Goals are important, but it's even more important that you stay focused on those goals every day. You should have short and long term goals and your short term goals should be baby steps to getting you to the long term goals. Four years ago I moved from Virginia where I was a full time entertainer, because of personal life circumstances I was forced to leave that life and I moved to Georgia where I knew no one, I had zero connections, and I basically had to start over from scratch. (Not something I recommend to anyone.) I always told my wife that I could do my business anywhere in the world, not really ever thinking that I would have put that to the test. So what I have learned from this experience is that building a name for yourself is a tedious and time consuming process that takes years! I have only been performing as a full time magician here in Georgia for a year. It took 3 years for me to be able to say that I have enough clients to support my family again. Those 3 years were filled with a tremendous amount of hard work promoting my business while I also worked a full time job so I had the income to support my wife and 3 kids. My point in all of this is I had a goal to be a full time magician which was my long term goal. The baby steps to getting me to that goal took me 3 years, but I worked on it every day and I never gave up. And most importantly now that I have achieved that goal I set a new goal and I have been striving to achieve it. My long term goal now is to have my calendar full of events all booked 1 year in advance. Up and until now, even when I lived in Virginia, the majority of my events booked me within 30 days of their events, with a few bookings as far as 4-6 months out. But I never booked a single gig 1 year in advance, yet I heard many of my competitors and even friends were getting repeat clients and even new clients to hire them for the next year right after they finished their event.
So I stopped to think about it and for some of my friends in the DJ business it makes since why they are getting booked a year in advance for Weddings, Proms, and things of that nature. But how are the Magicians getting booked that far in advance? Well the answer I believe is in 2 parts, for potential clients, and for repeat clients. For potential clients, I believe it depends on the types of events that you are marketing to.
For fairs and festivals: The majority of these clients go to an expo where the meet the entertainers (this is typically done in the winter) then they start their planning for their event usually after the 1st of the year. So they are typically planning for a fall festival in January, or about 7-9 months out.
For trade shows: this is a different aspect because the convention itself isn't hiring you but rather the company that is at one of the booths. The conventions are annual conventions, so they know about 1 year in advance when the next convention will be so it's completely conceivable that they would book a magician 1 year in advance.
For schools: I believe it can be done to plan an event for 1 year in advance but in order for that to happen you would need to have proven yourself to the client that you can put on an amazing show (by them having seen a performance elsewhere, or because they are a repeat customer.)
For weddings: I believe it would only be because you wowed the bride and groom from another wedding you attended, or they have met you at a wedding convention.
For corporate: Yes without question I believe you can get them to book 1 year in advance, since the will know product launch dates, corporate outings, company picnics, grand openings, etc. It's all about getting to know the clients and having them love the service you provide, and creating an urgency in the clients mind that if they don't book you 1 year in advance then they won't be able to book you for next years event.
So what I'm getting at is that each market is going to be a little bit different but I believe that I will achieve this goal and I'm taking my baby steps every day toward achieving it.
Quote from Brian Tracy: "When your goals are clear, you come up with exactly the right answer at exactly the right time."
Agricultural fairs and festivals are in need of entertainment, and a magician can certainly deliver a great experience for the upcoming fairs patrons. But with such a wide range of options how does a fair know who to hire. Well the answer is that all the fairs executives will attend a convention annually, usually 2 conventions. One convention for their state, and one for international performers.
So how can a magician be hired by a fair? or event been seen at one of these conventions?
First of all you will have to attend, now you can choose to just go and give out some business cards, collect some business cards, try to greet and get to know a few of the executives who are walking around. This is an OK method but the chances are slim that you'll be hired. More than anything you will just gain a few connections and that is about it. To be seen you will need to get a vendor booth, do some advertising in the fairs pamphlets they distribute, buy some items in their auctions, offer to take some of the executives you meet out for drinks to discuss your show. All of these things revolve around spending money, so if you don't have it to spend, then save until you do, otherwise your wasting your time and your money.
I can say I wasted thousands of dollars trying to break into the Fair Market without the knowledge that I have now. I'm at the point in my career that I need to try again but do so in the appropriate manner. You see I didn't start locally in my states convention or surround states...no I went for the big international convention right off the bat. Now I did so from the advise I received from a good friend and very talented magician Sean Watson who is a Las Vegas magician, originally from Canada. Sean had the best of intentions for giving me this advice, he genuinely cared about my performance and wanted to see me become successful. However, he didn't share some key information about being overly prepared for the fair market before attending IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expos). I believe that Sean knew that he attended IAFE every year and, he always has a booth, and he get hired from Fairs all over the country every year because of it. So I took his advice and it failed miserably. One KEY reason why I failed is because I only did it for one year, I didn't see results so I assumed why do it again. I also didn't focus on ONE THING, I was a multi-talented performer so I assumed they would want a variety act but I was wrong. So I gained some real life experience and knowledge from this. I learned that there are steps that you really must take before getting a booth which I did not know at the time.
I encourage you to check out Sean Watson's website at www.watsonsmagic.com
So here is the valuable lesson that I learned, and that I'm going to give to you for FREE!
You HAVE to make personal connections with the executives to be hired! Its not about just showcasing your talent, although that does help you get noticed to begin with. But the fact of the matter is that the fair executives are looking for long lasting relationships. Why is that? Its because they want to make their job easier, so having someone they can rely on to not only show up, but do a great job is really important to them. Their jobs are very busy and require a great deal of preparation and planning, so they need to trust the person they hire wholeheartedly.
How do the Fair Executives build trust with a Magician?
Who offers to take them to the bar? Who comes to their social hours to perform magic tricks in their hotel suites for all their friends? Who shows them a great time, while they are away from their office on this working vacation?
So the key to getting into the fair market is taking the following steps and again this will cost you a lot of money upfront but the return on the investment will be exponential.
1.) FIRST AND FOREMOST BE PREPARED!
Hire a professional photographer and videographer! Be professional and consistent with all of your marketing material, make your booth look professional with signage, a backdrop, flyers, business cards, DVDs, or Thumb drives of your show, have a TV Screen setup playing your show reel at your booth, Even if you have to give away your show to get this footage it is necessary!
2.) Get a Booth at the Local Fair conventions in and around your State. (You're not ready for IAFE yet!)
Advertise with the fair convention in their pamphlets place an ad...the more the better. This isn't so important to get noticed, but rather because your investing into their organization and they want to hire people who invest into their convention so they can afford to keep having the convention and make it bigger and better each year! So you need to spend money with them so they will spend their money on you!
Get a room at the hotel where the convention is at and stay their the night before the convention! Get up super early and get your booth setup early! At the convention you will need some bring some big props or equipment from your show to showcase it. Meet all the other vendors and get to know them personally get their business cards so you can stay connected with them. Every executive you meet that comes up to your booth collect their business cards and ask them key questions about their fair, when is it, where is it, how many days is it, what type of acts have they hired in the past, what type of acts are they looking for, do they want a stage show, a grounds act, or a strolling act?
3.) If your able (only occasionally is this an option) get a spot to Showcase your show, this will be a show in front of a room full of executives and will get you hired if they like you!
4.) 95% of the fairs are Agricultural Fairs...so they like to have acts to can perform with that as a theme. You will be much more likely to get hired if you have a Farm theme to your show.
5.) WINE AND DINE the executives. Get invited to their suites after the Expo and showcase your talent to them with some closeup magic!
6.) Buy stuff in their auctions, they will see you spending money at their fair and they will appreciate it.
7.) Stay connected! The first year you go to the fair expo you probably wont be booked or if you are only by 1 or 2 fairs...DO THE BEST JOB YOU CAN, get references, video testimonials and have proof that these fairs LOVED your service. Make NEW promo showing that footage (with permission).
8.) DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR...AFTER 2 YEARS You will have enough knowledge to decided about IAFE on your own!
9.) Lastly, there is one more thing I learned from going to IAFE...All the fairs have assistance that go with them that walk around and write down who is in their state or nearby. Then those are the booths the executives visit first and foremost. Why? Because they don't have to spend as much money to get those performers at their fair as they won't need to travel far. So this is why it is so important to attend that local fair. Because they will have seen you their, they will remember you and they will now take your seriously as they see you in Vegas!
Good Luck and I hope this has helped you make a decision on whether or not to pursue becoming a Fair Magician.
-Aaron Clark (aka. 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.