Gathering a crowd.

This is usually the biggest challenge for magicians who enter the trade show field. They get hired and they can end up standing there like a lemon without a soul in front of them , or very few at any rate. This situation can go on for a long time and particularly at a quiet show can continue for hours on end if the performer is not experienced. This can be an expensive waste of time for a company who has invested in the services of a magician. A very good reason that a company should be very selective in whom they hire. Many magicians advertise that they do trade shows but in fact they do very little activity in that field. They can be excellent entertainers but do not understand the trade show market. They don’t know how to gather a crowd in the first place and if they do manage to get one, how to hold it until the end. They don’t know how to incorporate company messaging into the presentation either so their value to an exhibitor is quite limited.

Fortunately I have a background as an exhibition pitchman selling such items as eyeglass cleaners, knives, flower holders, bar accessories and kitchen gadgets so I am very used to gathering crowds out of nowhere, even at a quiet show.

The key of course is to get one or two people in front of you and go from there. After a short time other people come over to see what is going on and the crowd gathers. A crowd gathers a crowd. Of course you don’t want too big a crowd otherwise it can block the aisle and show management may receive complaints from your neighbours. It is true that sometimes a magician can be seen gathering a massive crowd of about 100 people. However, this is generally done in a larger booth and inside the booth rather than on the perimeter where the aisles would be blocked. It is often done on a small stage and the performance is usually a long one of about 30 minutes or so and done once every hour. The company usually has to hire “crowd gatherers” in addition to hiring the magician and this can be a very expensive undertaking. In practice this happens only with companies who have a massive budget for trade show marketing and who have a very large booth at the show.

How effective this is from a return on investment point of view I cannot say. Performers who work in this manner charge a premium rate and although the crowds are massive I have some suspicion that it isn’t the best way to go. I never seem to see these magicians being booked for a second time for the same company so I do wonder. I still remember one marketing director telling me, “We hired a guy who got us massive crowds. We paid him ten grand a day and he didn’t get us a single lead!” And this magician was a big name in the trade show magic business!

I do not charge anywhere near 10 grand a day and neither do I gather massive crowds once an hour. I get far smaller crowds say 10 to 20 people, sometimes even up to 30 people or so. However, I do so on a continuous basis and these smaller crowds are easier to manipulate and pre-qualify for the sales staff. Instead of doing a 30 minute show once an hour I do perhaps 4 (or more) ten minute shows an hour so I suppose around 60 people or so pass through the booth every hour. I find this sufficient.

Of course I have  gone off at a tangent and not explained how to gather a crowd in the first place. I will do that over the next few days. I hope you find it of interest.

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