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:
http://www.sethkramerproductions.com/handbook.htm

 

The Trade Show Handbook by Bud Dietrich and Dick Jarrow

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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.

Tricks of the Trade by Martini

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This particular book gives good advice on trick selection, how to incorporate company messages into magic presentations and other general advice for a magician who wants to work trade shows. However the most valuable component of this book is that unlike other books of this kind this one concentrates on how the performer gets the booking in the first place.

The author describes a system he uses combining direct mail and cold calling. He tells you how to get the names to build a mailing list and mentions sources galore where you can find contacts to help you in your search for a trade show booking.

I would say that more than half the book is taken up by advice on marketing your services as a magician and that can only be a good thing. I would recommend the book for that alone. To be frank I personally don’t use most of what is described to market my services but that doesn’t negate the usefulness of the techniques to others.

Books on Trade Show Magic

There are many, many books written on magic and distributed exclusively to the trade. However there are comparatively few books (actually booklets would be a more accurate description) which are written for magicians about trade show magic. That is probably because there are so few performers working in this field and they may not necessarily want to share their knowledge and produce competition.

However, there are indeed a tiny few. I will say something about each of them in future  posts.  For now here is a list of them. If any magician is interested in entering this field it would be worth checking them out.

1. The Real Truth About Trade Show Magic And a Lot More by Eddie Tullock, Gene Urban and Kenton Knepper.

2. Trade Shows–An Inside Insight by Frances Marshall

3. Tricks of the Trade by Martini

4.Trade Show Secrets Revealed by Phil Kannen

5. The Trade Show Handbook by Bud Dietrich and Dick Jarrow

6. A Modern Trade Show Handbook by Seth Kramer

7. How to work Trade Shows as a Business by Chuck Stanford.

None of the authors give the entire picture of what it is all about. There is always something left out, usually how to get the bookings in the first place! So you will have to gather a lot of crumbs to get the full meal! That is why you have to get as many books and sources of knowledge as you can. There are actually some DVDs out on the subject too and I may well comment on these at a later date. There may also be other sources apart from the books above but I prefer to comment on stuff that I have actually read. I have read all of the above and I will tell  you what I think about them in future entries on this blog.

As yet there is no book on trade shows by a magician named Mark Lewis! Maybe one day there will be!

Pitching at the Flea Market

I keep pointing out the similarities between a magic pitchman (or indeed a pitchman of any kind) and a trade show magician. That is because there IS a lot of similarities. Still, enough is enough and I will try to make this the last post concerning the matter.

Still many of the approaches are the same. You gather a crowd the same way, you use humour the same way, and of course you work in the same environment at consumer shows with the same booth set ups, the same show regulations etc; and of course the most important similarity is that you sell in the same way, albeit in a less high pressure manner. In fact the selling is more subtle since you are not actually selling a specific product and taking in the money there and then. Your selling job is actually a lot easier than that since all you have to do is incorporate the product features and benefits into the entertainment.

You then have to convince the audience to talk to the sales staff on the booth. And in some cases even pre- qualify them by asking specific questions in a tongue in cheek manner. You make the job of the sales staff easier because you break the ice with the prospects and make them laugh. And of course a laughing potential prospect is an easier one to sell to.

So here is an example of how a pitchman selling magic tricks to the public can make an audience laugh. And the same magic pitchman happens to use exactly the same techniques with an audience consisting of trade show attendees. How do I know he uses them?
Because the pitchman is me!

Here I am working at a flea market. A couple of young ladies got so much fun out of the demonstration that they  asked  if they could film me working and put it on You Tube. I consented and they came in another day because they had a real camera at home and they wanted to use that in preference to recording it on their phone. This is the result. I also do psychic readings and this is what the reference to the palm reading is all about but the main emphasis here is on the magic tricks. Astute business and sales people will see how it can be applied to drawing a crowd and promoting a product or service at a trade show. Anyway here it is. Enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

The Hard Sell-Part Two. How does real life selling really work?

In my last entry I mentioned the book, “The Hard Sell” and I promised to explain how it applies to the work of a trade show magician. Well of course at trade shows the main objective is usually to sell something. I think probably the best way to explain how the book relates to selling and drawing a crowd is simply to reproduce what it says on the back cover.  And here you are:

Pitchers routinely transform a patch of bare ground into a sea of eager purchasers using little more than the gift of the gab and some homespun psychology to determine what is needed to convince their customers to buy. Employing some of the most successful sales techniques in the world, in one of the oldest and most difficult of selling situations, their rhetoric has to equal that employed by the most skillful politician or professional persuader.

Using recorded examples of pitchers attracting a crowd, describing and demonstrating their goods, building bargains, cajoling the unconvinced to make a purchase and coping with problem customers the authors reveal, for the first time, the reason for these traders’ extraordinary success. Comparing their findings with more orthodox selling situations the authors illustrate lessons that have relevance for everyone involved in sales, advertising and marketing.

Original, authoritative and highly readable, this book is an essential tool for anyone who wants to understand how selling really works.

 

 

The Art of the Svengali Pitchman–Part Two

With regard to my last entry here is something else that I came across. Many years ago someone made a little light hearted video of my work as a svengali pitchman that people found amusing.  Not exactly what a Trade Show Magician does but there are some similarities to the approach although you might not see it at first glance!

I suppose the main difference would be the customer relationship management part of it!