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Tony James
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Quote:
On 2010-11-06 16:42, Cheshire Cat wrote:
..........and (you) have been going now how long? 40, 45 years?..................


Steady on Tony - you'll have people thinking I'm an old man! I just started very young!!

All of us only successfully progress through life by reacting to market forces and that's why we end up doing what we do as a consequence. The entertainment business - and children's entertainment particularly - has changed a lot over the last fifty years.

Anyone who is interested in how much the UK market has changed will find a thumbnail outline here:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......start=30

When I turned professional in 1973 I was working the club circuits with a comedy magic act in the evenings and children's parties in the afternoons. I first worked Punch & Judy in March 1973 and for four years worked it either abroad or exclusively for children's parties in the UK. Then my agent pleaded with me to help him out with some outdoor P&J for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in June 1997.

After this he sat me down and told me there was an excellent market available to me at outdoor events and shows but my show would need to be built up - I was using quite a small booth designed for the indoor birthday party market. The bulk of birthday parties were still held indoors, specially at the rich, county family, country house and stately home level which Tony alluded to and they were at that time still my main market.

So I built a big traditional Victorian style booth and the structural framework of that booth is the one I still use today and it travels all over the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Had you told me at the time that this would develop into my main business I would have laughed.

But talk to most entertainers in our side of the business and few of us imagine ending up doing quite what we do when we set out. Chances come your way and experience guides you in your decisions whether to embrace one particular opportunity rather than another. Show business is full of bandwagons - someone, somewhere comes out with something different and suddenly everyone is copying. It has always happened.

It happened 350 years ago with P&J and some things burn out and others sustain mainly because clever operators keep tweaking the format and keeping the show relevant and up-to-date.

You move with the times, provided you recognise which aspect of today has some sustained future. Very little in the world is ever new and what is old generally comes round again but with modifications and is then perceived by current markets as different, fresh and therefore they brand it as NEW!

Some of us have seen it before and occasionally the original was much better but not often. Usually the old and original would no longer be a practical proposition today so things have to change to succeed.

Magic, children's entertaining and even Punch & Judy are no exceptions to these changes and they never will be. The important part is to put your own individual stamp on it and avoid being a copycat clone of others.

That's what separates out the professionals from the amateurs.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Cheshire Cat
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Just called in for a mug of tea out of my 60th Birthday Party mug! In between finishing at Lymm and going to another at Whaley Bridge.

Hey Tony, you only turned pro. 3 years before I turned a pro. Pianist in 1976! Still lots of life left in us both yet! Lots of early nights and free statin tablets! Plus a bit of "what you fancy"!

Tony Smile
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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Meta tags don't work like they used to. Google's search algorythms have become too sophisticated to 'fool' with just keywords and meta-tags. You have to look at what Google's real priority is.. (no, it's not actually making money, that's the results of their focus on the real real priority) their real priority is to provide the best possible search results. Basically it means their focus isn't us, it's the people who are looking for us. That means matching the search request to the best results based on actual content in the site. If you want to improve your search results, answer more potential questions in your site, think about how people might find you. There are a lot of things you can do, but it boils down to thinking like Google does about it, your site has to become a better answer to the questions people might be asking about children's entertainers in your area.

I don't think their strategy was ever to destroy yellow pages either. That was, again, a by-product of their focus on the main thing, that is, providing better search results than anyone else was providing. The fact that they did this very well and in a way that people liked is what made them the giant.

By the way, I believe one area where yellow pages went wrong was precisely that they were focused on making money, not on providing the best answer to the customers question. Sure their basic core product, the physical yellow pages, was a doomed dinosaur, they knew that though, and they had time to reposition. And their response to Google was always kind of corporate and cynical, and they squandered their opportunity (they were well positioned to be competitive in internet search early on) by trying to second-guess Google and the customer instead of doing the basic thing their customers needed.. to provide an online version of yellow pages that works as well as the paper one did for years and years, and then promote it's use, tweak it, improve it and create their own good search engine. Instead, most online yellow pages are awkward, too expensive for advertisers, and don't do the basic job of answering the questions well and quickly.
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
Potty the Pirate
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Tony and Mr Pitts, thanks for some great posts. I love to read your "histories of Children's Entertainment" Tony. You put everything into a perspective that is SO important to understand if we really want to push the envelope with what we do.
And Mr Pitts, your comments about the YP are spot on. I would add that they had a "bonus culture" going on for years, in which (like the banks of today) salesmen could earn huge bonuses quickly and easily by "selling" the product to customers who were already sold. I'm an ex-salesman (though never for YP - but I know lots of folks who did work there). I can tell you that jobs like these are the Holy Grail of sales jobs. Often, you had the clients CALLING YOU to spend their cash! Managers could earn large salaries easily, and no one really needed any sales expertise.
It was only when the YP started to lose their monopoly, that the cracks in their system were torn open. The fatal mistake they made was not to challenge Google head-on as early as possible.
But, they didn't and now we have Google. At least for the present, Google is an ethical organisation. I really hope that continues to be the case. They are more concerned about creating the best search engines, than fleecing everyone who uses their service.
Though I understand the nostalgia for YP, I for one am delighted that we now have a far more powerful and effective tool - our websites. After just over a year, I'm about to have my 38,000th hit. No guesses, I can even go to Google Analytics and discover the unbelievable minutiae of detail which Google can provide about these visitors. How long they stayed, which pages they viewed, where they found the link to the site.....etc. A HUGE amount of information, which is gold for the advertising professional. My opinion is that if you want your website to do well, you MUST build and maintain it yourself. As far as I can tell, ALL the young up-and-coming entertainers are doing this. I think the next generation of entertainers may be startlingly good, from what I've seen. And, they will be competing on the internet with all of us who are established.
I wish them all the best of luck, and meantime, I'm enjoying keeping my website up to date. It is a bit of fun, and I think we should learn to see it as part of what we do. All the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn options....and blogs, fan pages, etc. These are all valuable tools which we should, rightly, be considering. And the more of all that stuff you get up to, the higher Google is likely to rate your website.
Doug Smile
Cheshire Cat
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My main criticism of Google is that it is apparently impossible (please correct me if I'm wrong), to contact someone and speak in person either by phone or e-mail.

I simply find myself being re-directed to YouTube Tutorials, or continual links that lead to more links, that lead to even more links then beg the question "did you find this helpful?" If I am to spend my hard earned cash with someone I have the pre-requisite myself of needing to have personal contact with them.

Maybe as an older entertainer who dealt with Yellow Pages successfully for 25 years I merely resent change, I concede this could be so. Over those 25 years I became used to the sales tricks and gimmicks of Yellow Pages. I saw the UK version pass from the ownership of Thomson (yes, in 1980 it was Thomson!), to ITT, to British Telecom. They manipulated boundaries to endeavour to get Customers to buy into more Directories, and then the final straw was manipulating Classifications. But whilst it all worked it was nevertheless very convenient.

I still believe that Google have future financial motives to pursue however, and we all must be wary of them.

But yes, internet has opened up opportunities previously thought impossible. For me it has meant I could create an online brochure packed with information on our Kids Shows, plus it has enabled me to record and submit to iTunes, Amazon etc. my Piano Compositions of many years, which do actually, to my delight, sell. The latter would have been impossible before, due to costs of recording and production.

Tony (the other Tony)
http://www.pianisttonygayle.co.uk
Potty the Pirate
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Tony says: "If I am to spend my hard earned cash with someone I have the pre-requisite myself of needing to have personal contact with them."
That would be a fair enough comment, if Google asked you for money. I pay NOTHING for my Google services! The costs of my online presence are: website hosting, design and maintenance (I have several sites, so choose to spend £140 per annum for multiple hostings), and the cost of my URLs (usually between £5- £10 per annum each.) I also submit my site to an SEO engine, though I'm doubtful if that is really neccessary. This costs an additional £100 per annum. So in total, I spend less than £300 a year, and for that I can have as MANY websites as I like, no limit. (Though, there is a limit on the total space used, which is more than I could ever need.)
I just received the lastest "The Phone Book" from BT. This is the publication that belatedly tried to challenge YP. It had some success, and for several years, many entertainers paid to advertise in it. This year, it looks like a pamphlet more than a directory. Less than 400 small (A5 roughly) pages, to include THREE main categories: Residential, Business and Classified entries. There are NO entertainers, NO children's entertainers, and NO general entertainers. Interestingly, not only are there none in the classifieds, but we have all been deleted from the Business Listings. YP have also called me to tell me that I must now pay if I want to be listed at all - £200 roughly!
What they obviously haven't considered, is that their "directory" has now become an "advertising magazine". It's not comprehensive, in fact, they are happy to cut out certain business categories completely, and pretend, I guess, that they don't exist. So, when Mrs Jones goes to her BT Phone Book to find an entertainer for her kid's party, she discovers - nothing. What does she do with the book? Probably throws it out. A list of businesses who pay to advertise is very different from a comprehensive list including details of many additional service providers.
Quickly flicking through, the "directory" now looks more like a poor man's version of "comparethemarket.com". Here you can find Insurance, car stuff, solicitors, builders, and restaurants. Plus a few other minor categories. And one tattooist. I wonder how many folks will be rushing to their copy of the "BT Phone Book" when they want a tattoo? Hmmm.
I think the real problem with these publications now, is that they don't just fail the businesses, they fail the end users too. With so many smaller businesses now excluded from the book, what real use are they? It's the equivalent of a whole heap of junk mail assembled into one book.
I blame the management, who likely are less than expert sales professionals. Every time they make a change it is, as has been said, cynical. This latest idea to exclude thousands (I'm guessing) of smaller businesses will be a disaster to the future of their book.
I believe we can all learn something from YP's failures. It's important to keep up with the times, and to be diligent and intelligent about our marketing - as well as other aspects of being a kids' entertainer. And we should above all, put our clients' and customers' needs first.
Potty Smile
Cheshire Cat
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I was of course referring to Google Adwords.

. . . and yes, I've had sites online since April 2000. So I do know a little about it all. I even know how many visits via the Magic Café my Piano site has had this morning and the IP addresses Smile Special greetings to the US colleague who uses Comcast Cable Smile The knowledge is there - but just needs grasping, especially by older people.

Best Wishes, Tony.
MoonRazor
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I"ve also dropped my yellow page ad. Anybody else?
Potty the Pirate
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Tony, I think it's a reasonable approach that if you benefit from Google without paying, that you may at some point decide to try out AdWords. I know what you mean about speaking to someone. But, I suspect the thinking goes along these lines: it would cost a small fortune to pay a team of telephone assistants to take the (inevitable) thousands of calls they would receive if they offered this service. This would immediately need to be funded from advertisers. The information these telephonists would give, would of neccessity, be directly read from a computer screen after a relevant search. Google expects you to do the search yourself, online. This saves you, the client, the cost of funding a vast network of calling centres. It also enables you to do the search quickly and efficiently, without waiting on a phone line. But, it requires you to be moderately computer-conscious. There are ways to contact Google via emails, which I'm sure are dealt with efficiently, only a very few elliciting a phone call from the staff of Google.
It is, undoubtedly, a real problem for some folks in our profession. I know of several performers who (I think) are just afraid of the Internet and everything computer-related. Some don't even have email addresses. I have no better advice for them than: "just do it!" Get a computer, and LEARN the stuff you need to do. For most, it's quite easy. But, if you can't touch-type, then perhaps that's something to learn as well. I can't imagine getting on with my computer if I couldn't do that.
In the forthcoming years, there will be no other resource that is likely to provide as much benefit as Google, and the whole integration of the computerised office into our work as performers.
Overall, I'm very excited by it all. Quite magical!
Potty Smile
jimhlou
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My YP ad expires in May or July (somewhere around there) and I will not be renewing it.

Jim
Red Shadow
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I left the book last year and my work-load has actually increased. But here are many good reasons for leaving the Yellow pages:

1. No more telemarketers trying to sell you advertising space in a different book.

2. No more telemarketers trying to convince you that a wall-planner is a good idea.

3. Less charity show calls. All these people tend to just go through the yellow pages.

4. More calls that actually turn into bookings. People who call you have found you and want to book. Yellow pages people are just after a price.

5. No more fake calls from yellow pages staff pretending to be clients (and again not booking) in hope of making the book sound more used than it is.

6. No new re-directed telephone number forced upon you (YELL.com)

7. No printing errors you have to sort out and get a 'credit' for which is useless. When they print your number wrong, you still have to pay 4/5th of the advert costs, even though no clients can actually call you.

8. No cheesy sales tactics forced upon you, such as having to be in two or three criterias (entertainers, children's entertainers, discos). No box system or bold text upgrade packages to worry about. No being placed next to another more attractive advert and losing all the potential clients to the advert that's is bigger and costing more money that yours.

9. No more price shoppers, as that is the only people still using the YP. They go through all the adverts and book the cheapest, That's it. Most don't even look at your website or check you out. If your not the cheapest; its a waste of time.

10. So you free up the phone from all those price-shoppers so that actual clients that want YOU, can actually get through.

11. No more sales rep wanting to come over to your house, taking up your free time and trying to pressure sell you a more expensive advert.

12. Save the planet - less adverts mean less trees cut down.

13. You now have a reason to actually go and get that wobbly table fixed, rather than using the yellow pages under the leg to stop it from wobbling.

Steve
Cheshire Cat
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The above poster has reminded me of what a beast Yellow Pages was. Yes I remember all of this. What I miss are the entertainers calling themselves "AAA1AAAAAA aaaaabracadabra" !! We switched to "Ace Parties" for better positioning in the mid 90s, and many people also used the name "Amazing" (magicians, caricaturists etc). But once those silly multiple "A" names appeared it became a farce. Poor Tony (J.) ended up right at the back of the column with a splendid picture of Punch and Judy Puppets etc.

There have been issues with entertainers using false locations for Google "Places" listings. Suddenly entertainers I'd never heard of were based at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester!! But I've noticed that now Google seem to have caught up with this scam.

:) Smile Tony.
Magicforkids
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We used to do a lot in the yellow pages, At one time the yellow pages was king. It seems that the web is where it's at these days. I hear parenting magazines are helpful for some but even that sounds a little pricey
phoeberyan
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Does anyone know any good alternative to yellow page or backpage for advertising purpose. Please help me out.
MeetMagicMike
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The number one thing is a website. If someone Googles for a magician in Gainesville my site will be near the top of their results.

In addition to my website, I also advertise on a website called Fun4Gatorkids.com. They are a resource for parents wanting things to do with their kids in Gainesville.
Magic Mike

MeetMagicMike.com



I took the Pledge
phoeberyan
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Seeing the popularity of ads online, many websites dedicated to classified ads were created. These classified ad websites served as a primary purpose to buy and sell things to a plethora of people. One such popular classified ads platform was Backpage. But various complaints filed against it led to its extinction. https://gizmocrunch.com/backpage-alternative-websites/
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