Today, websites have rendered media kits obsolete for magicians who book shows direct to clients, i.e., without an agent. And that’s not a bad thing. Media kits had become bloated wastes of postage anyway. Moreover, a Phase One, market-smart website with a clear focus—a sales goal—is the best tool for booking shows.
Before we get too far into this, a media kit herein will be a sales kit, or any sort of package magicians, or performers in general, send off to potential clients. I know what a media kit is by strict definition, as I have a history in journalism. We’re using more relaxed language for the sake of discussion.
When I was a teenager, planning my Copperfield-like rise to fame, I got the wild idea to send out requests for media kits from big stars. Not only magicians, but actors too. Even a congressman! He was a public speaker.
The materials ranged widely in scope and quality. One of the magicians, who is quite famous today, had a book, video, and full-color glossy stills. The book contained highlights of the man’s shows, his stage requirements, and his contract, complete with rider. It was eye-opening.
I compared all of these materials. Some elements I liked, others I thought would hinder my career. Yes. Yes. In hindsight, it’s hilarious. In foresite it was incredible. Have you ever compared your media kit with other magicians, let alone major celebrities? You don’t need to be covert. Just network with locals, see what sort of materials they use. Compare notes. Hop on a Facebook group for magicians, and compare kits with performers outside your region of competition, if that makes you feel more comfortable.
By fifteen years old, I had a full-color glossy booklet, headshots, and even a video. I wanted everyone to see that video back then, but I really hope none of those exist today. I’m sure it was awful.
I learned a lot from producing those kits. The biggie, I learned to talk about myself though the eyes of people who were in a position to hire me.
Jump forward a half-dozen years. I was running a newswire, editing an international magazine, and I was working on a major internet project—a few of them in fact. For about two years, I watched where and when people clicked, who clicked, and how often they clicked. Mostly on research pages, but some were active sites (where success was measured financially).
I wrote a paper about it called Online Governing Aesthetics. I developed a formula, which was used to make predictions of website use for my companies and others. The results were impressive. I formed a business—Creative All Media, a marketing and technology firm—where, among other things, we generated online software. Including a precursor to RSS, some developer stuff for Google API, and one of the first-ever news aggregators (a beast that shutdown every server connected to it, including one of the largest news organizations in the world at the time). Today, Creative All Media generates websites for people who want to sell their products or services—writers, performers, inventors, and the like.
A funny side story. Shortly after I began Creative All Media, I was trying to land a project writing infomercials to add to our product diversity. The pay potential in that industry is huge. You can make $5000 per finished minute as a freelancer. You can see why I was interested. The team who was working this project invited me down to their office, only to turn me away after learning I had quit high school without graduating. As I was leaving, I noticed the owner of the company had a couple of Harry Lorayne books on his shelf. The man said he was a big fan of Lorayne, having seen him on TV.
The next day, I called Harry to tell him what happened, and that the guy was a fan of his. Long story short, Harry gave me a quote, which I added to my resume before resubmitting it to the company.
“From one high school dropout for another, you would be crazy not to hire Aaron Smith to write for you.” – Harry Lorayne
Okay, back to the topic at hand. The reason I bring all this up—the media kits, the website development—is because 1) I have a history researching media kits back when they were actual paper-and-ink kits, 2) I was in tech when tech was first going online commercially.
Originally, a magician’s website was used to generate leads to which media kits were delivered by mail. Eventually, the website became the kit. This is a horrible circumstance, as media kits were never a great way of booking shows in the first place, and websites had enormous potential.
Yes, media kits were successful, but it was despite the popular format. Those kits that strayed from the status quo, had a better chance of being successful than a textbook arrangement. From what I witnessed, the kits were not capable of closing the deal with efficiency. Websites that emulate this path dependency today, are no more capable of closing the deal than were their predecessors. A simple, single-page sales letter or card had far-greater potential back in the day.
If you want your website to deliver bookings, the site needs to be focussed on three things. First, it should have a lead generation component. Second, it should establish cost—not price—and override it with value. Third, it should close the deal.
Your website should not be a “foot in the door,” it should not be a way to get people to call you to discuss your show. If your website is done right, it should generate leads, sell the product, and close the deal. Your email ought to be filled with jobs. Not questions, free requests, etcetera.
Lets go over these one-by-one . . .
Lead Generation: A website needs to find potential clients for you. Which means, potential clients need to find your website and become engaged with your product. Your website ought to be collecting information that you can use, through an automated system, to convert traffic into customers. These are what I call “market-smart articles.” What they do is, through the course of a series of feature stories, showcase niche markets—potential clients. Visitors who find themselves identifying with these needs will either book you right away, or join your mailing list.
A note on “niche markets.” Niche markets are not small markets, some are very large, they are a market with niches—entry points. Marketable entry points.
Lets say, for instance, you like to perform renaissance fairs. Those events, at least for me, were seasonal. So then you might look at another venue where you can perform your character during downtime. Since this would be a new revenue stream, we’re going to call it a “package.” This is a package you can offer clients. So you do some articles, some press releases through your website targeting new places for this character—museums for instance. It might say, “Mr. Magic Brings Renaissance Flare to Still Life.” Your article appears in front of museum administrators.
That’s lead generation. You targeted a market segment. You hooked them. You brought them in. You’ll either convert them right away, or down the line. Mail Chimp recorded the signup from your “museum” form, directly through your website. You now have all the bait you need to lure them in for a booking. If you only entice visitors looking for a magician, then work will be more difficult to obtain.
Value Over Cost: A magic website should have entry points that cater to specific client categories, then “nut graph” as soon as possible. Nut graph is a journalism term meaning nutshell paragraph. When you read a news article, the nut graph is a paragraph containing all the pertinent info in one place. The farther down the story the nut graph, the more a reader has to read or skim. In ad copy, the nut graph needs to be near the opening line. To accomplish this effectively, you have to know—to truly understand—what your client needs/wants to hear, see, or read, and convey it instantly, in as few words as possible.
Once value is established, a cost is inferred. You don’t want your client saying to themselves, “But I wonder how much other magicians cost?” or “I wonder if he’ll go down on his rate.” Their eyes should open, their voice should liven. They should say, “Yes! That’s a cool idea. We need something like that here.” Value is obvious. Cost is obvious. Value outweighs cost. This is why pricing is so important. But by the time the client gets to the next step, say a click to your booking page, they should be ready to pay what you’re going to charge. After all, you researched this market and know the price points, yes?
Close the Deal: The call to action should require commitment before ever calling you. The website needs to close the deal. If you have done your research, you should know who your client is, what they want you to do, and how much they are willing to pay. The rest is just picking a date, which is pretty much the call to action. They click a PayPal button, invoice link, whatever, to confirm their willingness to hire you. Money can change hands at the event.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s because selling a service online is cookie cutter. People have been doing it for years—even magicians, only not as widely. Target your incoming traffic to specific landing pages, call to action, make a sale. It’s a refined process. A business model I have used myself, and one I have assisted others with since the nineties. A website that has all of these components is at the minimum, a Phase One website.
I mentioned in a previous episode that I do not advertise my web design services, yet people find me anyway. The Creative All Media website was literally a blue screen and logo until just a few days ago. I’ve decided to open these services up to magicians. Now, it’s quite easy to find me. Go to CreativeAllMedia.com. Explore the site a bit. You’ll learn what a Phase One, Two, and Three website is. Take advantage of the free online consultation. Either me, or one of the people I consult with, will go over your form and analyze your response. You’ll get some information back—maybe a full report. At the very least, it’s eye-opening, free information about your business.
If you decide to purchase one of the website packages, there is a “coupon code“ box on the consultation form. The current code will expire soon, but right now will give you an impressive discount off the service. Plus, there’s financing available if you need. Zero interest. No credit check.
Tell us in the comments about your experience booking shows online. Share your thoughts with your fellow magicians. What does and does not work.