CREATE YOUR MONEY MAP (Marketing Action Plan) DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT

12 01 2017

The next MONEY MAP question asks: What is your product? Here is where you get to describe exactly what your product is. Are you a designer, illustrator, cartoonist with a character, an author or a brand? Make sure you are thorough in this description and focus on the details of how your product relates to the marketplace (specifically your audience). describe-your-product-day-4-final

If you are an art licensor, your product is not one image or even one collection, it’s all your work which embodies your design style, its qualities and the characteristics which make your work unique. This is what makes you distinctive, your unique selling point, or USP as marketers refer to it.

All artists, who become brands, have a USP. So make sure you can identify your USP and are able to explain it to others.

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31 Days of Marketing Tips for All Art Licensors- Tip #18

18 10 2016

18p





Fall is Here; Time to Prepare for New Growth

17 09 2015

fall-downFall is a profound time of year for me.  While the leaves of the trees are dying, in reality I know that it is simply preparing itself for renewal. I find the falling leaves a comforting and productive movement.  It feels right to clean out the cobwebs and clutter of our lives and thoughts and shed the old as we get ready for growth. So I went on the internet to look for quotes which express this inherent inspiration.  What I found was a Japanese proverb, not exactly related to autumn, but inspiring, nonetheless. The proverb is: Fall down seven times stand up eight.

So, if it feels like fall is here and you are ready for something new, but aren’t quite sure where to find it, I collected and put together these guiding principles to help you with your endeavors. These will guarantee you make the most of September through November, traditionally a very productive time period, before enjoying the holidays.  I strongly recommend you take advantage of this advice, or before you know it, Christmas and then the New Year will be here (…I mean didn’t summer just fly by? And here it is mid-September already).

Take just a few minutes and review these tips and then answer each ‘biz question,’ as honestly as possible and apply the principles directly to your business.  I am quite sure many or all of them will hit a nerve and create a new connection.

  1. Attitude is everything. – Your frame of mind affects every action (and inaction). Don’t let you’re your moods control your life, or you will be overtaken by the current and forced down stream to a destination you never intended. Only your inner force and self-determination can keep you on track and get you to your ultimate goals.
    Biz question: Is there anything I need to change about my attitude, perspective or life to improve my business? If so, what?
  1. Stay focused on your goals. – It takes belief and a strong desire to concentrate on the changes necessary to achieve success. If your goals are clear, then it is easier to stay focused.  So begin by clarifying your goals before you get so frustrated you can’t or won’t take action.  If you are unsure of the process, or the next steps required, then seek the advice you need.
    Biz question: Do you have clear and measurable goals for your business and specifically for this fall time frame?
  1. Spend time wisely. – Time, unlike money, is something that you can’t get back. So every day you want to be as fully present as possible in each task you do, as well as choose those activities with care. Make sure your time and efforts are contributing to the wonderful aspects of your life, relationships and business endeavors.  The worst thing you can do is to spend your time on auto-pilot.  There is very little joy (or productivity, for that matter) in it.
    Biz question: How can I spend my time right now to get the best results for my business, both now and in the future?
  1. Be open-minded. – You never know where the next inspiration, great idea or deal will come from. To be open-minded you need to find ways to stay mindful and aware. Take the time to explore new activities and people and be open to new influences and experiences. A closed mind, frankly, has nowhere to go.
    Biz question: Are you open-minded to the fact that you might not know where the next awesome idea, opportunity or contribution to your business may come from?Picture2
  1. Pick a path. – There are many pathways leading to your ultimate goals. But to get anywhere you need to pick one and stick with it long enough to get there.  Then along that path, there will be many obstacles of varying degrees and nature which require decisions.  One time you may feel that breaking that obstacle down, bit-by-bit, is the right answer.  In another case, going around it works fine.  And sometimes you even have to find a new path. My father used to jokingly say, “You can’t get there from here, you have to start someplace else.”  And often that’s true. If the path dead ends or goes off course, then you MUST find a new way to achieve your goals.
    Biz question: What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?  Can you identify the top five reasons in priority order?
  1. Read between the lines. – Whether you are enjoying this blog, having coffee with friends or meeting with business professionals, reading between the lines is an imperative skill. Always go deeper than the surface. What do you need to learn, know or understand about what’s happening to get the most from the experience? Everything is happening for a reason and seeking the essence and purpose of the moment may be exactly what you should be doing to find the wisdom you need.
    Biz question: Can you look beyond the obvious tasks throughout your day and find the non-apparent insights that provide guidance for your business?
  1. Never lose hope. – Hope is the energy that drives all ambition and motivation. It is an essential element in all our endeavors and losing hope is like losing your engine. You must constantly be on guard against the negative emotions that deplete hope and eventually will prevent you from succeeding. No matter what the challenge; don’t  give up.
    Biz question: Can you identify your hope and how it powers your progress in business?  If hope is waning, what can you do to refuel?
  1. Create awesome habits. – What you do today and every day will become the habits of tomorrow. It’s important to choose actions that create the right habits. Discipline yourself to create the specific habits that you need to grow.
    Biz question: What business habits would you like to create or improve upon that will help achieve your goals? (You might want to read or revisit my blog titled: “An Art Licensor’s Continuing Education” to help you think about the wide variety of topics and skills needed to build a licensing business.)




FREE Ask J’net Q&A Tomorrow; Plus Sales & Trade Show Follow Through Techniques Course

15 06 2015

LE Banner crop versionI used the term whirlwind in yesterday’s blog, referring to the feeling of attending and coming home from the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.  But now it doesn’t even seem to capture the essence of all the leads, ideas, contacts and knowledge to be learned and shared from a week at the show.  So I am going to change my reference and just call it what it is: a wonderful ‘tornado’ of opportunity!

If you are experiencing the same overwhelming feeling from looking at your notes and leads, combined with the pressure of having to follow-up intelligently on everything, then take a break and listen to the Ask J’net Q&A tomorrow.  This one-hour, live phone event is dedicated to questions about ‘After the Trade Show…’  There is still time to register and get your questions in the mix, so register now and put your question at the bottom of the form.

I think you will find the Ask J’net Q&A really helpful, whether you are sorting and making decisions about how to follow-up with each and every person you met at the Licensing Expo, or whether you walked the show floor or are just thinking about attending Licensing Expo next year and are wondering what to expect.  Both of my classes this week will help you with these processes.

Ask J’net Q&A TOMORROW

Again, my FREE Ask J’net Q&A will focus on ‘After the Trade Show Questions.’  Feel free to ask about:

  • things you saw at the Licensing Expo;
  • trade show events or etiquette that perhaps didn’t make sense to you as a first-timer;
  • things which still confuse you;
  • how to evaluate opportunities
  • how to close deals
  • 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  -TOMORROW- 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.

Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques THIS THURSDAYIMG_0630

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 the 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.

Keep asking great questions and you’ll receive the answers, that’s for sure!





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.

 

 





BrokenHeart Pets Rescue – Working Hard for their Big Break

27 04 2015

S&Btalk-2I recently interviewed Daryl Slaton, partner in Tails of Whimsy, a storybook studio, and the artist/author of BrokenHeart Pets Rescue about their characters and their journey.

J’net Q: Many of my readers are interested in developing characters and character-based properties. I have been representing the publishing aspect of BrokenHeart Pets Rescue. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters?
Daryl A: Scooter. the dog, and his sidekick Boots, the cat, were once homeless but have now found loving, “fur-ever” families. They wear a broken heart emblem on their chests in solidarity with other homeless animals and their whimsical stories focus on ways to rescue and protect them. I have written the story and created the character art. My partner (and wife) Louise Glickman is a writer and designer with a public relations and marketing background, and also brings business management skills to Tails of Whimsy.

Q: How did the concept for Scooter and Boots get created?
A: Louise is from New Orleans and, though we now live in Asheville, NC, we had both given time to saving animals in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The head of the Louisiana SPCA and hundreds of volunteers developed ways to save over 9,000 pets and were able to return over half of them to their original homes! We were honored when they asked us to create something “special” to thank the volunteers for their efforts Christmas of 2005. Thus, Scooter and Boots first appeared as animation on the non-profit’s website. However, they didn’t surface again until we needed one extra banner for our Licensing Expo booth in 2013!

Q: How have you developed the market for two key characters?
A: It feels like Scooter and Boots have become late-in-life children for us. We talk about them daily and have been fortunate enough to tailor them into a portfolio of products that bring their stories to life.

BHPheads1In January 2015, we decided that we needed to test market them by building a fan base on social media. We had Scooter made into a puppet and began posting images of him around town as well as creating cartoon posts of both characters. We now have over 10,000 Facebook fans and remain active on Twitter, LinkedIn and on our blog.

Q: How have the characters and story evolved based on your ideas vs market needs?20140409_135212
A: After exhibiting our first time at Licensing Expo 2013, our initial feedback was that our story of homeless pets was “just too sad.” People loved the characters but despite repeated attempts to show the upbeat side of the Scooter and Boots’ back story, licensees and publishers remained unconvinced.

At Licensing Expo 2014, we brought puppet Scooter to “meet” visitors to our booth. The truth is, you can get away with a whole lot when you speak through the voice of a puppet. On a whim, Scooter did a short interview with ArtMoose, a production studio. I was curled up under the desk performing as Scooter, but I’m not a puppeteer. For a first time try, we got a huge response. A group gathered and applauded when the interview ended and an entertainer with her manager came by and asked Scooter to come to Sacramento for a show (which he did last August). But best of all, we partnered with ArtMoose to create a TV pilot called “Scooter News Network.” It’s ready to show to networks, sponsors and underwriters at Licensing Expo 2015. Scooter will be also doing “live” broadcasts this year at the ArtMoose booth.

Q: Why do you think your characters are different and unique?
A: I have thought long and hard about the voices of Scooter and Boots. To our knowledge, there isn’t another whimsical property that is so focused on finding homes for animals and on care and conservation worldwide. The trick has been to keep their humor and character intact, delivering their targeted message but still staying funny and fun. They are more entertainment than education and we always have to balance their voice carefully as well as keep it focused on our target audience of children 3-9.

Between 5 and 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and only 1 out of 10 dogs born ever find a home. Stray cats alone may be as high as 70 million annually in the U.S.

Q: What has surprised you both most about this journey?
A: Two things, really.

First and foremost, how long it takes to monetize a property after you’ve developed a character. A good part of my commercial art career was built on my ability to create characters for corporate branding and that I was an early champion of doing this digitally. I’m very quick and experienced at adapting them for illustrations, ads, trade show displays and animation. This comes naturally to me but creating the character is the simplest part of the licensing and publishing game. What counts most is what you do with them and how you can market them to publishers, agents, studios and distributors. Also, staying focused on your audience and message.

Secondly, and speaking broadly (there are always exceptions), characters are virtually nothing without their stories. Even though I’ve had a bit of success in licensing some character art (without a story), the biggest responses have been to my story-driven characters. Basically, if you have a story to tell then publishing goes hand-in-hand with licensing. Even with our positive response at Licensing Expo and sound advice from agents and consultants, we’ve had to learn two industries from the inside out! For the first time, we will do both Book Expo America and Licensing Expo this year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed to get noticed, get published and get signed contracts!

Q: Why do you keep persisting to get more exposure and fans for Scooter and Boots? What drives you both?
A: We love Scooter and Boots and our other properties, too. But we have to prove their commercial viability to get a deal. Publishers, licensees and manufacturers insist on credibility and exposure before they are willing to commit to new licensors. In discussions and proposals, I want to show that I am more than just a character designer and storyteller. My wife has a marketing background and we have resourced additional talent to our company who bring editorial services and social media skills to our mix. In this respect, we want to make publishers and licensees aware that by working with Tails of Whimsy, they are getting art, stories and savvy business partners.BHpetsSellSheet72Post4

What drives me? This is what I do. I love creating characters and their stories. It’s that simple. I like the idea of making people smile.

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you have received regarding Scooter and Boots’ BrokenHeart Pets Rescue?
A: Be patient and stick with it. To get from character to contract in licensing, it takes a whole lot of drive as well as financial commitment.

Update from J’net: My next Free Ask J’net Q&A, Tuesday, May 5th at 10:00 am  PDT / 1:00 pm EDT, is dedicated to the topic of Trade Shows. I will cover as many questions as possible in the one-hour Q&A relating to Surtex, Book Expo, Licensing Expo or other trade shows – walking them, attending your first year, exhibiting at them…whatever you need to know to help your business grow! Here’s our schedule page, please register early and get put your question at the bottom of the registration form. 





Heartfelt Art Licensing Lessons- An Interview with Joan Marie

13 02 2015

DotHeartFor my valentine to everyone, I wanted to share this story of Joan Marie, a vivacious artist who is re-launching her art licensing business this year. Having great success early in her licensing career, 20+ years ago, only to have the business plummet, has taught this artist a few heartfelt lessons.

J’net Q: How did you get into the licensing business?
Joan Marie A: Mary Engelbreit inspired me. Watching her business flourish was very exciting. Then I began to see the bigger picture and it really intrigued me.

Q: You have a fine art background, is that right?
A: Yes, my undergraduate degree was from Washington University in St. Louis and my MFA was from both University of South Florida, in Tampa, and Lindenwood University in St. Louis.

Q: How did you get your first deals and what kinds of licensing have you done?Joan Marie
A: I researched companies by going shopping and by attending some national conventions to find the best companies to work with. I wrote down tons of names. Then I would call them to see if they were interested in working with a freelance artist. If they were interested, I sent them a hardcopy of my portfolio with 10-20 images. And I got rejected a lot. When the company that was to be my first licensee called, they first offered me a flat rate. I had been so excited to get their call, then my heart dropped. I told them, I can’t work that way, I must have a royalty. And the manufacturer said they don’t work on a royalty basis. So we both hung up. At the time, I was pretty desperate and I paced and fought myself NOT to call them back. Then he called me back about 4 hours later…and they offered me a royalty. Next I had to create the contract, which I did, through a volunteer organization that offered legal services to ‘starving artists.’ From there I followed the same procedure to get more deals, and really persisted. It took a long time to get going. Then my art sold very well for about 10 years on apparel, stationery, back-to-school and gift items. I had one cat design that sold over 1.5 million t-shirt transfers, which was amazing. And creating 2 lines of collectible plates with The Hamilton Collection was such an exciting time of national recognition. But all of a sudden the public totally stopped buying kittens and unicorns; the market was really saturated with the themes I had painted.bird in flight

Q: What is your favorite part of doing art licensing?
A: Knowing your art can add a smile, some excitement, and warm someone’s heart while using everyday products. It just feels like crazy fun to me. It makes me so happy. I think this is a sign that I am in the right business. “Life is supposed to be FUN!”…and that’s how it feels to be in this industry.

Q: So how has your art changed since those earlier days?
A: My art has covered many styles over the years. Early on I was primarily realistic in my imagery using classic oil techniques. Then I went through a purely abstract phase. Today I combine the ethereal and gently romantic quality of my past realistic art with my new confident intensity. It is very exciting to express so many of life’s emotions in one work of art. My new art is bolder. It captures the high energy passions I see in life.Zebras

Q: What was your biggest hurdle to get where you are today?
A: To stop being concerned about what will sell. Instead to create art that expresses my true vision and passion for life. If your focus is on creating what will sell, you may make a survival income, but you will never discover your unique voice and say something that will truly speak to others. If it doesn’t come from your joy, or your soul, it has no chance to gain a huge following. It is also a challenge to never give up and keep going through the ups and downs in this industry. One of the best words of wisdom I have heard is: “There is a lot of room at the top.” This artist was telling me that very few artists are willing to do what it takes to get to the top, so keep the faith and keep loving the process of getting there.

DoggiesQ: How has the art licensing industry changed since you were in it 20 years ago?
A: Oh wow! BIG changes! Artists were not using computers!!! No Photoshop or email! Can you IMAGINE that??! Finding companies to submit to was so much more challenging…and OH MY!!! I felt so ALONE. We really had nowhere to turn to get help understanding the business! There were NO J’net Smiths at the end of the phone or computer to give us endless valuable information and help!!! All we had was the “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines,” which was and still is really valuable. But that’s it. And mailing hard copies of portfolios was expensive. Then learning how each company wanted their submissions was a much bigger challenge.

Q: What’s the biggest ‘from the trenches’ tip you can offer to newcomers to art licensing?
A: My advice is to learn how to use your strengths and go to others for their strengths to help you get the job done. There are so many more resources available today; it’s such a blessing. So learn who and where those resources are and get out there and use them. I need to focus and not insist on doing everything myself. Read, talk to people and get professional advice. I am thrilled to get assistance on my branding, promotions, publicity, leads and more. We are meant to help each other and not work alone like an island. That’s what I used to do. Secondly, I think you really need to have great passion for this industry, as I’ve mentioned. If that deep drive and excitement or the love of the entire process and of being in business for yourself is not there, then the challenges will surely beat you down. I would also highly recommend having some savings to invest in the start-up of your business. You have to be patient, because it takes a long time for the volume to build up and to make the kind of dollars you want.

Q: In art licensing today, what is your biggest challenge?7WsexhilSM (1)
A: Not to fall into self-doubt or fill my mind with thoughts of feeling stressed…AND to not be concerned about what will sell instead being true to what I am here to express through my art. Gaining wisdom through the years has given me the ability to step out of those old patterns. Now I say: “I believe”…“I trust”… I know in my heart that everything is going perfectly, just as it should. It’s fantastic to feel grounded and excited all at once, knowing that this is what I am here to do.

To see more of Joan Marie’s Art That Celebrates, click here to visit her website.








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