As a professional magician it tends to be a difficult task to run a business and always learning and improving upon your chosen profession. You have to be a secretary, a website administrator, video editor, photo editor, book keeper, marketing guru, cold calling, generating leads, being a salesman, and on top of all that you need to be a pretty darn good entertainer too. But there are only so many hours in a day, and we all have our personal lives too so we are limited to what all can be done on our own. So their are some companies out there that have come along in the past few years that do help eliminate some of the stress with finding qualified leads, but I really believe these companies such as GigMasters, GigSalad, Thumbtack, etc... are doing more harm than they are good. Yes it's great having the ability to bid on a lead that is genuinely seeking a service provide such as a magician (or) other forms of entertainment as well. But the downfall is it creates a cut throat environment where we are all fighting against one another over the same leads. Makes me feel like I'm playing the Hunger Games..."and may the odds be ever in your favor!"
Speaking from experience I know for a fact that when we as entertainers team up with one another and send each other leads, hire each other out, or simply offer a referral fee to your competitors. Then everyone wins, the market isn't being slashed by price under cutting. We appreciate and respect one another and more so we profit from one another.
So why are we allowing these 3rd party services control our business?
Why can't we come up with a solution for this problem...I can't be the only one who feels this way. And I must admit GigMasters I don't hate entirely...but that is only because they give you the clients info and allow you to contact them directly. But I don't understand why we pay a monthly fee, and yet we still have to pay them $20 if they book the gig for us. GigSalad I simply hate that you are forced to book with them directly, but I must say I appreciate that you don't have to pay a membership to get leads, and I appreciate that you can require the client to pay the fee, or split the fee with the client. However, Thumbtack I loathe entirely! Having to pay for a lead regardless of if the events books or not is dirty and unethical! They are getting paid by numerous entertainers for the same lead. You can waste A LOT of money VERY Quickly especially using their points system instead of a dollar amount system.
Wouldn't it be great if there were a national entertainment booking website that clients could go to that is highly ranked on search engines. The clients would see a list of local vendors, but they don't receive bids from vendors...but rather the client puts in what service they are wanting, how much they intend to spend on the service with a budget range (which is a requirement), obviously all the pertinent info about the gig, and they get to choose if they want a local only (or) nationwide performers to be show. Then based on the info they input a list of local entertainers are provided with all their contact info. The client contacts you directly...no bidding wars, they client has seen your work, be given your website, and contact info, they know your price is within their budget range, there could be a calendar option if you choose to use it so they would even know if you are available, and all you need to do is book the gig. With this service there would only be a monthly membership fee which is to be listed on the site as either a local and/or nationwide entertainer. There would also be a featured performer option in which case for a higher fee your info would be in a rotation for the top of the list with anyone else whom has paid for that option.
So I guess the real question here is who's with me? Who thinks this is a good idea? Who wants to invest in making this a reality?
I'm serious, it's time to put a stop to this.
Aaron Clark (Aka. The Amazing Ziggy)
I recommend to anyone interested in pursuing working in the trade show market as a magician a book called A Modern Trade Show Handbook by Seth Kramer. Seth details in the book, the types of magic he performs, his promotional material, the correct sound system and staging needed, how he works with clients, the list goes on and on... Seth really goes into great detail on what it’s like to be a Trade Show Entertainer!
Here are 10 Trade Show Tips by Seth Kramer
Trade Show Tip 1
Being a good (and successful) trade show magician is not about the tricks you perform and it’s not about you and your ego. The secret to being a good trade show magician is knowing that it’s all about the company you’re representing and their product or services.
Trade Show Tip 2
In a pinch, an aerobics step makes an excellent riser. It’s adjustable, inexpensive, and can be found in any local sporting goods store.
Trade Show Tip 3
You can start your show with effects such as the Cups and Balls, or the Three Shell Game that require a table top, but as your crowd builds, you will want to get the tricks up off the table and into the air so the majority of the crowd can see what’s going on. (My friend Bob Kohler’s Ultimate Three Fly is an excellent choice for a trade show trick that plays at chest level.)
Trade Show Tip 4
Don’t ever give out your business card without receiving one in return. By obtaining a reciprocal business card, you can follow up with that contact after the show with a casual email or voice mail.
Trade Show Tip 5
Trade Show pioneer Mike Rogers gave me some advice early in my career (besides always telling me to “slow down, you’re not going to a fire”). He said, “Seth, you need to know your tricks inside and out so that you can perform them in your sleep if necessary. You shouldn’t have to think about any aspect of your tricks. You will need to focus most of your attention on the product information and how you will deliver the message to the crowd and connect with them.”
Trade Show Tip 6
Finding the ideal spots in your show for your marketing messages can be tricky. One exercise I’ve found to be helpful is customizing every show I do. I’m not talking specifically about trade shows here; I mean birthday parties, family shows, anniversary parties, a restaurant gig, etc. You can always find out some key details about the guest of honor when you book the show, or ask about the unique features of a restaurant before you start working.
Trade Show Tip 7
Don’t get a reputation as someone who will try to undercut another working performer by approaching their client when they aren’t around. Chances are that word of your visit will get right back to the performer as soon as they return. Karma has a way of biting you in the ass. As they say, what goes around comes around. There’s plenty of work for everyone; just go out and get it on your own.
Trade Show Tip 8
Just as you are there at the show to gather crowds for your client, the other magician’s and presenter’s are there to do the same for theirs. It makes little sense to try and one-up the competition by performing your show non-stop in an attempt to keep the other performer from doing their job.
Trade Show Tip 9
Make your product pitch interactive. Ask questions during your pitch and try to get feedback from your audience. If you are able to connect with your audience and create a rapport, you will find that you are in a unique position to qualify potential leads for your clients’ sales team.
Trade Show Tip 10
Become a student of sales. The bookstores are full of books (and audio books) that will teach you how to sell more effectively. Make a promise to yourself; For every five magic books you read, read one business book.
Thanks Seth for your input and helping our readers break into the industry!
Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
You know being a magician is difficult and requires a great deal of training, practicing in a mirror, video yourself, writing scripts and analyzing those scripts meticulously with a fine tooth comb. But and honing in on your skills as a Magician that works with animals takes it to a new extreme, since you now become an animal trainer, and animals for the most part are unpredictable. So your script that you have worked so hard on often times must be fluid and adaptable for any given situation. Basically you have to think of any situation of what could go wrong before it does and prepare a script for what to do in those situations. For Example...I work with Exotic Animals, and my parrots are a big part of my performance and they are potty trained although accidents do happen and you must be prepared for them to happen at the worst times because they will. But it's all in how you handle that situation, you must remain in control and find humor in the things that go wrong, or at least let the audience find humor in them. The Show Must Go On...you simply can not pull a Mariah Carey performance as she did on New Years Eve 2017. When you are able to "Carey" on your, showmanship shines bright and the audience will not only appreciate it but they will remember it.
There are a lot of frustrating moments when performing with animals, but there is also tremendous joy that comes from showing love and attention to an animal while spending time every day training. And when I say every day I mean that literally, especially working with Large Birds, they are basically toddlers that live to be 80-100 years old. They demand lots of attention, and require time that many people just don't have to invest. Not to mention the lifestyle changes that come with Large Birds. Some examples of this: You can't use scented candles in your home. The types of pots and pans we use can not contain any Teflon. You have to use organic cleaning supplies, so no harsh chemicals like bleach or even 409. Their respiratory systems are very sensitive and smells that we humans don't even notice can kill them almost instantly. Not to mention many people can get very sick because of having birds in their home so often you will have to have an aviary or separated living quarters for the birds to live in, and you especially should never sleep in the same room as your birds as their droppings leave particles in the air that can also lead to illness if exposed to them for long periods.
Aside from birds I also have reptiles which I perform with, Now the Snakes are by all means the show stoppers as almost everyone is afraid of snakes. But honestly they are the most docile creatures and literally take NO training what so ever to incorporate into an act. They literally go into a secret compartment and wait there until its time to be revealed. Now other reptiles are much different such as the Lizards I perform with. I have Iguana's and a Tegu Lizard and these animals to take quite a bit of work handling them frequently and making sure they are petted on, have their nails trimmed, giving them baths often, and just overall showing them lots of love. This keeps them from running away or trying to escape when its time for their big tricks in the show. Certainly no ones whats an iguana running on the floor during an event, not to mention the panic that would cause. So again that is a scenario that must be accounted for in the scripting phase of preparing for a performance.
I don't think many magicians realize the importance of scripting your shows, and not only that but really critiquing your own scripts to the point of body language and movements, it's not only what you say but how and when you say it. Timing is a critical part of my scripts. If I am going to tell joke I need to make sure it's funny obviously, but I need to make sure its the appropriate time to tell it, that I give the audience time to laugh before moving on, that I understand what my hands, or props I'm using are doing during that time so that it looks natural and doesn't come across in an awkward manner to the audience members.
I sincerely hope that before you decide to incorporate live animals into your performances that you would consider first looking into rescuing animals, as there are so many animals that need loving homes. I will tell you all of the animals I use in my performances (I currently have 27!) are rescue animals and they all have different back stories of neglect, abuse, malnourished, etc. but they are all loved, trained, and cared for every day which has led to them being happier and healthier.
One of the stories I am most proud of is my Parrot Memphis. Memphis is a Scarlet Macaw and came from a home in North Carolina. The family had just went thru a divorce and the wife was the one who cared for him. At the time his name was Ruckus or Ruck for short, he was severely overweight from a poor diet that included only nuts and bird seed. Which is essentially the equivalent of eating Krispy Kreme Donuts every day of his life for every meal. Well the wife is the one who left and when she did she left Ruck behind, he was EXTREMELY aggressive, and very cage territorial. The room he was kept in had only the cage he was in and TON of wood shaving splinters all over the floor which was from where he had chewed the baseboard around the entire room and was working on the walls wood paneling next. His Water Bowl was covered in slime, and it took us 2 hours to get him out of his cage and into a travel crate. We changed his name to Memphis as he associated the name Ruckus to his old life. Now Memphis has the coolest personality and loves his life, he goes on tons of adventures and is the main Parrot that I use in my performances. I am so proud of what all he has accomplished and it's only been just over 1 year for this transformation to take place.
Thanks for reading!
Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
My Name is Aaron Clark and I'm know as The Amazing Ziggy. I've been a Professional Magician for over 20 years performing all over the US and internationally, but mostly for events on the east coast in the Atlanta Area.