Six Tips for Creating a Trade Show Ready Portfolio

11 05 2016

Portfolio development and trade show planning is one of the most asked about topics in my business. Understanding how to trade show test one’s portfolio is important for artists and designers to know if their portfolio has what it takes to cut through the clutter.

Kitty Ice Cream by Joan Marie

Kitty Ice Cream by Joan Marie

There are many types of portfolios—enough to mirror the creative minds we have in this amazing licensing industry. And while everyone’s work is unique, putting together a compelling portfolio presentation to grab attention while distracted prospects are running the gamut of brain aerobics required at trade shows, is certainly a challenge.

Here are some solid techniques to maximize the effectiveness of your portfolios while attending trade shows:
1) Portfolio Size
The size of your portfolio for a show will depend greatly on how long you have been in the art licensing business, and whether the artist is participating as an exhibitor or attendee. An artist who has been in the business for 10 years with a consistent art style—who might add 5 to 10 collections a year—will probably have 100 or more collections to choose from.
Manufacturers want to see a body of work, enough to keep them interested and know the artist is committed to the business. If artists are exhibiting at a major trade event, then think in terms of presenting 20 to 30 collections in a variety of themes and developing a system to access most of any viable work. If you are walking a show, keep it light and bring your newest items and a few solid collections which you want to exploit further.

2) Portfolio Organization
Artists must make sure to organize their portfolios for a trade event by theme, since that is how manufacturers buy collections. They seek out art to fit their product line needs for everyday (including seasonal-fall, winter, spring, and summer), holidays (Christmas, Halloween, Valentines, and Easter), occasions (Birthday, Graduation, and Baby Shower) and niche themes/lifestyles (cooking, flowers, spa, sports, country chic, lodge, beach). Organizing collections in other ways will just make it more difficult for the manufacturer and is likely to frustrate them and turn them off.

3) Portfolio Review
Licensees want to see what artists have that’s new. So while an art style may interest them, new art keeps them coming back to ‘see what you’ve got.’
Creating new art for key trade shows is vital, as is sharing new collections throughout the year. Think about how many collections you will create (approximately) for the year, and plan out the releases based on trade shows you will attend. Artists should launch new collections at trade shows and plan on having other new releases following major events to keep the conversations going with potential.

4) Portfolio Flow
Portfolios should ebb and flow. Artists should add new items and take out old items regularly—that’s the way to keep it fresh! Also, they should make sure to keep their newest art at the beginning of the themed sections in their portfolio.
Artists can absolutely continue to use images and collections that were shown last year, or even from years before. However, take out designs that no longer fit the artist’s style, or are no longer ‘in style’ or ‘on trend.’ Think realistically about how long the art will be relevant in the marketplace, and, therefore, to manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If artists are trend driven, it may be one to three years. If artists are very traditional in their themes and style, then eight to 10 years would not be an unusual length of time to keep some art in their portfolios.

5) Portfolios Technology
If an artist has a booth at an upcoming show, it’s best to have duplicate copies of your portfolio for multiple viewers. In addition, make sure there are hard copies and digital versions available. It is important to put the portfolio in a tablet, phone or computer which does not require the Internet to access the images. The last thing artists want is to be dependent on the Wi-Fi in a large convention hall, hotel or conference center with spotty reception. Keep images at an appropriately high resolution for how they will be shown: 300 dpi for print portfolios and look books, and 72 dpi for electronic images.
Use touch-screen computers or tablets to make it easy for anyone to glance through a portfolio at his or her own pace (without having to learn your technology). Keep it simple. I don’t recommend attending a meeting with so much high-tech equipment and business paraphernalia—artist’s phone, tablet, computer, briefcase, and hardcopy portfolio—that they are utterly incapacitated by trying to juggle them all. Think light; think efficient (less is more).

6) Website Portfolios
While physical trade show portfolios are important, just because artists are exhibiting in a booth or attending a show, doesn’t mean that someone an artist meets with won’t quickly check-out the artist’s website. In fact, isn’t that what every artist is hoping for?
For this and many other reasons, it is important that an artist’s website be up-to-date before he or she attend a trade show. The online portfolio should include enough of the art to show a breadth of themes and the depth of an artist’s capabilities. But I don’t recommend that artists show your entire portfolio. It’s not wise or necessary to have every collection out on your site. Of course, artists should take as many precautions as possible by using a watermark on the art and copyright on each piece and/or collection. Some artists do prefer a password-protected portfolio area, especially if they have extensive work to keep organized.

Reprise: My article was written for and originally published by ‘The Licensing Book,” Spring 2015. I am happy to share it again after so many requests for information about portfolio development.  And my sincere thanks to Joan Marie for allowing me to share some of her amazing art images.

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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.





Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience (Part 2)

22 04 2015

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.37.48 AMThis is Part 2, the conclusion, of ‘Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience’ 

5. Prepare press releases before AND after the show – This is one of the times you really need to reach out and share your business news and information. Publicity, such as those mentions or articles in magazines, blogs, newspapers, trade publications, are often more credible, believable and profitable than other types of exposure. Before the show it’s important to make sure everyone knows you will be attending, where to find you, and what you have to offer. After the show, it’s time to share the news about your accomplishments and executed deals.

4. Create a promo video – Videos are one of the most powerful and persuasive marketing tools available today. Keep in mind that a moving presentation overview draws in prospective clients, but be sure to share with them with your more detailed follow-up material when it comes to your one-on-one meetings. Try to format your videos for as many different platforms as possible. Videos can be used on booth monitors and on tablets and smartphones for impromptu presentations outside your booth, as well as in online public relations and for social media exposure. If you have a property that lends itself to an interactive demo, then go for it. By giving attendees something to do, it gives you more time to interact and discuss their needs. As you can see, your promotional videos will take on a variety of formats for different purposes. By organizing the goals and needs clearly before creating the videos, you can economize on the development of your materials.

3. Take time away from the booth – This takes preparation because you need the staffing to cover you when you step away, as well as to decide how to use your precious time. Get clear on your priorities so you can visit booths of prime prospects and competitors first. Make friends with your neighbors and take time to attend sessions where your prospects are speaking or might attend. And in general, talk to everyone to meet new people and make new friends. Whether in line for coffee, lunch, the restroom, or sitting at a training session or on the escalator…talk to the people around you. This is really the best way to take full advantage of your networking opportunities. Someone you struck up a conversation with is much more likely to stop when passing your booth on the show floor—and even if they aren’t a prospect, you never know WHO THEY KNOW. Once you have accomplished your goals, definitely take time to roam and get inspired by ideas and connections that hadn’t yet occurred to you.

2. Ask for what you are looking for – While many people might consider it too forward or rude, you will not get what you want if you don’t ask for it. This is what separates the effective business people from the ineffective ones. Write down exactly what it is you want your new contacts to know and what you are asking them to do. Make sure you relay it often and to everyone in a professional way. Again, be assertive, not aggressive. If you are unclear with yourself about what you want others to do, they will not know how to help you even when they are willing. Practice your points until you have them memorized.

1. What do YOU have to offer – This seems like a very obvious instruction, but you would be surprised how few people actually express clearly what they are offering. Remember that industry events, especially trade shows, are jam-packed with influential and busy individuals. You want to talk with everyone you can. Because you never know if they have the means to help your business in a variety of ways. And remember, common courtesy goes a long ways! You may not be as well-known as many of these folks, but you are important too. You need to be very clear about what you have to offer, so that you know exactly what you bring to the relationship. Conversations with high-ranking execs will go must smoother when you know exactly what you have to offer them. It’s important to have a realistic and dynamic vision of what you bring to the table, so that moving forward you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, including your own.

There is still time to register for ‘Marketing Your Art, Characters, Designs & New Brands through Trade Shows,‘ which begins today at 10 a.m. PDT. If you can’t attend today, you will receive an MP3 audio file and 80-page PowerPoint presentation at the conclusion of the class. For more information and to register click here.

Note: This article ran originally in the Licensing Expo Newsletter. All Art Licensing will be available at the Resource Center in the Art + Design zone Booth #C-13 where I will be reporting on deals and events, assisting attendees in navigation of the trade show, providing free expert licensing advice and supporting the Art + Design category exhibitors. Hope to see you there!





Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience (Part 1)

21 04 2015

LE booth interaction at Resource CenterThis is Part 1 of a 2-part special blog, so watch tomorrow’s to read the conclusion of the countdown.

Once you have your booth design completed, there is a host of other preparations to attend to. Actually preparing for the show and going ‘beyond the booth’ will assure that you have made the most of the time and money you invest in the show.

I know there are many of you who are just starting out or exhibiting for the first time and may not have thought of these, especially numbers #1 and #2 (in tomorrow’s post)! And for those of you who are seasoned veterans, it never hurts to skim and review good tactics.

If you aren’t sure whether you are ready for exhibiting at a trade show, or are exhibiting for the first time, definitely read my article below and seriously consider joining my class tomorrow. ‘Marketing Your Art, Characters, Designs & New Brands Through Trade Shows,’ will help you maximize your investment. This class explains exactly how to make intelligent decisions about whether you are ready (OR NOT) to exhibit at trade shows, as well as how to choose the appropriate shows and what you need to do to go from ‘internal creative concepts’ to ‘creating external income.’

We will cover an invaluable checklist of 25 questions which MUST be answered BEFORE you should invest the time and money in a trade show and how to prepare for and exhibit at the shows and create marketing to drive traffic to your booth. I’m really excited to be offering this class. Even if tomorrow doesn’t work with your schedule you can register, ask your questions, and take the class at your convenience through our MP3 audio file and 80-page PowerPoint presentation. Here’s a link to our course schedule page to register and get more details.

Now…in two parts: Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience

10. Make the most of your time – This takes planning and organization before the show. Create a list of goals to be completed before the end of the event. It should include people you want to see, booths you want to visit and educational sessions that are important to attend. Think about your overall goals and the people who can help you achieve them. Then I recommend looking at the exhibitor’s list for those who could be potential strategic partners, affiliates or licensees, as well as gathering information on your biggest competition.

9. Schedule appointments before the show – You will need to cull your existing lead list, as well as review the prior and current exhibitors lists for the show you are attending. If you know of companies important to building your business then find their contact information. It never hurts to introduce yourself and ask if they are attending the show. It is essential to prioritize the lead lists, so that you can request and schedule appointments with the companies which are most important to you.

8. Create specific goals for your meetings – In addition to your overall goals, you should prepare specific goals for each of your individual meetings so you will be well prepared to make the most of them. I strongly suggest if possible to research the businesses and people prior to each meeting and customizing the presentation when appropriate.

7. Prepare your content – Once you have created a compelling booth that tells a story, make sure you have the content—the ‘goods’—to back it up. Have collections, stories, scripts, designs, images that are immediately licensable. If you are a ‘concept booth,’ prepare as much content (television scripts, book manuscript, style guide imagery, etc.) as you can to show prospective licensees what they would be licensing from you and why a partnership will be profitable.

6. Take the conversations as far as they can go – Make sure that your homework includes writing down and practicing the questions which will move deals forward. This is especially important for the meetings with people you have already met with or spoken to prior to the show, and are now renewing or continuing the conversations. For the new contacts, most trade show attendees will usually give you 5 minutes or less of their time. Create and be prepared to share a VERY brief presentation, and then listen (DO NOT TALK YOURSELF OUT OF THE SALE)! As a rule of thumb, let them lead the discussion—be present and assertive, never aggressive. Then…you can ask questions to move things forward and make sure, as your potential customer leaves the booth that you have defined and agreed upon the next steps.

Note: The countdown continues tomorrow with the top 5 ways to make the most of your trade show experience.





Stationery Show and Surtex 2013

4 06 2013

floral_graphics_vector_58899Once again, Stationery Show and Surtex have come and gone, amidst the latest gorgeous designs, art and products.

Many bloggers have already expressed their comments about the shows, and here are mine: a few thoughts about the Stationery Show from my perspective as an Agent, as well as a section (which will run tomorrow) with things I heard from attendees and exhibitors at Surtex and my comments.

Stationery Show

First of all, this is definitely one of my favorite trade show events. I personally felt an overall sense of optimism from both those in the booths and those walking this Show. The mood was light and energetic. It’s so an exquisite and scintillating feeling to be amidst all the latest stationery products, many of which are a direct result of licensed art and design.  It makes me proud to be in the business.

With more than a dozen scheduled appointments over 2 days, I was prepared with portfolios in both  hard copies and electronic versions. The meetings with manufacturers at the Stationery Show included meeting new people and re-connecting with those I’ve known for years.

In your first meetings with a manufacturer, I recommend you come prepared with questions.

Ask the manufacturer:

  • what are your best-selling products?
  • who is your best-selling licensed artist?
  • what trends are you seeing?
  • what exactly are you looking for at this show (short-term)?
  • anything else you are looking for (long-term)?
  • who makes the final decisions on licensing?

(Obviously this is just a start, the more questions the better! And the questions will vary, depending on whether your meeting is a generic introduction, as in this example, or whether you are discussing the need for a specific piece of art or you’re further down the road negotiating a product licensing deal.)

Whether you have scheduled a meeting with a manufacturer, or they dropped by your booth, you need to really honor their time and appreciate their attention. Answer their questions, and LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN.  Nothing is more valuable that gathering information that you can use and getting to know the person.

Then you can share your background, art and news in a genuine way.

Share with the manufacturer:

  • your portfolio, if they have never seen it or
  • new portfolio items they haven’t seen before
  • anything you can think of that might fit their goals (short or long-term)
  • think fast and share examples of deals you’ve done, or experience you have that relates to things they shared (based what you talk about on something you learned from LISTENING)
  • lastly, always ask if there is anything you can do for them.  Even if your art isn’t a good fit for them, do what you can for other manufacturers and artists and leave a great impression.

Our meetings, and hopefully yours, were very productive in finding out more about our prospects’ needs and sharing with them how we can help.  Progress was made by identifying new creative to send, and in some cases to develop and send, as well as deals were struck. I love being in meetings and seeing the eyes of a creative director light up, or a chuckle escape their lips when they read a humorous note. Especially when they see exactly what they want!

For each meeting your goal should always be to leave with a very specific ‘to do’ list of items to create or adapt and send to the prospective licensee. It should also include timeframes.

(Tomorrow’s blog will be on Surtex…)








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