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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Contracts and gigs with middle market + gigs (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

WDavis
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At the end of the thread on profitability, came the idea of posting my "secret" for how I book gigs. I'd like to thank Danny, because I don't see it as a secret as most use the same overall framework I do. Relationship building to be in front of mind, discuss the event details for a conceptual agreement, then send the contract to formalize agreement. Please bare in mind I'm high level here and there may be other steps for the overall process for each person. But as I thought thru it, the main differentiating factor is probably my contract.

For a while I used a standard boiler plate contract filled with legalese that would make a lawyer proud. But I kept having to walk people thru my contract and then it would still end up in legal. That would waste time and cause more problems. So I ended up reworking my contract to be more of a general letter the components are as follows:
1. a couple of paragraphs to say the nature of the event that brought us together
2. The objectives or outcomes to be achieved (I like lists )
3. How success will be measured
4. The value it brings to the client
5. The options they can choose (I always give 3 choices)
6. An overview of how I will do the work to meet the objectives
7. The timing for the event
8. Who's responsible for what
9. Then the terms (fees expenses and specific arrangements)
10. Then acceptance line item

A couple of points, this letter has all the components of a contract but avoids all the legalese. Also at acceptance I include the phrase a deposit indicates acceptance. I've found with some companies it's easier to get a check approved than get a contract thru legal.

I use this framework for the letter because it moves people thru why they want their event to what they as a result down to how I will do it.

All the stand points like acts of God etc get buried in the timing and t&c, using simple ways to explain it. I give 3 options because it shifts the mindset from should I use Walter to How I use Walter in their mind. Also, by listing my fee later I've already got conceptual agreement and now reminding them so the price point is not an obstacle because of the value I bring them. How I do it doesn't really matter. What matters is I do it, hence the measures of success. Bye I write those in a way I'm guaranteed to be successful. Because if I can't do get a successful outcome out of it that solves their need then I shouldn't do it.

Finally, before I even get to a letter, I have reached an agreement with the economic buyer and soft close, usually with something like "if you and I reach an agreement today, can we shake and begin the paperwork?"

Hope this helps
WDavis
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So I've thought a little bit more about what I may do that's different. Yes my way of contracting is different than the legal contract or one pager that's outlining terms conditions and riders. But there is a logic to my approach, I charge a premium to my competition and I don't flinch quoting prices. That's probably the first part my mindset. Since I offer a "luxury" service at the high end, a sort of White glove bespoke treatment, my price tag reflects needs to reflect that. Plus, I've had years of practice quoting high fees it's easy for me to quote someone a $15k+ price tag. I believe this mindset is mandatory if you want to command a higher fee. Try it first, practice in the mirror telling yourself. It will cost $15,000 $25,000 $50,000 dollars. You will laugh. Why because you unconsciously don't believe your worth it. This comes out in your offering to customers too. Get comfortable saying higher prices with out flinching and next time your asked to quote a price double your price. If you say it matter a factly they won't question you. If they do then you haven't sold them on the value you bring.

So lets breakdown my contract framework. Please understand, I maneuver past gatekeepers as quickly as possible to get in front of the real economic buyer. This is the person who can authorize and approve my check. Depending on the company it's a partner, senior Vice President, or c-level executive the common denominator is they have manage a p&l. This is where relationship networking comes in, I can come in presold, plus by establishing a full understanding of the economic buyers vision and working with them to identify their outcomes and what their value driver is for this event, I can tailor my proposal back to them reiterating what they said to me. Btw at conceptual agreement I don't talk about my price but I do get an idea of their budget.

So by knowing their mindset I repeat it back in my proposal letter. Lets go through the points.
The situation summary shows I listened, affirming my higher value to them and gets them agreeing with me.
This leads to their objectives and again this list gets them agreeing with me because it's specifically listing their goals.
My measures of success will define how they will know I'm doing my job. This is important because 1 it provides them a form of verification later that they made the right choice and 2 it makes it easier for them to say how great I was.
So far we covered what's going on and what they want and how they will know they got it. Now I remind them of the value it will bring them. I try to get them to give me a dollar amount during the conceptual agreement but if I can't I will take the qualitative expressions of value and reword them back here. Remember value to them is the benefit they receive from getting my services. I shoot for atleast 2-3 pressure points that my value add will address for them.
So I've addressed their wants needs and how they know they got and I remind them what it's worth to them paraphrasing their own expression of value. So you see I've gotten them to agree all the way thru my letter so far and when they see their reminder of what they said it's worth to them then I provide them options on how to get this value. Here it's a false choice, by giving choices to them, they now feel in control by choosing their level of service to achieve their value point. See it's now their choice on how they use me not if they use me at this point. Now that they have selected a level of service, I will outline how I will do it. This is just a brief description per level of service. At this point they've chosen how they will use me, so the timing and conditions become minor details. Now I hit them with the price because by this point they've chosen how I will give them their value and what the expectations are so if they've agreed this far thru then the price has become a non issue.

Hope this helps better explain my logic and outline of using a letter instead of a legalese based contract using terms like force majeur, riders etc. while these legal terms are common in entertainment, business people don't know the terms so they send it to legal to sign off. By using simple business based language, they understand my "contract" and it's often not viewed necessary that legal review the agreement. Meaning less delays.
Ken Northridge
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My goodness. I feel completely incompetent.

I post my prices on my website, send my client a one page confirmation letter (no contract, no deposit) and collect my fee after the event only if they are completely satisfied.

I guess that's why I don't make 10k+ per gig. Smile
Mindpro
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Thanks for sharing some insights into your process Walter. I'd like to hear more about your 3 offering choices as I have always been a fan of 3 option offerings myself.

I think the thing that is important to remember is Walter operates from a different business model than most here. I always think its helpful to look at other business model for performers for several reasons. First, anything other than the "default business model" of most performers is always both enlightening and educational, and secondly it allows one to see how different business and operational models are for different types and levels of performance markets (Consumer vs. Professional). The more we understand about these the better equipped we are to make an educated choice of what is best for each of us and our specific performance markets and level of operation.

I think many here will agree with you Ken, as they likely operate on a different level and market than Walter, still it is beneficial to understand. I only know of four bookings that booked $10,000 for a kids or family event and in each situation the difference was based on the starting point, from a different operational model and market than most kids and family performers.
WDavis
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Ken,
Don't feel incompetent. This is just how I do it now, not necessarily the best or right way. If we did a side by side, I'm sure we would have more fundamental differences and as a result different target markets.

For example,

Customer: I target businesses with a minimum of 50 employees and minimum $20 million in revenue within a 500 mile radius from me.
Product: my offerings are mentalism, readings. Sales training, and key notes.

As mindpro said and from from what I see on your your website, we are not competing against each other different markets, clients, and product offerings.

Mindpro,
To simplify explanation of the 3 choices, it really boils down to what the proposal is for coupled with my level of involvement or interaction event. On second thought, Let think of a better way to explain and I'll post again. I am not happy with this explanation as it doesn't really say what clearly how I work it.
Mindpro
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Thanks Walter, I think I have an idea of what you are going to say (based on your diversity of offerings) but was just interested in the event it was different or other than what I was thinking.
Ken Northridge
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I realize that the market I work and the market Walter works are very different, just about as different as night and day. I'm amazed at how different the marketing approach can be too. With results like Walter has its obvious his approach works very well for him.

As Danny stated on another thread, 90% of the people on this forum do mostly kids show and most are not full time pros. Therefore, I'm not sure how much of Walter's advice can be implemented to the 90%. I appreciate his effort in sharing though.

One thing I'd like to make clear, my very simplistic marketing approach works very well for me. I don't have to prove anything to anyone, I just want whoever is reading this to know it is very successful.
WDavis
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Ken, glad your way works for you.

Your right about the applicability of my operating style. I've posted it to show how I'm different and give insight for others. It's because my approach is different than most, the advise I give here has shifted towards a more business oriented framework that uses universal structures so everyone can use it to better their own business.

The core concepts I believe every business owner should have is an understanding of their numbers, and how strategic and operational decisions drive those numbers. Because at the end of the day it's not how much you make but how much you keep. That's why I shifted away from specifics of my market towards explaining foundational practices, the profitability framework and just a select few of the business factors.

Think about it, people google marketing and get directed to one of 2 extremes "buy my program" or into the weeds on specific (sometimes conflicting) marketing components. PEST, comparative/competitive advantage, porters 5 forces etc. it's very easy to get lost. So I presented the 4 components that have the largest impact on magicians: customer, competition, company, product. Company would only play into it if you have 3rd party management, so for most they can ignore that branch.

I believe you mentioned that you did a similar profitability analysis on your Adult show and that helped you cut the cord. Lets say, that it was your major revenue source, and you saw the drop. Numbers wise you know what's going on, but you don't know why. So we would check volume of shows. If they are down, then we would know we have to check out why, is it customers taste change? Not reaching them anymore? Etc. or is it Competition? Do they have a promo, new entrants etc. Drilling down lets us identify why the numbers are down, giving us a chance to adjust for the change and possibly save the revenue stream or like you did cut and focus on something else.

These frameworks are applicable to everyone and not complicated. Honestly, it's harder to explain than to do it.
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