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.





New Year’s Advice for Entrepreneurial Artists and Creators

1 01 2015

With the New Year beginning today, I thought this would be a good time to share some key points I presented at one of the conferences I attended last year. I believe these are important reminders for entrepreneurs with an artistic or creative business.

J'net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

J’net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

I was honored to speak at the CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Conference in Orlando with other exceptional business owners. I spoke about licensing your concepts, characters and art, and then joined in on a panel, giving our best advice to some very energetic college students about entrepreneurial careers. The CEO Conference was co-hosted by SEA (Self-Employment in the Arts), an outstanding group which focuses on training for college students and those planning to run their own creative business and for whom I am an ‘Ambassador.’

I feel strongly that we need to share our talents and experience with students, young businesspeople, and burgeoning entrepreneurs because while they have more options than ever (a GOOD thing); they also have more options than ever (a TOUGH thing). For certainly, with more options, comes more complexity.

Since it’s part of my job to simplify and make understandable complex business issues, I thoroughly enjoyed being at the CEO Conference. It was a busy event, which made me think a great deal about the days when my career was just beginning to unfold and I had so many important decisions to make. As a young woman, one of these decisions was—‘Do I move to NYC with just a suitcase and a smile?’ I decided ‘yes’ and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I had to learn quickly and thoroughly the in’s and out’s of the global licensing arena in order to succeed in developing creative properties in NYC’s corporate environment and then beyond. Here are a few pieces of advice that I know will help many of you starting your own creative businesses:

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J'net Smith and Mike Veny -   CEO Conference Panel on: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J’net Smith and Mike Veny – CEO Conference Panel: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

1) Run your art business like a business — Some creators think that learning to be an entrepreneur crushes their creativity. Do NOT let this be you! Learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about how to make a viable income with your art by creating a viable business. Creating a business is actually much like creating your art. You must envision it, allow it to develop and then do it—bringing it into reality. You need to learn about business models, cash flow, marketing, sales, distribution, strategic alliances, contracts, negotiations, trends and more. You will then be one of the lucky few who actually DOES make a living in a career they love. There is no need to be a starving artist.

2) Find a PROVEN business model — First decide what you want to do and do it! There is nothing as draining as indecision. Find a proven business model that comes closest to what you want your business to be and then follow the example. Whether your creative path is through galleries, art/character licensing, government grants, or something else, you must work within the industries’ parameters and emulate the successful models in order to duplicate their achievements. Once your business is supporting itself, you can then change or expand your business to make things fit you, your dreams and goals more closely.

3) Don’t be afraid of selling yourself & marketing your business — It’s all about finding the right audience for your product (art, characters, designs, skills, services, etc.) and finding ways to profitably get it to the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If you don’t develop a consistent marketing and sales plan and routine, maintaining it with a strong discipline, you won’t have a business. However, the good news is, if you do develop a serious dedication and continuous motivation, coupled with a strong learning curve and work ethic, you will almost certainly succeed.

4) Do as much as you can on your own — Listen to advice whenever you can. Pay for it if necessary. Attend trade shows, classes, events and conferences with your peers, industry experts and your (B2B and B2C) target audiences, as often as possible. Meet with business associates wherever opportunities present themselves. Then, get as much advice as possible on choosing business partners for all those things you can’t, or don’t want to, do yourself. Remember you have to spend money to make money; but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a fortune. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how far you can push yourself. Then build your team by spending your time and energy on your strengths and delegating and investing in those whose strengths are your weaknesses.

I think that continually living outside your comfort zone is exactly why and how growth occurs and is where the brightest and best entrepreneurs are inevitably found. And remember the best advice anyone can ever give you is—‘go for it; you can do it!’

If any of you have questions about art and character licensing, business and brand development, please come and ask your questions during our next free Ask J’net Q&A.

NEW CLASSES FOR 2015 – SIGN UP TODAY
FREE ‘Ask J’net Q&A’
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EDT

Start the New Year off right by getting your art, design and character licensing questions answered by J’net during this free one-hour ‘live’ phone event. You just sign-up here for the class. When registering, there is a place at the bottom of the form to write your questions. 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 the answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions. Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing.

‘Launching and Leveraging Your Annual Marketing Plan’
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 — 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
Price: $60

The New Year is traditionally the perfect time to launch your annual plan. If you don’t already have a plan or need new ideas to increase your licensing sales success in 2015, then I have created this course for you. The class will cover how to develop a marketing calendar for the year, including portfolio development, trade shows, sales timing and techniques, public relations, and social media. You will learn how to organize all of this into a comprehensive plan of action that you can manage and execute to improve your licensing sales results. The major emphasis of the class will be leveraging what you have in your current business to the next, more profitable level. Please note: This is a live audio event, which will also be video recorded. It will include a full PDF presentation booklet, as a part of the course. Any registered attendees who wish to apply to be included in our live stream video beta test, please contact me directly after registering. Included in the purchase price, all registered attendees will receive audio of the class for their personal review.

With the New Year here, it’s such a great time to take inventory of yourself, your habits, your business and goals so you can move to a new level! I look forward to connecting with you in 2015!





4 Informational (& Motivational) Online Classes—with Special Guest Speaker

20 03 2014

Many times I have noticed that people (including myself sometimes) say and want to learn and increase their knowledge about a given subject, such as art licensing. Yet often it does not happen. The problem is that often there is no action or follow through to that desire, and therefore, no increased learning or movement forward.

The reason for this, I think, can be lack of continuous motivation. A daily habit of creating a motivation focused on your goals has to be developed. So you will remain motivated until you achieve your desire. This is one of the reasons, I continuously refine and present such detailed classes and blogs, month after month. I want you to succeed!

I have scheduled 4 new classes this spring, including two FREE Q&A’s, as well as two affordable, comprehensive courses.  All classes are designed to inspire and stimulate your desire to succeed in your goals, by providing practical and immediately useful information.

Join our Free Ask J’net Q&A on March 26th and May 14th for some ‘hot’ answers to your most pressing art marketing and licensing questions.

Below is our spring schedule of classes, part of the Worldwide Creators’ Intensive series.

Meanwhile, share this with your friends and colleagues; peruse the courses and register ASAP to get your questions answered!

Ask J’net Q&A’s

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Price: FREE Register: HERE

These one-hour classes are a ‘live’ phone event, where you provide the questions about art, design & character licensing and J’net provides the answers. When registering online, just write your question at the bottom of the form. 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.

Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.

NEW–Today’s PR and Promotion Essentials for Art Licensors

I’m excited to announce that I will be joined by Guest Presenter, Greg Walsh of Walsh PR, who will discuss Social Media’s role, mistakes to avoid and hot tips and trends in PR today!!

Date: Wednesday April 9, 2014

Time: 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 5 p.m. EDT

Duration: 2 hours including Q&A

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This class is for the emerging and intermediate level art licensor, those who both have agents and are working solo.  Join me for a comprehensive course that 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 or agent, if they handle your press).

The class will teach you how to:

·        develop your goals and create your own press plan

·        create targeted press lists

·        write effective press releases

·        build a press kit (and your brand)

·        determine priorities within Social Media, press and promotions

·        PR mistakes to avoid

·        plus 15 HOT press tips to turn up the HEAT!

The goal is for you to understand the PR tactics that will gain you exposure and build your brand and business.  This course will include more than 50 slides with guidelines and visual examples that relate to the licensing industry.

Greg Walsh of Walsh Public Relations, out of Fairfield, CT, will join J’net in presenting a part of this course.  A public relations veteran of 20+ years, Greg has extensive experience in creating PR campaigns through both the consumer and trade media. The brands, properties,and products he has successfully represented include: ZIGGY, U-Haul, Honeywell, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, National Geographic, Wild Republic Retail Stores, Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Lalaloopsy, Batman®, Chicken Soup for the Soul®, MTV Game, Slylock Fox & Comics For Kids.

NEW–Character Licensing (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)–This course has been totally updated and expanded.

Date: Wednesday May 21st, 2014

Time: 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 5 p.m. EDT

Duration: 2 hours including Q&A

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This course is an introduction to character licensing for cartoonists, animators and illustrators. A lot of creators ask: “What can I do with my characters?” This class will show you some very practical and useful answers to this question.

In this course, we will explore character licensing from the beginning first steps to the first signed contract. This class will teach you how to design characters to enhance their licensing potential, create exposure, leverage business opportunities, know when you are ready to license products and choose the product categories which are best for your characters. We will also cover the most important things to watch for and avoid.

If you are more inclined to create characters, than designs, then this is the right class for you. Your characters make sense to you…now let me help you make sure they will appeal to the broadest possible audience.  With the right industry knowledge and strategic thinking, you can learn how to share them with the world.

Remember, that if you want to attend a class, but have a scheduling conflict, the 2-hour courses always include a PowerPoint presentation & full audio, which will be provided the day after the live event. So sign up, save a few bucks by registering for the live event, but listen to them whenever you like!





Two Free Spring Classes (and more) from All Art Licensing

13 02 2014

CREATORSLOGO-2_3-smallIs the snow getting you down?  Join our Free Ask J’net Q&A next week and in March for some ‘hot’ answers to your most pressing art marketing and licensing questions. Below is our Spring line-up of classes, part of the Worldwide Creators’ Intensive series.

Next time my blog will focus on ‘Shopping Docs’…something all art licensors and artists should absolutely know about and use…so stay tuned for an information packed blog tomorrow (and a PDF example).

Meanwhile, share this with your friends and colleagues, peruse the courses and register ASAP to get your questions answered in all the classes!

Ask J’net Q&A

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Price: FREE Register: HERE

This one-hour class is a ‘live’ phone event, where you provide the questions about art, design & character licensing and J’net provides the answers. When registering online, just write your question at the bottom of the form. 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.

Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.

Marketing Your ART, CHARACTERS, DESIGNS and NEW BRANDS Through Trade Shows (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014—12 noon to 2 p.m. PST/3 p.m.—5 p.m. EST

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This 2-hour course will show you how to market your creativity successfully—whether art, characters, designs or a new brand concept—and enter the $152.2B licensing industry through trade shows and other practical marketing techniques.

This Worldwide Creators’ Intensive, 3-part, class will cover:

Part 1: Licensing and Trade Shows

Part 2: How to Get From ‘Internal Creative Process’ to ‘External Income Generation’

Part 3: How to prepare for and exhibit 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 will include a live audio and full PowerPoint presentation. However, if you cannot make the scheduled event time, we will be sending the full class (BOTH the audio and PowerPoint) to all registrants the following day. When you sign up, include any questions you would like answered at the bottom of your registration form and J’net will cover as many as possible during the class.

Please note: You will receive Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event, as well as a link so you can download the presentation, from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.

Character Licensing (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 – 12 noon to 2 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 5 p.m. EST

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This course is an introduction to character licensing for cartoonists, animators and illustrators. A lot of creators ask: “What can I do with my characters?” This class will show you some very practical and useful answers to this question. In this course, we will explore character licensing from the beginning first steps to the first signed contract. This class will teach you how to design characters to enhance their licensing potential, create exposure, leverage business opportunities, know when you are ready to license products and choose the product categories which are best for your characters. We will also cover the most important things to watch for and avoid. If you are more inclined to create characters, than designs, then this is the right class for you. Your characters make sense to you…now let me help you make sure they will appeal to the broadest possible audience.  With the right industry knowledge and strategic thinking, you can learn how to share them with the world.

This 2-hour class will include a live audio and full PowerPoint presentation. However, if you cannot make the scheduled event time, we will be sending the full class (BOTH the audio and PowerPoint) to all registrants the following day. When you sign up, include any questions you would like answered at the bottom of your registration form and J’net will cover as many as possible during the class.

Please note: You will receive Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event, as well as a link so you can download the presentation, from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.








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