The next FREE Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for this week on Wednesday, September 17th at 12 noon PDT/3:00 pm EDT. Here is the link to sign-up, and don’t forget to put your question at the bottom of the registration page. I try to answer as many questions and possible, and it usually winds up being between a dozen and 20 questions within the hour long session. So join me for some tantalizing lessons about licensing and answers to your questions!
What To Do When The Manufacturer Calls You
I think we are all so used to pitching ourselves on and in social media, websites, blogs, emails, letters, and presentations that we forget how many incredible manufacturers there are looking for licensed art every day. You probably wouldn’t believe how many times I hear from an artist: “A manufacturer called me for some art and was not sure what to say.” or “What do I say when a manufacturer calls me?”
When a manufacturer can’t find exactly what they need with their existing licensees and contacts, they are very likely to head to their files to peruse leads they received from trade shows, emails and searching the internet.
If you have a great list of questions ready, then you will be more than prepared for any initial conversation with a manufacturer. The goal is to ask intelligent questions, stay organized, take notes and get them talking. Here is a list of some questions you might consider asking:
‘How did you find my art?’ or ‘How did you hear about me?’ If you are not sure about how they got your name, this is an important question. This will also let you know if they found you through LinkedIn, Licensing Expo, your own website, or a directory, which is great information to help plan your future marketing.
‘What pieces of my art or styles are you most interested in?’
‘What types of products would the art be used on?’
‘What products do you produce?’ This is a more general way to ask the question, if you aren’t familiar with the manufacturer. I would also suggest getting to a computer and logging onto their website so you can quickly review their product lines while you are talking to them.
If they are discussing development of a very specific program and need, don’t hesitate to ask more precise questions:
‘Who is the primary purchaser of the product line(s)? Will this be our target customer?’
‘How big is the program?’ (Or ‘What kind of product runs would you do for a program like this?)
‘What material will they made of?’ ‘What size and color are they?’
‘When will the products launch in stores?’ and ‘Do you know what stores they will be featured in?’
‘When would you need the art?’
‘What type of files do you prefer?’
‘Would the art be used as is, or with some changes and refinements?’
‘When will a decision on the art be made?’ and ‘Who will be involved in making the final decision?’
‘What do you pay similar artists for this type of program?’ or ‘What’s your standard royalty for this type of licensed product?’
Of course, you may not get all of these questions out in a short and fast-paced conversation. And many of them may not even be relevant to the conversation (yet). Nevertheless, it’s a great list to get very familiar with or even post on a bulletin board near your work station.
Chances are, that if you get a call from a manufacturer, they will have some need in mind and will be prepared to discuss many of these details. I encourage you to ask ‘open ended’ questions that do not require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. This way they will have the opportunity to talk and expand into the specifics and you get to learn more.
Be sure to do as they have asked, and end your conversation with a recap of the next steps you will take and when you will follow-up with them and how. The more exact you can be in your communication, the better for everyone.
The bottom line is to find out what their needs are and how can you help. Your goal is to move the conversation forward one or more steps towards getting a final contract.