The View from the Other Side

You, as an art licensor, might wake up every day thinking “Hmmm, wonder who I should contact about licensing my art today?” You can start your morning thinking about new markets and potential licensees, but, hard as this may be to believe… those potential licensees are not likely to be waking up thinking about you.

Their morning will start more like this: 

”Oh crap, Target has changed our meeting AGAIN, I will be in China that week and Bob doesn’t do well with that buyer. The factory that makes the wire handles can’t meet our ship schedule, and the new plush shipment has been confiscated by Customs because the testing paperwork wasn’t filed? Am I surrounded by idiots? What am I going to tell the retailers? Hey, I wonder if we ever got the factory to the price point we need on those ceramic pieces – better have our China coordinator check on that. If we can’t get the pricing we will need to drop them from the new release and that will leave a major hole in the line – that’s gonna suck. And I can’t believe we are having ANOTHER review meeting on the January release – we should have had that in the system two weeks ago and NOW they want to take another look at it? We are already working on Summer 2014 for God’s sakes, I DO NOT have time for this BS. What else was there… oh yeah, need the textile print proofs today, we have GOT to have those samples in house by the first. There’s something else… oh, I still need to go through that pile of art. Maybe we could use some on  the new mugs… no way I have time for that today, maybe tomorrow… or maybe Mary can do it…”

And so their day goes.

One comment we heard often at both the Dallas and Atlanta markets was that the licensees had not even looked at the art they obtained from Surtex. They were still putting the 2014 product release to bed, or final touches on the new catalog, or just hadn’t had time, and so on… but they hoped to get to it sometime soon. 

From a technical standpoint, licensing is a business model and not an industry. It is a method of commercializing your product or invention (i.e. your designs) without bringing it to market yourself. And your clients definitely do not see it as an industry, for them it is a tool to make and sell better product. Licensing is but one of a number of ways that they can source one of the components of their product. I am telling you this because, to be successful long term, it is vital that you realize how your piece fits into the puzzle. Licensees will gravitate toward those who make their life easier – whether it’s because you only send appropriate, targeted art, or your files are correctly sized, well organized and readable, or you (happily!) respond to any request within hours instead of days or weeks… it all matters. Keeping your client’s perspective in mind will help you help them, and for them, that is really what it’s all about.  


Turning Up the Heat in Dallas

It wasn’t nearly hot enough in Florida so we headed off to the Dallas Home and Gift market to see what was happening there. I’ll tell ya, there’s nothing like that midday Texas heat shimmering up off 12 lanes of freeway to make you appreciate a sea breeze. Actually it really wasn’t all that bad – the nights are still below 80 – but that will change in a few weeks…
Dallas is the kickoff of the summer show season and while it is not as big as Atlanta, the big players are all there and many debut their mid-year releases at this show. There are 2300 permanent showrooms and several times a year they set up hundreds more temporary booths on a number of floors. Mix in a lot of regional and Texas vendors (oh wait – that’s the same thing in the Republic of Texas) and you have a pretty impressive venue. The Dallas Market Center is just north of downtown and has four main buildings: the 4 story Trade Mart with about one million square feet of space, the 15 story World Trade Center (3.1 million square feet), the International Trade Plaza (440,000 square feet) and the Market Hall at 214,000 square feet. A lot of ground to cover in a few long days but we managed to pull it off.
Trade Mart entry (World Trade Center is poking up on the right)

Traffic started out a little slow on Friday morning but did build through the day, and it really ramped up for the weekend. The exhibitors we talked with had mixed opinions on how the show was going, from good to really bad, but that seems to be the case in most every show. We have not heard any final wrap-up from the exhibitors or the DMC but probably will next week in Atlanta.

Atrium of the WTC
Mid-season releases tend to be a little spotty, not everybody does them and/or not every time. They can range from a little refresh of a collection to a full blown roll out of a new line (our favorite…) however we’re happy no matter what they are. We had several nice debuts this time, here are three of them:
Ellen Krans at Burton&Burton
Life Is Country® at Big Sky Carvers/Demdaco
Ronnie Walter at Carson’s
One of our goals at every show or market is to meet new clients, and this one turned into a pretty good trip. We also managed to lay some important groundwork for Atlanta next week.
Wait – next week? But I just got home…