Magicians are territorial. We have an area we like to call home. A community of potential clients who might hire us to perform at parties, events, or their entertainment venue. But how do we reach those clients?
The advertising budget for the average magician is quite small. Often, it’s barely enough to cover the cost of business cards. If you’re lucky, you might have high-quality glossy fliers—a headshot maybe—to post on a community bulletin board.
Outside of Las Vegas and Branson or New York and L. A., magicians aren’t likely to have their own billboard or LED marquee. Even radio and television commercials are rare, though cheap today. It’s easy to shoot high quality footage on entry-level equipment. Magicians litter their site with YouTube videos of performances, but these are demonstrations, not lead-generating commercials.
So how do magicians get their name out there?
How do magicians grow their clientele?
The answer is pretty simple. Word of mouth.
Sounds simple. Common sense. However, word of mouth is quite an endeavor to strategize. In fact, you might not have ever thought about a creating an intentional, word-of-mouth strategy. And even if you have, did the art of subtlety play a role?
Now, some of you are word-of-mouth geniuses. You have your strategies and you execute those strategies everyday; boiled down to the finest detail. You no longer even have to think about it. You’re in the Matrix. The world looks like a digital word-of-mouth playground—green binary raining from the sky. The whole bit. I’m not being facetious. Some folks are that good.
While we are thinking digital, it’s important to look at word of mouth as networking—real world and online. In my opinion, the best way to install a networking strategy is to plant seeds in every field.
You and I are complex animals. You have more than one interest, yes? So do I.
There are a number of my interests and hobbies I do not share with my magic readers. I figure those subjects are off topic. Some people know I write fiction books and stories. You may know I have an interest in science, and that I sometimes write science and technology articles. But I also like to bicycle—long rides, very fast. At the end of the day, and on weekends, I go on rides with cycling groups in my area, or I’ll trek out on a solo ride (if you caught the pun there, look me up on Strava). I might even stay the night somewhere along the road. I like to hike. I love entomology and etymology. Physics, psychology, philosophy, biology, and economics.
These are not passing interests. I am members of groups and organization for each of those pursuits. They may not add up to magic in my life, but they are a significant chunk of my social engagement.
Another thing I like to do is help people launch their online businesses. I like to help them sell their products, magic or otherwise. It’s a hobby that helps me learn about my core industry. In fact, I go so far as to offer my services for hire, much like I used to do as a professional magician.
But I don’t advertise these services (maybe I should?). I build a handful of websites throughout the year for other people, I sit in on marketing meetings, and I consult with businesspeople all over the world. This is not only educational, it’s fun. I enjoy it a great deal.
It always amazes me, though, how people find me. Again, I don’t advertise these services. Yet clients find me. How do they know this is something I offer?
I plant seeds.
Teeny-tiny, microscopic networking seeds. Wherever I go, no matter who I talk to, I work my other interests into the conversation. The people I meet will either recommend me to a new client or they hire me directly. And for me it’s not always about a paying gig, but a project that might bring me a challenge or an education. If I can learn something that I’m able to share with other magicians, then I am very interested in the project even if the pay is minimal or nonexistent.
If I were blunt instead of subtle, I would probably never get the work. I don’t brag. I discuss. I don’t hint about wanting work, I discuss the intricacies of what I do. If the conversation doesn’t allow for it, I introduce topics that later cause the prospect to bring it up. I get asked questions. My answers are the seeds.
So how do you plant networking seeds?
First, put yourself in the position of becoming friends with potential clients. Make your social network your client network. Go to community events. Hobnob with potential clients. Hand out business cards (I prefer Wand Scrolls). Interact. Engage. Have fun and mingle.
Second, engage in two-way communication. Find out what the person does so that you know how to approach them to book a gig later. Ask questions. Get in there. Understand what it is they do for a living. This way you can anticipate their future needs. When it’s your turn to talk, mention aspects of your business they will perceive as value, tailoring your response to the nature of the conversation. Maybe they will call you, rather than you having to pitch them.
Third, let your new friend introduce you to more new friends, and you should do the same. Your professional network ought to be a vast field where you can plant tons of networking seeds—seasonal crops. Trade shows and conferences are a great way to meet new people nationwide. I obtained some of my best clients by meeting the regional managers of restaurant chains—the people who told the general managers who to hire.
Fourth, broaden your expertise and narrow your focus. You are a magician. You do magic shows. However, if you understand the entertainment needs of companies, you are more valuable to those companies than just your performances. Then narrow your focus to specific industries. Create new packages targeted toward cornerstone clientele—a niche you will continuously become more familiar with over time. Specialize.
Remember too, magic is a network able to deliver clients for your other services. I have worked with celebrities, famous companies, and billion-dollar global brands all due to my involvement in the magic community and the magic industry. You can too . . . when you execute a proper network strategy.
How and where do you meet clients? Share your expertise and experience with the rest of us in the comments. Do you offer a service your fellow magicians need? Let us know about it.