My Selling History

Print World Show

In my last entry I alluded to my past selling history. My first adventure in sales was selling vacuum cleaners door to door for Electrolux. I was pretty useless at it and in fact never sold a thing for an entire month. After one of my incompetent demonstrations when I made matters worse by blowing more dust and dirt over the carpet than when I started a lady said,  “Well, I’ll contact your company if I ever need a vacuum cleaner. Mind you, by that time I don’t think you will be there and I suspect you will be doing something  you are more suited to!”

However one day I knocked on a door and the guy answered saying,  “Oh, I can’t waste time talking to salesmen. I have to go down town to buy a vacuum cleaner so I have no time to talk” I couldn’t believe my luck and replied, “But I am selling vacuum cleaners”.  He responded surprised, “You are?” I said, “Sure, here it is. I can save you a trip down town” He looked at my forlorn self and then looked at the less forlorn vacuum cleaner and said, “OK. Come in and show me what you’ve got” I did and by some miracle I actually sold it.  It was in fact the only one I ever sold for the company.

Of course my vacuum cleaner career did not last and I went on to selling carbon paper by calling on offices and was useless at that too. And then I got another job selling carbon paper by phone and was no good at that either!

But then I found my niche. I discovered I was far better at selling to a crowd than I was to individuals so I became an exhibition demonstrator or pitchman. The type of guy you see selling kitchen gadgets at fairs. I would gather crowds around me while I sold bar accessories, knives, potato peelers, wrenches, eyeglass cleaners, flower holders and trick decks of cards.  I would take in money right, left and centre and learned a lot from veteran pitchmen.

I use those very skills today as a trade show magician. I gather the crowds in exactly the same way, hold them until the very end and bring the people on to the booth and hand them over to the sales people at the end of the show. I have never been a trade show sales rep myself but I have learned a few things from the people I have worked with and hope to impart a few of them in entries to come.










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.