Suitable Tricks for Parties and Weddings

The following are tricks that would be suitable for weddings and parties. They are entertaining, visual, display your magical skills, have involvement from the spectators, take little pocket space and also easy to follow by younger guests.

They have been included for the presentation itself, not for the trick itself. When introducing material to your repertoire it is important that you think about the performance side. How you perform a trick is more important than the trick itself.

Make sure that tricks fit your style, and think if you can introduce ways of subtly promoting you services to the audience to trigger them to think of booking you for their own events.

Once you have established your brand and performing style you’ll likely save a lot of money and magic conventions and you’ll be filtering out the tricks that won’t fit your criteria.

Make sure you also read the Magic Theory and Presentation Section in this course.

Website Design for Party Magicians

The design of your website will be influenced by the branding we have already discussed earlier in the section, as well incorporating many elements that will be discussed in greater detail in the Section dedicated to Marketing. This Lesson is focusing on those areas of website design that are geared towards promoting your services for close-up magic to private clients, as opposed to enticing corporate bookers (which is covered in the next Section of this course).

As you may remember from the website chapter in the Children’s Magic Section; your website is your store front, where a visitor will progress from someone browsing to making a serious enquiry, and hopefully even making the decision to book you.

Your marketing and advertising brings people to your shop. Once inside they will browse around to see if you provide the products/services they require, whether you look like you are to the quality they desire, and if it’s going to be in the price range they are expecting to pay.

And like a physical shop, if you cannot immediately demonstrate that you are able to fulfil their needs and requirements they will leave and look elsewhere. However, whereas in a physical shop the customer may look around or ask a shop assistant before going elsewhere, on your website it is quicker for the person to hit the Back button in their browser and go to the next magician on the search result or directory.

Offering close-up magic to private individuals and corporations will require similar styles of branding (we’ll be looking at the difference in the Corporate Magic Section) and therefore can be done on the same website, at least initially assuming you aren’t specialising in a certain area).

If you perform children’s shows it is vitally important you have a separate website as the two main products (close-up magic for adults and magic shows for children) are completely different with little common ground between the two.

A website promoting children’s magic and adult’s magic will confuse potential clients, even if each part is clearly branded. As soon as your need to justify your design by using a phrase such as “the client just needs to click here” or “it should be obvious that…” then see this as a signal that your website is giving mixed messages. A potential customer is more likely to hit the Back button and search elsewhere rather than spend more time researching and risk booking the wrong style of entertainer for their event.

People prefer to book an expert or specialist – even if that is a perception. (Although your local family doctor studied surgery at med-school, you’d want an operation to be performed by a specialist!)

Not only this, but every click a client must make to get to the information they require will result in more people dropping off and looking elsewhere.

You could lose half your potential customers straight away if the page they land on doesn’t make it clear that you offer the service they want, and it is estimated that this can drop by 50% for every additional click a person must make to get to their desired destination on a website.

Repeat Bookings and Recommendations for Weddings and Parties

One of the secrets of getting repeat bookings, referrals and recommendations simply comes down to telling people that you can be booked to entertain at their event.

Although this sounds simple in theory, remember that where you are you’ve been booked to entertain – not promote yourself. However, if you do a good job in entertaining the booker won’t mind if you are subtle about your self-promotion, they may even feel relieved they booked a good magician if their guests are wanting to book you for their own upcoming events.

This subject is covered again in the Marketing Section, and so there will be some duplication. However, as many established magicians claim that repeat bookings, referrals and recommendations make up the bulk of their new business it’s probably worth repeating.

Restaurant Residencies

Whereas a wedding fair puts you directly in front of brides and grooms looking for ideas for their upcoming wedding (and therefore giving you the opportunity to explain the problem you are the solution to), it’s harder to do this for general private bookers.

Because entertaining at private parties can encompass birthdays (from 18th to 80th), anniversaries, engagement, Christmas gatherings and all manner of events; it’s impossible to find a way to directly market to the organisers of these events, as almost anyone could fall into any of these categories.

How can you get in front of a large cross-section of people and use it as a platform to give short demonstrations of what you do?

And instead of paying to attend, could you get paid?

The answer may be taking a residency at a restaurant.

Wedding Fairs

Much of my new business comes from wedding fairs, and I do a lot of them; and for a few years I worked out I was averaging eighteen weddings fairs per year. That’s a lot of time and money invested, but I wouldn’t do that if that investment didn’t give a suitable return.

Exhibiting at wedding fairs has been a major factor in generating business for me since I turned professional. Many magicians rely on Google (either paid or SEO), social media and various other forms of advertising to generate their new business, and although this does bring enquiries in for me I find that wedding fairs are a good way to get directly in front of potential bookers for a face-to-face discussion.

I have also tried advertising in wedding directories, both online and printed, as well as wedding magazines. Again, this avenue did produce results, though not a big enough return on investment to make it worthwhile.

The difference with advertising to brides in any of the aforementioned formats as opposed to exhibiting to them at wedding fair is the chance to give a demonstration and immediately open a dialogue. With passive advertising you have no control over the person viewing the advert, the ball is solely in their court and it’s up to them to notice the advert, be interested in what you have to say and take the decision to find out more by picking up the phone or sending an email. Add a website link to that and you are adding another layer for the prospect to go through, and giving an opportunity for them to hit the ‘Back’ button on their browser.

Face to face gives you control from the moment you make eye contact at the wedding fair. You control what you say, what trick they see, what sales pitch you give them, how it’s tailored to their needs, and how you go about moving the conversation forward and into a confirmed booking.

Fundamentally you have the opportunity not to sell them your magic, but sell them the problem of bored guests that need an ice-breaker, and the solution you offer.

I’ll repeat that, you have the opportunity to sell them the problem you solve. Once they’ve bought that you can get on and sell yourself: the solution.

Marketing for Private Events and Parties

There is a whole section of this course is dedicated to marketing and sales but here we’ll look at elements that are specific for promoting your magic to private bookers. Once you have worked your way through the whole course (and the Marketing section in in particular) come back to this section again, this will give you the full picture and ensure you have the complete knowledge to create a marketing campaign that generates quality leads and bookings.

Before diving in ensure you have worked through creating your business plan in the first section, as this will also include setting your marketing budget. And before spending a single penny on marketing work through the rest of this section to establish your branding for close-up magic. Combining all this with what you’ll learn about marketing will give you the maximum chances to get bookings in your diary.

In the last Section on children’s magic we compared many of the differences between wedding bookings and children’s shows on a purely business level, and one of the major differences was lead time – essentially the time between getting the initial enquiry and fulfilling the contract and getting paid. This is important as it takes longer until you do the booking and therefore you need to plan your cash-flow efficiently, it also means that you need to make the most of all opportunities you have to get referrals and recommendations from those bookings.

Ask any almost any magician who has been professional for over five years where they get their business from and most will say from referrals and recommendations. A professional with over 10 years experience will probably spend very little on advertising and promotion.

The question that those magicians newly coming into the marketplace will ask is how and where do those first bookings come from in order to get the referrals and recommendation? There is no single answer to this question, but I can say that it doesn’t come from doing free (or heavily discounted) bookings for charities or friends’ functions.

Although doing one or two of these type of events may be a way to initially build confidence and trial your repertoire in a less stressful situation; using these as a platform to promote yourself for more bookings is flawed because you are immediately undervaluing yourself.

Creating Packages to Fit Your Clients’ Needs

It’s fair to say that the majority of bookings for private parties and weddings will last 2 hours, in fact I would estimate that at least 80% of the events I entertain at are for this length. So much so that I considered making this the only standard package I would offer (and some magicians do just that).

Even though two hours is the most popular length for booking a magician for (we’ll look into why in moment), not all clients require this length. Occasionally their time is limited to 1.5 hours, and if a client has to pay you for 2 hours they are likely to shop around for someone who can offer the shorter package. Likewise, some events can have over 100 guests and if the event starts early in the day there can be a period of 3 hours to fill in the afternoon.

Although most will choose the 2 hours package (and you can use clever pricing strategies to guide the clients to this package by making it the best value) they will appreciate the fact they are given the option to pick an alternative package.

Setting package options also ensures you define start and end times. Though you should allow flexibility to start early and finish late, it does assist with your planning – especially if you have two or more events in a day and need to allow for travel. Saying you will be there for the “afternoon” or the “evening” can be a little too subjective, and some clients will try and squeeze every possible minute out of you.

On that note it is wise to ensure your packages define a single period. On more than one occasion I’ve had clients say they want to book my two hour package, then request the first between 4 and 5pm, then the second hour between 7 and 8pm, allowing the guests time to eat. Of course this takes 4 hours – but some bookers see this as just two because that’s how long you’ll be performing for!

Naturally if there is a 10 minute break for a speech then make this up in the flexibility you have allowed for – just be clear when explaining your packages so you aren’t taken for a ride.

There are a couple of reasons why two hours is the most popular time for events:

  • Most parties and weddings will have 60-80 guests. Two hours gives enough time to get round to everyone at least once, ensuring no one misses out,
  • With 60-80 guests you can perform an hour or mix & mingle followed by an hour round the tables. (Tight, but perfectly doable),
  • Unless it’s a small group less than two hours doesn’t give enough time to really make an impact on guests,
  • Over two hours can get a little boring for those guests who only want to see a couple of tricks,
  • If there is an afternoon wedding ceremony the afternoon reception normally takes place between 2pm and 4pm, during this period the bride and groom will depart for photograph,
  • Meals and speeches often finish at 6pm, and evening entertainment doesn’t start until 8pm with the first dance. There is nothing else for guests to do in this period.

Unless you have the time available, it’s local (hence low travel costs and time taken), and it is relatively last minute (so you are unlikely to get another enquiry for that time) it is generally not worth offering a one hour package. If you do then you’ll find you either disappoint the client by not making a suitable impact, or voluntarily staying longer. In that case you should have offered them a longer package.

Also, remember you need to take into account travel time. You may wish to add on extra if you have to travel far. And generally, the further you must travel the more additional time you will want to allow for unforeseen delays and traffic congestion. That’s not to say you should charge extra for it, but you do need to take it into account.

Is travelling for three hours, doing a three hour booking and travelling three hours home again worth it; when you could travel an hour, do a two hour booking, travel an hour to another two hour booking and travel an hour home? You’re out the house for nine hours for the first one, and out for just seven hours for the second option. Not just that, but you’ll have earned more income doing two bookings, incurred less travel expenses and exposed yourself to twice as many people who may want to book you for their event!

Taking all this into account I recommend offering three packages; 1.5 hours, 2 hours and 3 hours. You may wish to call them Bronze, Silver and Gold, or something else to differentiate them.

Creating Your Brand as a Close Up Magician

You hopefully read the similarly titled chapter in the last section regarding children’s entertainment. You are probably now thinking that though having a “character” is important for children’s shows, and perhaps even for cabaret, a close-up magician doesn’t have a character.

Unfortunately many close-up magicians fall foul of this, and therefore their presentations, look and style is bland and forgettable. Though they may present magic that is entertaining, they as a person don’t create the lasting memory in the spectator’s mind.

As I write this a great example of why your character is so important was aptly illustrated just yesterday. I needed to book blood test at my local doctor’s surgery and the receptionist looked at me quizzically. When she asked what name the appointment needed to be booked under she exclaimed, “You’re the magician?! I knew I recognised you!”

She was a guest at a wedding a wedding over FOUR years previously. Not only did she remember me and my name (though wanted to check my name to be sure it was me), she could remember some of the tricks I had performed and told me how the guests were still talking about it not just after I left, but also at other family events since then.

If I as a person (or my ‘character’) hadn’t had been so memorable it’s unlikely she would have remembered me, just the tricks.

Of course there is a big difference between having character and being a character. Unless you deliberately plan on having a specific style or alter-ego the character you portray will be an extension of yourself and qualities you already possess.

What makes your character, and how people view it, include:

  • How your client perceives you before booking (from your website, promotional material, email/phone conversations and how your business is administrated),
  • How the guests at the event perceive you,
  • How professional they perceive you to be,
  • The style of magic your perform,
  • The types of props you use,
  • What you wear,
  • Your name, and how you introduce yourself,
  • What colours and fonts you use on your marketing.

Close Up Magic at Private Events – Introduction

In this section we are going to focusing primarily on performing close-up magic at private events. Much of what you perform at these events would also be similar to performing close-up at a corporate function; but as the method of getting the business can be different we’ll cover corporate events (including performing cabaret) in more depth in the next Section.

That said there is cross-over between the two categories, and being a successful corporate magician will build on skills and techniques honed at smaller private event.

Private events are cover a large range of functions, including:

  • Weddings
  • Anniversary celebrations
  • Engagement parties
  • Birthdays (not child, but often 18th, 21st and significant decade milestones on-wards)
  • 1st birthday celebration (a family celebration common in Asian cultures – it’s not a typical children’s party!)
  • Bar- and Bat-Mitzvahs
  • Religious festivals such as Christmas parties (not a work function) or celebration of Eid
  • Any other event that brings friends and families together to celebrate something

Though not strictly booked by a private individual, you can also include such groups and events as:

  • Masonic ladies nights
  • Rotary Club dinners
  • Woman’s Institute and ladies groups
  • Local club and association social events
  • Golf club member’s nights
  • Local charity and fund raising events

I don’t strictly classify these “corporate” as they are often private events organised by an individual within the organisation. However, these also have a lot in common with corporate events and more likely require a cabaret so ensure you look at the follow Section.