We spent most of last week in Las Vegas at a couple of trade shows, and once again the best part of the trip was when we boarded that plane for home. We are not gamblers (except on expensive trade show booths…), the food is either very mediocre or very expensive with very little in-between, and my tolerance for drunken gangsta wannabes is set pretty low so we end up counting the days till we can get off the Strip and back to our waterfront paradise. But enough about that… it was definitely a worthwhile trip.
We attended the SuperZoo pet industry show at the Mandalay and the Las Vegas Souvenir show at the LV convention center. Both are big events with 1000-plus exhibitors, and we covered every square foot of both shows, something we never get a chance to do when we are exhibiting. We do have some licensees that exhibit at these shows, but we were really there because of the “ya never know” factor – meaning there is no good substitute for getting out there in front of a wide variety of new potential licensees, talking about what they make and what we can bring to the table.
When we go to these “outside of the box” shows we almost never see artists walking the aisles, and only occasionally see other agents. The ones we do run across are always the hardest working and most successful – and that’s not a coincidence. The advertised path into art licensing has been to do what everybody else has been doing – get some templates, build some collections, send them to the people everyone else sends them to, and maybe exhibit at that show in New York that everyone else exhibits at. The problem is that supply now far exceeds demand as hundreds of new artists are also angling for a slice of the art licensing pie, so being where everybody else is just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The need to differentiate yourself is greater than ever before, but you should realize there is more than one way to do that. One of the first truths you learn in sales is that it is very difficult to displace an established supplier because manufacturers don’t like to change, therefore you need to give them a compelling reason to do so. Switch your mentality from “farmer” to “hunter”. Take some chances on new categories. Invest in looking for new opportunities to tell your story and be there first.
It takes a lot of effort to move ahead and build lasting success in this business, but it’s always easier if you don’t have to shout over everyone else.