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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Halloween 2006 - Thinking Ahead (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Gerry Walkowski
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I'm a part-time children's entertainer and new to the Café.

Every September (early September) I send out about 500 quality mailing pieces to various fraternal organizations, clubs, community centers, etc. in hope of having a busy Halloween schedule. For some odd reason, however, I've never been able to book more than 1-2 Halloween shows every season.

Since magic is just my hobby, which means I can't take off work to perform Halloween shows at Day Care Centers and Libraries, I'm looking for some suggestions.

Any ideas as to what I could be doing wrong?

Any ideas as to other groups I should contact about hiring a children's entertainer during the Halloween season?

Just for the record, I seem to do O.K. with mailings other times of the year. I just seem to have a problem booking Halloween shows.

Thanks,

Gerry
Donald Dunphy
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Hi Gerry -

Are you pre-qualifying these customers, to see if they even plan a Halloween event, before sending a mailing along?

If you are mailing that number of pieces, are you actually putting a real contact name on the letter, or just a "title", or nothing at all?

That alone can make a big difference in response rate.

How are you doing follow-up to your mailings? No follow up? A second letter? A phone call?

That can also increase your response rate.

Are you remembering to target past customers first, and try to re-book them?

You might be better off trying some of these things, mailing only 50 letters (instead of 500) and booking 10 shows.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Gerry Walkowski
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Hi Donald:

Thanks for your reply. You do bring up some good points.

Unfortunately, being a part-time entertainer doesn't allow me the time to pre-qualify customers or time for follow-up calls. Most of my envelopes usually read "ATTN: Halloween Event Coordinator." I have never sent a follow-up letter, so perhaps I might try that next year.

Like I mentioned in my original posting, I do have a decent response rate throughout the year following my own mailing method. I just seem to have a problem booking HALLOWEEN SHOWS.

I do mail to past customers and know that I offer a quality show. Some of the names on my mailing list are groups that have had Halloween events in the past and others are just based on "my best "guess." By "best guess" I mean if anyone was going to have a Halloween party entertainment I assumed it would be the fraternal organizations (like the Moose Clubs, VFW, etc.), community organizations, recreation centers, etc.

Thanks for your reply.

Gerry
Skip Way
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Donald is right on target...as always. The simplest way to pre-qualify an organization is to check your local Sept & Oct issues of your local free Parent Magazine or Independent Newspaper...You know...the free newspapers that are distributed around the community. Most areas have one. They'll usually list upcoming events, celebrations and festivals in a community calendar listing in the back. Start a planning notebook and list the details & contacts of these events for NEXT year.

Also, as you're driving from point A to point B, keep your eyes open for these changeable marquees that announce upcoming events in front of volunteer fire departments, schools, churches, social halls and so on. I landed a new gig this Christmas by stopping in at a local fire department with a big "SANTA ARRIVES SATURDAY!" sign out front.

Check your local Chamber of Commerce or Parks & Recs Dept. websites. Do a Google search for Hallowe'en (or Easter or Christmas or 4th of July or....) events and celebrations including the name of your hometown or nearby towns.

Check the social and local pages of your local daily newspaper. If you read about an event that happened recently that you think you'd like to be a part of next year make a note of it. Jot down the name of the organization and this year's chairperson or organizer. Give them a call and ask them how you might be considered for inclusion next year. Then add it to the "October Planning" section of your planning notebook. I signed one of my largest annual Hallowe'en clients, an annual farm's Pumpkin Festival, this way.

Sending your quality brochure out in early September is a great idea...however, people have extremely short memories. Ever see the commercials where the woman slaps herself in the forehead and says, "Oh! I could have had a V-8!" Out of sight IS out of mind! Even if you are the most popular children's entertainer in your area...a true, 100%, certified superstar...When a parent asks a child "What would you like to do for your birthday this year, Johnnie?" They are going to say the first thing that comes to their mind..."CHUCKIE CHEESE!!" On the other hand, if this family receives your monthly newsletter, a Christmas card, a well-timed birthday reminder card (Most party planning begins in a 1-to-4 week zone before the party) and an occasional and personal "How Ya Doing?!" note...you're far more likely to stay fresh in their minds!

Try this experiment. Ask someone to time you and ask you to name ten common & popular product names in 20 seconds...say, candy bars...only, you don't know what they're going to ask you to name until they start timing. The average person will be lucky to name five...even though we all know lots of candy bars by name...or car models...or magazines. The ones you remember are those that you personally prefer, hear about regularly or are most familiar with.

The same is true with your event planning. Two months before the event, the planner receives your expensive and beautiful brochure and a similar brochure from Jimmy Houdini. He files both safely in his planning folder. A week later, he receives a black-&-white postcard from Jimmy Houdini with a reminder of his "Filling Calendar" and "Killer Hallowe'en Magic Show!" The logo reminds the planner of the previous brochure...and he files them together. A week later and the day before the first planning session, Jimmy Houdini calls and explains that he read the great reviews of last year's event in the Daily Hornblower and "just knows" that the committee is looking to add a little extra pizzazz this year. Guess what...All the chairperson remembers at this point is Jimmy Houdini. To top it off, Jimmy says, "Tell you what. Can I call you Monday to see what the committee thinks of OUR suggestion?" Your brochure just became very costly scrap paper.

Also remember that Planning Committees are always fighting "Creative Inertia." The old "This worked last year so why change?" syndrome. It's up to you to show them ways to use your skills creatively and to overcome the "Why change something that works?" arguement.

If it is too much effort to target and qualify your mailings and then follow-up afterwards, I would advise you to save your money. I was a full-time performer and went back to part-time to insure a secure income while I put my wife through grad school and my oldest daughter through the private college of her dreams. But, even as a "part-timer" I put 40+ hours a week into my "Day Job" and 40+ hours a week into my entertainment business. It takes effort. Only you can decide where your priorities lie.

Keep your name in front of your prospects...always...or you'll fade faster than yesterday's supermodel.

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Gerry Walkowski
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Skip & Donald:

Both of you have given me some wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing your expertise and hopefully I'll see some big improvements next year once I put these suggestions in motion.

Again, many thanks.

Gerry
Skip Way
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That's the true beauty of Peer-to-Peer relationships, Gerry! One day soon...you'll post an idea or suggestion that will boost my income potential or show presentation! Best wishes!

Skip :o)
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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Gerry -

Best wishes on the action you take.

I have a great deal of respect for you, because you are analyzing what might be weak, to fix it. A lot of people just gripe or blame others, and don't take the responsiblity for their own destiny.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Dennis Michael
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Also consider sending out information in May, June, and August making it clear you have limited available dates for the Halloween season. (Only 10 shows! for example.)

Schools and other organizations like to plan the following year prior to the Summer Vacation time. The second mailing can be in September followed up by a phone call, if possible. (Second Mailing can say only 7 dates left.)

In John Kaplain's fundraising program, he suggests fax marketing three times. It works for him. He has an established name, a relationship with most of those he faxes to and clients trust and know his performance. These are excellent marketing advantages.
Dennis Michael
Gerry Walkowski
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Dennis:

Thanks for your great suggestion. I'm going to try all of these great ideas in 2006 and see if my numbers improve.

Gerry
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