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Jon-O the Great
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I’m sure that most of us have heard the story of the newspaper reporter who interviewed Edison after he had finally invented the electric light bulb. He asked Edison, “Sir, you ran 5000 experiments and failed all those times. How does it feel to fail 5000 times?”

Edison said, “On the contrary, I didn’t fail 5000 times. I DISCOVERED 5000 things that DON’T WORK!”

Well, I found ONE thing that DOES work. At least for me.

On another Svengali thread, we had previously discussed my idea of making a DVD of the 10 tricks in the Svengali card box, then giving away copies with the deck and the 2-card monte as a means to raise the price from $5 to $10. And I stated that if I sold 51% of the pitches as I had previously, I would earn more money.

Well, I sold about 60% of the pitches. I did $150 the last day I sold the cards without the DVD 2 weeks ago. Not spectacular but I’m only learning.

This weekend I did over $200 each day. And I can tell you, when I put the DVD into the deal, eyes lit up. Obviously, not a bunch bought but it was a gun show each weekend, so it was at least a comparable crowd. It was usually 1 on 1, not a crowd each time, tho there were some times when I’d start with one and finally 4-6 people watched.

I had the DVD playing on my computer on my left so I could point to it and they could see the tricks. Sound was off, tho the DVD has explanations of each move.

The major problem is that it takes almost 17 minutes to copy a DVD using my computer drive-4x. Sam’s sells a copier that is a 20x for $100. I’ll be looking into that as soon as I get the pitch perfected. I still have several DVDs left. ;-)

Just wanted to let everyone know that it does seem to work FOR ME.

Jon-O
sethb
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Glad to hear the DVD was attracting attention and sales. Sounds like you have a winner! If you check around you may be able to find a local commercial DVD duplicating service that can do it even faster and cheaper than the Sam's DVD burner.

I agree, the toughest part is to attract a crowd. I have done plenty of one-on-ones, and some have grown to nice tips, which is a much more efficient way to do business if you can. I try to keep one eye on the patron and one eye on the passersby, always inviting other people to stop and watch the Svengali Miracle Deck in action. Nobody wants to be the first one to stop, but most people will stop if someone else already has. Good luck to you! SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Jon-O the Great
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Yesterday and today were really the 1st day weekend I had concentrated entirely on selling the cards using the DVD as a “kicker”. The other weekends I had switched back and forth between strippers and cards so it did not give me an accurate idea of what I could actually do.

The show was a gun show which is usually not very good, even for strippers. Yesterday I did over $400 and today, a little less than $400, so total of almost exactly $800 for 2 days, using the DVD. I felt that was pretty good, especially for a gun show. Many of the other vendors were complaining about the lack of sales but I really had a good weekend. Dunno if that is good for a REAL pro, like Don, but I was happy. Mostly 1-on-1.

So the money was good and I’m happy I did well (for me!) but frankly, that was not the best part. I demo mostly to kids and many times the parents just kinda drift away, leaving me to “babysit” the kids. Some kids watch the demo 2-3 times and don’t buy. But one brother and sister really made my day!

I sometimes put a key card from one of my “dirty” decks under the box that holds the decks or inside an empty card box or behind the Visa/MC/AMX placard on my table. So when I do the second trick and DL to the WRONG card, sometimes I’ll say, “Ya know, I think that (9) is here…” and point to one of the other places.

Today a brother and sister were at my table very excitedly watching the pitch. The parents had gone off somewhere but the kids were REALLY excited. So I said, “blah….blah…blah…..this deck is designed so even kids with FRECKLES can do it….” The boy, about 10 REALLY had red hair AND freckles..but the sister, about 8, said, “Hey, I got freckles, does that mean I can do it?”

I said, “Yep, even YOU!”

She said, “Wow!!”

So when I got to the 2nd trick, I DL’d to the WRONG card then said, “Ya know, I think that 9 is here behind that placard.” The girl excitedly reached and got it and was REALLY excited.

“How’d you DO that?”

“Well remember I told you that kids with freckles could to it. Didn’t you say you have freckles?”

“Yes”

“Well, didn’t you find the card?”

“Yes Yes Yes!!”

So I finished the pitch, including the 2 card monte and the DVD and, of course the kids had no money. They left, saying, “We’ll go get Dad!” They RAN to get him. In a few minutes they were both back, one dragging on each arm. The father was very good natured about it and the little girl said, “He said even kids with FRECKLES can do this!”

So I did my pitch again and when I got to the WRONG card, I said, “Oh wait…” And before I could say, “Here hold this_____, I’ll do another trick,...”, the girl said, “And see..it’s right here!” and reached behind the placard. However, I had not put it back there yet, so I handed her a card box. I said, “Shake it, I think it might be in there.” She shook it and said, “Wow…they go EVERYWHERE! Look, here it is!!”

I finished the 2-card monte and DVD and they were both jumping around, hanging on the father’s shoulders, “Please, Dad, can we have one, PLEASE….PLEASE…PLEASE…..” I’m sure you’ve seen ‘em doing this many times but I am new to this biz, so it was really an experience to me.

To make a long story short, the Dad bought 2 sets. It really made my day. Not because they bought 2 sets but because the kids were SOOO excited about being able to do the tricks. I’m sure their hands are too small do to much of anything except MAYBE the 2-card Monte. But who cares? THEY were happy!

One other close I use, when someone says they want 2 sets, I’ll say, “Hey, if you get 3 sets, I’ll give you the 4th set free.” I sold 3 deals like that today. I’m sure they were supposed to be Christmas presents and most people will throw them into a drawer. A year later, take them out and say, “Hey, here’s those Magic Cards I got for Christmas last year.” And put ‘em RIGHT BACK into the drawer.

Oh well.
DonDriver
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John,

Did you ever have stories to tell like that pitching "strippers" ? ( no gang not stripper decks)

Great story...

Merry Christmas
Don
Jon-O the Great
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Quote:

Did you ever have stories to tell like that pitching "strippers" ? (no gang, not stripper decks)

Great story...

Merry Christmas
Don


I've done strippers for 14 years but, as you might guess, I sell almost exclusively to adult men. Altho the tool is wonderful, guys just don't get quite as excited about the "magic" of stripping wires as kids do when they see the card change from the black king to the red 9. About the best time for me is when someone buys a case or two of those wonderful tools.

But, as you know, kids are a different story. Those little amazed faces are really a great reward. Too bad you can't put 'em in the bank!

Merry Christmas to everyone too.

Jon
Jon-O the Great
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I’m still working on getting the DL so no one sees it and frankly, I have it pretty good by now. I’ve sold out of the 1st order of 2 gross of decks and just ordered my 2nd 2-gross.

But every once in a while, some one, usually a kid, will say, “Hey, wait, you picked up 2 cards.”

Last Saturday I had 2 decks left. Not only did he say that, but before I could stop him, he picked up the box and turned over the key card. There were only a couple of others there at the time, but as you might imagine, I was flabbergasted.

“Did I tell you it was a trick deck?”

“Yeah, but you picked up 2 cards!”

“OK…watch this!” I put the key card back on the deck and cut the deck 2-3 times. Then did the same trick again. This time he didn’t see the DL. And believe it or not, by the end of the pitch, not only did he buy a deck but his brother did too. Couldn’t believe it.

I guess I just GOTTA learn that DL!

Another guy, a math teacher told me he used the Svengali deck in class to illustrate a point. But he used what he called a “blank” deck. Never saw one of those. Dunno how that would work.

How many decks do I have to sell before I’m a pro? ;-)

Jon
TKD27
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I'm pretty good with my double, but half way into the day when cards start to wear out it starts to show. I had a girl start yelling how I had two cards last weekend. I just ignored her and turned to a kid on the other side of the group. Your best bet with people who catch you is to try and ignore them and play to the rest of the crowd. The rest of the people will usually go along with you despite the heckler. That applies to magic in general, not just pitching.

As to the blank deck, if I'm correct, that's the same as a mental photography deck. Its basically a Svengali deck with a rough and smooth principle in play (though you could do it without the rough and smooth), where you show how the deck is all blank, but with a cut, you now can show that every card is now printed.

Come to think of it, maybe you do need the rough and smooth to make it work. You could ask in the section of the Café that deals with trick decks. They'd know better.

Kids kards, BTW, works with the same principal. I have Kids Kards, but not mental photography. They're both great effects, though Smile
Jon-O the Great
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Interesting tidbit at the gun show on Sunday.

One of the kids, about 9-10, who had bought the deck a month ago was hanging around my table, not really bothering me but not leaving. It was kinda slow, as Sunday afternoons usually are at a gun show, so he said, “Will you show me the tricks again?”

“Well, I think if you read the instructions, you’ll get ‘em pretty well.”

“I can do ‘em pretty well, I just want to see YOU do ‘em again.”

“You mean YOU know how to do ‘em?” To say I was surprised is an under-statement. “Show me”.

So he did the 1st trick I usually do and actually did it pretty well, even the DL.

“Man, THAT was GREAT!’, I told him. Because it actually was.

Then he said, “Can you do some other tricks??” Well, I’m a 2-trick pony with the Svengalis but…..I just happened to have bought 5 books on ACTUAL magic. And I had ACTUALLY learned 2 card tricks (count ‘em, TWO!) with a normal deck which I had bought at the $ store.

“Well, OK but remember, this is a REAL deck of cards so it’s REAL magic, not like the deck you have.”

I did my 2 little VERRRY simple tricks and after each, he said, “WOW!! How’d you do that?”

And after each one, I’d say, “Remember, this is REAL magic!” He asked again if I would show him but I talked about “the magician’s oath” blah blah blah and he finally went away.

Close to the end of the show, I packed up and was pushing my dolly out the door when I heard, someone say, “Bye, Magic Man!”

I turned back and there he was with his Svengali cards, waving goodbye. I waved and said, “Bye” Just then, some of the OTHERS who were leaving chimed in and said, “Bye magic man…bye magic man……”

Made my day!
TKD27
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Sounds like he has a genuine interest in magic. Point him toward some resources. I think Mark Wilsons Complete Coyrse in magic is a great place for anyone to start. Its where I did, anyway Smile
sethb
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I also get children at my pitch table from time to time who tell me they have a "magic set" at home or otherwise show a genuine interest in magic.

I tell them (and their parents) to go to their local public library and look in the Stage Magic section. Most libraries will have a few good magic books such as Bruce Elliot's "Classic Secrets of Magic," Milbourne Christopher's "Panorama of Magic," John Mulholland's "Book of Magic" and the like. It's a good way to learn more -- and the price is right. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
TKD27
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Free books from the library are great, but in some cases I think that a lot of the older books are so dated, it makes it hard for kids to learn from them. When I was young (not that long ago) I always used to take the magic books out of my school library. I've still never managed to find an actual sugar cube! :-D lol...

Plus, I think when parents see a child stick with something for more than two minutes they're usually very happy to help nurture that hobby.
Brent McLeod
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Great stories-each week at the markets I have many similar circumstance with families & kids really enjoying the pitch & more often than not the mums & dads buy the decks

I don't pitch a worm or even sell 2 card montes-maybe 1 day-but I have a couple of simple effects to get a crowd which works well

I must try Dons crowd gathering technique 1 day-looks impressive & gathers the curiosity factor

Here I sell the decks for $10 & sell between 30-80 depending where I am which is good money

I used to make the decks but now have a good source in Utah that delivers 100-200 decks to my door in 6 working days which is pretty good

I agree also that seeing people perform this in a short time -they really make your day, but Magic is the winner with many people enjoying the pitch
Jon-O the Great
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Brent,

If you don't do the usual 2-card Monte nor the worm, what do you do to justify the $10 price? YOU must be one heckuva salesman! I would think that JUST a deck for $10 USD is pretty hard. Never tried it but can't imagine it working here without SOMETHING more.

As I mentioned in the 1st post of this thread, I "give" a home-made DVD showing the tricks close up and use it as a "kicker" for buying now. It does have (what I consider to be) a pretty professional-looking (computer produced) label and I have it playing on my 17" laptop screen with the sound off. If they don't buy then, they ain't gonna buy, PERIOD! I don't sell as many but I usually earn more total $s.

Forget the "magician's oath"...what's YOUR secret? ;-)

Jon
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As good as Mark Wilson's course is, I wouldn't recommend that you send kids who seem to have a genuine interest in magic to start there. Books like David Pogue's Magic for Dummies or Tom Ogden's Idiot's Guide to Magic are much more suitable - as discussed in this thread - because they include more simple beginning effects and teach important principles about showmanship as well as the technique. Mark Wilson's excellent course is more of a "next step" resource.

It's great to see kids with an interest in magic, and if you can give them positive encouragement and direction on the road to what might become their new hobby, good for you - they'll likely remember you lifelong for it! Thanks again for sharing these great stories and anecdontes Jon!
Jon-O the Great
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I have both the Idiot book and the Mark Wilson book. Plus 2 by Dunninger and several little Robbins $2 "101 tricks" books. Frankly, I feel they all have their good points.

I like the little books because they are small and the Idiot book for the same reason. Mark Wilson's book is very large AND heavy and hard to carry if you go somewhere and just want some "light" reading. ;-) Altho, it is very thorough.

The Dunninger books are very old ('50s) and, I feel, not as readable nor as easily understood by kids. Even a little boring. I wanted them because I remember him from that era (my folks had just gotten a TV) but I have seen many of the same tricks in all the books.

In my opinion, the little $2-$3 books are good to start to see if you really like it. Then if you REALLY want to get into it, get some of the others. Library is good, too, AND FREE.

I've even thot about carrying some of the little $2 books but then I remember Don's advice, "Be a pitchman, not a storekeeper", so I haven't. (Don't tell HIM, but Don's a pretty smart guy!)

Jon
"Muggs"
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Jon,

That’s a good idea about the DVD but you don’t need to add all the give-a-ways. This past season, I was selling Svengali Decks for $11. Now I included the “101 Tricks with a Svengali Deck” instead of the 20 trick instruction sheets but that was it.

You just have to give time for your pitch to develop. When I started selling, the decks and book weren’t selling and I blamed it on the price. I wanted to take the book out and put the sheet back and lower the price. An experienced Pitchman watched my and told me not to, to give my pitch time to develop and get comfortable with it. He was right; I don’t have any problem selling at that price with the book.

I think that the book had the same effect as your DVD in that they felt they got more instruction for their money. I like you idea about the DVD instead of the book. I’ll try it and let you know which goes better.

Also, to let you know, Mark Wilson’s book is also sold as a pocket book paperback. Barnes and Noble have ‘em.

Have Fun,

Muggs
Jon-O the Great
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My DVDs cost me about 47 cents plus 17 minutes to make one. I have plenty of time during the week to burn 'em, so time is not a factor unless I feel lazy. I get 100 at a time from Sam's Club. Might even get 'em cheaper online but have been too lazy to look. And they WOULD be cheaper if I used an envelope instead of a plastic case, but I think the case looks more professional.

What does the "101 tricks" cost and how many do you have to buy? My understanding is that you have a minimum order from David Robbins and frankly, would not want to spend $200-$300 for them when I can spend $47 at Sam's. PLUS, my feeling is that when the customer SEES the demo CLOSE-UP as my DVD allows, it not only helps to sell the deck, but helps the guys who really want to learn, where a book just has pix.

Not trying to argue with you but being the cheapskate that I am, the DVD seems the better way to go. PLUS, I have it playing on my computer, so they can see it. They know what they are getting.

OK, convnce me the book is better. ;-)

By the way, I'd LOVE to get MORE than $10. Except for minor changes, I follow Don's DVD in my demo. I've found attention spans wane after about 3-4 minutes so a longer demo would SEEM counter-productive. When I sell strippers, they are 2 for $20, so I have to make twice as many Svengali sales to equal my stripper sales.

John
TKD27
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Two Stripper Decks for $20?! And Don says they're not visual enough...

j/k Smile

As to the DVD vs the book - I think it's fair to assume that a DVD holds more perceived value than a book. The problem for me with the DVD is that I don't have to time to commit to burning tons of DVDs.

Jon - I'm curious, why'd you switch up from the strippers to Svengali Decks? It sounds like they were a little easier to sell, no?
Jon-O the Great
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Sorry, I thot everyone knew.....I also sell WIRE strippers. ;-) I've only sold Svengali's for about 20 minutes....;-) But seriously folks,.....As Seth pointed out in another thread, there are services that will produce your DVDs pretty cheaply. Just gotta find 'em. By the way, I tried to put the label I use for the DVD here but no matter how small I made it, couldn't get it on. Oh well....

Since I have nuttin' to do during the week except sell stuff on ebay (Svengalis didn't work) and work on my Studebakers, I can do 'em pretty easily. I just listen to a bunch of Old Time Radio online and keep going.

John
"Muggs"
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I wasn't trying to get you to switch over to the book, I was just sharing what I did. As I said, I'll try the DVD and let you know.
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