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Topic: Positioning - What Do You Do To Separate Yourself From the Pack and Other Competition?
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 10, 2016 10:57AM)
I'm still on the road working and last night was approached my an entertainer who knows of me through my performances, posts on forums and entertainment business knowledge. Although I have no way of really knowing, I suspect he was at one of my performances this past week. I was waiting for some work to be done in my hotel suite so I was sitting in a common area off the hotel lobby/business center when he approached me. After introducing himself and deeming us "peers" as fellow performers (I still dislike that), he posed the question..."I have my website, my promotional materials and my show down pat (when I hear this I am also very suspect), but what I can't figure out is how to make myself different, how to separate myself from the pack and others that I consider competition that are going for the same clients, business and market that I am. How do I separate myself?"

I don't believe he was a beginner, but I also don't think he was a full-time working pro, so he was likely in what is really the majority of working entertainers. He has been around enough to feel the frustration of competition, losing bookings to others and feeling part of the local "pack."

After spending more time that I was hoping for, we had a long discussion about positioning and uniqueness and offerings. He took copious notes, and thanked me a million times. After the desk clerk came to inform me my room was now ready to return to, he thanked me forty more times and we said our 10 minute goodbyes. I'm sure I'll hear about his progress (I gave him my email), so I thought I'd pose the same question here.

What do or have you done to position yourself distinctively or individually? How important do you feel it is to your business?
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Jun 10, 2016 07:50PM)
For me, positioning is everything. Unfortunately, I can't talk about what I do mainly because I don't want others copying me.

However, I do want to add to this discussion.

For anyone who wants to begin this process, I suggest you pick up one of the finest books ever written on the subject - - Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. That book opened my mind about the entire subject matter.

Now if you want a real life example of positioning, let's talk about David Copperfield. Years ago when he was first starting out, he did something very unique for the times. The only pictures of him were just of him. No stage illusions were featured in his promotional materials. His P.R. person at the time just wanted to feature David and his personality. That was it. That's how they wanted to position him so he could stand out in a crowded marketplace that generally featured magicians with tons of props all over the stage.

Gerry
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Jun 11, 2016 04:50AM)
Part 2 :)

For people stuck on how to position themselves, let's spend a few extra minutes talking about Copperfield.

The other unique thing David did when he first started out is that his illusions were presented in little vignettes, oftentime involving love stories. Being a big fan of movies, he added some of these elements into his magic numbers. It was great and he was the only magician doing that, so that help POSITION him as being totally different than his competitors.

Later, David started adding mega illusions into his TV specials. That really gave him a new position in the marketplace. While I was never a big fan of these impossible illusons, it worked wonders for his career. He owned the MEGA-ILLUSION CONCEPT until the copycat illusions (you know who they are) imitated him, which forced David to move into another direction - STORY TELLING.

To me, David was also one of the first (and you have to give him credit for this) to tell these moving stories that involved magic. But magicians, being the creatures that they are, even started copying this as well.

At some point I think David even mentioned how many magicians were basically copying the things he was doing that helped position him in the marketplace.

So what I mentioned above are some good examples how one magician positioned himself in the magic marketplace.

Just like creating a U.S.P., it's hard work to come up with a way to seperate yourself from your competition. However, the rewards are great for those individuals willing to be creative, stick their neck out a bit, and head into a new direction that leaves their competitors in the dust.

Gerry
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 11, 2016 05:30AM)
Thanks Gerry. To be clear, I don't expect anyone to give away exactly what they have done, but rather areas, types of things, considerations, approaches and implementable stratagies.

I never knew that about Copperfield, but thinking back you are right at it makes sense, especially with his good looks. Also that is a great book that I started reading and have to try to find again. Thanks for the reminder.
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Jun 11, 2016 05:54AM)
No problem. Glad to help.

Doug Henning was like that as well. To me, his magic was a young and exciting and he took magic out of the dark ages. All of a sudden, his magic involved brightly painted stage illusions, theatre and colorful backdrop curtains. He was one of the first to have large TV monitors on the sides of the stage so audience members could see his close-up magic. He tossed a frisbee into the audience to randomly select audience volunteers.

All of these elements helped to position him as being different than his competitors.

Many other magicians tried copying him as well.

Gerry
Message: Posted by: charliecheckers (Jun 11, 2016 07:26AM)
After a short while of performing shows for fees, I began to really look at positioning (due to my interactions here). Until then, my goal was to "be like everybody else". Up until that point I was primarily doing stock effects in the traditional manner in an effort to capture a small amount of the opportunities based upon lower pricing.

Reading posts from the experts here made me realize how that business model was very limiting. I had a lot more to offer, if I thought through exactly what my strengths were and how they could be leveraged. What I knew was that I understood what captivates young audiences better than most. I still had fresh in my mind how bored I was with many of the performances I observed as a young child. I worked with my brother to reconstruct our show to deliver more audience centric content aimed at a more specific age range. I sought to create a unique show that utilized running gags that separated and branded my show. All of these elements I continue to evolve with and improve upon.

I believe this is very important for my business model. When people go to see Copperfield they do not tell others they are going to see a magic show, they say they are going to see Copperfield (or David Copperfield). If the kids who see my show me tell their parents they liked the "magic show" or they want the "magician" to come to their party, I have failed to leverage my positioning and branding opportunity.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 11, 2016 10:47AM)
Henning was all about story telling. That was his whole deal. Chung Ling Soo spent his entire life even off stage telling a story of sorts.

I am not saying Copperfield didn't do some of the things but to give him credit for story telling magic seems odd.

Positioning comes to one thing. Control. That is to say self control. I really don't care how you position yourself, if you take work that counters that perception, you can throw away all that work on positioning.

MOST of it comes down to where people see you. If they see you are at Applebee's on family night what is the likelihood that they week think high end corporate work? Do all the positioning in the world and spend thousands and thousands on it and it comes to where they see you. It is this simple.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 11, 2016 11:34AM)
I completely agree. Perception is more important than reality. Right along with Control is Congruency. You would be amazed at how many guys work so hard on their positioning and USP and then do not keep congruent with what they have established. The Applebees-Corporate example is a great one. Being a close up magician and then going on AGT to perform on stage is another. Saying your a mentalist then doing magic is yet another. Not keeping congruent can lose everything you've worked hard to create. This is why your positioning is so important and should really be part of your foundational process as everything else from that point on should be based and congruent with it.

And it does come down to how others see you, not how you see or position yourself. It's how others see and accept your positioning.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 11, 2016 12:53PM)
Others acceptance of your positioning is the only thing that matters.
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Jun 11, 2016 03:21PM)
[quote]On Jun 11, 2016, Dannydoyle wrote:
I am not saying Copperfield didn't do some of the things but to give him credit for story telling magic seems odd.

Positioning comes to one thing. Control. That is to say self control. I really don't care how you position yourself, if you take work that counters that perception, you can throw away all that work on positioning.

MOST of it comes down to where people see you. If they see you are at Applebee's on family night what is the likelihood that they week think high end corporate work? Do all the positioning in the world and spend thousands and thousands on it and it comes to where they see you. It is this simple. [/quote]

I agree, Magicians have been using theater to tell stories long before Copperfield. If we really want to talk about David's positioning we need to thank Rick Marcelli who is really the one responsible for creating the David Copperfield character we know today. Rick is the one who positioned David in the romantic field with imagery and storytelling that as Danny said lends congruence to everything. He is the one that surrounded him with the luxury and models to create the image that separated him from everyone else. The David Copperfield rise to fame hinges on Rick Marcelli.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jun 15, 2016 02:13PM)
Copperfield's story telling as mentioned here, were really theater plays. I think he did at least 3 television specials of this nature. It was very confusing, as, when he produced and introduced his parents and children that were all actors. I really think they should have explained that this was a theater play or playlet, because I thought it was "way out there" from his previous magic shows. Later, he did introduce smaller playlet pieces that with the curtains parting and the music swelling, one could tell this was a complete themed story that involved magic both small and large illusions.
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Jun 16, 2016 03:25AM)
Okay, back to the topic of positioning. . .

Anybody else want to add anything to Mindpro's original questions: "What do or have you done to position yourself distinctively or individually? How important do you feel it is to your business?"

Gerry
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 18, 2016 08:21AM)
Evidently not Gerry, lol. I guess this to me is very telling in three ways.

First, I think more and more guys these days just want to learn secrets and really do not have any intention of performing and certainly not professionally. I'm guessing its the result of the instant access, I want it now, instant gratification, me, me, me generation. Yet they choose to participate in forums such as the Café thinking that somehow makes them part of the performing community. Few seem to want to commit to the process.

Secondly, maybe fewer have the drive and dreams many of us once had. Most I know and talk to discovered entertainment or one of the performing skills and imagined, dreamed and fantasized about doing this for their income or living, "Wouldn't it be great if I could make a living doing this. This would be my dream job/career." I believe the American Dream has changed and I guess perhaps so have their fantasies and dreams.

Thirdly, it always amazes me how members here that are working professionals no longer share or contribute. For generations the way we learned, entered the profession and progressed was though the help of others before us. We looked up to them, valued their insights and offerings and actually looked forward to everything and anything they offered. We couldn't get enough of it. Well now, today some of us are now hose guys, and yet many seem not to want to or be willing to carry the torch. To share and assist others. The best advice and contributions are those based on longtime experience, not theories, beliefs and opinions. So where are these guys in this forum? We know thy are still here because they pop in to plug their latest product for sale, attempt to generate opt-ins for their blog, podcast or freebie, or fish for praise and support of their releases. When it comes to contributing and moving things forward, they are notably absent.

I have nothing against selling products, I have done the same for three decades (only recently here to this community) but I also have continually and consistently participated and contributed in this sense all long.

Is everyone just tired? Is it that there are few newcomers here? Is it a protective thing?

I've always thought and believed this is one of the most helpful, beneficial and directly valuable forums on the Café. So sad.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 18, 2016 09:49AM)
It does get tiresome being corrected by the "I don't work but am entitled to my opinion " crowd.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 18, 2016 09:56AM)
The absolute fact is magicians in general are horrendous at being set apart from the pack. Look how many ask what tricks they should do?

Few want to bother being different it seems. Which is not a bad thing, it is just a thing.

Simply put the huge percentage of magicians are different in price.
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Jun 18, 2016 01:02PM)
One of the challenges with this question is limiting he risk that a local competitor could copy your efforts and then negate this positioning. I will share a couple things that I do not think could be easily duplicated.

I serve two primary markets - kids shows and corporate parties/receptions. About half of my shows I each category.

For kids, I've launched Twin Cities Magic Academy and teach the Discover Magic curriculum in several school districts through their Continuing Ed departments. The Continuing Ed summer camp and after school programs are highly regarded and this provides a bit of a stamp of approval on my kids shows.

For corporate, I emphasize my experience in business and how I understand what it takes for successful entertainment - from the clients perspective. Most (if any) of the
professional magicians in the area do not have the experience I have here, and although they may have more years of experience entertaining in this segment, they can't make the same case that I can regarding understanding acceptable and unacceptable material for a corporate event. I also always perform in a suit and never use any off color material - at any time, even in causal (non-paid) situations.

Hudson
Message: Posted by: lou serrano (Jun 18, 2016 02:36PM)
I think positioning has very little to do with your perceived competition and everything to do with you.

I no longer think of my competition as competition. They do what they do, and I do what I do.

I work in several markets which include social and corporate markets, and depending on the specific market, I position myself differently. In general, I'm positioned as an ideal entertainment solution for high-end clients. To give more detail would take more than a few sentences, but it encompasses my performance, my choice of material, the way I communicate, the way I dress, the way I develop and maintain relationships, the quality of my marketing materials, the way I conduct business, and much, much more.

If one really wants to succeed at a high level in this industry, stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on what you're doing to achieve the goals you've set for yourself. This certainly doesn't mean one shouldn't study the works of other people, but it does mean that each one of us is already a unique individual, and our mission should be to let that uniqueness shine through and share it with those you want to affect.

Lou Serrano
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 18, 2016 02:43PM)
[quote]On Jun 18, 2016, lou serrano wrote:
I think positioning has very little to do with your perceived competition and everything to do with you.

I no longer think of my competition as competition. They do what they do, and I do what I do.

Lou Serrano [/quote]

This is really the heart of it. Perfect.
Message: Posted by: MichaelJae (Jun 18, 2016 06:53PM)
Another way to position yourself infront of your clients is REMEMBER TO SMILE. This alone could be the difference beteween you and your competition.
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Jun 18, 2016 09:02PM)
[quote]On Jun 18, 2016, lou serrano wrote:
I think positioning has very little to do with your perceived competition and everything to do with you.

I no longer think of my competition as competition. They do what they do, and I do what I do.

I work in several markets which include social and corporate markets, and depending on the specific market, I position myself differently. In general, I'm positioned as an ideal entertainment solution for high-end clients. To give more detail would take more than a few sentences, but it encompasses my performance, my choice of material, the way I communicate, the way I dress, the way I develop and maintain relationships, the quality of my marketing materials, the way I conduct business, and much, much more.

If one really wants to succeed at a high level in this industry, stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on what you're doing to achieve the goals you've set for yourself. This certainly doesn't mean one shouldn't study the works of other people, but it does mean that each one of us is already a unique individual, and our mission should be to let that uniqueness shine through and share it with those you want to affect.

Lou Serrano [/quote]

I agree you should not obsess over what your competitors are doing, but your positioning is relative to their positioning.

A client looking for entertainment has many options and, if they consider multiple options, will evaluate how these option meet their need.

Understanding your completion and their positioning is one factor you should consider in the market

Hudson.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 18, 2016 09:10PM)
I never even think about it.
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Jun 18, 2016 09:27PM)
Danny,

You may not think about it, but it's still there. Perhaps not important at this point for you, but for me, just three years on full-time, staking out a position in the market is important.

There are several accomplished magicians in the Twin Ciites. If I were to positing myself (at this point I have the option of positioning myself where ever I want - provided I can deliver) directly on top of the positioning of other magicians, then I compete with them directly for business. However, if I find an unoccupied space, and position myself there, I attract clients to whom they positioning is important with little competition.

Hudson
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 18, 2016 09:44PM)
What if another was in the "position" you want?

Letting others decide my fate is not how I operate.

It is only there if you let it be.
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Jun 18, 2016 10:20PM)
If someone else is in the position I want to occupy, then I need to make a decision. Either compete head-to-head and deliver better against that market need or forgo that positioning and compete elsewhere/in another manner.

Knowing may help and certainly doesn't hurt. Again, I don't obsess over this, but it is a consideration.

Hudson
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 18, 2016 10:29PM)
That is why I never bother.
Message: Posted by: Tim Zager (Jun 19, 2016 07:16PM)
The danger in spending too much time worrying about competition, is you begin to focus less on what your *clients* actually want.

Love the way Danny said..."Letting others decide my fate is not how I operate."

My personal goal is not to *sell* my service. My goal is to determine if the prospect's problem is a good fit for my solution. My service/solution is NOT the right fit for everyone. That's why it's generally a waste of my time to worry what the other guys offer.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 19, 2016 07:31PM)
Everyone that buys me is buying exactly that. Me. Not a magician, not a hypnotiist but me plain and simple.

NOBODY can be me but me. I have no competition in that area. It is about relationships and so many other things than my competition.

I am not saying I am better than anyone at anything, with the exception of being me. Nobody does that better.

This is too easy a trap to fall into. Do what you do well and the rest sorts itself out.
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Jun 20, 2016 01:41AM)
I think there might be an intrinsic difference in approach in some markets where you are at the top of the food chain with little real competition and other saturated markets like Los Angeles which has hundreds of top tier acts all going for the same jobs. If you have a steady market to yourself it is very easy to ignore everyone else and do your own thing. I do see a very different model when there is so much competition and you do have to know the others in the field in order to form a unique angle to promote yourself.

I do agree that I want people to by me. Not the specific effects I do or any other details. They are buying the chance to have me on the stage and bring my personality to the show. Unfortunately in Los Angeles, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of acts trying to sell the same thing. It's as ludicrous as driving in to Las Vegas and seeing every billboard for every show touting that it's "Voted the #1 Show in Las Vegas!" The easy answer is to move where there is less work and less competition. Some just aren't satisfied with that. That is a decision each artist must make for themselves but it's important to understand the distinction of competing in Los Angeles and competing in Kansas City.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 20, 2016 12:53PM)
The fact is that there is competition no matter where you are. Sports, movies, Internet, TV and literally anything else one can do for entertainment are your competition.

Yes there are many more trying to find work in LA, but there are proportionally more looking for entertainment in the first place so it is sort of a wash.

Grass is always greener sort of thing.

I don't think that there is much difference in trying to compete. In Chicago you can concentrate more on long term marketing than in Vegas where it is more intercept marketing yes. But aside from the difference in the tourist towns size of market is not as relevant.

No matter the size of the market being you is still the one thing nobody can compete with. Once that is what they are buying then it is much easier to find work. It sort of finds you.
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Jun 20, 2016 03:00PM)
Yes, competition is not always who you think it is. Even if you are the only magician in town, magic can easily be replaced by some other
type entertainment. Or they can skip entertainment, as we know it, and go with a unique speaker or maybe a harmonica player.

Tom
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Jun 20, 2016 06:10PM)
When I was in business school, one of the simplest analyses we did was the three C's: Customer, Company, Competitor.

Of course for most magicians, Company is yourself.

Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, the customer market segments you are focused on, and your competitors all provide insight into how you should go to market.

A very simple example would be if, as a professional magician, you moved from New York City to Omaha. You haven't changed, but how you go to market had better! Your pricing will be different, perhaps the segments you go after will be different (e.g., in NYC you were doing 4 birthday parties every Sat & Sun, but in Omaha there isn't enough demand for that much work), and even the tricks you perform may be different (an established magician in town may be well known for a certain trick, so you drop it from your act). All of these changes are due to the customer and competitors, not to your own strengths and weaknesses.

If you are well established, and at the top of the food chain in your market, then you may not have to worry about the completion or the customer. You may get enough business without worrying about these types of strategic questions. But for me, thinking about these issues (wholistic, not obsessive) does help me position myself to grow my business faster than I might otherwise.

Every situation is different, but at least understanding the environment helps to support business decisions.

Hudson
PS As an old business guy, I enjoy the business side quite a bit. So thinking about market segmentation, my strengths and weaknesses visa-a-vis competitors, and other business issues is actually fun - so I may spend more time here that is necessary
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 21, 2016 10:43PM)
Interesting Hudson, do you also subscribe to Gig Masters and Gig Salad?
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Jun 22, 2016 08:31AM)
Decomposed - yes, I am on Gig Masters and Gig Salad. About 50% of my gigs come through those two sources, although that is declining as I build my reputation.

I transitioned from business to full-time magic in 2013. 2013 &14 were building the business period. 2015 Started generating gigs in volume. So far (June) I've completed 80%of the gigs I did last years and have generated higher revenue than last year. Also it advertising expense by more than 50%

More gigs, higher price per gig, and lower advertising as I've figured out where best to spend those dollars.

Very happy with my progress.

Hudson
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Jun 22, 2016 10:14PM)
[quote]On Jun 20, 2016, Dannydoyle wrote:
Yes there are many more trying to find work in LA, but there are proportionally more looking for entertainment in the first place so it is sort of a wash. [/quote]

You have correctly noted the real issue which is the Qualified Performers to Jobs Ratio. I will say that in LA, it isn't quite as even as people might suspect with hundreds of people all competing for the same job (at least in Magic... in acting, it's into the thousands). It is what we call a saturated market. I get calls constantly from people wanting to come to Los Angeles to perform. My basic answer is that if you're getting any work at all where you are, stay there. Yes, there are a handful of jobs and they go to the same 5 people that everyone knows and trusts. The hundreds of others are all scrambling for the crumbs. Some of them have wonderful marketing and egos the size of the Eiffel Tower but if enough jobs don't exist, it doesn't matter. This happened in Las Vegas years ago during that magic boom. There were magic shows in every hotel and magicians from around the country started all moving there in hopes of easy work. It caused the balloon to burst and prices started dropping as people that had committed to the move started working for less and less to stay competitive and get any work.

Years ago I stated that one's worth to the open market is inversely proportionate to how many other qualified people can fill that role. I know that some people are better and more talented... I get it. This is just a basic rule. If I'm hiring at McDonalds, I know that with an hour of training I can probably get most average people to take an order. It's just not worth as much. On the

In addition to marketing, it is essential to look at alternative entry points into the market. Sadly, many acts are doing every free showcase and open mike just hoping that anyone will see them and make them a star. I came here in '77 with enough money to last a month on my own and I'm still here after touring the world with my own show so yes, it is possible but it took a lot of lateral thinking to accomplish and the normal marketing rules (although still valuable) were just a basic start in cracking the code on Los Angeles.
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Jun 23, 2016 03:30AM)
Ray,

You are a very wise man.

Gerry