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  1. #1
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    How To Get Gigs and Keep Clients Part 1 of 8

    Hello everyone. This is a series of posts that I created sometime ago for another forum that I'm a frequent user of. I hope you will find it useful here too. If you like it, I'll continue posting the rest of it.

    Marketing Tools:

    Introduction: I wanted to write a series of essays on a subject I know well. How to Get Gigs and Keep Clients: An essential guide to finding work as a Magician, Making New Clients, and Keeping the Ones you Have! This is an educational article that will be assembled through the course of a few posts over an undecided length of time. In these articles I will discuss many important issues on finding work, getting work, getting paid for it, and making sure they book you again. When I drew up the outline for all of my essays I realized quickly that the most basic part of getting a job performing magic lays with marketing yourself as a magician. In order to do that well, you need to have some very important tools. In my research for creating this first and very important chapter I spoke to great lengths with Las Vegas mentalist and well known entertainer Paul Draper. Mr. Draperís words and advice were so powerful that this section could not have been completed, or even made possible with out him. Thanks Paul for your sagely advice and input. With that being said this first section is about the tools you will use throughout your career as a working magician. This is advanced stuff. If you only want to learn card tricks to impress your friends or family then this article is not for you. This article is intended to reach out to those who seriously want to focus on making money as a magician but maybe not know too well how to start.

    Now days it seems like being a working magician just means being a Jack-of-all-trades. Sure you have to be skilled at slight of hand and mouth, but if your marketing skills arenít up to par then youíll never get the chance to show off just how good you are! Donít worry Iím here to help! Getting booked for a gig is almost a full time job in itself, and just like any job, to be done right youíll need the right tools. What kind of tools you ask? Iím talking about your business cards, promo headshots, a 5 minute audition, a flyer about yourself, and or if all else fails combine all that with a little bit extra into a promotional kit. Lets talk a little about each one. With that being said, lets press on!

    Business Cards are essential to any working professional. They are like a Master Card: Never leave home without it. Business cards are an essential tool to gathering information. They need to be neat, clean, on good stock, and carry just enough information without over doing it. Before we look at what should be on a business card letís look at what shouldnít be - Your address. No one cares. Your business card should have your Name (or stage name), Phone Number, Email, and Website Address. You shouldnít really put the city you live in on the card unless you really want to sell the fact that youíre from somewhere special, other wise donít list your city.
    Example: Magician X
    555-1212
    Famous in Las Vegas

    I highly recommend spending the extra money to get a colour print card with the UV treatment on the front side. Keep the back side of your card blank. Make sure you get a thick and strong card stock. Iíve found on too many occasions Iíve had to use the back of the business card for something, and having room to write on has been a life saver. Iíve gotten gigs before by using ďOut To LunchĒ methods with my business cards. I also recommend putting an image on the front of your card. Weather this be a picture of you, a caricature, or something. 90% of all business cards your client will probably see will just be text and probably a logo. By putting an image on the card you increase the chances of them remembering you three weeks later.

    Donít ever expect someone to call you back based solely on your business card. They wonít. (Yes, I know there is always the exception to the rule.) What you use your business card for is to gather information on the potential clients you want to work with. NEVER give your card out to someone with out getting theirs back in return. If they donít have one, get their name, direct phone number, and email address. Put it on the back side of one of your cards (Now you see why I like them blank) and give them another clean one to keep. When asked for your contact information never hand write it on a card or anything else for that matter. Not only does this not look professional but it says a lot about you as a business person, and what it says isnít good. It says ďIím either too lazy or unprepared to do business with you properly.Ē Now if you are working on impressing friends, local mom & pop business owners, or small family owned restaurants where the interaction between two people is a little more important than being overly professional you may be able to relax a bit on that last statement, but if you plan to work in corporate America, and you try that, sure theyíll take your information scribbled on the back of a napkin, but Iíll bet a dime they wonít ever call you back.

    Have you ever walked through a mall and get one of those annoying cell phone guys trying to pitch you on switching to their service or brand? Know how annoyed you felt when they interrupted your busy life just to hand you some pamphlet on their service? Ever ask them for their business card JUST to shut them up? In business thatís called a Blow Off. In marketing courses you are taught that the business card blow off is one of the most frequently used. If the potential client doesnít want to listen to your pitch, or hear about how amazing your act is they just ask you for your card, walk away, and file it in the round trash bin later on. So what do you do to make sure that the potential client of yours not only keeps your card, but also uses it? My good friend Aye Jaye has the answer! You can try this trick yourself and youíll be amazed at how well it works.

    First off youíll need a little set up. Punch a hole in the corner of your business card. Have the printer print in tiny letters next to the hole: ďIíll bet you that you canít push a quarter through this hole.Ē When you give your card out to your potential client (AFTER you get one of theirs first.) You draw their attention to that hole, and the text. You bet them the quarter that they canít push it through the card. If they donít have one no worries, youíre more than willing to supply it. Naturally they canít do it, and yes, you alone know the secret. You take out a pen, uncap it, and stick it through the hole. You now scoot the quarter along the desk or table top with the tip of the pen while it is pushed through the hole! You have just pushed the quarter through the hole in the card! They laugh, you laugh, and everyone feels good. Not only that but now they have a cute trick to try on the rest of their friends at the office. Is it cheesy? Yes. But Iím willing to bet the last guy wasnít nearly so clever. If all else fails, use an ďOut To LunchĒ gaff and do some magic for them using one of your cards! Iíve also seen a wallet that dispenses burning business cards, but that may not be appropriate in all settings. ďHi Mr. Fire Marshall! Hereís my card!Ē Yeah. Bad idea.

    Promotional Headshots are an unfortunate must when you are trying to work with the industry these days. Really, they do serve a purpose. Without going into the acting side of the fence lets look at why they work for you. Simply, it gives the potential client a face to hang all the rest of the marketing material youíve given them on. It helps cement into their minds who you are, the look you have, and connects them to your material youíve presented. Above all the headshot should say with out words: ďIím easy to work with.Ē Unless you plan to work for TV or Movies, you donít need high end glossy, but the picture should be in colour, and it should be of your face no lower than your neck. When you are working for Print or TV a lot of the times the casting people donít even look at anything else BUT your headshot. They just get a stack of them on their desk and they flip through them. Within 2 seconds of looking at it they decide if they want to work with you or not. The headshot either goes into a pile or the trash bin. Guess which one gets the call back? You can print your resume on the back of your headshot if you like. Some people just staple them to the backs. This might be a bit extreme for most of you out there, but what you should take home from that is: When your client looks at your face in that photo they should say to themselves ďYes, I want to see this person each and every single day I get to work with them.Ē

    When you meet people face to face Iíve found that it really helps to have what I call a ď5 Minute AuditionĒ in your back pocket. Basically, you should be able to perform 5 minutes of magic at anytime anywhere should you be prospecting for gigs. It helps give your potential client a chance to see you in action and sample your magic. Everyone has seen the bad hack acts on YouTube or maybe their uncle always did that horrible coin trick every Christmas. This is your chance to prove that youíre not like them! Iíve opened the doors to many opportunities with this little trick that I donít think I would have gotten other wise.

    (To Be Continued)
    William Draven
    Master of the Macabre
    Draven@williamdraven.com
    www.williamdraven.com

  2. #2
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    (Continued from Prior Post)


    True Story: I got cast as an extra on the production of ďCharlie Wilsonís WarĒ staring Tom Hanks. My screen time (if you can call it that) was about 1.3 seconds long. The shot was of my back as I was turned away from the camera, WAY in the back of the frame walking out of it. In all honesty, after seeing the movie in the theater and watching my friends from that scene, I would have been so out of focus you wouldnít have known it was me. As the take was being reset, I was standing off stage fanning my cards and performing my Sibyls. Some tall guy in a suit walks up to me and just watches me for a minute before breaking my silence with ďWhat are you some kind of a Wizard or something?Ē I kid you not when I tell you I almost dropped my cards when I looked up and saw Tom Hanks standing there. I answered yes, to which he responded very quickly: ďShow me something then.Ē I performed a very fast ambitious card and concluded it to his thundering applause. He returned for the next two scene breaks too see more magic. The next day, the ADsí were sent looking for ďthe magician.Ē Not only did Tom remember me by first name, BUT he also got me a special scene with him and Ned Beatty. Actual camera time in my first large budget motion picture! Itís a shame that my scene got cut from the final product, but Tom still knows my name. I havenít seen the DVD deleted scenes yet, but if you see some guy get an egg sandwich planted into his hand- thatís me. I wouldnít have got that opportunity had I not had my 5 minute audition on me, and thatís the important thing to remember with this story.

    The next thing you want to carry with you is a promotional flyer that talks about who you are and what you do. It should have a brief bio of who you are, and contain no other contact information other than your name. Your business cards have your contact information on them for that purpose. This rule goes double for all pieces of marketing material you end up with, be it these bare boned essentials outlined here or in an actual promotional kit. (Which Iíll discuss later.) Your description should be an active one as if they are actually watching your show. Youíll see me pull a coin from my ear, then eat a rabbit out of my hat, after words Iíll finish by levitating a ring freely selected from an audience member etc. Bio should start with your most recent work and go back from there. Do not say ďI started performing magic when I was 8 years old. I saw my uncle do it and it got me started.Ē This is a sign of a newbie and producers, especially those Hollywood kind, will know your green a mile out. Ever wonder why the other guy got a call back and you didnít? That could be a leading reason. Your promotional flyer can take many forms. 8.5 x 11, post card, tri-fold pamphlet, etc. They all have their purposes and advantages. The 8.5 x 11 can be printed from home, or from any printer if you have a portable jump drive. Itís quick, and the easiest to do. The postcard looks great, and can be mailed if need be. The Tri-folds scream professional, lets you put multiple important documents (Such as Bio, Description, Testimonials, etc) into one easy to read article yet they can be costly to make and fold. You should consider carefully what would be the best option for you to use before you have your flyers printed. As a final note I would say donít put too much into your bio and description. Most people wonít read past the first few sentences anyways, so make them count!

    Everything Iíve listed above should be the bare bone basics of any working magicians promotional arsenal. If you want to get booked for gigs, and re-booked to return to venues youíve already entertained for, then you need to have at least that at your disposal. However, that isnít the end of the line when it comes to promotional material. There is one more important thing you should consider, and that is a Promotional Kit, also known as a Promo Kit. A Promo Kit contains everything above plus a few extra things. Lets take a look at those now. A Promo Kit has: A Headshot, A Bio (On a sheet to itself), A sheet that describes your show, A sheet of testimonials, News Paper Articals, Three Card Brochure, Post Card, or other marketing material, DVD of information, Business Card for yourself, a manager or reps card (if you have one.) and Price Sheet. Since Iíve already talked about a lot of those already Iíll just focus real quick on the items I havenít touched on yet.

    Price Sheet should detail and outline how much you charge for your different shows, durations, etc. A brief description of what kind of show it is should follow each headline, and of course your fee. Expect that most of the time this will be taken out by clients.

    Your entire Promo Kit should use only two or three fonts. You should have a Headline font, a Standard Text font, and maybe a font for Quotes.

    Throughout your entire Promo Kit you should only use at the most three colours. Black counts as a colour, white does not. Jeff McBrideís colours are Red White and Blue. All items in you Promo Kit, from your business cards to your price sheet should use the same fonts and the same colour patterns.

    Keep the testimonial quotes short and to the point. All quotes should be activity. ďÖWas Spell Binding!Ē or ďThis Guy Scares Me!Ē. List shorter quotes first and then in order of importance. IE: Dignitaries and Celebrities first, CEOís and Business Leaders second, media third, etc.

    Your DVD should be no longer than three minutes. The first two minutes are for them, the last minute is for you. Iíll explain. The first minute should be speed reels showing what you do. The second minute is an actual trick. Start to finish with real run time. Interact with people and build the trick to get the applause. Third minute is to put in what ever else you want. DVD should be a full size DVD no mini disks. DVDís should be formatted to run by itself as if stuck in a DVD player. Not a .avi file burned to disk. I personally would go the extra mile and print a custom CD label and stick it to the disk. When attaching the CD to the Promo Kit folder, I would recommend using a sticky sleeve that you can attach to the inside folder cover instead of a jewel case. Jewel cases can break and they add an extra un-tidy bulk to the Promo Kit.

    You should use a nice opaque neutral colour folder for your Promo Kit. Donít use the cheap see through plastic kind. When closed, your Promo Kit should lay as flat as possible. If you are planning on working in the Corporate America sector, expect your clients to get a lot of Promo Kits so youíll want it to sit neatly on the potential clients desk. Chances are if itís bulky and puffs up theyíll just throw it out. Thatís wasting a good Promo Kit! The cover of the Promo Kit should have a printed sticker that matches all the stuff inside. Theme and feel. Logo and name on the front. Also I would carry a USB Jump drive with me that has a digital copy of your Promo Kit on it. That way you can give your client the option of physical copy or digital. A lot of people now days are moving to the digital route. Your digital Promo Kit should be in PDF or .Doc format. Lastly, hand out less Promo Kits than you print.

    So there you have it folks. An in-depth look into the marketing tools of the trade. These items are worth more than anything in your magical library or working act, because with out them, you wonít get the chance to perform your act! If you remember to give as good as a presentation of why someone should book you as you do after they do, then youíll be soon on your way to working many an enjoyable gig. I would also like to take a moment to thank you the reader for taking the time to read this horribly long message. If you love magic and are considering making it more of a living, or if you are just interested in making some money doing what you love, then you should seriously consider spending as much money (if not more) on your marketing material as you do on your magic tricks, books, and DVDs. It really is worth it in the long run.

    As I've said If youíve found this information to be beneficial to you then I encourage feed back.

    Thank you.

    Draven.
    William Draven
    Master of the Macabre
    Draven@williamdraven.com
    www.williamdraven.com

  3. #3
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    Good post William!
    I agree with a lot of this and would like to add a couple of things!

    1. Keep that fire lit under you! Keep moving and dreamingÖ
    2. I would go with the post card option for the promo flyer. Hereís why
    a. You have something to autograph
    b. Kids hold these things forever
    c. I was handed on from a guy I know personallyÖ still have it

    The tri-fold although it has its place, isnít the best thing to hand someone after a show, on the street while performing, restaurant etc. With the tri-fold we are almost conditioned to through them out. I literally do not have one tri-fold kept that I have ever received. But do I have those post card things? You bet they are in my bookshelf.

    After a show sometimes you are going to be approached by people. Some of those people are going to want an autograph because thatís how they were taught to deal with someone who just came off of a stage or saw entertainment they really liked. The postcard gives you this option to have something to autograph as well as something large enough that wonít ďdie in the wallet.Ē

    The tri-fold has its place in a meeting. If you are meeting with a CEO to secure a deal then itís great to pull up to back the points you are making as well as show off some testimonials. Outside of this board room type meeting they are pretty much guaranteed to be tossed at some point that day. Also a lot of people donít know what to do with them. They sit on the desk a week and then when the desk is cluttered itís usually the first thing to go.

    As a tip from Justin, I talked to him about the benefits and heís had clients he handed these things too months even years ago call him, book him and tell him they still have the postcard.

    When I was in a promotional class for public relations we talks about how the tri-fold is now just a business coffee table reader. They are there for someone to read while waiting and put down before they leave. Never keptÖ Gone the way of the buffalo.

    So over all I would advise the postcard over the tri-fold. Unless you are in a business type meeting.
    Pancakes10385
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  4. #4
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    Very First Gig.

    I Think that I have a problem that would not be unique to myself. I have been doing magic for a few years and have been focusing on street and restaurant magic styles. I have been trying to find work performing in restaurants. I have no paid experience. I have only performed for strangers while out, friends and family, friends of my children, no paid gigs. So how do I make a resume'? How do I make promotional material? Having nothing to reference, what do I do? I have been trying to meet with restaurant managers and would like to leave them with something. Having no paid experience makes this difficult. What can I do? Everyone keeps saying make this promo material. But, when you are looking for that very first gig? I am not young either.I am 40. If this is typically fixed with white lies, this could be believed because my age can absorb the time unlike a very young person. I have thought about just making up some stuff. Make it part of my character. What did you do?
    Trevor
    Real Magic in the Real World.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by twalk1969 View Post
    I have been trying to find work performing in restaurants. I have no paid experience. I have only performed for strangers while out, friends and family, friends of my children, no paid gigs. So how do I make a resume'? How do I make promotional material? Having nothing to reference, what do I do? I have been trying to meet with restaurant managers and would like to leave them with something. Having no paid experience makes this difficult. What can I do? Everyone keeps saying make this promo material. But, when you are looking for that very first gig? I am not young either.I am 40. If this is typically fixed with white lies, this could be believed because my age can absorb the time unlike a very young person. I have thought about just making up some stuff. Make it part of my character. What did you do?
    Those are some really good questions! It really comes down to how creative you are and how hungry you are for work. Here's the thing, in show business there exists a horrible catch 22. You can't get work without a good resume with solid experience, and you can't get work and good experience without a solid resume. It's frustrating. This is where the "Starving Artist" part comes in that we all joke about. You're going to need to get your name out there before you can really start booking gigs, and that usually means taking a few free or low paying shows to do that.

    Before I get into the meat of answering your post, let me ask you a serious question. This is a question that I want you to think about before you answer, don't just give me a knee jerk reply.

    Ready?

    How strong is your desire to perform magic for pay? Alternately, How badly do you really want work?

    Magic is such a wonderful thing. It accepts all kinds of people. From the casual weekend warrior who just wants to do card tricks to pick up on girls/guys, to the hobbyist who enjoys collecting the newest thing on the market, to the part time amateur, all the way up to the working pros. There's nothing wrong with doing magic for friends and family, just like there's nothing wrong with making a buck at doing something you love.

    It takes a serious investment to go into business for yourself, and you reap the results of what you sow. As I am sure you well know. Marketing yourself as a magician is no different than any other kind of small business. Not everyone is cut out for that kind of thing. If you're serious about getting paid to do magic, and it sounds like you are, then I applaud you! Show business is a difficult industry. It's not easy, no one makes it over night, and you will bleed, cry, and sweat. It takes a hell of a lot of trial and error, and you can't be afraid of making some mistakes. But if you got it in you, and you know it, doing anything less just won't feel fulfilling. I wish you the best of luck.

    Experience is the name of the game. Every time you perform, it's experience. Marketing is how you frame it. example.

    Let's say you do a show for your Aunt Marie's 8 year old child. Okay, good. She's your aunt but really, no one else needs to know that.
    I'd word it: "Children Party Entertainer. Worked for Mrs. Marie Ellwood 3-10-10." Then get her to give you a testimonial that you can use as a quote and leave out any kind of family relations aspects. Make sure it's professional. You get three or four of those, and you're good to go. Once you start booking more solid work, the kind you want, you just add that to your resume.

    You may have to do a bunch of free shows, to build up the resume. But that's also just the way the game gets played. It's called paying your dues. Just remember that every time you do a show, every time you make an appearance, it's a chance to add it to your resume. It's a chance to capture audience reactions and testimonials. Become a collector of those.

    Speaking of being a collector, As for marketing materials, you gotta treat that like a baseball card collection. You have to start somewhere. At first it won't be that impressive, but as you build it, as you get new work, as you get more experience, you get more ammunition for your marketing materials. For right now, if you are just starting out a post card, or business flyer and a business card you'll do fine. Make sure that flyer describes who you are, what you do, and why they should book you.

    When you go out to perform, have someone with you to record your magic on video, or take still shots. These can later be used on websites, or promo reels. It's not always about the tricks you do, but how you can manage an audience and keep them entertained that people look for.

    Also being older, you may want to consider getting a marketing press kit professionally done. They range in prices, and can get expensive. Or more expensive than what your average teen or young 20's magician can afford. Shop around a bit, and don't take the first offer you come across. The nice thing is most companies will give you a digital PDF copy of your press kit. So the major investment comes from the design work. The upkeep is usually a kinko's run.

    When talking with restaurant owners if you can't get them to book you for cash, try offering a "Trial" of your services. Offer to do two weeks for free, (or for tips to justify your gas expense) with the expectation to renegotiate at the end of the trial for a paid gig. Don't let them take advantage of your services! After those two weeks, make sure you follow up with the booking manager.

    Also, make sure you're talking to the right people. Don't just go into a restaurant and drop off material then expect to get a call back. Go in, find out who the General Manager is, and speak to him or her directly. Shake their hand, and impress upon them why you're the person they want to work with. Don't just leave your marketing material there. Don't waste it. Only leave something behind if you feel there's a general interest in who you are and what you do.

    Hope that helps,
    William Draven
    Last edited by William Draven; 03-24-2010 at 11:12 AM.
    William Draven
    Master of the Macabre
    Draven@williamdraven.com
    www.williamdraven.com

  6. #6
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    Hope that helps,
    William Draven

    Yes it does. Thank you for the help. I am looking forward to future threads by you.

    Thank You again
    Trevor
    Real Magic in the Real World.

  7. #7
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    I got a regularly paying restaurant gig!

    I wanted to thank you for helping me. I used your advice about the resume'. I am working on putting together some other materials but I am performing and getting paid for it. I am working at and Andy's cheese steaks and burgers restaurant. I do their kids night every other week for right now. I get $40.00 per hour for 2 hours. I gave the manager / owner my presentation and resume' and he was interested. I knew that if I gave him a 2 hour show he would hire me so I offered that for the next night. We came to an agreement right after the 2 hour demo. I have also done their annual car show. That was a very busy night. During that evening I also had a car club rep ask me about doing their annual car show. Thank you for all your help.

    Trevor Walker
    Trevor
    Real Magic in the Real World.

  8. #8
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    AWESOME Trevor!

    Congratz! Enjoy the success, good job!
    William Draven
    Master of the Macabre
    Draven@williamdraven.com
    www.williamdraven.com

  9. #9
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    While I'm interested in getting into the restaurant business, I also want to work at a sort of walk-around event. For events like the car show that Trevor worked, about how much material should the magician have ready to perform? Trevor also mentioned doing a 2hr gig for Kid's Night at a restaurant, did he have 2hrs of material or did he go from table to table repeating some material? I'm trying to gauge just how much material I need to bring when I book a restaurant gig or a walk-around gig.
    Thanks,
    Justin
    "What the human mind can CONCEIVE and BELIEVE, it can ACHIEVE."

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinGrabowski View Post
    While I'm interested in getting into the restaurant business, I also want to work at a sort of walk-around event. For events like the car show that Trevor worked, about how much material should the magician have ready to perform? Trevor also mentioned doing a 2hr gig for Kid's Night at a restaurant, did he have 2hrs of material or did he go from table to table repeating some material? I'm trying to gauge just how much material I need to bring when I book a restaurant gig or a walk-around gig.
    Thanks,
    Justin
    Justin,

    Everyone has their own approach to doing walk around. There's no "right way". There's just what works for you. Play with it! Experiment, and figure out what makes it happen for you. Normally when I do walk around I bring with me anywhere from seven to ten different effects. Those are my main tricks for the night, and I just walk around doing the same set for everyone at the party. It usually gets me by just fine. If I know I'm doing a particularly long set or I know that the party is relatively small, I may bring an additional three to five effects to switch out with. In my experience it's usually smart to bring two hours of magic for an hour long show. Sometimes things happen, props break, or malfunction, you ruin a deck of cards, or something goes amuck. Having the option to switch out material is a life saver.
    William Draven
    Master of the Macabre
    Draven@williamdraven.com
    www.williamdraven.com

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