7 Tips to Prepare for Licensing Expo as a Licensee
You know Licensing Expo… It’s that three or four-day trade show during which our entire industry meets and mingles, trying to get their brand in front of the biggest potential partners. It can also be a disaster waiting to happen if you aren’t organized and well prepared.
As we get ready for our biggest trade show of the year, I thought it might be helpful to provide some pointers on ways to maximize the show for new (and not so new) attendees.
1. Request invites to presentations – Many of the bigger brands, including the studios and toy companies, hold organized presentations. In order to get invited to these, you usually need to know someone at the organization and request an invitation. Since these presentations are set at specific times, it is important to “book” them at the beginning of your planning process so as not to interfere with other meetings. Note that some of these presentations are now scheduled prior to the start of the show itself and may require you arrive in Vegas on Sunday or Monday morning.
2. Review the Licensing University schedule – If you are relatively new to the licensing industry, you may want to attend one or more of the special classes that are held throughout the show. For one flat fee, you get access to 26 different sessions on a wide variety of topics and also gain entry into the keynote address.
3. Arrange one-on-one meetings – The next step in planning your trip is to make a list of all of the potential licensors you want to meet. You can find a full list of exhibitors on the Licensing Expo website. You may want to create a spreadsheet that outlines all of the available time slots in which you can schedule meetings. Meetings are generally held every half hour on the half hour. And don’t worry too much about scheduling back-to-back appointments. Everyone is doing the same and pretty much expect that some meetings may start, and then run, a few minutes late. My common refrain is “It’s Licensing Show, it happens.” But somehow it always works out just fine!
4. Create a presentation deck – At each of your meetings, of course you are going to want to listen to what the potential licensor has to tell you about their brand. But it will also be beneficial to create a presentation on your business. Include information about the company, existing product lines and licenses, distribution channels and overall capabilities. Feel free to bring product samples if you are able to do so, as well.
5. Attend parties and networking events – In addition to the LIMA opening night party, some of the big licensors will host networking parties and events. If you are able to score an invitation to one of these events, they are a great opportunity to find out more about the brands being pitched. Here, you may also meet other licensees who can tell you what other brands are working for them.
6. Make sure to eat – Licensing Expo is a crazy show. And one of the most important things to remember is that in order to have the energy to maximize it, you need to eat! Don’t skip breakfast or lunch and maybe even use them as an opportunity to further develop a relationship with a potential partner.
7. Last but not least, remember to bring LOTS of business cards!