people and show them exactly how an alliance makes sense and creates revenue for all. Each strategic leveraging move is one step closer in getting to the million-dollar deal.

All Art Licensing Showers You with Great Classes In April, Starting with Our FREE Ask J’net Scheduled for Tomorrow, April 9th.

Ask J’net Q&A – ‘Marketing Your Licensing Business’WWCI from AAL
Thursday April 9th, 2015 – 10:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. EDT
Duration: 1 hour
Price: FREE
1 hour live phone event – We’re continuing the wonderful conversation started last month on ‘How to Market Your Licensing Business’ in tomorrow’s Ask J’net Q&A. I will focus on answering more of your questions about how to market your art, character or brand licensing business. Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about creating a marketing plan, trade shows, exhibiting, public relations, closing sales and more. What are you wondering about that will help your business grow?
Sign-up here for the free class. When registering, there is a place at the bottom of the form to write your question(s). J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour. All you need to do is call in at the specific time to get answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions. If you can’t attend tomorrow’s class, please register anyway, as we’ll be sending the MP3 file to everyone who registers this month!
Please note: You will receive your  Dial-in number and Access Code for the class tonight from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance rates will apply.
Register Now

And here’s the rest of my April line-up of classes:
Public Relations for Today’s Licensors
Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 – 10:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. EDT
Duration: 1.5 hours – including 65+ page PowerPoint Presentation (PDF format)
Price: $60

This class is for the emerging and intermediate art, design or character licensors, for both those who have public relations agents and those that are working solo. Join me for this comprehensive course which moves you from wondering how to get the word out about your business to managing your own press and promotions (or understanding how to manage your PR agency, if they handle your press). The class will cover:

  • develop your goals and strategies
  • create your own press plan
  • build targeted press lists
  • write effective and attention grabbing press releases
  • craft a press kit (and your brand)
  • determine priorities within Social Media, press and promotions
  • PR mistakes to avoid
  • plus HOT press tips to turn up the HEAT!

It also includes real-life examples to show you exactly what to do.

Creating a Successful Book Publishing Proposal
Friday, April 17th – 10:00 a.m. PDT/ 1:00 p.m. PDT
Duration: 1.5 hours – including 50+ page PowerPoint Presentation (PDF format)
Price: $60
In today’s marketplace, your character property needs to gain exposure and traction before it can move into the world of licensing. One of the best tracks to licensing is through book publishing. So if you have ever wondered how to create a successful publishing proposal, this is the class for you. J’net has published more than 30 books for clients and will provide detailed ‘how to’ instructions and information on ‘why’ it must be done a certain way. The class will include many examples, as well as, a run-down of the self-publishing and eBook options, vs. traditional publishing.

Marketing Your Art, Characters, Designs & New Brands through Trade Shows
Wednesday, April 22nd – 10:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. EDT
Duration: 2 hours – including 70+ page PowerPoint Presentation (PDF format)
Price: $75

This course will show you how to market your creativity successfully—whether art, characters, designs or a new brand concept—and enter the $155B licensing arena through trade shows, as well as other practical marketing techniques. This Worldwide Creators’ Intensive class covers:

  •  choosing the right trade shows
  •  how to move from internal creative process to external income generation and
  • preparing for and exhibiting at a show.

Through detailed information and real life examples, J’net will demonstrate clearly how art, designs, characters and new brands are launched into the marketplace. Those who take this course will learn how to determine what they have in terms of a creative product, and whether it could be practical and profitable to exhibit at a trade show. This class is powerful, comprehensive and a great value for all those who have purchased a booth or are considering doing so.

Creating a Successful Television Proposal

Friday, April 24th – 10:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. EDT
Duration: 1.5 hours – including 50+ page PowerPoint Presentation (PDF format)
Price: $60
Have you developed a character or television concept that you wish to pitch. This class will cover how to create a successful television proposal that will get producers attention, as well as what the entire process will look like. We will be discussing the various types of proposals, TV bibles, style guides and more. Do not miss your chance to have this confusing industry and process de-mystified and explained in detail and easy to understand terms. Learn how it relates to and drives the licensing business. We will also talk about options, how deals get done and how you can get one!

Visit our Class Schedule Page to Register for any of our April Classes. 





Your Primary Message Matters: You Can’t Close a Deal Until They Stop at Your Booth

5 03 2015

For those of you attending a trade show this spring or considering it in the near future, this blog is a must read.  It was originally ran in Licensing Expo’s email newsletter, but I felt it was such an important message that I didn’t want my blog audience to miss out.  

As you know, the ultimate goal of being an exhibitor at a trade show is to create income (and potentially great income) through the generation of agreements, deals and alliances. Therefore, one of the most important elements of your trade show booth is to clearly impart your brand message to potential clients, licensees and other show prospects.

We do this through logos, images and words (graphics, photos, art, characters, headlines, bullets, testimonials, etc.), as well as by making sure that the overall style of your booth (colors, design, furniture, music, lighting, etc.) successfully represents your property or brand.

Rinekwall Won Licensing Expo's 2014 'One to Watch' Contest

Rinekwall Won Licensing Expo’s 2014 ‘One to Watch’ Contest

It is also essential that you develop a well-trained and fully prepared staff. They need to be friendly and approachable, while at the same time exhibiting consistent professionalism, knowledge and sincere interest in both your property and whomever they are speaking with. Remember, you never know who you are talking to.

However, in my 20 years of attending countless trade shows, I have found that one of the biggest mistakes properties and artists make is not being very specific and clear in who they are, what their business is and what they do. This primary message is vital to everything you are trying to accomplish at the show. It is best expressed as the first and most prominent visual communication of your booth, and it must be designed to quickly catch the eye of your target attendees. No pressure, but the reality is, you only have about 2-3 seconds to capture their attention.

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked past a lovely booth, complete with graphics, flowers and great attention to detail, but their primary message was left unclear. Who and what they were, as well as what they were offering me was not easily understandable, so I walked right on by without a second thought.

I just have to say directly that it’s not my (or anyone else’s) job to try to figure out what you do. Those passing by your booth want and need to be able to rapidly obtain your information—before committing to stopping—and it’s entirely up to you to provide it!

It’s not that complicated or difficult to create an awesome booth which gets you plenty of attention and deals. It simply takes laser focus.

A clear branding message in your booth should include the following information, woven into an understandable and exciting display:
1) Primary objective
2) Who you are
3) What you do and offer
4) Who you want to reach

Zoonicorn's Booth at Toy Fair 2015, NYC

Zoonicorn’s Booth at Toy Fair 2015, NYC

Primary objective
In the initial planning stages, I suggest you decide what your specific goals and priorities are going to be and what exactly you are attempting to accomplish through attending the trade show. Then make sure that those points are adequately expressed in your overall vision of the booth AND precisely communicated.

To make this happen, think about all the reasons you originally chose to attend the trade show and write a list of the goals you want to achieve. The primary objective for you or your company should be brief and straight-forward, such as: ‘Get a television deal.’ or ‘Secure a licensing agent.’ Whatever it is, be specific and certain of your intentions and what you are investing your time, money, and efforts in.

Secondly, make sure you are willing to modify your goals, if necessary, so that they meet your needs, as well as the needs of potential clients and the realities of the marketplace. Remember you are trying to create a win-win situation; most deals are compromises between the creator and manufacturer or producer.

Then, stay focused and follow your plan. For example, don’t spend the majority of your budget and efforts on a smaller niche markets, rather than your largest potential. But also remember; never alienate anyone because you never know when or where the next big deal is going to come from.

Rarely would it be appropriate to simply write your primary objectives on your trade show booth walls. You need to know what they are, so you articulate them concisely within your overall communication. I think that successful communication means weaving your goals into the messages of ‘who you are,’ ‘what you do and have’ and ‘who you want to reach.’

Who you are
All booths need signage that is visible, readable and unmistakably identifiable, while including your business name, property name and company logo.

As a general rule, your brand should be prominently displayed and must be large enough to be read from across the aisle, as well as from all directions approaching your booth. Central art and images need to be able to be seen, AND READ, when casually walking down the aisle from at least 10-20 feet away.

If you have more than one property, then they each need their own prominent signage. Make sure you get a large enough booth to do justice to your multiple properties and concepts. You cannot do a great job of presenting, if you are crammed for space. In the trade show booth world, bigger is often better.

Launch Pad Booths, photo by Licensing Expo 2014

Launch Pad Booths, photo by Licensing Expo 2014

What you do and offer
No matter how big it is (or isn’t), your booth walls simply will not hold every tidbit of information you want to present to passersby. However, leaving folks confused as to what you do, and have to offer, is not a strong branding play. Somehow exactly what you have available to license needs to be communicated in words and images. Put the extra information and details in your leave-behind brochure.

As you look at your booth design, ask yourself if it is clear enough for a novice, or a person who is unfamiliar with your company and concept, to describe accurately what it is you are offering. I think they will be able to identify your purpose, if you create and advertise answers to these following four questions in your booth display:
What’s the concept?
What type of property is it?
What kind of audience reach do you have?
And most importantly…
What already exists that can be licensed immediately?

Many booths don’t present an easily understandable account of what they actually have to license: cartoons, a story, individual pieces of art, art collections, book series, or television concept. Don’t be one of them.

Also, make sure there is breathing room around your logo, words, wall art and characters, so that the messages are not jumbled and confused. If your running out of space and your information is getting too cluttered, either enlarge the booth, or move part of your message to your printed materials or multimedia presentation. Again, make sure all your visuals are consistent, well-defined and readable.

Who you want to reach
Lastly, and I cannot express the importance of this enough, you need to communicate quickly and clearly your message of who you want to do business with, to all those passing by your booth. This is the primary point of this article and, in my opinion, the most-often overlooked item in trade show booths today!

Each booth at a trade show has two target audiences to identify: 1) the consumer and 2) the trade customer. If your consumer audience is girls 5-8/K-2nd grade, then say so. Then you also need to identify what trade customer you are looking for, such as agents, XYZ-type of manufacturers, producers or publishers.

For example, if you are a new exhibitor looking for a reputable licensing agent, then make sure others know it. If you are an established company looking for appropriate new artists, then post it. Maybe you are a book-based property looking for television agents, producers and networks, then display that specific need.

In conclusion

Making sure that you have established your primary objective and unmistakably communicated who you are, what you do, what you offer and who you want to reach, will set the stage for an excellent and profitable trade event. Having covered these essential communication goals, you can now focus on the finer details and design elements of your booth to catch attention and drive home the sales.





Pinkytoast is Popping Up at Licensing Expo

16 06 2014

Pinkytoast violetta bee boxer ppSheila Meehan has taken on a new property that is very much ‘Art+Design’ but has a bit of a different twist.  It’s incredibly unique with it’s’ quirky combination of sweetness and goth. In this interview, we discuss how an agent can grow a new tween/teen property through retail testing and exposure. I think Pinkytoast is a great example of fine art and exceptional design, while also demonstrating how two unrelated themes — wide-eyed dolls/pin-ups & edgy goth themes–can create a new ‘knock-out’ genre.

23 knitty monster pink elephant knitty girl ppp35 lemon lament 8x10 collage page pinkytoast 2014hot topic tee shirt sample page pinkytoast 2014

 








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