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.
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
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)
Master of the Macabre