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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Step right up! » » Svengali Pitch - any "failure" stories? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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deadcatbounce
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I'm a bit taken with this idea, and I WILL give it a good go, once I've got the pitch down - but - I was wondering - there are no stories of anyone on here giving it a try, and then giving up. Is that because the type of person who goes with this kinda thing, is the kinda person who won't give up? I think that could be part of the reason - the other part being the reluctance to broadcast failure on a forum like this. I'm sure in certain areas, there will be resistance to any kind of pitch, and I think the choice of location is all important. For example, you'd get a good crowd coming out of a church on a Sunday - but few sales. That's just a guess, of course.
Best venues, I'd think, would be where families are, for a day out - fairs, race-tracks maybe, open air shows, and perhaps where there are tourists.

Anyone out there with any tales of dismal failures? Failing so dismally that they had to go back to pumping gas, and back to living with their Mom? Or just failing?

I'm sure there must be a load of tales of woe.. c'mon guys - let's hear 'em!

Regards,

DCB
"With every mistake - we must surely be learning..." George Harrison.
DonDriver
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DCB,

Hello again.Pitching is hard work(but fun work) I'm sure a lot of guys give up.In my DVD I say "perseverance" Keep at it and you'll make money.

I also say "location - Location - Location " ( settting up in front of a church...give me a break )

Later,Don
deadcatbounce
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Don,

The church bit was a joke.. !!!

Hard work, maybe - but.. as long as I'm enjoying myself, it won't be a problem. And by "enjoying myself" I mean just that. I get a huge buzz out of interplay - I'm not just about bamboozling people. Of course, success in this case must be measured by the "take".. but.. if I feel I've learned something about what I've done, or not done correctly, I'll still consider it an enjoyment.

Regards,

DCB
"With every mistake - we must surely be learning..." George Harrison.
sethb
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I think that if you have a good pitch (like Don's) and a good location, it's pretty tough to go wrong with it. Despite overexposure of the Svengali Deck on TV as the "Magic Cards," and the inclusion of the deck in many basic children's magic sets, there are plenty of people who have never heard of a Svengali Deck -- and remember, there are more kids being born every day!

My only thought, after doing this for about three years, is that you do need to keep expanding your area of operation, because after a while, you do "wear out" the particular local markets you're working in. In my case, I went from a 20-mile radius to about a 40-mile radius, and that has helped considerably. I also try to hit the big events in alternate years, so that when I do go back, it's a bit fresher. I've also added an alternate trick, such as the Magic Worm, Buddha Papers, Money Paddles, Multiplying Rabbits, etc., and I cycle the stuff so I always have something "new" to offer in addition to the decks. But the decks do sell well and are a consistently reliable item.

As Don says, you will have fun, but it is hard work to be on your feet for 6-7 hours continuously. You need to stay fresh and keep up the energy, the last pitch needs to be just as good as the first one. You also need to enjoy people and kids, and have some patience as well. You must also have the initiative to seek out potential fleas, fairs, craft shows, street festivals, etc. where you can set up. And you need to be organized by having sufficient inventory on hand, getting good wholesale prices, keeping track of sales taxes, and having an efficient system for packing and setting up your booth. If you don't do any one of these things, it will make it a lot harder to succeed. But I'm not telling anyone anything that Don hasn't already said. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
DonDriver
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Thanks SETH,you always have a great insight and a way with words.Its called " Being in business" that's where a lot of magicians go wrong.Its called "Show Business " They get the show part but don't get the BUSINESS part.

Later,Don
sethb
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Thanks, Don! This is slightly off-topic, but I also wanted to say that once you get up and running with a Svengali Pitch and have made some money, a very good investment in my experience would be a small, portable, wireless/cordless, rechargeable, one-piece PA system. You should be able to get something decent, including a speaker stand and carry case, for about $600-750.

You don't need anything very powerful or fancy, just something to provide "sound reinforcement," so you can make yourself heard in the general vicinity of your booth, without irritating other nearby vendors. This way, you don't have to strain your voice to compete with bands, air compressors, generators and other background noise. I have also found that a PA gives you better control of the crowd, because you are just a tiny bit louder than you otherwise would be. And you can put your energy into your pitch, instead of using it just to be heard.

I have used a 30-watt mono PASO ProCast unit for the past two years and have been very satisfied with it, click HERE to view. Another similar one to consider would be the Anchor MiniVox or the Anchor AN-130 (which only runs on AC power, it is wireless, but not cordless).

I use a plain clip-on lav (lapel) mike, which is simple and easy to hook up, and the bodypack transmitter just goes in my right rear jeans pocket. It is not as efficient as a headset mike, but it's much less conspicuous, and doesn't make me look like a TV preacher or a rock star! A 30-watt unit like the PASO should cover at least 50 people in an outdoor setting, which is plenty unless you're Don Driver and attract even larger crowds (!). It is light (12 pounds), simple to use and has been reliable for me.

In short, a good small PA system will pay for itself in short order. Buy that instead of the latest and hottest magic trick, and you won't be sorry. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
DonDriver
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A PA has several good purpose.firat off people walking close when you're in the middle of a pitch will hear you and might come over to see whats going on.

Most important purpose of a PA is it gives you "authority" It makes you bigger than life,people listen to people in authority.( send up your money)

Its a very important physiologial tool when pitching.

I use a radio shack 35 watt with a head set mic. Not battery but a plug in one. I never work where you can't get electric anyway.You can get theses on ebay for about $100.

Later,Don
sethb
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Another thought (BTW, thanks, DCB, for starting this neat thread) -- I didn't have any "failures," but I have certainly made my share of mistakes along the way. Don's "Svengali Pitch" DVD saved me from lots of mistakes, but I still made plenty of my own that cost me a few bucks!

Fortunately, none were fatal, and I learned from everyone of them. For example, I initially ordered some cheap decks, thinking I was saving a buck or two; they are still sitting in my garage. One day when I visit China, I'll take them back where they came from!

I'm sure I'll make more mistakes in the future, but that's really how you learn what works and what doesn't. It's part of "paying your dues," I guess. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
deadcatbounce
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Seth,

PA is the next thing on my shopping list, and the Procast 50 is my aim right now. But..it seems they don't have distribution in the UK or Ireland, where I work.
I've been all over The Magic Café researching PA stuff.. and the Procast 50 is the one for me. Just working out the logistics of gettin one over here...
I also emailed Dons' source for a price on bulk decks.. I'm still waiting..Problem may be shipping, but I can overcome that easily enough, provided the price is right.

Thanks again,

DCB
"With every mistake - we must surely be learning..." George Harrison.
deadcatbounce
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Just another thought.. what you see in the pic is my general performing outfit, with a few variations - but always the red hat and jeans/trousers.
Methinks it would be wise to dress down a little, lest I get mistaken for the magician that I am.
Dressing to suit the occasion is one of my rules. Look like a magician, and you get treated like one. So.. I have to figure a suitable eye catching outfit for the pitch.. and I was thinking, straight off - a red boiler suit. If it's not too hot.
Ok.
I'll give it some more thought... Smile

It looks like we don't have a rush of people posting the results of their failures..Ho - Hum... Smile

Regards,

DCB
"With every mistake - we must surely be learning..." George Harrison.
sjballa147
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Any one ever use a waistband PA?

http://www.hisonic.net/HS319.htm

Shane
sethb
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Quote:
On 2008-07-08 16:48, deadcatbounce wrote: PA is the next thing on my shopping list, and the Procast 50 is my aim right now. But..it seems they don't have distribution in the UK or Ireland, where I work.
I also emailed Dons' source for a price on bulk decks.. I'm still waiting..Problem may be shipping, but I can overcome that easily enough, provided the price is right.

DCB, I didn't realize you were located in the UK -- perhaps it might be better for you to seek a wholesale source there, instead of the States. Although Svengali Decks are small, a few dozen of them can be heavy, and the shipping charges might eat you alive. Not to mention trying to explain what a Svengali Deck is to a customs inspector!

Same situation with electrical equipment -- my guess is that you might need adapters to plug USA-made PA units into your outlets, and possibly converters to make the current compatible. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
sethb
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Quote:
On 2008-07-09 00:36, sjballa147 wrote: Any one ever use a waistband PA?

Shane -- I have seen these units advertised but have never used one, and I would have several concerns about it. First, I wonder if they are really powerful enough for pitch work, most are rated at only 10-15 watts. I also think the waist position for the unit would be unwieldy for a magician. I can't imagine doing final loads for the Cups & Balls with this unit, and handling a Magic Mouse or Magic Worm could be equally tough. When you are working against a table and want to lean forward, what do you do?

I also wonder about the efficiency of the "waist-level" position of the speaker. I try to keep my speaker up to or above the "ear-level" of the audience, so that the sound travels further and is not absorbed by people's bodies.

Finally, I think the waist units are ugly! <grin> Although this is a matter of personal preference, I believe a PA system should be heard and not seen. To accomplish that, I clip my lav mike to my shirt collar, run the wire under the collar, over my left shoulder and down my back to the bodypack in my right rear pants pocket. Other than the lav clip, the whole thing is invisible to the audience, and it's completely out of my way. Conversely, the waist unit is definitely "front and center"!

I know that some street workers like the waistband units, but I think they are in a different situation, where they are constantly moving around, and they are usually performing effects that are more in the nature of walkaround magic (linking rings, egg bag, cut & restored rope, etc.). Pitchmen stay in one spot all day and are basically table workers.

So for these reasons, I don't think I'd want to use a waistband unit, but your mileage may vary. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Jon-O the Great
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I did an RV show in PA a year ago, with strippers. In another booth, a couple of girls were selling something (I forgot) using one of the waistband PAs. It was turned down so they didn't bother the other people but it could be turned up and be plenty loud. I talked with one of the girls after their pitch and it turned out they had one for sale, $100. (Did they see me coming?) I bought it, then thot..."Hey, I'll bet they are on Ebay..." Sure enough, the exact same one was on for $39.95 BIN.

Anyway, I charged up the battery and used it several times but finally decided that my voice is such that I really didn't need it. And of course, it does have that pouch that looks like an alien is sucking out your gut. And a wire from the headset to the pouch. So it would probably not work well with worms. All in all, I have it, if I need it, but rarely use it.

Jon
sethb
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I have a pretty good voice, and am normally able to project well into the crowd without a problem (I used to be the bass in a barbershop quartet).

The main reason I use a PA is because I'm normally outside at fairs and street festivals, and I just can't compete with bands, canned music, air compressors, and so on, which raises the level of background noise considerably.

With a PA, I don't have to be worried about being located next to the cotton candy machine or when the next band set starts, etc. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Fitz
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Not really a horror but it did make my heart skip a beat.

About eight years ago I would pitch magic for a friend of mine (Sean Greer) at art festivals around Arizona. He would be out street performing and I would work the booth. One day we were at the Flagstaff summer fest and I just finished a nice little ball and vase pitch when a lady asked if I had ever heard of Paul Harris. Of course I said yes and I told her I thought he was very creative and I really liked his stuff. that's when she said, "well he's right there". Sure enough he was standing in our booth, and that's when Sean came back... I guess Paul's mother lived in Flagstaff and he would spend the summers there with her.

that's almost as bad as when I was about to go into a Svengali pitch while working at Easley's Fun Shop in Phoenix. Who were my potential customers? Larry Becker, and Ted Lesley! I was only 12 or 13. They stopped by to sell some new products to the shop. After that I got to know Larry Becker fairly well.

Fitz
I have a daily web show all about magic at http://FitzMagic.info
deadcatbounce
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I look at my first posting above, where I say "I'm a bit taken with this idea.." and now, 3 days later, I've become obsessed! I'm busy trying to get samples of decks, as . in any game, there's a lot of rubbish around. None of the majors have got back to me yet, but I'll keep on..As I see it, you need a deck that'll last about an hour - the average punter just isn't going to persevere, and the deck'll end up in a drawer.
So.. anyone out there got any comments on the wholesalers and the qualities of the cards? I don't want the absolute el cheapo, but I also don't want Bikes.

Anyone?

Tks
DCB
"With every mistake - we must surely be learning..." George Harrison.
sjballa147
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The best source is on Don Driver's DVD.

Take a look!

Shane
Fitz
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Just buy the DVD. That's the best advice anyone can give you here. Don explains evrything in great detail. I think I bought a package deal with the building a tip DVD also, I would highly recamend this as well.

Fitz
I have a daily web show all about magic at http://FitzMagic.info
Cholly, by golly!
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Don's DVD!
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