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Topic: Final exam
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 13, 2008 03:09PM)
A few posts ago, Don Driver paid me a nice compliment by saying that in his opinion, I had finally become a pitchman. While it was great to know that in Don's opinion, I had "graduated," I got my final exam this past weekend -- from the paying customers.

I had booked a fairly pricey street festival in a new venue about 35 miles away, just on a hunch and a gamble. The weather cooperated, although it was a bit windy at times -- good thing I had the tent legs secured with cinder blocks! The people came out in droves, and this time, they brought their wallets!! I would guess that about 3-4 thousand people showed up, and there were about 100 vendors and food concessionaires.

I arrived at 7:30 a.m., unloaded the car and had my tent, banner, pennants and pitch table up by 9 o'clock. Then I basically pitched stright through until 5 p.m., when I broke it all back down. I went through 10 dozen magic worms, about 5 dozen Svengali Decks, and dozens of Money Makers and Money Paddles. People were basically throwing money at me, and I was also making multiple sales. When the kids couldn't decide between the worm and the deck, the parents often said, "OK, we'll take both!" I also got tons of compliments on the pitch itself, people said it was very mystifying and also very entertaining.

I had the very last spot on the street, and there was a policeman next to my booth, keeping cars out and so on. My portable battery-operated wireless PA unit was doing a great job of reinforcing the sound, and I was able to be heard and command attention without shouting and straining my voice -- or bothering other vendors. I was drawing such good crowds that they were backing up, blocking the street, and preventing people from walking by (which only increased the crowd at the booth even more!) At the cop's request, I kept asking people to move in a little closer, but finally even he acknowledged that it was a losing battle, so he gave up and just did the best he could to help with crowd control. I gave him a complimentary Svengali Deck after the show -- he told me he watched me all day and still had no idea how the darn deck worked.

One woman wanted a refund on her worm -- she said she wasn't impressed with the secret, it seemed too simple. [Of course, she WAS impressed when I demoed it, otherwise she wouldn't have bought it! And as we all know, the secrets of most great magic tricks are also quite simple -- it's performing them well that's hard.] But rather than argue with her, which would have been pointless, I asked if there was anything else she was interested in. She exchanged the worm for a Money Paddle that I demoed, and them I demoed and sold her a Svengali Deck, too. I was on a roll!

So I had one heck of day, and did the best I've ever done. But I must say that I could not have done it without the help of many folks on this board who have been very generous with tips and information, and in particular, Don Driver. Around 1 p.m. I did take five minutes to run to the Porta-Potty, all the way on the other side of the festival, which spanned two very long city blocks. And on the way back, I noticed that my banner and pennants could be seen clear across the field -- thanks again, Bill Beach! And I don't think I could have handled a day like that without lots of practice first at fleas, small bazaars and street fairs.

I post this not to pat myself on the back, but to point out that pitching is hard work -- probably just as hard as trade show work -- and that it takes time and experience to do it well. But when everything works out, boy, does it feel good.

This was my final outdoor show of the year; from here on it's indoor Xmas bazaars, fleas and craft shows. But what a way to end a season! SETH
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 13, 2008 03:59PM)

(enough said)

Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 13, 2008 05:27PM)
So buy Don's "Svengali Pitch" DVD, folks -- and also keep your eyes and ears open (enough said). SETH
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 13, 2008 05:54PM)
P.S. The booth next to me was selling cigars, humidors, lighters, ash trays and so on. The couple that ran it were very nice -- but they were SITTING in their little canvas beach chairs waiting for business to come to them. And because they were SITTING DOWN, they waited and waited, and then waited some more.

Granted, they were selling a very specialized product, especially in today's anti-tobacco society. But they certainly should have attracted at least some curious browsers out of the thousands of people who passed by that day. But every time I glanced over to their booth, it was empty. So DON'T sit down, unless you plan to go to sleep!

I also found the street at this particular street festival was very sloped from the centerline to the curb, to help with water runoff. Fortunately, I had a bunch of small wooden blocks that I always carry to level off the table if the ground is uneven. I used these on both of the rear table legs to level the table. And I put the rear tent legs on the curb instead of the street, which helped to make the tent itself level. Other tents that were just pitched on the street ended up tilting backwards and looking odd. Now I'm also going to carry a couple of bricks with me, which will help to level things quickly if necessary. Always something else to learn! SETH
Message: Posted by: Cholly, by golly! (Oct 13, 2008 11:13PM)
SITTING DOWN turns people off.

I don't care if you're selling cigars, pitching Svengalis, or simply having a garage sale.

You have to be on your feet, moving, talking, SELLING.

What you invest in sweat will be rewarded with $$$.
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 13, 2008 11:29PM)
Can you imagine walking onto a used car lot and having to go inside to find a salesman sitting down.
You go within 100 feet of a used car and a salesman in on you like a fly on s...

Well you get my point.

Message: Posted by: Bill Beach (Oct 14, 2008 10:01PM)
Hey Seth, way to go, passed your final exam with flying colors (or should I say flying pennants!) Glad those pennants and banners are working out for you, but that is just a very small contribution on my part compared with all the knowledge and experience people like Don and yourself have shared with your valuable posts.

My pitching is over for the season, cut short due to the fact that my wife and I are moving due to a job change. But I have done just enough to experience some success, and can't wait to get started again in the spring in some new and different locations.
Message: Posted by: Rod Pringle (Oct 15, 2008 04:39PM)

CONGRATULATIONS ! on passing that final exam! That is a great accomplishment, and ALOT of hard work!

Youve got the right recipe for success! I wish you all the best !!!!!

Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 15, 2008 07:25PM)
Thanks, Rod, for the kind words.

Now I'm cramming for the next exam -- where I sell a gross of the little devils in one afternoon! :) SETH
Message: Posted by: Rod Pringle (Oct 15, 2008 08:10PM)
Hey Seth!

YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!

Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 15, 2008 08:36PM)

Get a sopt here for a week end and you might sell several gross of the "little devils" in one afternoon.


(little devils for little devils)

Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 16, 2008 01:55PM)
No question that kids are by far the best customers for Magic Worms. But there are also the "stealth" customers -- the grandparents that are buying for the grandkids, the Dad who wants to find out how it's done even if his own kid could care less, the woman who wants three worms for her clown act, etc.

I have been very surprised at some of the sales I've made, to people that I least expected to be interested. So I don't make any assumptions about anybody anymore, I just pitch to everyone!

Still and all, Boys Town does sound like a great location, Don! SETH