Six Ways to Identify Great Licensing Partners
There are so many manufacturers and service providers out there. When creating a third-party branded program, how do you know upon whom you should call? Based on almost a decade of identifying licensing partners and manufacturers, here are six time-tested ways to find potential partners:
1. Trade shows: Walk the aisles. Seriously. I can’t tell you the number of partners I have found just by coming across them/their product at a trade event. Yes, they may require more work as some of them will never have even heard of licensing but it is worth it to create some of the best products out there.
2. Trade newsletters and publications: If a company is featured in a trade publication due to a partnership with another brand, they are probably open to talking to you about other opportunities. Not always, but it is certainly worth a phone call.
3. Go shopping: I will never forget working on Country Living Gardener Magazine and trying to get into the kids' segment. I went to one of the museum shops and found this fantastic children’s gardening set. The manufacturer is now doing a whole line of toys based on Dylan’s Candy Bar.
4. Network: Ask your friends and colleagues who they like to work with. They will most likely be more than happy to tell you who their favorite partners are and might even offer to make an introduction.
5. Talk to your other licensees: Many licensees know the other manufacturers in their category who are making complementary products. I remember making paper party goods with one company and when I asked them who I should speak with regarding baking products they were more than willing to help me out.
6. Brainstorm: Yes, sometimes it is simply a matter of using the old noggin. You know your brand better than anyone else does so you are going to know what is going to be a good fit. Obviously you wouldn’t approach a knife company for a kids’ brand but you may for Martha Stewart or a cooking magazine like Bon Appetit. And once you identify the categories you want to target, you can simply go online to find the best brands in that category.