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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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. 





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.





5 Mistakes that Character Creators Often Make

28 01 2015

Do you have an idea for a new character? Do you think your new character would be an ideal fit for television, books, apps, games, toys or comics? Well, that is a great start. But to fully develop a character that you can sell or license as a larger media property, you’ll need to know that character from the inside out. And you’ll need to be able to communicate the nuances of the character to your audience, quickly and expertly.

If you have created and developed a character and are wanting to build a property, with media and licensing, then consider the following advice. Take these five common mistakes and create your own check-list of things ‘not to do’ when it comes to building your own character or character brand:

1. Create vague characters. This is a no-no. Your characters can’t look like or behave like everyone else’s’ dog, cat or whatever. Your characters need to be distinguishable with specific traits, style, and purpose. Develop the detailed background and dreams for your characters, including answering the questions: who, what, when where, why and how.
2. Think that ‘everyone’ is your target audience. Instead, find a niche audience where you can gain some impact and create impressions before broadening your scope. Try to figure out where your target audience lives, works and plays…and most importantly…how they prefer to get their entertainment and information. Eventually you can adapt your content to expand the audience. But don’t ever think that ‘everyone’ is your target audience.
3. Assume people will immediately ‘get’ your characters the way you do. Don’t be naive. You need to mentally put yourself in your audiences’ chair to adequately understand their perspective. This is a powerful internal tool to develop. You can then create your character’s personality and mannerisms, so your audience can ‘see’ just how funny, ironic, sweet, improbable, dumb, charismatic, sarcastic, ill-at-ease, or whatever your characters really are! It is up to you to develop these traits, as well as create exposure through media, products and other channels.
4. Attend trade shows ill-prepared. Creator’s frequently exhibit at trade shows too early in the development of their characters. In addition, they fail to design the proper materials to actually sell producers, publishers, manufacturers and retailers on doing a deal. Without the right marketing materials and content, these potential partners can’t distribute your characters to their biggest potential audience and help build the brand. Be sure you are ready and get the help you need to do it right.
5. Develop non-sustainable characters. Do your characters appeal to a large target audience, or one at least big enough to support your creations and accomplish your goals? Do they fulfill a long-lasting need in the marketplace, which means they could become ‘evergreen’ characters? Or are they a flash on the horizon of trends? Be careful not to put your time and energy into characters, unless they have the audience potential to match and sustain your ideas and dreams.

Hammy from the 'Over the Hedge' Movie

Hammy from the ‘Over the Hedge’ Movie

All of these mistakes can be avoided with the proper training. I have two excellent classes which elaborate on these specific problems. One class, in which I collaborated with Michael Fry, creator of ‘Over the Hedge’ (DreamWorks) and ‘The Odd Squad –Bully Bait’ (Disney-Hyperion) is called ‘Building Character – How to Cash In On Your Characters Without Losing Your Soul.’

Or you may be planning to attend a trade show and interested in: ‘Marketing Your Art, Characters, Designs and New Brands Through Trade Shows’. Each of these can be purchased and downloaded through our website. The next FREE Ask J’net Q&A is open to everyone who wants to ask questions about characters and character licensing next week, Thursday, February 5th from 12:00-1:00 p.m. PST / 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST. The registration form includes a place at the bottom for your questions, and you will be sent the Dial-In Number and Access Code for the session the evening of February 4th. Register here.





Many Characters Start in the Art+Design Zone

17 06 2014
J'net gets reward from her client Scooter of Brokenheart Pet Rescue

J’net gets reward from her client Scooter of Brokenheart Pet Rescue

The diversity of manufacturers walking the show never ceases to amaze me. I have a request from a manufacturer of blankets, towels and other products specifically for western, native american and other types of realistic fine art. If this is a style of art that you do, please contact me by phone or email.

And now for the video blog portion of this post. I had the opportunity to meet with one of my clients today, a multi-talented visual artist who had decided last year came to Licensing Expo for the first time–Daryl Slaton of Tails of Whimsy.

The Mighty Machines of Mackie McKeens

The Mighty Machines of Mackie McKeens

Timree Paint Studio:
Timree Gold is already rich. Her hand painting talent is tremendous. Now she shares her favorite painted designs at the Licensing Expo with examples. “I made product samples in the categories that I feel are the most appropriate for the brand. We’ve got lunch boxes, plates, cell phone cases, stationery and pillows, that are just easy examples of what you can do with the property,” said Gold.

Timree Gold's Art Licensing Collections Shine

Timree Gold’s Art Licensing Collections Shine

 





Free Events for Cartoonists/Graphic Novelists and Authors Interested in Licensing

27 10 2012

Today I just wanted to reach out and share with you some free events that may be of interest to you.

1) For cartoonists, comic book creators and those interested in graphic novels, Publisher’s Weekly is offering a free webcast ‘The Evolution of  the Comic Book Era post 2012’.  The hour-long live web cast will feature an extraordinary panel that will “look at the comics and graphic novel market focusing on three topics: the rise of comic and graphic novel sales in both traditional bookstores and comic specialty shops; how the growing impact of digital comics is sending consumers into stores and how digital comics are helping the sales of print comics; the launch of new digital comics imprints and the growing popularity of Kids Comics, indie female creators and web comics.  Click here is more info and how to register for the free event. I can’t wait for this myself!

2) I will be a guest on ‘Publishing Insiders’ blogtalkradio show this coming Tuesday, October 30th at 4:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. EDT) The topic will be ‘Authors: are you Licensed?’ and I will be interviewed by Penny C. Sansevieri and co-host Paula Kraft.  This show is known for providing insider scoop on everything publishing–revealing the secrets of New York publishing along with tips and strategies for marketing your self-published book. If you are a published author, or are thinking about traditional or self-publishing, this will be a great event for you. No need to register, just click the microphone picture link below at at the appropriate time. And here’s the number to call in with your questions: (347) 838-9287.








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