Often times we describe a licensing partnership much like a marriage. The Licensee and Licensor meet, are engaged by signing a term sheet, say “I do” by signing a long form license agreement and have a baby together by launching a new product into the market place. As a licensing agent our role in the licensing relationship is to support the partnership. Our sales team plays the role of matchmaker to pair the right companies together, our product development team works as a nanny for the new baby i.e. the new product, and client services acts as a couples therapist to help ensure healthy communication between licensee and licensor.
As director of client services, I come in after the honeymoon (the celebration of signing of the long form) and help guide our partners through their first year of marriage. Much like one’s personal relationships, the key to a good licensing partnership is communication and commitment.
I spend most of my time on the phone and writing emails to make sure everyone is on the same page. Even when we have conference calls, things tend to be misinterpreted. To help develop good communication within the partnership it is best to clarify direction on calls and confirm in writing as a follow-up.
Licensors, you must be committed to your partner because your licensee’s success is your success. Like any relationship, you don’t have to do everything but you have to help out. Licensor’s should help support licensee through one or two key initiatives that will ultimately help drive sales of the licensed product. Licensees, at the end of the day you are responsible for the success of the licensed product. When you ask your licensor for support, whether it be through advertising and promotions or product development help, you must be willing to co-invest with your licensor. Both parties should remember, at the end of the day you have the same end goal, revenue growth.
Getting the licensed product developed and on shelf is one of the toughest parts of the licensing relationship and essentially represents the first year of marriage in the partnership. If you can work through this, you should be set for a solid future together!