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Topic: Use of reference letters
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 22, 2004 11:16AM)
So, how do you use reference letters? (I *assume* you get them, correct?!)

I just got the best reference letter I've gotten in years ... and it just happens to be in a market I am breaking into. I generally just use them to reinforce my program when asked, or include them (or excerpts from them) in a promo packet. On occasion I will use them as a flyer in themselves, which is what I'm doing with this recent letter.

What other uses have you found for reference letters?
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 22, 2004 04:15PM)
To be quite honest Starrpower, 'thank you' letters and e-mails seemed to have taken the place of reference letters these days. Perhaps it's because people know we are so well-known and busy.

Either way it's not a bad idea to give excerpts of them on your website, whilst at the same time protecting the privacy of the person you are quoting.

I think Andy Walker in New Zealand uses this to great effect if I'm not mistaken, and a visit to his site would not go amiss.
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Nov 22, 2004 04:20PM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-22 12:16, Starrpower wrote:
So, how do you use reference letters? [/quote]

Allow prospects to read them.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Nov 22, 2004 05:13PM)
I get lots of thank you letters, they all go in a folder on my shelf. If anyone did feel the need to see them I'd show them the contens of the folder.
Message: Posted by: Mike Robbins (Nov 22, 2004 06:08PM)
I use them on my website and in my promo packages. I usually take one or two of the best paragraphs and use them. I did receive one last year, however, that was embarrasingly strong all the way through. I put a full copy of that one in my promo package.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 22, 2004 06:48PM)
Cheshire wrote:

To be quite honest Starrpower, 'thank you' letters and e-mails seemed to have taken the place of reference letters these days

***

YIKES! What a terrible concept to accept! I *never* leave it up to the customer to decide. I ASK them to write 'em, and make it easy for them to do so!

Not have reference letters? There might as well not be a Christmas!
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 23, 2004 03:04AM)
Do you draft a letter and tell them what to put as well?

:stircoffee:
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Nov 23, 2004 04:08AM)
<<<<Not have reference letters? There might as well not be a Christmas!>>>>

If it's not voluntary and from the heart what's the point? When I get a nice letter thanking me for a wonderful show, and enclosing a nice picture from the birthday kid it really makes my day.

If I had to ask people to write them it wouldn't be the same honest heart felt letter and therefore worthless.

I don't need to used them to convince people to book me, and I never have been asked if I have written references. What would be the point of sending out an information pack with them in? By the time they finally came back to book me the date/time slot would have gone to someone else.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Nov 23, 2004 08:49AM)
I think we may have had this conversation before. I too, never ask for a reference letter for the same reasons as Clive. In fact, I don't think anyone would send a 'reference letter' of there own free-will they send thank you cards and e-mails which can be used for reference upon asking.
I include a few quotes from them on my site but haven't thought of any other way of using them.

George
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 23, 2004 12:18PM)
Well, Clive, I think you miss a lot of marketing potential. It is very common to get reference letters. Students ask teachers for them in order to get into colleges. College graduates ask professors for them when interviewing for jobs. And, yes, we can ask customers for them in helping secure future bookings.

When people say nice things, I have them put it in a letter. And, yes, I have even written them myself on occasion. For example, I once had a long-term contract working a cruise line. The clout a letter from that line carries with prospects is enormous. However, the entertainment director was just not the type of person to do things for others ; he wasn't rude or selfish, he just had other more important concerns with his job. After speaking with him, I sent his secretary a suggested letter, she typed it up on their letterhead and he signed it. That letter got my work with such companies as Nabisco, Southwest Airlines, and Alcoa.

An unsolicited "thank you" letter may do more to boost your ego, but a calculated campaign of securing and using testimonials is invaluable in securing work.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Nov 23, 2004 12:38PM)
As I said Starrpower, I don't need to ask customers for references to convince people to book me. My last words when I leave a show, are "If your impressed with what I've done, please tell your friends." Them telling their friends voluntarily about how good I was will bring in plenty of work.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't do any active marketing. If your shows good enough you don't need to.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Nov 23, 2004 12:45PM)
Hi guys!
Instead of letters, I have the customer phone in and leave a sentence or two.
I then edit down to a reasonable file--MP3, and transfer them to a small cassette player.
When a customer calls and want references I play the tape so they can hear it right from the customers mouth.
I also would email short pieces of my show MP3 to customers.
Most computers have MP3 players.
I have sold a lot of customers with that system
Richard Lyn "Tricky Ricky"
Message: Posted by: Brent McLeod (Nov 23, 2004 01:08PM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-22 19:48, Starrpower wrote:
Cheshire wrote:

***

YIKES! What a terrible concept to accept! I *never* leave it up to the customer to decide. I ASK them to write 'em, and make it easy for them to do so!

Not have reference letters? There might as well not be a Christmas!
[/quote]


What say you did an average show & the host wasnt too impressed for whatever reason!!

Would you show this letter to future clients!!

Much better to recieve a nice thank you-without asking!!
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 23, 2004 01:21PM)
I disagree. First of all, passive marketing is NO marketing. You get what you ask for. If you're relatively busy doing nothing, think how much better you'd be doing if you ACTED on it!

Secondly,: Clive, following your advice, David Copperfield and Paul Daniels would never advertise. They spend more money on promotion in one week than I've probably spent my entire career.

Thirdly, you don't ask for letters from poor shows. That would be stupid -- just as stupid as Clive saying after a poor show, "If you thought the show was poor, tell your friends!" It just isn't done.

Fourthly (it there a word as "fourthly"?), studies have shown that, when something bad happens, people tell EVERYONE. When something good happens (which is what is expected of a business) nobody really says much unless they're asked.

So ask!

More negative things are said about busineses than positive things. Not my opinion, but study results (I can probably find the source if you'd like.)
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Nov 23, 2004 02:58PM)
<<<<I disagree. First of all, passive marketing is NO marketing. You get what you ask for. If you're relatively busy doing nothing, think how much better you'd be doing if you ACTED on it! >>>.

How much better can it get? I turn away more and more people away all the time because my diary fills up. If I took on any more work when would I play golf?
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 23, 2004 03:13PM)
We also turn away more people than ever because of the things we now don't do, i.e. weddings, Christenings, outdoors, houseparties. So no reference letters are necessary from anyone. But 'thank you' cards and e-mails are always greatly appreciated.

Now Starrpower, there is interestingly one thing I agree with you on here! You make a mistake, or do something they don't like, and boy - you get massive publicity! Provide a good service and they don't rave about it do they? They just think it the norm. if they have not had an entertainer before, or not seen anyone to compare you to. Pity, but this is human nature. However as long as their muted satisfaction turns to recommendations then I guess who cares?
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Nov 23, 2004 03:18PM)
Hi,

Interesting topic, but I'm with Clive on this one although Starrpower you also have a good arguement as to why people should market.

People have such busy lives that most find it an intrusion to be asked to write a letter unless of course they are well known to you. I've never asked any customers in my 17 years of performing for a letter of reference. Rather, I've always relied on word of mouth and you are correct about if your show is a poor one - people are apt to tell many people about it far less statistics show than if they are happy. Go figure? Then again that's human nature.

Saying that, it goes in contridiction with my business background and hey!- twice I was even nominated for entrepeneur of the year by members of the Chamber of Commerce. (So I do have some background regarding marketing and promo) You've made some really valid points Starrpower and you do know what you're talking about.

Each of us has to find what works best for us. I think promo is really important, especially for those starting out - but once you've got a good client base established, your show speaks for itself.

Chrystal
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 23, 2004 03:57PM)
Clive, you are certainly fortunate. I'd say most of us envy you ... and I'd guess most of us are not so busy that we turn away work without ever having to promote or advertise. I'm also guessing you are a millionaire. If everyone ran a business like you, radio and televison would go off the air due to lack of advertising!

I'm not being sarcastic; I think it's great you get more work than you can possibly do without any form of promotion. However, I still work at it, as I assume most of us do. I even have business cards, for Pete's sake! And I see scores of acts at booking conventions, buying tapes and attending marketing classes, etc. I know of magicians -- GOOD magicians whose names you might know -- who have slow times. You are definitely in the minority.

So, I ask for testimonials. And they have paid off. I am just asking how others use them ...
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 23, 2004 04:05PM)
We know little about you Starrpower - it just says "magician/hypnotist". No indication of Country. Both Clive and myself more or less trade on British 2 hour Birthday Party stays. Believe me, the work IS there to justify everything Clive says. In fact in the 1980s we used to work seven days, yes seven days a week, and then take about 4 off and go away for a few days.

Tony.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 23, 2004 04:13PM)
No, please don't get me wrong. I wasn't being sarcastic ... I *DO* feel he's fortunate to be that busy, because I am not!
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Nov 23, 2004 04:24PM)
Hi,
Pretty much a British thing I think but we tend to like to give praise freely,but would not like to be asked to do so, with regards Christmas it would kind of be like asking people to give us a gift. we are taught as children it is good manners to be grateful if we receive things but not to expect them, if you are caught asking people for things then atleast in my house my dad would have given me a slap.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 23, 2004 04:26PM)
I didn't go away with Clive for 4 days at a time by the way in the 1980s (hello sailor!); I'm talking about myself and Sue, my wife.

STILL don't know your Country or main line of entertaining Starrpower! But anyway, yes, it seems to be a quiet Christmas 2004. As mentioned to Candini in another thread (who also seems to be having a hard time), we are fortunate as we are trading on our reputation and birthday speciality. But to anyone selling magical entertainment to a wider audience it appears to be hard going. We have Customers with top-class restaurants/wine bars who also say their bookings have just not materialised for December 2004.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Nov 23, 2004 04:35PM)
Clive, you are certainly fortunate. I'd say most of us envy you ... and I'd guess most of us are not so busy that we turn away work without ever having to promote or advertise. I'm also guessing you are a millionaire. If everyone ran a business like you, radio and televison would go off the air due to lack of advertising!

Hi,
I think the thing is many of us have no desire to be Paul daniels but rather be comfortable (financialy) enough to be able to do what we want, not what we have to. If you are happy with your income and your social/family life balance without having to solicit/ market for work then why bother?
phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Nov 23, 2004 04:35PM)
Hi Starrpower,

Both Billy and I work the same way, we don't do any marketing, just a good show. We both do on average 30 shows a month, more during the summer and December.

We both do this full time and do mainly 2-Hour Birthday parties, we only do parties for ages 4 to 9, (8 if it's a boy, and we don't do any adult work at all, all our work is entertaining kids.

Round here anyone who only does the 1-hour of entertainment at parties will not be half as busy as us. They tend to pick up the bookings from those that were too late to get any entertainer who does the 2-hours.

I take it you don't specialise in kids entertainment.
Message: Posted by: Billy Whizz (Nov 23, 2004 04:37PM)
I'm the same as Clive, Ace and Philip. I turn more work away than I can handle. So maybe magic parties are more popular in the UK than other places. Or maybe we have more to offer in the way of entertainment.
Judging by previous post made by others in different contries, the impression I get is that you go out and do as much magic in an hours show as possible, trying to show how 'clever' you are. Over here in the UK (that is me and Emazdad, I've never seen Ace or Philip's show) we tend to make the entertainment and fun more important than just the magic.
Message: Posted by: Fernando (Nov 23, 2004 06:30PM)
I always get suspicious of people who are actively marketing all the time. If they are marketing constantly and talk of nothing else day and night it is always a sign that the show itself is no good.

This particularly applies to children's entertainers who do birthday parties but to a lesser extent other branches of magic as well.

All quality promo proves is that you have a good printer and graphic artist. It doesn't mean that YOU are any good. In fact the fancier the promo the more likely the act is mediocre. Not always of course just usually. I expect there are people on this very board who have fancy promo and websites and are actually quite good. However they will be the exception rather than the rule.

The reason is pretty obvious.You certainly have to market hard at the beginning of your career but once you have been around a few years if you are not getting work without constantly selling yourself then there is something wrong with your show.You should have enough word of mouth and repeat bookings so that you don't need to be constantly marketing yourself day and night.

I used to book people at one time. Alarm bells would always go off if the promo was too fancy.It often meant the performer was quite awful and had to produce an expensive fancy brochure to try and convince people he was worth booking.

However I once had a magic business and did a fair bit of mail order. I was always amused that the bigger and more celebrated the star the crappier their promo was. Business cards would always be very amateurish. Their letterheading was awful and the paper quality was inferior. Yet these were the highest paid acts in the business and also the busiest.

However I could always tell the starving magicians. They were the ones with the fancy brochures that they insisted on sending me.

Next time you admire a fancy website look more closely. The performer may not be doing as well as you think. The crappier the website the busier they are.

Fernando's rule you know.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 23, 2004 07:13PM)
Folks, please believe me when I said I'm happy for those of you that you “don't do any active marketing.” Unfortunately, I have to market my services.

The reason for my post is I'm puzzled.

Starrpower has ask for our help. He posted a question “So, how do you use reference letters?”

He said, "I just got the best reference letter I've gotten in years ... and it just happens to be in a market I am breaking into."

In the spirit of [b]“magicians helping magicians”[/b] I would suggest the people who don't use reference letters remember Starrpower is asking for our help.

Oh and By the way, Starrpower just might not be trying to book birthday parties. [b]If he is trying to book school shows reference letters are a must.[/b]

Personality, I know I have booked trade shows because of the large number of reference letters I include in my promo package.

Again, I'm happy for you folks that you don't have to do any marketing.

[b]But if someone ask about card moves why would you tell them you only do coins and berate him for asking for help.[/b]

Ron Calhoun

PS Yes I understand this is posted in "The little darlings" but there are more markets for kids than just birthdays.

Frankly I'm surprised at the postings in “Use of reference letters”.

Starrpower ask for help.

[b]QUOTE: “So, how do you use reference letters? I just got the best reference letter I've gotten in years ... and it just happens to be in a market I am breaking into.[/b]

Here is the help he got.

[b]I don't need to ask customers for references to convince people to book me.[/b]

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't do any active marketing. If your shows good enough you don't need to.

[b]When I get a nice letter thanking me for a wonderful show, and enclosing a nice picture from the birthday kid it really makes my day.[/b]

How much better can it get? I turn away more and more people away all the time because my diary fills up. If I took on any more work when would I play golf?

[b]We also turn away more people than ever because of the things we now don't do, i.e. weddings, Christenings, outdoors, houseparties.[/b]

Both Clive and myself more or less trade on British 2 hour Birthday Party stays.

I'm the same as Clive, Ace and Philip. I turn more work away than I can handle. So maybe magic parties are more popular in the UK than other places. Or [b]maybe we have more to offer in the way of entertainment. [/b]

If you are happy with your income and your social/family life balance without having to solicit/ market for work then why bother?
Message: Posted by: El_Lamo (Nov 23, 2004 08:33PM)
Starrpower,

If you are making calls to the market that you are breaking into, then you could:

While talking to the prospect, show him a blank piece of paper. Fold it up. Hand it to him. Ask him to make it invisible. Smile, tell him, since he is not a magician that he can just put it into his pocket.

Then ask him what he would want out of your performance. Hand him an invisible pen. (Mime). Ask him to write out few things on your invisible paper. Hold it out for him. (Mime). Have him make some brief notes. You may be able to turn a few phrases... nudge nudge.

Then say, hmm, this pen isn't working here. Maybe it will work better if we write something on the sheet in your pocket. Have him retrieve the page from his pocket and open it so that you can make notes.

He or she is now holding your excellent letter. Now, be prepared to do something else that is entertaining. {Meaning, I recognize the magic is limited above, but it gets your letter in the prospects hands in a face to face meeting.)

Cheers - El Lamo

P.S. When people enjoy my shows, I ask them to write something. I always do this and have done it for both magic and other workshops that I deliver. I have been doing so for over twenty years. I still ask, because I want to use current quotes and comments.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 23, 2004 09:49PM)
El_Lamo

thank you at last some one trying to help.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 23, 2004 09:56PM)
I'd like to apologize to those Brits who thought (still think?) I was being bitter or condescending. I was not; I am duly impressed with ANYONE who is so well-known in their market that they do NO marketing.

To Cheshire: I am in Wisconsin, USA. Not far from Chicago, I get a lot of bookings there and throughout the Midwest U.S. I am primarily a hypnotist, but my background is in magic. I like to do magic, but it's not my sole income. At the going rate for kids' shows here, I could not afford my 5 bedroom, 4 bath house I am building on a kids' performer's income ... at least not the income they get here! Personally, I don't *want* to do 4 shows a day ... I'm too lazy!

But, I DO have to market constantly. It has nothing to do with a poor quality show. For example, I do a lot of after prom shows. Every year it's a new comittee. I can't rely on word-of-mouth ... unless it's coming from MY mouth!

I want to be on control of my own future ... it's too important to leave in the hands of others.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 23, 2004 10:29PM)
Ok you guys fooled me too

You said you did no active marketing then I saw your great web sites.

http://www.billywhizz.biz

http://www.absolutely-unforgettable.co.uk

http://www.emazdad.com

In fact absolutely-unforgettable has a great way to use his “clients letters” check it out its great

http://www.jonesp6.freeserve.co.uk/general/
Click on “clients letters”

Sorry Fernando you said [b]“Next time you admire a fancy website look more closely. The performer may not be doing as well as you think. The crappier the website the busier they are.[/b] ”Sorry Fernando these guys don't have “crappier” websites.

Their sites are great and they sound busy to me.
Message: Posted by: Fernando (Nov 24, 2004 12:03AM)
Yes, but every single one of them has admitted in previous postings that their website is not that important to them.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 24, 2004 12:24AM)
I'm sorry, I'm confused.

[b]”The crappier the website the busier they are. “[/b]

and these busy performers have great site because their sites aren't important to them.

Guys, guys, guys please lets stick to the topic "Use of reference letters" and try to help each other.

Here are my questions.

[b]Of the performers that do you use reference letters or client letters or testimonials, [/b]

If you ask for them, how do you ask for them?

Do you include them in flyers, brochures, or on your web site?

Thanks
Message: Posted by: Mike Robbins (Nov 24, 2004 01:24AM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-24 01:24, RonCalhoun wrote:


If you ask for them, how do you ask for them?

Do you include them in flyers, brochures, or on your web site?

Thanks
[/quote]

I ask them for them. After a show when the contact person comes up and tells me how great the show went, I simply ask them if they'd do me a favor and write a quick letter to me stating what they just said. I tell them that people will listen more readily to them saying how great the show was, as opposed to me saying it.

I wait a couple of days and then send out a thank you card. That helps to remind them. If they said they'd send a letter, I'll give them a follow call two weeks after the show. If that doesn't get the letter, then I don't follow up any further.

Let me also say that I do this only for my corporate and fundraising shows. I primarily market those. I do not actively market kids shows at present as it is too costly for too little return. That and we have a guy running around undercutting and bringing prices down. A typical customer for a kids birthday party is a Mom who is just trying to find someone at the cheapest price and she calls all the magicians in the phone book and goes with the cheapest. I'm not the cheapest.

As for how I use the references, I've pretty well answered that in an earlier post. And, yes, my website is bringing in more and more business all the time. In fact, it's something that separates me from the competition. I get lots of compliments about how it communicates what I do clearly. I'm not sure it would be all that important if I did just, or primarily, kids shows. You can see the references at:

http://www.robbinsmagic.com/lowband/quotes.htm

Mike
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Nov 24, 2004 03:08AM)
Hi,
None of my letters are requested, they are just sent to me after the shows so as far as I am conserned this was not active on my part. web sites to me are still non active marketing, you put it up and carry on. Yeah it took me a little while to write/design it but that's all
Phillip

After a show when the contact person comes up and tells me how great the show went, I simply ask them if they'd do me a favor and write a quick letter to me stating what they just said. I tell them that people will listen more readily to them saying how great the show was, as opposed to me saying it.

Hi,
But in reality even if the show was crap the booker is unlikely to say hey mate crap show! if it was mediocre they are liable to tell you it was good then when you ask for a reference they will probably oblige because they feel obligated after having said that to you. so I agree with others that if you have to ask for it it is not worth the paper it is writen on except as a dishonest marketing tool.
phillip
Message: Posted by: Billy Whizz (Nov 24, 2004 03:14AM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-24 01:03, Fernando wrote:
Yes, but every single one of them has admitted in previous postings that their website is not that important to them.
[/quote]

My website doesn't get me any extra work, because by the time people that enquire from it get back to me, the time slot they want is usually gone. The site is more for reference. If someone wants to know what I do, I sell my show on the phone and also mention the web site to have a look at photos or the party timetable. I also have a venue list on there detailing suitable venues with telephone numbers.

I can see what you're saying regards promo material Fernando. But, even though I turn away more shows than I can take, it is still very important to me to have 'first class' material. Why have a first class show but second class material. Doesn't make sense to me.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 24, 2004 03:48AM)
So now we are starting talking about our houses are we? Ok then, I own two, in a prime high price area (did that make me feel better? Not really).

So Clive, Billy and Philip - we know what kind of businesses we have, we know what we, and other pro. 2 hour Birthday Entertainers in Britain earn. I guess we should be keeping it a secret instead of splashing info. and advice out for the world to see here. We don't want too many people in the business do we? I suggest we drop it at that!

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

Tony.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Nov 24, 2004 04:43AM)
Okay, ease off, everybody.
Starrpower, who had identified his locale, asked simply how we get and use references.
Congrats to all you guys who claim you are so busy you don't ask for, or need, reference letters; but that really doesn't help Starrpower.

When I follow-up on the show with a thank-you letter, I sometimes (depending on the occasion) ask for a reference letter. I have never failed to get one yet.
I then take one or two pertinent quotes out of the letter and include it, with the initials of the person and name of the group, on the back of my brochure.
Here is an example:

What others say about
the Magicomedy
of Peter Marucci . . .

“This very talented sleight-of-hand artist is back to delight the Jubilee audience.”
-- Royal Bank Seniors’ Jubilee, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

“You have a lot of talent and your pleasant personality goes well with it. I will certainly recommend you.” -- E.K., Canada Trust, Toronto

“Our audience loved the subtle one-liners and great magic . . . You can be sure we will recommend you highly.” -- J.J., Wellington Waterloo Senior Games banquet

“I would highly recommend him.” -- S.C., Finger Lakes Magic Club, Ithaca, New York

“You truly do have magic in your hands and laughter in your soul -- all wrapped up in an easy-going, warm manner that truly captivates your audience.” -- R.R., past president, Royal City Toastmasters

“Marucci is a master and has been entertaining audiences for decades.” -- Entertainment columnist Alan Argue

“A highly talented and dependable entertainer . . . we would not hesitate to recommend him.” -- A.H., M & M Meat Shops

“An entertaining and exciting show.” -- Fergus Public Library

“The audience loved Peter’s off-beat sense of humor.” -- review, The Grand Magic Show at Theatre On The Grand

“You were terrific!” -- artistic director J.S., Theatre On The Grand

“We had many comments on the high calibre of the performance.” -- Elora Arts Council

“Thank you for making this a magic Christmas.” -- Wellington Terrace

“Everyone thought you were great. You sure are a Magicomedian.”
– D. and I. L., Mount Forest

“Your show delighted the audience and kept the children spellbound.” -- M.A.S., Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County

“Thank you for a wonderful show.” -- St. George’s Church, Guelph


This covers everything from private, home birthday parties, to huge corporate clients.

Hope this is of some help.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Nov 24, 2004 07:14AM)
Hi Ron, even my website is passive, I don't bother putting it on search engines etc, it just sits there, It's mentioned on my yellow pages ad so people can use it to find more info on me.

I think the thing that we all disagree with is the asking for references, by all means use references to generate work if needs must, but shouldn't they be voluntary references. A voluntary reference carries much more wieght than a forced one.

An asked for reference will say something like,

We had Emazdad and he was very good, the kids really enjoyed his show, I'd be happy to reccomend him in the future..

A voluntary reference would say,

Dear Emazdad,

I just had to write and thank you for the wonderful show you put on for the children, I've never seen them sit for so long, and laugh so much. Susan hasn't stopped talking about Marmite the lion and is already pestering us to get you for her party next year. Thanks again, Sarah Smith.

Which one of those do you think would impress a client more?
Message: Posted by: Fernando (Nov 24, 2004 08:48AM)
I didn't say you shouldn't have a quality website or fancy promo. You certainly should.

I am merely making the observation that many (if not most) who do have a lousy show.

You will often find that performers who are busy all the time and have no need to market will fall into procrastination and laziness and not bother to keep up the fancy promo and letterheads because they don't need to.

So this is why you will often see crappy promo from busy performers. I am merely saying that crappy promo is a sign that the entertainer may be actually very busy indeed.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 24, 2004 10:50AM)
If someone ask about card moves why would you tell them you only do coins and berate them for asking for help.
******************************************************

If you need help with promoting your business using reference letters, here is a link to help.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=93038&forum=17#0

If you don't use reference letters you won't need it.
Message: Posted by: Mike Robbins (Nov 24, 2004 12:00PM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-24 04:13, p.b.jones wrote:
so I agree with others that if you have to ask for it it is not worth the paper it is writen on except as a dishonest marketing tool.
phillip
[/quote]

None of my marketing is dishonest.

In the corporate world, these folks are very busy and many treat it as another business transaction (which it is). Many would not think of writing a reference letter as they normally do not do that when buying any other service and so to ask for one is appropriate. I can also tell you that no one feels pressure when I ask them. Again, I do one follow-up and if I don't receive one then I figure they're too busy to write it and let it go at that.

I've done the holiday show for one large company for three years straight. I asked for a letter the first year and didn't get one. I did get one the next year. They called me and booked me every year after the first. I've had a similar situation with other companies. So I didn't get a letter the first year, but they were pleased enough to contact me the following year and book me again.

I don't know, Phil. I've read your statement above a few times and it seems to be a sweeping generalization to me. It certainly doesn't apply to my situation.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Nov 24, 2004 01:22PM)
I don't have a Web Site, nor do I advertise in the yellow page.
I'm fully booked from cards, word of mouth references.
I have a reputation in Toronto as the best in the business. There is only one other performer who is as good or if not better, and he's in conversation with you guys right now.
Build a reputation and you wont need these fancy web site. If I do, it will be just for show.
Richard Lyn "Tricky Ricky"
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Nov 24, 2004 01:25PM)
Hi,
My comment was not meant at anyone in particular, I just firmly believe that soliciting reccomend letters is no different than the sales people who go to old peoples houses and make hard pressure sales..... to me asking for attaboy letter is applying pressure to a person to give a complement that perhaps they really did not want to give. I see it as a dishonest practice and would not do it. You have to admit most people feel obligated to do something if asked. An obvious example is a pettition often people will sign a pettition against something because they are stopped in the street and asked (particularly if it is someone they know even if distantly)that they really did not want to sign or might not actually care about, just because it is easier than saying no and feeling embarraced.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Nov 24, 2004 02:41PM)
Hi,

Thanks Peter for that wonderful information it answered Starrpower's question.

I am guilty as well of not sticking to the subject. Another poster kindly reminded us this forum and the Café is about magicians helping magicians and not "tooting your own horn". Thus, My personal apologies to you Starrpower.

The best of luck breaking into a new market.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Nov 25, 2004 04:35PM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-23 19:30, Fernando wrote:
I always get suspicious of people who are actively marketing all the time. If they are marketing constantly and talk of nothing else day and night it is always a sign that the show itself is no good.

This particularly applies to children's entertainers who do birthday parties but to a lesser extent other branches of magic as well.

All quality promo proves is that you have a good printer and graphic artist. It doesn't mean that YOU are any good. In fact the fancier the promo the more likely the act is mediocre. Not always of course just usually. I expect there are people on this very board who have fancy promo and websites and are actually quite good. However they will be the exception rather than the rule.

The reason is pretty obvious.You certainly have to market hard at the beginning of your career but once you have been around a few years if you are not getting work without constantly selling yourself then there is something wrong with your show.You should have enough word of mouth and repeat bookings so that you don't need to be constantly marketing yourself day and night.

I used to book people at one time. Alarm bells would always go off if the promo was too fancy.It often meant the performer was quite awful and had to produce an expensive fancy brochure to try and convince people he was worth booking.

However I once had a magic business and did a fair bit of mail order. I was always amused that the bigger and more celebrated the star the crappier their promo was. Business cards would always be very amateurish. Their letterheading was awful and the paper quality was inferior. Yet these were the highest paid acts in the business and also the busiest.

However I could always tell the starving magicians. They were the ones with the fancy brochures that they insisted on sending me.

Next time you admire a fancy website look more closely. The performer may not be doing as well as you think. The crappier the website the busier they are.

Fernando's rule you know.
[/quote]

Many performers are in small or heavy markets where they have to compete with other performers for work. It doesn't mean they are bad, it just means they may be one of many good performers in a small market.

Movie stars go from city to city actively marketing their movies...it doesn't mean they are bad movies does it?

I was in a situation where I was VERY busy, doing WAY too many shows and exhausting myself doing gigs I didn't want to do! My solution? I have jacked up my prices and spent a little more time actively marketing to do the show I WANT to do.

These days, I do LESS gigs then 12 months ago but makes MORE money....all thanks to marketing!
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Nov 26, 2004 10:12AM)
Getting back to the original post, I must agree with Star. No matter how successful I get or have become in a given market, I always market myself all the time. Marketing to me becomes a 24/7 thing that is just now a habit and a good habit at that.

I also would like to say this. That even those who cliam they do not need to market or have not martketed because they are so successful now, I bet they still market and just do not realize they are doing so. I bet you that is the case and I strongly beleive that.

Marketing does not mean a person or magician has a bad show or a weak show. This can not be further from the truth. You can be great at marketing or stink at marketing and it does not have any relationship to the quality of your show at all.

The only thing that can be said is that if your show stinks, no quanitity of marketing will ever get you to where you want to go. Marketing can only work with the assumption that you have invested the proper time to have and create a show that is what the aucience and prospect is looking for. Your show must be a good product and you must perform a good service for any marketing to be truely effective.

In regards to reference letters the best way to get them is as simple as ASKING for them. Sounds dumb doesn't it? But that is what it comes down to. If your show is good, then there is no reason why you can't simply ASK for a letter. Most will be glad to comply.

Now there are ways you can make it easier for the client to send a reference letter, but I discussed this in the other post and so will leave it out here.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Nov 27, 2004 03:50PM)
Cheshire, why so nasty and condescending? We're just having a discussion here. The only reason I brought up what I did was because you have been needling me in several responses, hinting that I either can't, or don't, make a good living performing. I can. And do. It's not a "secret market" that only arrogant Brits are working in.

Getting back to the original post, I don't know about British "telly" but here in the U.S. testimonials are used all the time; simply check out countless TV commercials, radio spots, and print advertising. It IS effective. And ASKING for them tends to be the norm ... almost every restaurant I go to has comment cards, as do *every* cruise line. They want to hear the good as well as the bad. That's asking for positive comments.

My whole point was to ask how YOU GUYS use them ... and those who responded so far, with a few notable "Olde World" exceptions, have had some interesting thoughts on the subject.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 28, 2004 01:39AM)
If you don't use testimonials or don't need testimonials or don't want testimonials, please read and answer this post.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=93445&forum=17&0
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Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Nov 28, 2004 09:57AM)
It is NOT about having a FANCY website or a FANCY business card. It is about having a website that WORKS and having a business card that WORKS!!!!

There is a big difference there. Fancy does not get people in your market to contact you, a website that works and is targeted properly will. The same goes with any marketing that you do.

As far as reference letters go, I use them all the time and I ask for them any chance I get. If you want something... simply ask for it. If I feel my show is good and went over well, then there is no reason why I should not ask for a letter from my client.

Now if my client does not feel the show was great, then he or she certainly has the option and right to deny writing one in the first place. I certainly do not push it on them at all. I simply ask that if they enjoyed the show as much as the children did, It would mean so much to me if they could express that in a simple sentence or two on my evaluation form I give to them. I make it easy for them to do this IF THEY so decide to. It is their option.

in my own personal work and magic, I know and have seen reference letters really do work and are a crucial part of anyone's marketing tool box.

Even if you are a pro and have more shows then you can handle, I still feel strongly that reference letters are appropriate and still should be used. Why not? They certainly do not hurt you any and they are easy to obtain. If nothing more, for the pro, it backs up your credibility even more then your word of mouth does.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: El_Lamo (Nov 28, 2004 07:27PM)
I posted this in the thread that is now locked. So I have moved it here.

I have performed in a number of daycare centres. I use written testimonials to solicit business with other child care centres. It helps to open the door and it provides more legitimacy by demonstrating that you know how to perform appropriately for that particular audience.

If a certain type of business is pleased with your approach, style and presentation then other businesses in the same field may be interested in working with you. Lots of businesses choose to use the same services that their competitors use. This is true for many endeavors, not just magic.

1. [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=51199&forum=44] This is a link to a thread in tricky business about using testimonials. [/url]

2. [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=47912&forum=44] This one is in tricky business about live testimonials on your website [/url]So you probably need written ones first. (Smiles)

Lastly an outside link [url=http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/third.htm] to one of the thousands of sites [/url] that give reasons for using testimonials

Cheers - El Lamo

"Final note: When I mention the concept of asking for testimonials in my sales training
workshops, people often express their concern about asking for testimonials. What I’ve learned is that people WANT you to succeed and they want to help you. Unfortunately, most people don’t think of automatically sending you a testimonial or endorsement. You have to ask!"
The above quote is from materials available from [url=http://www.robertsontraininggroup.com/resources_articles_sales.html] Kelley Robertson, President of the Robertson Training Group [/url]
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Nov 28, 2004 10:20PM)
El Lamo.

That is a very good point! If people compliment you on their show and say things that you wish they would say to others then ASK them to write it down and they will be happy to do it because they want you to do well.

I wouldn't ask just any client to write me a reference but when I get those over excited happy customers, its great to be able to record their excitement for my future customers.
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Nov 29, 2004 12:13AM)
Billy Whizz,

It was not my purpose to start a new fight. I was hoping to stop the old fight by having two discussions going at the same time.

Billy please remembers the question starrpower ask is, WHAT do you do with testimonials?

It would have been helpful if you had said something like;

Here is a copy of a great letter that I put it on my web site

“I have not heard so much laughter for ages. Billy Whizz kept the children entertained”
Lynda Chapman - Plymbridge Nursery

from: http://www.billywhizz.biz

I'm only trying to be helpful to starrpower and the many others that are just starting out or braking new ground.

Ron Calhoun

How can you use them.

Use them on your web site

A great example is here.

http://www.jonesp6.freeserve.co.uk/general/

Click on "Clients Letters"
Message: Posted by: Billy Whizz (Nov 29, 2004 01:58AM)
I think the argument is the fact the you guys tend to ask for a testimonial, but most guys here in the UK use them if they have been sent to us without having to ask for them. Yes, I have one on my site, I didn't ask for it, I never have, but I have a folder with hundreds of them in.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Nov 29, 2004 08:07AM)
Well there is one way in which to get testemonials without ever having to ask for them at all. I use my thank you kit. I give a thank you kit to the parent after avery performance., In this kit is my thank you etter to them, my evaluation form (multiple choice, SASE, some business cards and a box of candy for them.

it really is easy to make, cost me nect to nothing and is a perfect way to generate testemonials from the evlaution forms that they mail back.

I do this a lot and it generates a lot of positive written word for me without me ever having to flat out ask for one. it basically encourages them to do so on their own.

Just an idea.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 29, 2004 08:34AM)
I just simply cannot understand why everyone is so confrontational in this Section at the moment. Is asking someone where they are posting from really needling them?

So for anyone who is interested in using reference letters can I refer you to Andy Walker's site:

http://www.magicparty.co.nz

Andy, who I consider to be a personal friend, has developed not only text but AUDIO references. Just have a listen to them, they are really great. I respect Andy for doing this as obviously it's part of his marketing that works in NZ. For us personally here it would be "overkill". I know Andy won't be offended at me saying this, as we both know that different Countries mean different solutions; and whether Andy traded in New Zealand, GB or the States he would be highly successful.

Tony.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Nov 29, 2004 08:44AM)
The audio testemonials are even better and a GREAT idea for websites. I have seen this done and also on Andy's site and it works. Certainly something to look into as an option for your website.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: RonCalhoun (Dec 15, 2004 11:12PM)
This is a copy of the PM I sent ABC

Hi ABCofMagic,

I'm Ron Calhoun. I wanted to say thank you for your posting in Reference letters, testimonials.

There are two reasons I ask folks who don't use testimonials to not post.

First, Is something here at the café we call “off topic.” For example if a magician ask a question about doing trade shows and someone posted they only do kid shows. The post is a waste of band space. Our main goal here is for magicians to help other magicians. Off topic posting only waste space and of course don't help.

Second, sometimes if a person disagrees with someone it might be better to sent that person a nice private message.

Here are two threads covering what I'm trying to say.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=4408&forum=39&0

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=17&forum=39&0

So I hope to hear more from you soon, and if you have any questions please send me an PM anytime.

Ron Calhoun
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Dec 16, 2004 06:01AM)
[quote]
On 2004-11-29 09:44, magic4u02 wrote:
The audio testemonials are even better and a GREAT idea for websites. I have seen this done and also on Andy's site and it works. Certainly something to look into as an option for your website.

Kyle
[/quote]
Now you're talking Kyle.
Go back and read my first post in this conversation. No one noticed what I said about voice references.
Everyone is so tied up with letters that they can't think out of the box.
I've been using this method for years with great results.
Richard.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 16, 2004 06:58AM)
Richard it really works great for websites. I use a combination of letters of reference as well as voice ones once my new website gets up sometime in Jan. Using both can be very powerful indeed and a great tool in your marketing toolbox.

Kyle