31 Days of Marketing Tips for All Art Licensors – Tip #9

9 10 2016

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31 Days of Marketing Tips for All Art Licensors – Tip #3

3 10 2016

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31 Days of Marketing Tips for All Art Licensors – Tip #1

1 10 2016

For many years now, I have been addressing the concerns of creators, through coaching, classes and blogging. While understanding the licensing model and its process is very important to being in this business, it really all boils down to two things. First, do you have a creative asset, whether it’s a cartoon character, art, writings or some other creative endeavor, and the desire to have it out in the marketplace? And, secondly, do you have the ability to sell it to others, both to businesses who can help you grow (B2B) the end-users, your fans and consumers (B2C)?

So literally, it’s your creativity and ability to market what you create that will make or break your capacity to build a business. Many creators have a passion for getting their work into the marketplace and into the hands of fans across the country and the world. However, that fiery passion becomes sludge in their veins when it comes to thoughts of marketing their work.

I see it every day. Honestly, the brands, art and characters that ‘make it’ are the ones which have a person and team to persistently sell and leverage their intellectual property assets. If you want to sell your art, either directly or through licensing, the same marketing skills are needed and it’s time for artists to get it through their heads (and hearts) that marketing and sales are not the enemy! They are in fact the only lifeline you have to creating an income from your ideas.

For the month of October, I am offering a terrific place to start with developing your marketing and sales skills. Some are small steps you can take to improve your marketing and sales, and improve your business.  They may be small quotes, but they are based on big ideas, and they all need to be practiced and accomplished.31-days-of-marketing-tips-for-all-art-licensors-tip-1

 

 





Are You An Artrepreneur? Take Our 20-Question Quiz and Find Out!

1 09 2016

artrepreneur slideYou have probably seen it before: ARTIST + ENTREPRENEUR = ARTREPRENEUR. This got me thinking a lot about all of the creative people who want to earn a good living from their artistic endeavors. Maybe you are currently a part-time artrepreneur or haven’t yet made the leap. Perhaps you are still creating art, design, animation, or characters for a company that has clients and customers.

There are so many similarities between entrepreneurs and artists, and here are just a few:

  • Both groups just ooze passion. You really don’t choose to be an artist; you are created as one. It’s what you do and are!
  • Artists and entrepreneurs are compelled to push boundaries in all creative directions. It doesn’t even occur to them not to keep experimenting, trying, and testing.
  • Both artists and entrepreneurs have to find and walk their own paths to success. There is no established career path or road map.
  • Since there is no set career path or definitive road map for either artists or entrepreneurs, both must learn from other like-minded people through education and networking.
  • Artists and entrepreneurs, when first beginning their careers, are both required to compromise what they want to meet the market demands and find success. It is only after you have proven your viability to the objective working world, or have enough equity and market share for your art or brand, that you can venture off and lead the way into your own new areas. Anything else is a day-dream.

Is it any wonder the name ‘artrepreneur’ is catching on?

Today there is a lot of desire, pressure and respect put on becoming your own boss, having your own business and being your own agent. It is rapidly becoming a necessity. And, Of course, as with everything, there are pros and cons.

On the positive side, art licensing is one of the few areas where you can actually agent yourself and build a successful business. Unlike, for example, in the children’s book publishing industry, an author or artist is encouraged not to represent or agent themselves. As an artrepreneur, you are in control of your own destiny, yet it comes with a price.

On the negative side, which isn’t always negative, the price is that being an artrepreneur means having to do it all yourself. You are responsible for your own marketing, sales, production, warehousing, accounting, and distribution of everything you create, as well as having to continually motivate yourself every step of the way.

Remember, for the most part, artrepreneurialism is being ‘positioned’ as an opportunity, one that has its roots in the new information age. But in reality, it is more of a necessity, since everyone understands that today no one can count on someone else to give them a job.

Most artrepreneurs are artists and serial entrepreneurs in the same body. They have the talent of an artist and the mind and motivation of a business person. They create businesses with their creativity either sequentially, one after another, or simultaneously, several at the same time. To be an art licensor is truly the definition of ‘serial artrepreneur,’ you are creating business deals, and signing contracts, with multiple manufacturers at the same time. This is what it’s all about.

One of the great things, a good licensing contract allows you to do is to ‘slice and dice’ the rights for one piece of art into various product categories and create entire product lines with several manufacturers using the same piece of art, design or character over and over again. Licensing is also one of the best revenue generators that has no real financial cap, since it creates royalties based on usage of the art, rather than being paid per piece or based on your hourly efforts.

Artrepreneurs often need to create art licensing collections, while also illustrating books and magazines, or creating graphic design work, teaching, doing gallery shows, drawing cartoons, and animating characters, in order to generate the multiple channels of revenue needed to build a good income. It is challenging, but worth it to make a living doing what you love.

The number of artrepreneurs has grown exponentially since the new millennium. The competition is fierce. The unmotivated quickly drop away.

The most significant factor in the success of the new artrepreneur is the Internet tools which have become readily available, allowing one to create, promote, sell, and deliver directly to businesses and the end-user. Today you can reach your potential customers both at a speed, and on a scale, that in the past was only in the sphere of the bigger corporations which earlier had nearly monopoly on marketing and distribution. Those who learn and use these tools have the best chance of success.

So if you haven’t in the past thought of yourself as an artrepreneur, now’s the time to get on board and make your mark. One thing about being an entrepreneur…artistic or any kind…is that you need to develop certain skill sets in order to be successful. And if you don’t currently possess them, then you need to study and learn them. I suggest you answer these 20-questions to see what skills you have and those which still need developing. You can answer with a lengthy paragraph or simply a quick ‘agree, disagree or needs improvement’ note-to-self. But you need to be completely honest.

1. I have a strong overall drive to succeed.
2. I have determination to tackle problems.
3. I can prosper in a ‘gray’ environment, where there are more questions than answers.
4. I take responsibility for my own actions, including successes and failures.
5. In the beginning, I am willing my art to meet the needs of the market.
6. I willingly do the tasks necessary to succeed.
7. I can persevere in hard times and quickly recover.
8. I convincingly communicate with others, whether clients, vendors, bankers, freelancers or manufacturers.
9. I believe that I can solve whatever problems arise.
10. I deal with others with honesty and integrity.
11. I value and utilize the management and control systems necessary to run a business.
12. I have the ability to anticipate and troubleshoot problems.
13. I can connect with others and build strategic relationships.
14. I can scan the marketplace and assess potential needs and gaps.
15. I provide for my own emotional needs and know how to find the support I do need.
16. I believe that I have the finances required to support myself and others who depend on me.
17. I have or can get the finances to get the training and help I need from experts along the way to achieve my goals.
18. I have a basis for making effective, profitable business decisions.
19. I can pick the right people to help execute my vision.
20. I can identify the biggest obstacle in starting my own company, whether it’s knowing where to begin, finances, training or fear of failure.

After 20 years of teaching and training hundreds of artrepreneurs, I know that the successful ones all have passion, confidence, self-discipline and a great willingness to learn. I know that you can do anything that you truly want to do. If it is indeed becoming an artrepreneur, then go for it!  Don’t let anyone or anything stop you.





Eight Ways to Develop Your Licensing Lead List

24 08 2016

Whether your licensing interest is focused on art, brands or characters, it is the effort you put into selling that creates your licensing deals. Your greatest sales are achieved when you have a thorough understanding your product (what it is you are trying to license), so that you are able to connect directly to the right audience (most often a manufacturer, retailer or media).

If you are new to licensing, what you first want to do is organize your list of potential product categories and then prioritize them. For your reference, here is a list of product categories and their percentage of licensed merchandise retail sales in the U.S./Canada in 2015, as reported by The Licensing Letter.

SOURCE: THE LICENSING LETTER

SOURCE: THE LICENSING LETTER

Once you have developed a good strategy for your property, in terms of product categories, it will be much easier to direct the growth of your lead list. When looking for prospective manufacturers, there are many opportunities to find them and do research before including them on your list. The more targeted you are in creating your leads, the more manufacturers will respond positively to the opportunities you present.

I hear from manufacturers, over and over again, their number one complaint is that they receive too many presentations that are not relevant to their specific business needs. Do yourself, and the manufacturers you are seeking, a favor by doing your research and targeting your offerings to their business. They will appreciate and recognize your focus, and you will progress faster.

Remember that lead lists are organic in nature; they increase and decrease, again and again, over time. A list of 30 companies may grow to 100, then reduce to 40 leads, as you determine that some of the companies are not, in fact, a match.

Here are eight ways to help you develop your own licensing lead list. Some of them require an investment and others are free, except for your time and effort.

1. Trade Shows — Trade events and their directories exist in every product categories. If you attend a trade show, make sure you bring home the directory or you can ask friends to bring you a copy of the directory from the shows they attend. Sometimes you can even find exhibitor lists, before and after their annual events, on the association and exposition web sites.

Just to see what is out there, I searched the Internet for some of the most popular trade shows in product categories that are important to licensed artists. Within five minutes I found a PDF titled, ‘Exhibitors for the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show.’ This 35-page document included company names, contact information, address, and phone and fax numbers. Needless to say, if you are willing to spend the time, there are always inexpensive ways to get the information you need.

2. Trade Magazines — As you read trade magazines associated with the product categories that you have chosen to target, check out the companies that seem to be a good fit for you and your art, designs, illustrations, brand or characters. Always make notes about their product lines, employees, contact information and licensing deals, so you have the details handy when you are ready to contact them.

3. Shopping — Spend time shopping in retail stores and outlets for the products you want to license. This will be time well spent as you explore manufacturers that are already doing licensing. You will probably also see ‘private label’ products with art and characters; these are the products that don’t readily identify the manufacturer on the product itself. These D-T-R, or Direct-to-Retail, products are often branded under the retail establishment’s label (i.e. Target’s or Walmart’s instore brands) and it may be difficult to find out who manufactured them. There are more and more of these D-T-R’s deals being done every day as stores work harder to have unique product in stores. To identify these manufacturers, it may require a licensing industry agent, retail expert or a professionally compiled lead list.

4. Use the Internet — The Internet continues to be the primary source for researching manufacturers. Although, these days, larger companies are less likely to list their phone numbers and email addresses on their websites, you can still often find the information you want with a little extra effort. And when you get frustrated, just think about how we used to do it before the Internet. I also recommend connecting on LinkedIn with the executives you are trying to reach. Most professionals will consider ‘linking’ to you, since you are in the business, and then you can start a conversation.

5. Networking — Again, thank goodness for the Internet and social media! Now you can talk to other licensed artists and creators through the many specialized social groups on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, as well as at industry events and trade shows. Networking can become a primary source of ideas and leads. If you are open about sharing your connections, then others will do the same.

6. Ask for Recommendations — If a manufacturer doesn’t think you are a good fit for them, ask them what manufacturers they would recommend you talk to (and get the contact information). This is a really overlooked technique that allows you to tap into the brainpower of the manufacturers who know the business best. If you were thoughtful in your presentation, and had relevant reasons why you felt they would be interested, then you didn’t waste their time and the manufacturer may be very open to sharing their thoughts about other licensing partner options.

If you are short on time and have the money to invest, you may want to consider one of the following licensing industry directories.

7. EPM Communications — The Licensing Letter Sourcebook is annually updated to include licensing decision-makers from manufacturing companies, as well as properties, agents, attorneys and consultants. So while it is not an inexpensive resource, and you may use only a fraction of the information, I have found it to be the most reliable in the licensing industry. In the long run, it will save you valuable time and money in getting names, phone numbers and email addresses.

EPM has just announced that their updated 2016 Sourcebook is available. It includes the contact information for more 7,400 licensing professionals worldwide, 2,000 licensors, 3,600 manufacturers, 1,000 licensing agents and 730 attorneys and industry consultants. If you want more information you can contact Randy Cochran at randy@plainlanguagemedia.com and here is a link for more details.

8. Total Guide to the Licensing World — There is a new, less expensive, online database which will be available in October. According to Joanna Cassidy from Total Licensing, their database will include over 2,600 licensees/manufacturers. This is a worldwide licensing industry database with contacts in more than 90 countries, but approximately 30% of the contacts are in the United States. The annual subscription cost will be just under $200 for full access to the Total Guide Guide to the Licensing World. The directory includes 125 word listings, plus all contact information and social media links. If you are interesting in being included in the dirtectory you can email joanna@totallicensing.com or click here for more details.

There are quite a few options for building your lead lists. It really boils down to whether or not you want to spend your time, money or both. I can’t emphasize enough that even having a terrific lead list isn’t enough to get you deals; you have to finely target your list, learn from the manufacturer responses, continually update your list and last, but not least, spend time actually sending the presentations out and following up!





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.





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.

 

 








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