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.
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!’.
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.
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’
Thursday April 9th, 2015 – 10:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. EDT
Duration: 1 hour
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.