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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » The Cost of Hiring a Professional Entertainer (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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BrianMillerMagic
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Hey guys - similar articles have been written before, but this is my own take on it.

Full article: http://brianmillermagic.com/the-cost-of-......rtainer/

Excerpt:

...

"Why are you so much more expensive than [blank]?"

The service industry is littered with amateurs, weekend warriors, and semi-pros. Doubly so for the entertainment industry. Many of these people are passionate and, in fact, many of them are very talented. Some of the finest magicians who have ever lived were not full time professionals.

But there is a huge difference between a great magician and a professional event entertainer.

Many magicians with full time day jobs have developed incredible technical skills, because magic is their hobby. They might even do an occasional gig for money. These are the magicians who quote you $100-200 on database services like Gigmasters or Thumbtack. If somebody offered to pay you $150 to do your hobby/passion, you’d probably be thrilled.

BEWARE: You should be very wary of any private event magician charging less than $300 for 1 hour of strolling magic, or a 45 min stand-up/stage show. Lower than that indicates either 1) an amateur; 2) somebody who isn’t getting enough gigs to make ends meet, so he’s undercutting the market (ask yourself why he isn’t getting enough gigs in the first place).

Professional entertainers are worth more because you are not just getting a magician, or a DJ, or an impersonator. You are getting years, and sometimes decades, of experience in event situations. Professional entertainers improve your event in ways that you will never even know.

EXAMPLE 1: An amateur may be great at card tricks, but he hasn’t learned the finesse of how to comfortably approach a group of people. Also, the pro has developed a fine-tuned sense of who not to approach. The last thing you need is an amateur magician constantly annoying those guests who would prefer to be left alone (there are always a few).

...
Dannydoyle
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Wow. Lots of assumptions in that excerpt.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
55Hudson
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Brian,

I like your article. Do you mind if I link to it or quote from it on my website?

Hudson
BrianMillerMagic
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Hudson - Thank you, and you are more than welcome to. Please give a link back to the original article.
Dannydoyle
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Often in sales it is not so good to try to build yourself up by pointing out that you think others are inadequate.

In general it is more about you and less about "they are inferior because ". It comes off as sour grapes. Worse yet it comes off as eletist.

Again it comes to if they are questioning your price AFTER you have done the sales pitch, you need to work on the sales pitch. They should be absolutely BEGGING to hire you when you are done.

You can cover all your thousands of shows of experience in the sales pitch tastefully, without looking like you are knocking other guys.

There is ALWAYS someone who can say the same things about you. Personally I wouldn't get in my car for $300. Does that make me better for their event than you? Of course not. No more than it makes you any better than anyone who charges less.

Also by fixating on price, you CAUSE THEM to fixate on price. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Does any company that sells high end products or services ever justify the price? If you want to hit that high end market you have to be worth it completely independently of what others are doing. High end restaurants never explain "our food costs are higher, we pay servers more, so your bill is higher." Much less BEWARE of that restaurant that is less expensive!

I just fail to see how being perceived as bashing the competition (even after the compliments to disguise it.) really does any good. I am valued at what I charge. If they don't get that from the pitch it is my fault, not some guy charging less.

I will freely admit in this age of not actually wanting to speak to customers it may be tough to get the point across.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
BrianMillerMagic
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Quote:
On Nov 21, 2015, Dannydoyle wrote:
Often in sales it is not so good to try to build yourself up by pointing out that you think others are inadequate.

In general it is more about you and less about "they are inferior because ". It comes off as sour grapes. Worse yet it comes off as eletist.

Again it comes to if they are questioning your price AFTER you have done the sales pitch, you need to work on the sales pitch. They should be absolutely BEGGING to hire you when you are done.

You can cover all your thousands of shows of experience in the sales pitch tastefully, without looking like you are knocking other guys.

There is ALWAYS someone who can say the same things about you. Personally I wouldn't get in my car for $300. Does that make me better for their event than you? Of course not. No more than it makes you any better than anyone who charges less.

Also by fixating on price, you CAUSE THEM to fixate on price. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Does any company that sells high end products or services ever justify the price? If you want to hit that high end market you have to be worth it completely independently of what others are doing. High end restaurants never explain "our food costs are higher, we pay servers more, so your bill is higher." Much less BEWARE of that restaurant that is less expensive!

I just fail to see how being perceived as bashing the competition (even after the compliments to disguise it.) really does any good. I am valued at what I charge. If they don't get that from the pitch it is my fault, not some guy charging less.

I will freely admit in this age of not actually wanting to speak to customers it may be tough to get the point across.


I appreciate and understand much of what you're saying. The point of the article is to draw attention to the differences between an amateur and pro when it comes to magic, or entertainment. Generally speaking people know the difference between McDonald's and a high end burger joint. But entertainers? Not as much.

You are right about the "beware" - it was extreme. That paragraph has been removed. The article was really intended to be in informational for buyers, not elitest. I'm working on the tone. Appreciate the feedback.

Also, the compliments were genuine. Most dedicates amateurs I meet are superior in terms of technical skill than the average working pro.
charliecheckers
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Brian - thanks for sharing your blog post. While I agree with Danny, I believe the conversation here is extremely valuable. I really admire your ability to accept and respond to critique. That is perhaps the most important lesson one can learn from this thread.

Danny - thanks for taking the time to elaborate on your perspective. It was very helpful not only to this particular thread, but in a more general sense as well.

I wonder what thoughts people have on this topic. How can one accomplish (educating the potential client base) what Brian has done without drawing to attention a price conversation/perception in the customer's mind. Is there an appropriate place outside of a "pitch" (such as a blog post, as Brian has done) to accomplish this, or should one expect to rely on their pitch opportunities to a larger degree, as Danny points out? Is the answer dependent on one's business model, or is the answer more universal?
jakeg
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Brian ... If you are writing that for other magicians to see, I agree with most of what you say. If you're writing it for prospective clients, I feel that you haven't seen it through their eyes at all.
First of all a magician is not a necessity at any venue. Nice, but not necessary. I'm having a party, I'd like to have entertainment, what will my budget allow.
When I read the entertainment section of my newspaper, I rarely see magicians listed at fairs, clubs, festivals and at the Atlantic City venues. I take this to mean that people who hire professional bookers do not consider a magician to be a major draw, if a draw at all.
On top of that, unless a magician has had extensive t.v. exposure, no one knows who he is anyway.
I think the job is to build your personal value in the mind of your client. If you've done that, you won't have to justify your price. No one tha calls David Copperfield is looking for a $200 show.
BrianMillerMagic
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Quote:
On Nov 22, 2015, jakeg wrote:
If you're writing it for prospective clients, I feel that you haven't seen it through their eyes at all.
First of all a magician is not a necessity at any venue. Nice, but not necessary. I'm having a party, I'd like to have entertainment, what will my budget allow.


Hey Jake, thanks for reading and your feedback. I do understand where the client is coming from, and that they have limited budgets, and that we are not a necessity (I say this regularly to my students, because it's important to understand our place in the client/service relationship). I made an attempt to get the "I understand your perspective" across in the article, when I talked about my own experience as a consumer.

Taking into consideration these and other thoughts, I've modified the article with a more positive tone, and less "me vs them" language. Here is the revised edition:

http://brianmillermagic.com/the-value-of......rtainer/

I really want to provide an article of benefit to the prospective buyer while also educating them just a little bit about our industry.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Nov 22, 2015, jakeg wrote:
First of all a magician is not a necessity at any venue. Nice, but not necessary. I'm having a party, I'd like to have entertainment, what will my budget allow.


This is an incorrect and very limiting statement and perspective. Perhaps it could be true of a kids birthday party or as you said someone having a private party. These, perhaps you are correct and I would agree with you to a certain degree. Especially pertaining to magicians specifically. However, there are many venues and events that having a speaker or entertainer are essential and even crucial. Imagine a dance club without a DJ. A cruise ship with no entertainers. Colleges, corporate events, fairs, festivals and many others. Imagine the Magic Castle without magicians. A comedy club without comedians. A tourist ton without an illusion or magic show?

This is another example of the difference from being a magician and an entertainer. This is also why magicians such as Brian diversify by expanding into speaking, MCing and other such offerings. Between this and creating and controlling our own markets can quickly eliminate the perspective you shared.
jakeg
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If I was writing this, my first paragraph would be 'The Value of Hiring a Professional'. In that paragraph I might compare a 5 star restaurant with a sandwich shop, (or something else tats easy to relate to. I might point out how they will both satisfy your hunger, but one turns the meal into a memorable experience .
I would then point out some of the prestigious clients that you worked for who will accept nothing but the best at any price. That's the reputation I have, that's the reputation I strive for, and that's the quality you can expect, guaranteed.
If you're looking for something that will just fill up

time, etc. etc
That's my approach.
Dannydoyle
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BUT those places that must have entertainment rarely complain about price. It is cost of doing business.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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All of that is geared towards you and your perspective (the performer). In reality it should all be geared to them and their interests and needs. It's wrong to also think the only considerations are between you and other magicians. In reality very few customers are set on having a magician. In all likeliness they are also looking at a variety of other entertainment options as well. These are your true competition.
Dannydoyle
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It is stange to think of you having students when the basics of sales are really missing Brian.

Again it gets back to if you want to be one of 1000 considered then educating them about an industry makes sense in some way I guess. But why be in a cattle call? Why do they think hiring a cheaper act is an option once they hear the pitch?

If they hear a proper pitch (And lets be honest proper is the operative word here.) then there is already an educational process taking place. If not then no amount of blogging or writing is going to help! If you have gotten to the point where they still don't get it you are making beds in a burning house.

Your value is based on you and what you can provide to said client. Not based on others being worse.

Also as I said getting them to fixate on price is just not smart.

9 years ago I came in charging more than anyone in the resort industry for what we do. Only thing they said was "don't make me regret paying you this". Hasn't happened yet. They are not fixated on price. They have entertainment show up X nights a week. It is great shows. They get great reviews. They have nothing to worry about. It is all done by magical elves as far as they know. That was what they pay for.

NO mention of others or what they charge or why we charge more. We agree to do X and we do 4 times that. Under promise and over deliver. They know we will not work with other companies in the industry.

I don't understand why the need to educate a client about an "industry " when you are selling you? This is I think the disconnect. Most do not show up for an education. They want value for the dollar spent, not to be preached at. Educate them in the sales pitch.

Are they supposed to read this prior to booking? That is just one more point of failure for the sale. Why add it in?
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Nov 22, 2015, Dannydoyle wrote:

I don't understand why the need to educate a client about an "industry " when you are selling you?


I agree with this, especially when working in or specializing in professional markets. When I see this type of talk, education or comparisons it is targeted to the casual, uninformed consumer, which again is usually in consumer markets. The concerns, needs and interests in professional markets is much more different.

I thought Brian was specializing on colleges and corporate which are all professional markets that know such information. So I was surprised to see this approach as well, unless it is for more consumer markets he's targeting in addition.

I also don't like so much attention being directed to price. It suggestively plants seeds in their minds either directly or indirectly. Remember people often book emotionally, especially in consumer markets. I'd be interested in seeing what kind of comments you are getting under these blogs by targeted prospects (not other magicians, or performers). Is this "education" seen as helpful and beneficial or is it seen as someone trying to justify their price (and potentially ego as seen by the prospect).
BrianMillerMagic
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Danny: First off, you've become more aggressive towards me lately, and after all these years I'm not sure why.

Nonetheless, my students are magic students, not sales students. The extent to which I talk about the business end of magic is to help them understand the basics of our industry and their place in it. Nothing more. You read too far into these sorts of things.

I convert nearly everyone I get on the phone, or meet in person. The issue is that the industry has changed drastically. Lou pointed that out in a recent post as well. People don't want to talk on the phone. They don't want to meet in person. They want to do everything online and make up their mind before they even contact you. Your website, social media, blogging, etc are a major part of business these days.

You may disagree, and you may not be seeing it personally in your particular niche of the industry, but it is a fact of how prospective buyers think and purchase. The buyers are not old men in suits anymore. They are from a different generation, a generation that shops differently. A generation that generally shies away from personal interaction if at all possible.

I'm not making these things up.

Before I get to make a proper pitch, which I do, I need to answer all of their questions and educate them about my business. Only once they are satisfied with every possible bit of knowledge do they actually reach out to contact somebody. It's a different game.

MindPro - This article is directed at the private event market. These are regular people who have probably never hired a magician before, or maybe any professional entertainer.

EDIT: This article is not being used as part of my active pitch. It is not on my corporate or college materials. Buyers in those industries would never click on an article like that. But there are lucrative markets that I do, like bar mitzvahs, fundraisers, local company parties, that have no idea what kinds of budget to set aside and what to expect from an entertainer. This article is for them.
Dannydoyle
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I don't convert nearly everyone. Congrats.

And explaining their place in the client/service relationship sounds a bit more than a magic student. Obviously that is just me being aggressive.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
BrianMillerMagic
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Quote:
On Nov 22, 2015, Dannydoyle wrote:
I don't convert nearly everyone. Congrats.

And explaining their place in the client/service relationship sounds a bit more than a magic student. Obviously that is just me being aggressive.


My most dedicated students have gone on to work professionally. Some have done paid gigs by the age of 12. Others are young adults getting their start in the business. For those students I provide the groundwork of the business end of things that they need to know to get started.
lou serrano
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This is an excellent discussion, as I'm not immune to to having this conversation with some of my prospects. It very rarely goes well. If I have to have this discussion with a prospect, in most cases, I've already lost the sale.

Quote:
On Nov 21, 2015, Dannydoyle wrote:

Does any company that sells high end products or services ever justify the price? If you want to hit that high end market you have to be worth it completely independently of what others are doing. High end restaurants never explain "our food costs are higher, we pay servers more, so your bill is higher." Much less BEWARE of that restaurant that is less expensive!



Danny makes a great point here. In any situation where I've bid a high dollar amount for an event, I've never had to justify my price. In many cases I would have been higher priced than my competition, but there are numerous reasons why they might have gone with me. Maybe it was the perceived value that I offered, maybe they liked my marketing materials, maybe they liked the way I handled my correspondence, maybe I gave them the confidence that they were making the right decision, etc. I'm sure this has happened in reverse as well, where I lost a gig to another magician priced higher than me.

Brian, I understand what you're trying to do with your blog post, but I think you're missing the mark. I could be wrong, but I don't think any prospect will read your post and be educated about the process, and be convinced to hire you because they believe you deserve to be compensated more than your competition. I actually think having this blog post hurts more than it helps (unless you have an SEO strategy in place to help increase your rankings) because you're fighting a losing battle. Mercedes-Benz or BMW does't explain why it's higher priced than Hyundai or KIA. If you position yourself properly, you shouldn't have to explain why you're higher priced than the weekend warrior.

In any case, I actually agree with much of what you say in your post, and I appreciate the opportunity to have a discussion about this. As I said, I still have this conversation with prospects from time to time, and I'm still learning on how to best handle the situation.

This post reminded me of an animated video I did about 5 years ago. If you'd like a good laugh, check it out here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw6r91VreiU

I look forward to hearing other perspectives on this issue.

Lou Serrano
BrianMillerMagic
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Quote:
On Nov 22, 2015, lou serrano wrote:
This is an excellent discussion, as I'm not immune to to having this conversation with some of my prospects. It very rarely goes well. If I have to have this discussion with a prospect, in most cases, I've already lost the sale.

Quote:
On Nov 21, 2015, Dannydoyle wrote:

Does any company that sells high end products or services ever justify the price? If you want to hit that high end market you have to be worth it completely independently of what others are doing. High end restaurants never explain "our food costs are higher, we pay servers more, so your bill is higher." Much less BEWARE of that restaurant that is less expensive!



Danny makes a great point here. In any situation where I've bid a high dollar amount for an event, I've never had to justify my price. In many cases I would have been higher priced than my competition, but there are numerous reasons why they might have gone with me. Maybe it was the perceived value that I offered, maybe they liked my marketing materials, maybe they liked the way I handled my correspondence, maybe I gave them the confidence that they were making the right decision, etc. I'm sure this has happened in reverse as well, where I lost a gig to another magician priced higher than me.


Excellent points here. But what I keep thinking is: Doesn't Apple have to justify the price tag of their MacBooks? Why should a consumer pay $1200-2000 for a laptop when every other laptop on the market is $300-800? Well, there are lots of reasons, and Apple goes to great lengths to explain the value that you're getting while paying much more for their product.

Or think about watches. I know nothing about watches. But I'm given to understand there are watches that cost $1000-10,000. Now, mine is from Kohl's. It cost $80. It tells time, always, without failure. Looks nice, feels good. I can afford to spend $1000 if I wanted to. But wouldn't the high end watch companies have to convince me why I should? Don't I need to be educated about high end watches in order to even consider it?

Just some thoughts.
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