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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » A shows value...how do you know? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Habu
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Texas / Alabama
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I am getting back into the business after a 20 or so year hiatus.

I lived in southern Texas far from any large city. My rate was $75 for a children's party, and 25% of ticket sales for a school fund raiser.

Is there a standard pricing strategy in use by most magicians now-a-days? So much for so many minuets of "parlor magic", so much for a grand illusion, a charge for any silks or "gifts" for the birthday child...etc? How do you decide what is a good price or a good value without overcharging your clients or undercutting your peers? I want to be competetive and fair.

I know there is a wide gap in skill, performance, reputation so "prices may vary", but if it's not too much to ask I'd like to know a ball park to begin with.

FYI: I am in a rural area 1 to 1 1/2 hours from major cities, so I do not have an affluent clientèle to target...just ordinary folk wanting something nice for their kids.
www.magicbyhabu.com
Real name: Rick Jackson
Habu: Taken from SR-71 spy plane I worked on. It's name came from a poisonous snake on Okinawa. Hope my magic isn't poisonous!
joshlondon17
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San Diego, CA
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There is no formula for prices, it's really whatever you feel like charging. Luckily my market is not San Diego (where I live) it's nationwide. I very rarely get booked in San Diego, so I can charge what I feel comfortable charging.

Joel Bauer once told me, "You need to charge by the years it took for you to develop a stage persona, not by the minutes you're on stage." He also said to charge by the event, not the show. In other words, if it's a hige corporate event and they have a multi-million dollar budget, don't charge your normal $500 for a show you'd do in someones living room.

Get up there and make them sit up and say, "wow, this guy doesn't joke around! He's for real." I think that a lot of magicians are too scared to charge what they really think their worth. If you aren't charging high fees, then your marketing is not working.

If you're marketing is in line when someone calls for a price and says, "Gosh that's a lot of money!" You can say, "Well it took me 10 years to learn/develop and perfect my show. If you go with another entertainer that is cheaper good luck! You'll just get a cheap performance and your whole party will suffer."

I've said that to a number of clients (corporate and private) and 90% of them booked me. It all in the attitude! How much do they need you to make their event spectacular?
johnobryant
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Texas
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I live in Southern Texas and the main market in my city has to be birthday parties. Although, I prefer performing for adults, I do birthday parties, and send mail outs to other organizations so I can get booked for the adult audiences.

The rate down here for my city is no less than $150 for a birthday magic show. Lately, I have booking mine for no less than $165 because I have gotten such good reactions from clients in the past, as well as tips that make my average earnings of a bday show close to $165. So I thought it was a good price, and then I up sale them with other options.

For other events down here in Texas, it is basically a reflection of your show. It also depends on what company or organization is hiring you. It is always good to have a set price on paper though. Another strategy that I have learned is to ask them what their budget is, and then offer them something that they can get with that price.

Once I booked a show with this lady for $160ish for a bday party at a community center. She then called me the night before (when I usually pack my show up for bdays) and cancelled. She said she found a clown that will do a whole hour for just $65. The clown had nothing to offer but a low price. I had a great show, that was worth the price, and I did prove it to her because I did book her. But "You get what you pay for, stick to your prices"

-john
rossmacrae
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First, consider what type of magic business you want to be in. Do you want an income, or do you weant to do a few shows so you get out of your wife's way on the weekend? The world's big enough for both, but far too small for even one magician who's one type but thinks he's the other.

If you want to go about this in a businesslike manner, here's my suggestion: research your market. You can only charge what people will pay. And you can only find out what people will pay if you find out what people are paying. Find out what your competitors are getting for comparable services. Find those who are selling shows like yours (so you’re not comparing apples to oranges), find out how much they have been successful at selling it for, and find out how good they are at selling it, what are the strengths and weaknesses in the way they sell.

Many magicians are horrified at the idea of doing something sneaky like calling the other magicians who are advertising their services, pretending to be a customer, and finding out what they charge and how well they present themselves. But remember, businesses of all sorts shop the competition regularly and thoroughly, they find it essential. Your local grocery store shops every competing chain every week to make comparisons, and they don’t go up to the manager’s office and ask if it’s OK. Professional sports teams carefully review videos of their opponents to learn the other team's strengths and weaknesses and put that knowledge to use as they make their game plan.

Write down your plan before you start: Pick a fictional name for yourself, a fictional birthday child’s name and age, a fictional show date, an approximate location in your area - then go down the listings in the yellow pages, call all of them, ask what they can offer for a show with the details you have written down, and see what they have to say for themselves. Actual Call See how they get the show information from you, how effectively they present themselves, what their prices are, what they have to choose from and what they include for the price.

Setting your price within the range you have researched should not be too hard. As an experienced performer I feel confident charging the top amount that the bulk of the entertainers in my area charge. A beginner may want to charge less and work the lower end of the spectrum for a while. You’ll have some dues to pay while polishing your act, but undercutting everybody to get work usually gives you bottom of the barrel clients. Don’t be tempted to compete on low price. Every price, even the lowest, will drive someone away. Zoo animals get fed peanuts - if you get paid peanuts, you’re going to get clients who treat you like a zoo animal. If you have a very low price, you’ll drive away callers who want the best deal for a performer they feel confident will provide professional quality. Every now and then I get a call, “the magician I hired canceled, can you come?” and I tell her what I charge and she says “Well, this guy only charged $75 for a one-hour show,” and I tell her “OK, I’ll charge you $75 and I won’t show up either.”
ThePartyMagician
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Or you could always try the up-front and honest approach, by phoning the local magicians, explaining who you are, what you do and that you want to ensure that you are not undercutting them massively, and then ASKING them what they charge.

No need to pretend to be somebody you're not, just plain and simple ASK them!

Best
Mike
Habu
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Thanks for the replies, it helps...

I am wondering if using an "introductory" price is a good idea. There isn't another magician within 60 miles of my location in any direction, at least that I can find advertised. So I don't know if these people ever had any magical entertainment to draw on as a basis for hiring a magician. I'm thinking of advertising locally in some inexpensive way without a price, and saying I have an introductory price for a limited time to get some idea of how much people are willing to pay, and work up the price over time from there to what will become my standard fee.

I will also begin to expand into the bigger cities and neighboring states once my routine is tested in the local areas.

Has anyone tried doing introductory offers? If so did it help or did it cause unexpected problems?
www.magicbyhabu.com
Real name: Rick Jackson
Habu: Taken from SR-71 spy plane I worked on. It's name came from a poisonous snake on Okinawa. Hope my magic isn't poisonous!
rossmacrae
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Arlington, Virginia
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Quote:
Or you could always try the up-front and honest approach, by phoning the local magicians, explaining who you are, what you do and that you want to ensure that you are not undercutting them massively, and then ASKING them what they charge.

No need to pretend to be somebody you're not, just plain and simple ASK them!

"Okay, pal ... I get $1000 for a half-hour show ... you should charge that at least."

"None of your business."

"Oh, you're not good enough to charge, not for years and years."

Friend, if they're dumb enough to tell you, they're duffers not businessmen. If you're dumb enough to believe them, you're a duffer too. Nothing wrong with being a duffer, if we didn't have 'em then who would keep the bar open Thursday night when the IBM meets? Ask if you want, but be careful who you're getting your answers from.

If you're out to make enough to support your magic habit, then of course your fellow magicians are your valued colleagues in the art. If you're trying to put food on the table, and send your kids to college, and you're not prepared to cut your competition's heart out and eat it, you're headed for failure. The first time you stay awake at night wondering how you'll pay the mortgage, you'll see the issue very differently, I predict.

If this seems harsh, I'm sorry - but are you in the business arena to do business, or are you just playing around?

----------------------------

Quote:
I will also begin to expand into the bigger cities and neighboring states once my routine is tested in the local areas.

Didn't you say you were 90 minutes away from anywhere big? What size show do you offer, for what clients? To travel that far to do a show, you'd have to be pulling some big bucks ... how you gonna get big-buck shows in "advertising locally in some inexpensive way without a price"?

I don't think there's anything wrong with an introductory offer. I had good luck phrasing it as "my price for a show is XXX, but I have a special price in Noivember and I could offer it to you for just (XXX - 25%)."
ThePartyMagician
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Sorry Ross but I've got to disagree with you here.

If another magician phones me up to ask me prices, I tell them (heck they're online anyway.)

I'm not worried in the slightest about them knowing what I charge - I know that they won't have the guts to charge what I do (I know this for a fact because they have told me.)

I can't agree with what is lying to somebody to find out what they're charging.

Of course you could always get a friend who actually IS organising a party to phone around and find out prices.

Agree, disagree, no problem. Each to their own - whatever works for you.
Best regards
Mike
James Munton
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Quote:
if they're dumb enough to tell you, they're duffers not businessmen.


Ross,

I disagree. Lying to people might be your preferred way of doing business, but it is short-sighted.

Other magicians are one of the most valuable resources you can have. Far better to cultivate friendships with these people.

I get magicians pretending to be parents from time to time. I can always tell. I give them my regular fees and off they go.

I've also had magicians take the more upfront approach. We usually end up having a good conversation and sometimes I may even throw them a show or two.

I myself did the same thing recently. I've just started marketing my school shows in a new state. One of the first things I did was to find out who the local magicians were and introduced myself. Guess what, I now have a couple of new friends!

I think you have a rather cynical view on the world. We magicians are generally a nicer bunch than you think.

Best,
James

Posted: Jan 31, 2007 1:32pm
Habu,

An introductory price might work.

In another thread, I mentioned my preferred way to test the price sensitivity of a market... offer 3 packages that are $25 different. This gives you a $50 price range to test.

If you find yourself selling lots of Gold packages, then you can raise all your prices by $25.

If you are selling mainly bronze packages, you might try lowering your price by $25 (or do some work on your phone script.)

Good luck!
James
ThePartyMagician
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Quote:
I disagree. Lying to people might be your preferred way of doing business, but it is short-sighted.

Other magicians are one of the most valuable resources you can have. Far better to cultivate friendships with these people.



Couldn't agree more James.

Best regards
Mike
Royston South
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Jersey Channel Islands
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James is spot on, it does not matter who knows how much you charge WHAT IS THE BIG SECRET? "maybe those who think he will under cut me and get my job"
I really think the customer is buying ME NOT A MAGIC SHOW and with children shows it's the kids who say what they want!! if the parents think it's to much they MAY go for the cheaper guy - there is always a cheaper guy ( we all have to start some where ) - but I think the professionals among us know there buying us, go out there and charge more than me and make a good living that would be great, then I can put my prices up! Think outside the box THERE IS ENOUGH WORK FOR EVERONE.

Let's all work together,

Royston
icentertainment
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Quote:
On 2007-01-31 06:03, ThePartyMagician wrote:
Or you could always try the up-front and honest approach, by phoning the local magicians, explaining who you are, what you do and that you want to ensure that you are not undercutting them massively, and then ASKING them what they charge.

No need to pretend to be somebody you're not, just plain and simple ASK them!

Best
Mike


yeah but always half the price at least of whatever your told

Yeah I make $22000 for 1 hour of roving entertainment
NJJ
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Quote:
On 2007-01-31 06:03, ThePartyMagician wrote:
Or you could always try the up-front and honest approach, by phoning the local magicians, explaining who you are, what you do and that you want to ensure that you are not undercutting them massively, and then ASKING them what they charge.

No need to pretend to be somebody you're not, just plain and simple ASK them!

Best
Mike


Here here!
rossmacrae
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Quote:
I can't agree with what is lying to somebody to find out what they're charging.

"Excuse me, Mister Store Manager - I'm working for the store across the street - would you mind telling me exactly what you charge for every item in the store?"

"Excuse me, Mister Wal-Mart Manager - I'm from Target - would you mind telling me which items you're marking down next, and what the lowest price will be?"

"Excuse me, Mister Auto Dealer - I'm from the dealership across town, and John Doe keeps asking me what's the lowest price on a FireDragon XXX - just exactly how low a price are YOU offering him??"

Yeah, these questions get asked every day.
NJJ
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Ross - We are in business but we are also individuals, peers and for the most part Gentlemen (and ladies).

Target won't tell Kmart what it charges but I often discuss fees with my friends and peers.

It is true that you have to ask SEVERAL people to get an idea and that people MIGHT lie to you but I do trust those around me.

For the record - I currently charge $250AUD for a 45 min magic show + balloons for children's parties.
James Munton
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Quote:
"Excuse me, Mister Store Manager - I'm working for the store across the street - would you mind telling me exactly what you charge for every item in the store?"

"Excuse me, Mister Wal-Mart Manager - I'm from Target - would you mind telling me which items you're marking down next, and what the lowest price will be?"

"Excuse me, Mister Auto Dealer - I'm from the dealership across town, and John Doe keeps asking me what's the lowest price on a FireDragon XXX - just exactly how low a price are YOU offering him??"

Yeah, these questions get asked every day.


Excuse me, Mister Ross Macrae - what on earth are you talking about?
Habu
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1st, thanks to everyone for their comments. It's helping to get the different perspectives.

2nd, I'm sorry this became something of a flame (flash paper commentaries?) Smile on Ross. I appreciate him giving me advice on what he believes is the best way to approach the situation I asked about. Obviously, as in other businesses, there is quite a range of opinions as to what is proper business ethics versus acceptable business practice. If it's the same to everyone, it would be nice if that part of this thread was left at "we agree to disagree!"

3rd, Ross, to answer your question (and I hope I do the quote correctly here)

Quote:
On 2007-01-31 12:53, rossmacrae wrote:

Didn't you say you were 90 minutes away from anywhere big? What size show do you offer, for what clients? To travel that far to do a show, you'd have to be pulling some big bucks ... how you gonna get big-buck shows in "advertising locally in some inexpensive way without a price"?



I am beginning with my children's shows...that is the market I was asking about pricing for. Once I have the routine smoothed out, I will start doing local shows and was thinking of using an introductory pricing at that time. I am originally from Texas, so driving 90 min is nothing to me if I can present a show (with an increase to cover gas). So I will do birthday parties from Birmingham to Huntsville if the price is right.

The stage show I am building will probably take a year of so to get up and running, possibly longer. I am building a several illusions that will work as a single routine. That is the show I want to take to other areas/states. The clients will be fund-raising event coordinators of various types. For those the show price would be set, but I would either have my travel paid by clients or charge a travel expense fee. Well, that is the plan anyway. But I've got a lot of work to do, the concepts for it are sound, but now to make them work! Smile

Rick
www.magicbyhabu.com
Real name: Rick Jackson
Habu: Taken from SR-71 spy plane I worked on. It's name came from a poisonous snake on Okinawa. Hope my magic isn't poisonous!
rossmacrae
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Quote:
The clients will be fund-raising event coordinators of various types. For those the show price would be set, but I would either have my travel paid by clients or charge a travel expense fee.

In that case, there are several resources out there (don't ask me right now, it's 2am) to give you a very powerful sales presentation for fundraisers, most of them starting with the idea of splitting the box-office 50/50 (a strong "no cost to the sponsor" selling point).
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