More Trade Show Tips – Presentations & Key Questions

8 05 2014

With Surtex just a couple of weeks away, followed by Book Expo and then Licensing Expo—it’s the peak of trade show season and time to get out and sell yourself, art, brand or characters.

Whether you are in a booth or walking the shows, my best advice is to spend the time preparing.  When you are getting organized, think about making presentations that are very short.  Have your quick 15 and 30 second descriptions of your business and goals well-rehearsed so it’s top-of-mind.  Then expand on them to create a more comprehensive 2-3 minute presentation for those who are interested.

Remember that anyone attending a trade show will be talking to 50, 100 or more people in a day and, in general, you shouldn’t expect long initial meetings. If you try to force them into a 10-20 minute presentation, there is a good chance you will kill the lead.

For art licensing presentations, if possible allow the prospect to turn the pages or click the images on your iPad, so they can pace the presentation themselves.  When presenting a character or story, it’s more important to quickly go through a sequential explanation to set the stage and then give the prospect some concepts to flip through.

Please be courteous if you are an artist walking any of the shows, especially where other artists and brands are exhibiting in the booths.  Agents in the booths are, of course, always interested in learning about new talent. But whether you’re meeting an artist representing themselves or an agent, they have invested a great deal to exhibit. Every year, after the shows, we read about insensitive people who try to usurp the time and energy of those in booths to learn about the industry, while the exhibitors get frustrated and are potentially missing out on viable leads with licensees. Don’t let that be you.

I recently learned that 85% of the impression you will make with potential licensees at a trade show is based on booth staffers.  So remember how critical your role is, as the owner or part of the supporting team.  Make sure you have a list of questions clear in your mind and ready to ask potential prospects. I presented these questions last year in my blog, but they are worth repeating for those of you who are now ready to attend a show or exhibit this year:

  • What does your company do?
  • What exactly do you do at your company?
  • What are you hoping to find at the show?
  • What are you interested in, or caught your eye, in my booth?
  • What products do you produce?
  • Where do you distribute your products?
  • What consumers are you interested in targeting most?
  • How can I help you?

smiley faceAlso, remember not to get discouraged by negative responses. At a trade show, as in life, a general rule is that you “must go through 10 to find the one.” So don’t give up.

Lastly—keep an optimistic attitude; don’t burn bridges; show interest in them; and keep smiling!

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Protect Your Art With a ‘Shopping Doc’

14 02 2014

red heart sheildMany years ago I remember the first time I heard a manufacturer say, “I’d like to ‘shop’ your art around and see if we can get some interest from retailers.” Since then I’ve heard it 1000’s of times, as it’s become a very common practice in the art licensing industry.

As the economy hit below the belt, manufacturers needed a way to hedge their bets.  They no longer wanted to create volumes of inventory that might not sell quickly. This saves them up-front manufacturing costs, warehousing space, time, and of course, prevents them from having to ‘eat’ the cost of goods that don’t sell.

On the artist side, it poses some problems.  Manufacturers are now asking for high-resolution art to create sophisticated mock-ups, and to often produce a very small quantity of product in order to make their retail presentations.  If the retailer ‘buys in,’ then you could have yourself a licensing deal, but if not, the art is already in the hands of the manufacturer and you have no deal and few recourses to ever get digital art destroyed.

So without so much as an agreement, how can you be sure that manufacturers are not utilizing your exclusive art to sell larger quantities of products?  Well, I think there are many (and mostly) reputable manufacturers, who wouldn’t consider taking your art without paying for it.  But there is always someone willing to take advantage of the situation.  And it would make you would feel very vulnerable to send final art to someone when you don’t have a formal agreement.

With my lawyer, I created what I call a ‘Shopping Doc.’ It’s a short document that I can use when this type of circumstance occurs.  It all boils down to keeping track of what the manufacturer said they will do, and what you said you will do, just as with any contractual arrangement.  This is just a short letter, in which you give the manufacturer permission to ‘Shop’ your art to retailers with specific restrictions. It is very clear, in that, a manufacturer has only the right to shop

a) specific pieces of art,

b) for a certain amount of time, and

c) to listed retailers.

It also specifies that you retain the rights to your art AND it allows you to choose between whether or not you will continue to show the art to other manufacturers, during that same time period.  For the manufacturer, it does not obligate them in any way to concluding a deal with you.  So if things do go well, then you just move to a deal memo or straight to a licensing contract.

I believe that whether you use this form, or make up your own, it’s the best way to keep track of your art and what the manufacturer is doing.  It also gives you a detailed time frame in which to follow-up and determine how things are going and what the next steps should be. I find that, in general, keeping everyone accountable is really important. Also, deals are more likely to get signed.

Feel free to click here and get your copy of my ‘Shop Doc’ and to adapt it to your own situations.  No legal document is fool-proof, but it does help provide guidelines in which the manufacturer has set responsibilities with your art during the ‘shopping’ period. It also gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing there is an end to their ‘shopping’ process, which would be enforceable in court if required.

I hope it makes your heart feel a bit more protected today, too.





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

13 02 2014

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

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

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

Ask J’net Q&A

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

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

Price: FREE Register: HERE

This one-hour class is a ‘live’ phone event, where you provide the questions about art, design & character licensing and J’net provides the answers. When registering online, just write your question at the bottom of the form. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions.

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

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

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

Price: $60 Register: HERE

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

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

Part 1: Licensing and Trade Shows

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

Part 3: How to prepare for and exhibit at a show

Through detailed information and real life examples, J’net will demonstrate clearly how art, designs, characters and new brands are launched into the marketplace. Those who take this course will learn how to determine what they have in terms of a creative product, and whether it could be practical and profitable to exhibit at a trade show.

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

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

Character Licensing (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)

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

Price: $60 Register: HERE

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

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

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





Hitting Your Targets

1 10 2012

Fall is in the air and business is growing for those of us who are actively marketing our products and services. Don’t wait until the New Year to assess how your business has done this year. No matter how you want to approach it—dollar revenue, number of deals, number of new and existing clients or products—taking a tally gives you an invaluable perspective on marketing your business.

Marketing your business is absolutely crucial. It also may be simpler than you think if you keep focused.

One of the key marketing factors that I find new, and even experienced, art licensors get wrong or completely overlook is their target audience.

Make sure you always:

  1. Identify your target audience.
  2. Reach out to your target audience and communicate with them effectively.
  3. Learn how you turn the target audience from prospects into sales, customers, fans, etc.
  4. Know if you have reached the audience and have been successful (whatever that is for you).
  5. Repeat 3, 4 & 5.

So, ‘how do you decide your target audience?’ This step will influence how your time is spent and nearly every aspect of your business every day, hereafter. First of all, most entrepreneurs have more than one target audience—a business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) target.

These two questions will determine your B2C target audience:

  • Who does your painting, art, graphic design, cartoon, writing or other creative work appeal to in the marketplace? Be specific as possible.
  • What types of product or media should carry your ‘creative’ to consumers? Your answer will depend on the desires, interests, lifestyles and purchase habits of your audience(s).

Please don’t fall into the ‘everyone loves my art/design/photography/character’ trap. I often hear creators declare that their creation appeals to everyone…but to be honest, it probably doesn’t. So get real. Narrow it down to a primary and secondary, identifiable and reachable, audience segment.

Then to achieve your business goals, and to reach your audience(s), ask yourself whose assistance in the ‘business’ marketplace do you need. This will identify your B2B target audience, and it will vary greatly depending on your goals.

Some B2B targets you probably need to reach are:

  • Licensees—who do you want to license your art, property or brand? These are the manufacturers of all the worlds’ products that could sign a licensing deal to produce your creative on their product and wholesale it to retailers.
  • Agents—if you are looking to sign on with an agent, then they are an important target audience for you to woo. Do you need a licensing agent, literary agent, illustration rep, gallery agent or another specialized kind of manager/salesperson/marketer?
  • Retailers—do you want to go directly to retailers and offer them an exclusive licensing or purchase opportunity with your art, designs or brand?
  • Trade Media (magazines, web sites, newsletters and more)—these are the media channels where you reach the other businesses, the licensees, agents, and retailers, for example, to make them aware of your business.
  • Consumer Press (magazines, television, radio, websites, newsletters, promotions and more)—the media channels to reach your customers and potential customer to make them aware of your creativity and brand.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about the target audiences related to your business, go back and see if your web site, brochures, presentations, logo, trade booths—and all those critical branding elements—are making the impression you want on the businesses you must reach and influence to close sales. And ask yourself if the products that are being licensed or produced are the best designs and quality you can get into the marketplace for your valued customers.





Rule #16

22 11 2011

Your income potential is tied to how well your art ‘fits’ on a variety of products.

You may not think this topic is relevant, but it’s really a fundamental building block for a successful art licensing business.  Be careful not to narrow your target audience, or the product types on which your art works, because that will limit your income potential. So start by making sure that you have a wide variety of product types on which your art will work.

I want to clarify; we’re not talking about just slapping the art on anything. The best products, and usually the best-selling products, are those that feature well-integrated art and product design. This means that your art not only supports the product’s functionality, but does so by emotionally connecting with a consumer. An example might be an egg shaped mug and Easter egg art, so there’s really a fun dynamic going on between the product and the art. That’s a pretty simplistic example where there’s great synergy between the art and the function of the product.  Of course, there are many types of synergy that are less literal and just as connected.

One of the first challenges in creating your art licensing business is to learn to think in terms of different product categories.  Product categories are the various types of products and product lines that a manufacturer produces. Many manufacturers produce a variety of products that relate, such as stationery and greeting cards, or kitchen towels, aprons and accessories. Often when creating new collections and trying to build your business, it’s valuable to think about the products you want to be on before you create your art.

Ask yourself: How many product categories does your art fit on right now?  What product categories are really natural extensions of your art?  What product categories work really well for the themes you like to cover?  Does your art fit on gift items or stationery?  Will it also work on home and garden, or apparel? Does it work on home décor, domestic soft goods – like bedding and sheets – tabletop, or infant items?  What about men’s products and sports equipment?  You can license your art on more than 20 general product categories.

You’ve really got to think about where your art realistically fits. Remember that ultimately your revenue potential is tied to the number of product categories which you can license your art on.





Rule #12

31 10 2011

Prepare to be an entrepreneur.

Start your art licensing business by reading about and talking to successful entrepreneurs in all kinds of businesses. Most successful entrepreneurs are happy to share what they’ve learned—the good and the bad. Ask yourself if you are ready to be an entrepreneur with all the ‘hats’ you need to wear on a daily basis.

Creating and growing residual income requires a balancing act. You’ll be continually creating art to keep your portfolio fresh, maintaining a large library of art to hold manufacturers’ interest, and thinking of new ideas for your art, whether on the cutting edge of trends or on-trend. And art development is just one end of the spectrum.

On the other end of the spectrum, your responsibilities as a business owner also demand time. Time is spent to manage finances, schedules, deadlines, contracts, clients, approvals, annual plans, marketing, budgets and staying informed on industry news.

So, the entrepreneurial business model means you’re constantly marketing your art and product design, creating new art, running your business, and staying motivated. All of those things require a balancing act of skills, time and attention.

I want to clarify that even if you having an agent, you are still an entrepreneur and will have to manage a juggling act. Think about it, you don’t just hand over your business to an agent. There’s a distinctive hat you wear when you search, hire and work with your agent. And if you don’t take the time to ‘manage’ your agent, things can go awry.

Be honest with yourself about areas where your skills excel and where they are lacking.  All types of entrepreneurial skills are a must for the success of your art licensing business. Try reading some business blogs as a part of your ongoing training, such as Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Blog. I’d like to hear what other business blogs you find helpful, so I can share them with everyone.





Rule #9

20 10 2011

Create art that sells products.

The way to create income in the art licensing business is to create art that sells products. Remember that manufacturers have a business to run. They have products they are producing, and not everyone wants it in one size, shape, design, or color. Oh, we are so lucky to have the beauty and diversity of art in our world!

For manufacturers, your art can be the key to reaching a new audience, capturing a trend, expressing a sentiment and much more. They depend on you; and you depend on them. So however you create art is fine. It’s great!

What manufacturers want from you, however, has nothing to do with the passion, skills and creative process that it took to design your latest art collection. They are busy analyzing past sales and the newest production processes, while trying to predict the future.

Try to get into the manufacturer’s head. Think about your prospective business partner, the licensee, and give them something to seriously consider. Make sure you offer them a variety of artwork that can be produced with their production process, as well as themes that work for their key sales periods, giving-occasions—such as Christmas and other holidays—and collections that enhance their products’ design. My Manufacturer’s Mindset Class (now available as audio file+full presentation) is a great resource for this, and I taught it with a stationery industry, manufacturing veteran.

Just remember that the number one objective for your art licensing business is to create art that sells products. That is absolutely the only thing that will create income, assuming that making money is part of your definition of a successful business. Now since we all know there are many layers to the feeling of success, creating art that sells also needs to fit with who you are and what you’re all about. And if isn’t in sync on that level, it probably won’t have much appeal to consumers and won’t sell. In that case, it certainly won’t be worth it in the long run. Making money and not being true to yourself is never ultimately successful.








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