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Kameron Messmer
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So here's me trying to ask advice and not get defensive!

In a few weeks I have a few (free) promo gigs. The first one is at the YMCA for a family day kinda thing. I'll wander around the Y performing magic. Normally I don't do a lot of free gigs, because they often just beget more free gigs. I'm starting to make exceptions just for more exposure,I can pass out cards, but this rarely does anything.

but here's my Q: "How do I get shows/lessons out of this free gig?"
rossmacrae
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Pass out the cards. As you do so, ask the recipient if they have any celebrations or special events in the near future ("Will you be having a birthday party soon, LittleJimmysMom?"). Take a red Sharpie and write "25% Off" on the card and initial it, as you tell them that 'just for them' you can offer them 25% off your usual fee for a job at their party. If they call you, you have the option of secretly quoting them a fee that is 25% higher than your usual fee and then taking off the 25% (Your personal ethics can govern whether you try to do this ... retailers do it all the time.)
Donald Dunphy
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This thread has some ideas:

--> Magic Café thread titled... Other Side of Trade Show

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Bill Hegbli
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Really, you have to think about who attends free events. People who want free services. It can be because their income does not allow for such expenditures or they are can afford it but will not spend their money on such things.

You are just thinking to small a market, you would be better off busking at festival events then wasting your time with free gigs. You really have to up your status and how you think about your profession.

While you were doing those free events you could have been making free sales calls on clients that would book you services. So the prospective client a trick, try to make it around or connect with his product or service. This get his attention and help him/her to remember you when the time comes.

You can do all the promoting you want, but if your are promoting to a deas market, what do you think the results will be for your chances at actually building a business.

You say you are working at a restaurant, that is the place to promote yourself. On your off time, try to get more restaurant gigs. When I did restaurant and bar work, I always got bookings for shows. If you are not it is time to move to another restaurtant. Get a restaurant with a party room and charge for doing a show for the event.

You have to be a salesman, just handing out cards will only get minimum results. Do you have tent info cards on every table about you and your services?

Scott Hollingsworth from Texas published one of the best books on restaurant magic. I bought it years ago. It is all meat and will improve your booking results and imporve your magic as well. I highly recommend his material.

Here is the link: http://www.scotthollingsworth.com/products.html money well spent.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Although in general the above advice is good.
I take STRONG exception to saying “just for you” when it’s not.
And adding 25% to your fee to then subtract the 25%.
All we really have is our reputation and integrity.

Word gets AROUND, good and bad, and word of mouth is your bread and butter.
You are in a close, limited, area and misleading anyone would be suicide I think.
Then there is the karma thing, of what you do is what you get eventually.

Your cards alone will NOT market you, especially at a freebie event.
As you say: free gigs generally lead to more free gigs.
What you want to do is walk around before AND after extensively.
Introduce yourself, open up to them, so they like you, make friends.
There is a sales adage: “make a friend to make a sale.”

Talk to them, let them know you are giving your time because
(whatever) you like this cause,
or you’re doing a friendly favor,
or it’s a worthwhile organization or nonprofit.
The point your making is that you are giving your time, but you usually DON’T

When you give them a card, ask for THEIR card in exchange--
now you are in a place of power because in a few months you can contact THEM.
You may wish, if they seem serious, to tell them that your rates are between $xx and $xx,
another way of saying, I don’t do freebies as a rule.

Remember they hire YOU more than the magic,
you are the Star, magic is the excuse.

I only perform free at events that mean a lot to me and are close to my heart,
and as a rule things like benefits where there are A-list wealthy people present.

That’s my two cents.
Magically,
Walt
Al Angello
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A free show at the YMCA will get you booked for free shows all over town, because everybody in town will know who the free magician is.

What do you expect to make from magic lessons? I'm thinking a lot of agravation, a lot of time, and a few bucks.

You are more likely to be respected if you busk, and pass out your cards. Do you have a farmers market in Billings, or a super market? If so talk to the manager, set up your table on Saturday morning, do some tricks, and pass the hat. You don't want a reputation for being the free magician.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Kameron Messmer
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Al: oddly enough there IS a "free magician" who is always passing me shows, but when I ask how much it pays he says... "oh nothing" He gets some magic club guys together and does free stuff all over town. I don't think they are particularly good, so I wish they wouldnt. Like I said I don't USUALLY ever do free stuff. it's not too long a show so I'm not expecting much. Hoping to network with some people more than anything.

We do have a farmers market. I may do that, I have a friend (a clown) who does balloons there and does very well.

As far as lessons, I think if I get enough kids to consistently book lessons it'll be worth it. I charge $20 for 45 mins or so. I have a featured Groupon at the end of the month for a 2 for 1. I've seen HUNDREDS of people buying stuff on there. I don't get too much for the groupon, but if I get even a few consistent lessons it'll be worth it. Like I said before, I'm looking for a few lessons and shows a week and HOPEFULLY get a restaurant gig. I don't currently have a restaurant and the one I was waiting on said the summer would work better.

But I agree Al, I don't want to be known as the free magician.

Posted: Mar 9, 2011 5:05pm
Walt, I know waht you mean, I don't want to be dishonest, although that's what we do! I've charged $75 (WAY too low, but it was like a 20-30 min show and I don't do it often) and my current b-day rate is 125-150 for an hour. 150 is a new price raise, do you think it would be dishonest to give them 25% off of the $150? Even though I haven't charged that yet, that's kinda the rate I'm aiming for...
Al Angello
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If you set up at the farmers market be sure to pass your hat in order to establish the fact that you're magic is worth paying for, and never perform with those Billings hack magicians. Never perform in street clothes because you want to look like a pro.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Benji Bruce
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I learned from Joel Bauer that the art of omission is the art of selling. When you're performing, you need to tell them what they're NOT getting. For example...sprinkle little sayings like "oh if you thought that was good then you should see what I do with a deck of cards at a cocktail event. This isn't the right time or place but I'm sure you will see it sometime soon."

You also need to put them in the right frame when you're in front of an audience. Saying things like "This is something I only do for a few people at my shows..." This little line will tell them that you do shows and they will respond "where do you do shows at?"

Another technique I use all the time is to have a friend record. He doesn't record the tricks...he records testimonials. The key is to not just get them saying you're great but to have your friend say, "If you have an event coming up then would you send an email and hire Kameron?" Basically you allow your friend to do marketing for you and get the prospects to think along the lines of having you come out for a show.

Most entertainers just want to do a good job at the gig and hope for spin-off engagements. But word-of-mouth marketing is not an accident. The basics to word-of-mouth marketing is to lead their thoughts along the lines of hiring you for an event.
Bill Hegbli
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Quote:
On 2011-03-09 17:02, Kameron Messmer wrote:
Al: oddly enough there IS a "free magician" who is always passing me shows, but when I ask how much it pays he says... "oh nothing" He gets some magic club guys together and does free stuff all over town. I don't think they are particularly good, so I wish they wouldnt. Like I said I don't USUALLY ever do free stuff. it's not too long a show so I'm not expecting much. Hoping to network with some people more than anything.


Have you read what you have typed? I think you should read your own words and think about them. To me what you are saying you are no better then the local club and free magicians in town.

If you are to succeed, you have to believe your are much better then the other locals. You have to convey that you are better them to your potential clients. If you are not, that is something you should work on for your success.

Nothing comes of hoping for contacts, again, read what I have previously written. You have to find them, it will take you a long time to stumble across them.

I think we are all talking to a brick wall, that will not acknowledge the great advice everyone is giving.
Al Angello
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Kameron
Free magic cheapens the art. The people of Billings are not impressed with magic because other guys are putting on bad magic shows for nothing. Man if I were you I would promote myself elsewhere.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Kameron Messmer
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I agree, I don't want to work for free. It does cheapen it. I do maybe 2 or 3 a year. The others guys I was talking about MIGHT get 2 paid a year. that's the difference Hegblini. Your not talking a brick wall. I get it.

The people I am performing for at the Y don't know its a free gig. They see me as a performer performing. Most people that see my show are NOT the people paying me. It's the business owner or the mom or whoever. The person watching me doesn't think about that. They don't know it's free. The problem is, people don't know I exist. If they knew there was a magician in town for Billys birthday (like the one they saw performing at the y), they might call me. That's my point. I'm not doing dozens of shows for free. Im doing like 3...

This is my way of making the best out of a bad situation...
Close.Up.Dave
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Quote:
On 2011-03-09 22:41, Kameron Messmer wrote:
The people I am performing for at the Y don't know its a free gig. They see me as a performer performing. Most people that see my show are NOT the people paying me. It's the business owner or the mom or whoever. The person watching me doesn't think about that. They don't know it's free. The problem is, people don't know I exist. If they knew there was a magician in town for Billys birthday (like the one they saw performing at the y), they might call me. That's my point. I'm not doing dozens of shows for free. Im doing like 3...

This is my way of making the best out of a bad situation...


I think you're missing the point. Lets break this down into two main ideas:

1. If people know you are performing a free gig, the people will not think of you as a professional and expect you to perform for free more. (this isn't always the case, but it is a concept worth noting)

2. Free show or not, you have to consider how you are positioning yourself. Yes you may be doing a show, which WILL lead to exposure. However, who it exposes you is the question.

-Let me give you a personal example: A few years ago, when I was just starting to take magic as a business more seriously, I consulted the advice of a friend who is a professional. I asked him if performing free kids shows at the hospital could lead to more business. His advice will stay with me forever, "Parents with a dying kid won't hire you." He was right. He didn't mean to say it isn't good to donate my time to making kids happy. What he meant by this is that just because I'm going out and getting exposure doesn't mean they will hire me. Parents of a dying kid are probably much more concerned about whether their kid will see their next birthday rather than who they can hire for it. This obvious point never occurred to me, but it was a simple mistake I had to learn from. Also, had they known that I performed for free for the sick kids, they probably would have hired me with the understanding that I perform for free at their party. For all they know I do kids shows just to make kids happy.

This YMCA gig might give you the opportunity to meet people, make good connections, and book shows. It also might not. What you should be doing is thinking about these two main points very seriously, and take it into consideration when you want to take a free show for exposure. Think hard about it, and judge for yourself if it is worth it. Personally, if they are having some sort of camp thing, it might be worth it. However, if it is for the tenants who rent the cheap housing, don't expect any calls.

Again, I recommend reading Win the Crowd, as Steve Cohen gives excellent starting advice on the best way to position yourself.
Kameron Messmer
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Again, I don't normally do free gigs. I am also of the opinion they usually only bring more free shows. Since I already agreed to it, I figured I'd ask to see if there were any tips to try and get some gigs. I got some good tips from you guys. Please don't beat me over the head when I stating at the beginning I knew free shows were a bad idea...

This particular YMCA thing is the gym. There's pool and exercise bikes.

I'm also trying to get in with the Y because they have after school classes and I am trying to book ongoing lessons (paid) after an initial free intro course. MOST will get a free lesson and never come back, but if I get 2 or 3 really interested kids that give me $20 bucks a week for 1/2 hour. That's cool with me.

Posted: Mar 9, 2011 11:02pm
And the people attending don't know I'm not getting paid, just like the people who see me when I DO get paid don't know I'm getting paid.
Al Angello
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I still say put on a suit, have a big sign with your name, and phone number on it, do audience participation tricks, take bows, pass the hat, and pass out cards. Around here the kind of people who go to Saturday morning farmers market are young families. You don't really need to fill your hat with money, but the exchange of money makes you look like a pro, and makes your show worth paying for.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Kameron Messmer
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Good advice al. Thanks!
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Please re-read the sections of my post about networking, that's the only hope you'll have with the Y event you've already committed to.
But stop and think, is the Y crowd the people who'd most likely hire you, or the level and types of shows you'd want? No.

You may get one or two students, but kids don't stick around, parents don't like to pay, and you'd better spend that time and energy on marketing shows,
most people who coach kids in hobbies become glorified baby-sitters.

Al has a good point, put on your best suit/costume, choose three or four pieces of your best work, rehearse your a** off,
set up a professional table and sign, and do your five minutes sets over and over again, don't just hand out cards,
ENGAGE the people in conversations about their wants, needs, desires when it comes to parties and events.
Don't sell your magic, sell meeting their specific needs.

Find some place to do this, where there are people who
A) might hire you.
B) have the budget to hire you.
C) have a need for entertainment.
Too many magicians market in the wrong place to the wrong crowd.

You're last thread was about getting better rates. You have not worked on much of anything that was suggested and that was pure gold.
You're now running off thinking about teaching and promoting at free gigs.
Really, you're putting the cart before the horse.

1) Put together one original, polished, commercial (for your markets), first class show.
2) Develop all new quality promotional materials (cards, brochure, website, video-- done over time).
3) When you have the show and materials begin a planned, organized, marketing campaign (get Marketing For Dummies)
4) Network, network, network, meet people in social and business situations who you consider your best markets.
5) Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up don't wait for them to call you, remember "make a friend to make a sale."
6) Go back to #1 and start all over again, as time and budget allow.

Not being unkind but I don't think you have #1 or #2 in place yet, so it's homework time, not get out there time.
My last suggestion is to get more organized and focused on a plan, set short and long term manageable goals and stick to them.

I know this is not what you want to hear, but it's what you need if you want to approach this as an art and a business and become a success.
Get your ducks in order.

Magically, Walt
Ed_Millis
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I am in total sympathy with Kameron. Benji, Walt, Al, and William have all given me the same advice, and I am slowly working on implementing it. (Slowly is not because I have no interest, but because I have a full-time job and a lot of other life surrounding it.)

But in the meantime .... are we supposed to simply go hide in our closet and wear out our sponge balls until we feel perfect enough to go out in public? I for one intend to get out there as much as I am able to, even if it's not for money.

But if it isn't money, then you'd better make sure you are getting paid in ~something~ that you can convert into money. Exposure is one thing; impact is something else. You've hit the nail n the head: these people aren't calling you (or me) because they don't know you exist. But you want to do more than yell out "Hey! I'm a magician!" Create some way that will fit into that venue to make those people want you.

How about a poster or three inside the gym? "Today only, from 10 AM to 2 PM" - okay, they know who you are. Don't forget the impact: "Sign up for one free magic lesson!" or "Ask how you can save $XX on your next magic show." Now they have a reason to find you.

Have a fishbowl and some 3x5 cards. Collect names, addresses, phone numbers, emails for a drawing for a free magic kit, or "Learn Magic" show. Yes, make sure at least one person wins - three might be better. But you can then contact all of these people with your profuse thanks for stopping by to see you, and this is where you'll be performing next.

Find a whole-crowd interactive trick - James Munson's "Hollywood Squares", for example. You can announce that at a certain time, everyone is invited to come to your table and paticipate. Make sure that whatever you use for the trick gets into their hands, is important for the final conclusion of the trick, and has your contact info on it.

Create some feedback forms. Let people fill them out with a few check boxes and a couple of comment lines to "do me a favor and let me know how I'm doing." Ask them if they would like to see you perform somewhere. Get their contact info so you can send them a free gift or a coupon for a free magic kit if they book a child's birthday party.

Don't just hand out your business card - find out who they are and what they might have in mind (why they are asking for your card). Engage them for a minute or two in between tricks.

They are not looking to hire your tricks - they are looking to hire ~you~! Connect with them, and create opportunities for them to connect back.

Ed
Bill Hegbli
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Okay, if you want to teach magic, then the best place is the Evening Colleges Adult Classes.

I just found that you have:
Montana State University
Rocky Mountain College
University of Mary
Walla Walla University

Any of these are great places to teach magic classes. Our professional magician teaches here in Fort Wayne, IN at the extension IU-PU at Fort Wayne. He has been doing this for years. Just go see the dean of admissions of Adult Education for Evening Classes at your universities. They do all the promoting, you just have to make a formal outline of your course. Make instruction sheets and provide any necessary props. You can usually buy props wholesale on line.

Now you are making connections with business people that are interested in magic and just may help you get gigs. I think our local college charges around $260.00 plus props charges, for a one evening a week class for 6 weeks.

We are not beating up on you, so you say free shows you know are not the way to go, but you keep putting up the word free. Nothing is free in this world. Someone always pays, you have to make up your mind if it will be you or them. Take free out of your vocabulary, and start talking sell you and your services.

How to get gigs:
A web site, you have that.
6 to 9 Post card mailing pieces to create interest and market yourself.
Mailing list of potential clients in your ares.
Brochure of you and your act to mail to interested clients.
Follow-up on mailing with a telephone call to find out if they can use your service now or in the future. Mark down their events and then contact several months before their event.

Sell, Sell, Sell, that is how you get exposure.

Quote:
On 2011-03-09 23:02, Kameron Messmer wrote:
And the people attending don't know I'm not getting paid, just like the people who see me when I DO get paid don't know I'm getting paid.

Are you forgetting that this is the age of Cell Telephones and Texting messages. I bet withing minutes they all know you are working for free. If you do not have a silence contract with the people you are doing the free shows for, they are telling them you are free.

I did community service at a food bank. The line was short until they started handing out chickens and steaks, then the line was a block long and around the corner. Don't underestimate the word of mouth connection.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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One does not have to sit in a dark closet with sponge balls (unless you're into that sort of thing.)

However, one does have to find "safe" places to be "bad" or just somewhat good.
Those may include family, friends, and colleagues of yours parties.
Perhaps hospitals or retirement homes (if they are not one of your target markets.)
Magic club meetings and/or contests.

You don't want to muddy the waters, be less than great, and be remembered as that, when you are ready and better.

Don't do "practice" or "free" shows anywhere their may be perspective future clients who'd pay you well.

Before you perform, other than for your mirror and dog,
be sure you're at a level above mediocre.

Before you teach anyone, be absolutely certain you are qualified to teach,
have mastered what you may teach, know how to teach, and live up to your hype.

Keep slowly building quality into your act(s), look of your act(s), then marketing and site, selling.
Do this as your time and budget allow.
Please do not make the "big push" to be seen and recognized until you have a high degree of magic and business mastery.
You can't erase your past, and it follows you (especially in this tech age) for a long, long time!

Magically, Walt
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