Licensing Expo Recap and Mastering the Next Steps

14 06 2015

AAL Booth C13 at Licensing ExpoFrom set-up to break-down, the Licensing Expo delivered on its promise of bringing together worldwide brands, creators, artists, retailers and manufacturers to build business partnerships. We shared information daily from exhibitors and attendees in our blog…both from the Art+Design Zone, but also up-n-coming character properties.

Direction at Licensing Expo is so important!

Direction at Licensing Expo is so important!

I heard from many people, there was plenty of traffic and the leads were excellent.  I don’t think Licensing Expo has posted their ‘official’ attendance count yet, but the first day was pretty strong and the second day was even stronger with, of course, the inevitable slower third day. But for the Resource Center it never slowed down. We were still taking appointments even as the Booth was being demolished around us.

What a wonderful whirlwind. As Licensing Expo’s Art+Design Resource Center, we gave away 30+ free consultations, to exhibitors and attendees alike, as a part of our services. We also gave one of our new video classes and our 80+ free Minicourses to everyone, charged cell phones and laptops, printed urgent papers, and handed out bottled water to the thirsty.

Carlos Neville moved from the Art + Design Zone, closer to Characters, with his Pop the Balloon.

Carlos Neville moved from the Art + Design Zone, closer to Characters, with his Pop the Balloon.

Everyone participating in the Expo seemed to be very excited about the variety of prospects. While many artists mentioned they couldn’t get meetings with their ‘A’ list potential manufacturers, I heard later that several persistent artists caught their attention and managed to get those exciting appointments after all.

Joan Marie Celebrates Art in her first booth.

Joan Marie Celebrates Art in her first booth at Licensing Expo. She joins those who will be back in 2016.

Two hot topics throughout the Licensing Expo event were global exposure and digital media. Manufacturers from around the world met with artists and new properties and every corner of Asia was especially well represented at the Expo. All properties, new and evergreen, are seriously considering how they will gain and maintain exposure in this new digital world. And today it’s not just about exposure and the numbers, it’s all about ‘engagement.’

Debra Valencia and I catch up in her beautiful booth, designed as a brand concept store.

Debra Valencia and I catch up in her beautiful booth, designed as a brand concept store.

Engagement is how your audience will choose to interact with you and your brand. Also, who will help bring your products and brands into the limelight. Whether an artist or a property, there is a big trend in utilizing celebrities to increase exposure. Strategic alliances are well and good, as long as you have engagement once the audience grows. While this may not seem relevant to those of you who are new to art licensing, specifically, it does relate. Many new artists are turning to manufacturing some items on their own to develop their ‘following.’ Then online marketing and sales efforts will build your audience and strong sales numbers will absolutely impress manufacturers. It gives you something to leverage.

ANNE WAS HERE

ANNE WAS HERE

There was also a great deal of chatter about artists, designers and new properties getting high-level leads with companies the exhibitor didn’t expect! Each freely admitted they were in product categories they had never even considered would be interested. Exposure to so many types of properties and product categories at Licensing Expo is always an eye-opener and fuels broader business goals and plans.

Of course I heard complaints too, such as, ‘There is no room for new artists or properties.’ ‘How can we get anywhere when it’s all about the big-guys?’ ‘You need TV before you can do licensing.’ Or ‘You need publishing before you can get TV.’ But I was witness to several artists and properties who made great strides by being well prepared and really understanding what media players and manufacturers would want from a ‘newbie’ in the industry. Let’s see if they can stay the course and keep moving forward.

So now the final results for everyone is in the hands of our attention to detail and follow-up.

Mark Lubratt  and his Mom Linda spoke to many prospective   partners about Zoonicorns and will be attending Licensing Expo in 2016.

Mark Lubratt and his Mom Linda spoke to many prospective partners about Zoonicorns and will be attending Licensing Expo in 2016.

Ask J’net Q&A THIS WEEK

Now everyone has to sort and make decisions about how to follow-up with each and every person they met.  We have two classes this week to help you with these processes.  One is our FREE Ask J’net Q&A, in which I’ll focus on ‘After the Trade Show Questions.’  Feel free to ask about things: you saw at the Licensing Expo; that maybe didn’t make sense for you as a first-timer; which you are still confused about; and how to make the most of your time there through your strategic follow-up.  Ask any questions important to you right now and put them on your registration form. This Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT (you will receive your Classroom Access Information at least one-hour before the class). Register Here.

Art+Design Zone Action

Art+Design Zone Action

Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques

You won’t want to miss Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques. on Thursday, June 18th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT. This live phone event will be 1.5 hours and the cost is $75. After your purchase, you can attend live or after the event you will receive … an audio (MP3) file, 60+ page PowerPoint presentation (PDF format) and video link to watch the entire class at your convenience. We know everyone has a different way of learning, so we offer more ways to learn than other training events in the licensing industry.

This class has 3 parts which cover the 1) Organization of your follow-up, how exactly to 2) Follow Through carefully and accurately on your leads and 3) Sales Techniques that will close the deal and grow your business. You may place your questions on the registration form, and they will be answered during the live event.

The training will focus on characteristics of licensing sales which you won’t find in a traditional sales class. You will receive your Classroom Access information the evening before the class, June 17th, via email. Register Here.

Hope you can join me for one or both of the classes this week! Please share all this information with those who might want to attend the Expo next year or learn about our business. Thanks.

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Art+Design Resource Center, Year 2, and Jill McDonald Design Exhibits for First Time at Licensing Expo

8 06 2015

20150608_174800 (1)The Art+Design Resource Center in Booth C13 will be open for business tomorrow for its second year, as we kick-off the first day of Licensing Expo. There is so much happening at our booth, so here are just some of the resources being offered for Exhibitors and Attendees.

I’ll be posting my blog multiple times a day from the Art+Design Zone of the Licensing Expo. Attendees can view and read the blog on the UBI Advanstar wide-screen monitor in our booth or go online to Licensing Expo’s Show Blog. Included in the blog will be news and interviews with many captivating people from all facets of the industry.

We will be giving away a free ‘Introduction to Art Licensing Essentials – Profits, Promotions and Protection’ class to everyone who visits our booth. This is a comprehensive, nearly 2 hour course, and one of All Art Licensing’s many new, just launched, Worldwide Creators’ Intensive video courses.  We are scheduling appointments for free consultations, as well as helping new and veteran exhibitors in the Art+Design Zone with advice, directions, printing services and a phone charging station. Just as we did last year, manufacturers and retailers can also come and get advice and pointed in the right direction toward creators, artists and designers who will fit their needs.

20150608_174213As I began setting up the Art+Design Resource Center at Licensing Expo today, I was thrilled to see Jill McDonald of Jill McDonald Design is my (across the aisle) neighbor.  Not long ago we met over Skype for what turned out to be a really interesting and fun interview.  I am a big fan of Jill’s art and style, which appeals to kids and especially Moms.Ahoy Ocean

Jill has exhibited at Surtex for 11 years and is now expanding her marketing efforts by exhibiting for the first time at Licensing Expo. This is a longer interview, but it really shows a delightful level of honesty. I know you’ll enjoy learning about her experience with a manufacturer who is doing a line with more than 50 items, her new foray into publishing children’s books and her less-is-more philosophy!

For those of you not attending Licensing Expo this year, let All Art Licensing be your eyes and ears on the show floor, sharing a wealth of information.  Join me.

 

 





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.





Public Relations for Licensors – Artists, Designers, Characters & Brands – and My Top Ten Promotional Techniques

14 04 2015

Question:  What gives exposure, makes an impression and moves your business forward.

Answer: Public Relations.

As many of you know, I am a firm proponent of public relations as a marketing tool. It’s truly amazing that we have control over so much content these days. I discussed this in last month’s All Art Licensing Infoletter article, ‘Maximize Your Publicity-New Media Mix Offers Many Avenues to Tell Your Story.’ Click here to read or download.

Tomorrow I’m teaching ‘Public Relations for Today’s Licensor,’ one of my favorite and most important classes, which has been fully updated and revamped for 2015. If you really don’t understand how Public Relations works and want to either do-it-yourself (DIY) or manage your PR agency with more finesse, then invest in yourself and take this course. We’ll be covering how to develop your own lead lists and EXACTLY how to write press releases. In addition, I cover the top PR mistakes to avoid, plus social media techniques, top journalistic writing recommendations and a growing list of HOT press tips (which now exceeds 20) to get you noticed! I hope you will join me tomorrow. You can even register and get your questions answered during the class, but take the course at another time. In addition to an 80+ illustrated handout, you will receive the audio file the day after the class, so you can listen at your convenience. The cost is $60. Register here.

Today I’m sharing with you my Top Ten Self-Promotion Tips. I hope you will print them out and commit them to memory. One of the reasons that some of these, shall I say OBVIOUS, points made it to my Top Ten List, is because people, marketers, brands, artists, creators and companies of all kinds…STILL refuse to do them!

Say 'Hi!' if you see me at Licensing Expo or Surtex. Illustration courtesy of Debbie Tomassi who created 'Bodacious Broads.'

Say ‘Hi!’ if you see me at Licensing Expo or Surtex. Illustration courtesy of Debbie Tomassi who created ‘Bodacious Broads.’

1. 24/7 Marketing is Key – make it a habit…repeat…repeat.
2. Join the Conversation – real connections hold real power.
3. Target Your Ideal Clients – or your dream won’t become reality.
4. Develop a Mailing List of Interested People – get permission to send them updates.
5. Don’t Ask for Subscribers – change “subscribe” to “get updates.”
6. Blogs Need Promotion Too – if you have decided that blogging is key to your business, then promote it. Make sure you have a focus, that the blog is targeted to only ONE audience, and that your time investment will pay-off.
7. Have a Personal Story – don’t hide the personal side.
8. Don’t Forget to Call or Email – find a good reason to work with interesting people with the right knowledge and contacts and then reach out to them individually.
9. Think About the Long Term – make sure your plans include short and long-term goals and tactics.
10. Be Enjoyable and Professional to Work With – you would be amazed at how few people are and how much this will make you stand out!

Another great place to get self-promotion tips is from Austin Kleon’s book titled, ‘Show Your Work!’ Here’s a fun and beneficial quick-read article from Fast Company Magazine.

Check out All Art Licensing’s complete line up of Worldwide Creator’ Intensive Courses (we don’t just hold classes, we train thoroughly). Click here for the April schedule or to register for the “Public Relations for Today’s Licensor’ course.








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