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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The May 2011 entrée: Mark Lewis » » Pitching » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

The Great Dave
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My Wife said "It's Me or that Stupid Magic Website!" this many times.
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After pitching card decks and worms did you ever consider pitching more expensive items such as cookware? Did you ever want to move into sales for higher end items such as commercial real estate?
Academy of Magical Arts

Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! Whoops, wrong hat ...
*Mark Lewis*
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I should have done. I loved magic too much. My brain wasn't working.
Mike Maturen
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...and it appears that you still did okay! How many of us can name a famous cookware pitchman?
Mike Maturen
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*Mark Lewis*
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I don't know about cookware but there are plenty of television pitchmen that are quite famous. In fact the joke went around the grafting world that these people were strutting around thinking they were in showbusiness.

Talking about cookware reminds me of the time I wanted to demonstrate the Waterless Cooker at the Ideal Homes exhibition in London. Despite what I said above I have in fact at various times demonstrated other products beside magic but I always came back to the Svengali deck. Alas there wasn't time to learn the 45 minute pitch so the company hired me to do something else that amuses me to this day. Perhaps all those acne ridden "street magicians" might be able to adapt this in some way to make a bit of money somehow.

The company would hire a room above a pub or if they were feeling particularly solvent that week they would hire a hotel room. They would conduct the demonstration there to around 40 people or so. Unlike the usual demonstrations that you see of kitchen gadgets and Svengali decks etc; they would have everyone seated theatre style. AFter the 45 minute demonstration was over they would take a few orders. They didn't have to take many because the item was quite expensive.

So how did they get the punters to come to the demonstration in the first place? That is where I came in. I would stand in the busy street with a glass filled with straws or something. It is so long ago that I can't remember what the hell I was holding. Whatever it was could be opened and a slip paper was inside. This slip of paper was central to the whole operation.

I would watch for a young couple passing and approach them. Young couples were the best prospects for this bloody cooker. I would say something like, "Are you interested in a free night out?" They would stop out of politeness to see what the hell I was talking about. I would give them a free ticket each to the demonstration that was taking place that evening and tell them what it was all about and invite them to come. They would smile and say something like "We'll think about it" or "Yes, we'll be there" when they had absolutely no intention of coming anywhere near the place. They just said it to get rid of me. I would say, "Thank you very much. Enjoy the rest of your day" then when they were just about to leave I would conveniently remember something. I would say, "Oh sorry, I completely forgot. You have a chance to win some valuable jewellery. We will be giving the jewellery to the winners tonight. One straw in a thousand here has the lucky number. I know it is very unlikely you will win but there is no harm in trying is there?"

They would then draw the straw and I would open it up saying, "I can't believe it! You have won! This is the first time I have ever seen a winner! This is very expensive and very valuable jewellery. Congratulations!" then came the master stroke. "When you come tonight give this slip of paper to us and it will be evidence you have won and you can claim your prize. Of course I said this to EVERYONE!!

Of course that evening all sorts of daft people showed up at the waterless cooker demonstration. An announcent was made that anyone who had won some jewellery would get their prize at the end of the evening. That ensured that nobody left and they all had to sit through the demonstration.

At the end of the pitch sales were made and of course prizes were given out. Nobody seemed to think it odd that EVERYONE there had won a prize. And of course the prize was the cheapest poor quality crappy rings and jewellery that you have ever set eyes on. The sort of thing you can get at a dollar store.

I thought the whole process was hilarious. As you can see I have led a very wicked life.
Rotten
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So you're the guy my daddy warned me about...

Great story. Like watching a movie.
Woland
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That story reminds me of a realization I had at the Maryland State Fair many years ago. Two enterprising men were using a scale to operate a small "Guess Your Weight" concession. They offered to guess your weight, for a $2 wager. If they were right, they kept the $2; if they were wrong, you could select a prize. I wondered if they were really skillful enough to make a living by guessing someone's weight. Of course, it was the summer, when the generally more revealing attire most people were wearing would make estimating their corporeal proportions a bit easier. But after watching them work for a while, the business plan dawned on me: the prizes probably cost them no more than a nickel or a dime. They won every time! I thought it was brilliant at the time. It still seems like a rather surefire small business.

Woland
*Mark Lewis*
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I knew a "guess your weight" guy on Central Pier, Blackpool. We used to call him "Polish Joe" since that was probably where he came from. He had a rather profitable habit of selling his business many times to many different people. None of the buyers knew he had sold it to someone else. Finally the judge put a stop to it saying, "Joe, you can't keep selling your business. You really will have to stop this you know"
Woland
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That's really taking it to a higher level . . .

I forgot to mention that what led me to the understanding of the way the Guess Your Weight business worked, was the realization, as I watched the two fellows practice their art, that they were wrong almost all of the time. I couldn't figure out how they could make a living by Guessing Your Weight when they quite obviously couldn't do it, and then the light dawned.
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