I always appreciate “Dennis and his Deliberations” and it made me think about a few things. I thought I would share a few with the group. I know it can seem “very gloomy” out there at times when trying to win new business, but hopefully a few points may just help someone to book a few more shows. I am certainly not an expert, just someone who is always trying to improve.
Since I have been in outside sales for over 12 years now and in a front line roll with customers for over 25 years… I have learned a few things…
- You must have a great product.
- You must believe in your product.
- You must always be personable and enthusiastic.
- You must differentiate yourself from the competition.
- You must have superior followup and support after the sale.
- You must be ready to correct any issue immediately.
- You must be involved in the community.
- You must always be ready to ask for a referral!
*Notice how the word YOU is key…the customer doesn’t HAVE to do anything. Remember the customer doesn’t buy a product or in this case a “show”…they buy YOU!
I have been performing magic here in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond for over 20 years now and I have done very little advertising. I have really stayed as busy as I would like and 80% of my shows come from referrals and repeat business from satisfied customers. The remaing 20% comes from targeted direct mail campaigns I have done, my website presence, and other various sites such as Gig Salad. (my last “targeted mailer” was to churches for Fall Festivals…I sent just 20 letters, had (7) responses and booked (3) shows…not a bad return on my time and and $8.60 investment in stamps). Knowing your customer and what they typically like or look for is the key!
A website is a must have as far as I am concerned. My site is certainly not the best or the most flashy, but it gets my message across, shows up on Google, and most importantly gives me a quick way to direct new customers to who I am and what I do. It also gets linked to any additional sites like Gig Salad and creates more web presence for your show. I have lost track of how many shows I have scheduled this year just from someone googling “magician” in our area.
BUT…another key is that you have to remember this is “The Valley” not a metro area. Trying to sell a $1,500 illusion or magic show or charge $500.00 for a birthday party is a very tough sell! I am not saying you cannot do this, but again, this is not where I typically work and play…I am “smaller show focused” as my target area is in the $150.00 to $400.00 range for most of my shows. But let’s face it, this is a time when everyone, and I mean everyone is watching every penny. Budgets are tight!!!
But here is the great part…people and companies ARE still hiring and always will be hiring entertainment. They are also looking for something different. DJ’s and bands get really boring after five or even ten straight years. Many audiences have not seen a live interactive show of any kind especially a live magic show where they can participate…this is our advantage!
I have also found that doing a lot of free shows just puts you on the free show list and it never ends. I have several non-profits and organizations that I support regularly but that is it. I DO offer “reduced rate” shows and that works very well. You look like a hero and many times by simply reducing your total show time or your fee by say 10%-15% the show is yours. Everyone wins! The other thing to remember is to always be courteous to these groups…many have high level contacts that are on their board of directors and can help you or “hurt” you when it comes to future business…nuff said. Also, providing some free shows is not all bad…especially if you are new to magic and performing, this is a great way to gain momentum, build valuable relationships in the community and gain valuable “stage time” in front of a real audience. Just be sure that your show is ready for prime time!
Also, your presentation, your show, your program has to be fun and it has to memorable. If you are not preparing, picking the right music, keeping your props presentable, using a quality sound system, and running through your show to always improve it, the road will be pretty bumpy! Video-taping your show can be very valuable! It is amazing how others judge every little thing we do and “how” everything looks and works together.
Investing in a quality sound system and a nice portable table were the two best investments I ever made. If your show is outstanding but your voice and music cannot be heard…it really distracts from the show. A sound system, even in small venues, really adds that touch of professionalism to any performance.
Ask yourself these simple questions…
- Did everyone seem to have a good time?
- Did I receive any sincere compliments after the show?
- Did anyone ask for my card after the show?
- Do I feel good about my performance?
- Did I take time to talk with the organizer and others after the show?
- Did I thank my audience and those who hired me?
If you have a NO answer to any one of these it may have just been an off night or you may need to tweak a few things.
How many of us follow up with a Thank You card after the show? I try to consistently do this and it is a vital part of the entire process. Agian, making the customer feel special is the key. I guarantee most or your competition is NOT doing this…just my two cents.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope that one or two items may be useful to someone out there. I look forward to seeing many future shows from our group. Regardless how magic flows at any given time it is up to us to keep the magic alive!!!