No they can’t!

There are indeed many magicians who advertise on the internet that they do trade shows. Well they don’t!  If you investigate matters a little more closely you will see that they are bluffing! Magicians create ILLUSIONS after all!

There are plenty of magicians with websites promoting their services to the trade show market. Alas, the only experience many of them have with trade shows is the ability to create a website combined with fake testimonials and photographs from the ONE trade show they were hired for and never used again!

These people are general practitioners of magic whose main work is children’s birthday parties, corporate picnics and holiday parties.  Having corporate party credits and a website giving the illusion of trade show experience doesn’t guarantee that the magician will have the skills necessary to draw crowds and hold them along with the ability to incorporate sales messages into a trade show presentation.

So buyer beware!

The Three Qualities a Trade Show Magician Requires!


ODA show May 2016

I have always said that to be a good trade show magician you need three qualities. Obviously the first one is that you should be a good entertaining magician. However,  if you just rely on that you won’t get very far. Many excellent magicians  (even award winning world champions) have been booked to represent companies at trade shows but have been dismal failures.  They don’t know how to draw a crowd, how to keep them from walking away, how to incorporate company sales messages into their presentations which help to brand the products or services offered and finally they don’t know how to keep doing this all day!  It isn’t like doing a magic show at a birthday party or banquet when you perform for 45 minutes or so and go home!

Which brings me to the other two qualities needed. The second is STAMINA! You need a lot of that as a trade show magician because you are working for perhaps 8 hours a day for three days or so on end!  Sure you take necessary breaks but as already mentioned this is not like working at a normal venue, spending two or three hours there, only one hour at most on stage and going home!

But the third quality is probably the most important  one.  The magician has to be a good salesman.  He doesn’t personally  sell the product himself since there are alway sales staff on the booth to take care of that but he should have a basic sales instinct on how to help the company representatives to do their jobs. This means a knowledge of sales techniques, how to study company products and services and incorporate the branding into the presentation, getting the attendees in a laughing mood which of course breaks the ice for the sales staff and makes it easier for them to close sales and gather leads. And the magician should also have an instinct for spotting potential qualified prospects in the crowd that he can pass on to the sales staff. At the end of his presentation he should be able to sell the crowd on coming in to the booth to talk to the sales people.

So it isn’t just a matter of doing card tricks! There is a lot more to it than one would think.  In my next few blog entries I will attempt to pass on some hints and tips I have learned from sales representatives at various trade shows I have worked at over the years and will also tell you about my own experience at selling vacuum cleaners to flower holders!


Sorry I have been neglecting this blog recently but I have been performing at trade shows in Western Canada and have only just returned. I am now taking a rest until my next trade show which thankfully is in Toronto itself in a couple of weeks. Oops! My memory is going! I forgot I am doing one today!

Talking about Toronto here I am at the Print World Show which took place there. Not a particularly busy show traffic wise but I was able to draw consistent crowds anyway.

Print World Show

A good trade show magician should be able to draw crowds even when there is not much in the way of traffic. There are various tricks of the trade (no pun intended) whereby this can be done. One is to be so good that the people come back to see you again and again.

I am off to another trade show which starts this afternoon so I had better stop typing before I am late. Cheerio for now.


I am no social media enthusiast but lately I have been amused by something called Pinterest. I have posted quite a few photos and videos of my trade show work there and intend to post even more. When I run out of things to post about my wondrous self I may well post videos and pictures of other magicians who work at trade shows.

Anyway, here you are:

How to Work Trade Shows as a Business by Chuck Stanford


I find this a very useful book full of good information. The author had quite a decent career as a trade show magician from the late seventies right up to the mid nineties or so. He is now a Buddhist Lhama!

Chuck Stanford was highly influenced and learned a lot from Eddie Tullock who has already been discussed on this blog. The book covers such areas as why a company would want to hire a magician to trade show travel tips, how to work a show, what to charge, how to get bookings and other excellent info.

The book was originally published in 1989 and there was a very limited amount of information in the book as to how to get the trade show booking in the first place. However, that changed in 2006 when he republished the book with an extra chapter which described the very methods he used to get the trade show booking. It is based on telephone cold calling and it certainly worked for him. He emphasises that marketing and selling your services to potential clients is a full time job and in fact takes up more time than working the show itself!

The book is very readable and I consider it one of the better manuscripts on this subject.

A Modern Trade Show Handbook by Seth Kramer


This is the most up to date book on trade show magic of the ones that I am reviewing. In fact the author, who is a very experienced trade show magician is the only author among the various writers I have reviewed who is actually working today.

The book has the same problem that most of the other books I have reviewed have. There is very little information on how to get the trade show booking in the first place. Seth Kramer does give a few hints but alas the information is limited.

Apart from this little quibble the book is excellent and very suited for today’s needs. No doubt the book has the word “Modern” in the title for a very good reason. Although there is little information on how to get the show there is still plenty of business information. The book covers promotional material, business cards, videos, postcards, contracts, questionnaires and other important aspects of the business side of trade show work that a magician should know about.

Also covered is information on microphones, dress, scripting and working with the sales team.

I have had correspondance with the author who has always been very helpful in providing information and his take on trade show work.

If a magician is new to the trade show field and wants to know more about it this book is almost compulsory for his education.

It can be obtained here:


The Trade Show Handbook by Bud Dietrich and Dick Jarrow


This is a pretty old book on Trade Show Magic and in fact is one of the first I ever read. It was written by Bud Dietrich and Dick Jarrow.  Dietrich was a leading trade show magician with a sterling reputation. Mind you,  I still remember one thing that I heard which I always remembered about him. He did many shows for Hoyle Playing Cards which were manufactured by Stancraft.  In fact he was known as “Mr Hoyle” and he was certainly one of the most important trade show magicians around at that time. Now,  in the seventies I also did trade show work for Hoyle when the product line was first introduced to Canada.

Naturally I asked about Bud Dietrich and one rep complained, “Bud was great but there was only one problem. We couldn’t get him to stop because he was such a ham!. The salesmen couldn’t get a word in edgeways!”  I have always remembered that remark in my own work and make sure I don’t get in the way myself! After all the main purpose of a trade show magician is not so much the entertainment but to assist the sales people by gathering a crowd and conveying the features and benefits of the product to the attendees in an entertaining manner.

Having said this Bud Dietrich must have done something right since he was always busy and was one of the highest paid performers in this particular field.

But back to the book. Alas I don’t know much if anything about the other author Dick Jarrow so regrettably I can’t tell you much about him.

I was never able to get much out of the book when it first came out as the concept of performing magic at a trade show was not familiar to me and the book was written as if I should know all about it already. However, much later on the book made more sense to me and as a result became more useful. It talks about microphones, sales meetings and hospitality rooms and other kindred subjects. I think one feature of the book which no other book of this kind possesses is that it actually has a few chapters for the exhibitor who books the magician rather than for the performer himself.

As usual the book tells you nothing about how to book the show in the first place.

Overall, a book that deserves to be in the library of every trade show magician.

Trade Show Secrets Revealed by Phil Kannen


This is quite a readable little volume and it does give a fair bit of information on how to get the trade show booking in the first place along with information on how to best work the show. Hints and tips on business cards, photographs, letters of reference, press clippings and videos showing the work of the magician.

It has a Q and A section. Here are the questions. You will have to obtain the book to find the answers!

1. What is the number one secret of trade show work?

2. As a magician what is the greatest skill I need to develop?

3. How do you start a show?

4.What is the negative part of trade work?

5.How Much Money Can I Make?

6.If you are looking for new corporate markets, where do you look?

7. If you could use only one marketing tool, what would it be?

8. What has been your biggest obstacle?

9. Do you have agents?

10. What magic tricks do you recommend?