To Market
by Kevin Gallagher

A short while ago, I performed (for free) at something which is most commonly called a Network Luncheon. These are events put together where representatives from organisations that trade company to company are invited together to hopefully make useful contacts and selected delegates are allowed around fifteen minutes to promote their own wares or services. This is convenient because fifteen minutes is the perfect attention span for a magic presentation. It is also convenient because I found myself slotted between dry talks on Quality Assurance and Risk Assessment which I would suggest are, to the normal delegate who is largely there for a skive and some free nosh, about as interesting as a train spotter's notebook.

I put together a routine/talk that demonstrates the different ways that companies can use magic for sales conferences, technical presentations, hospitality, trade shows and so forth. This proved to be a highly successful exercise with the added bonus that I was consequently invited to speak/perform at another where the more usual case is that it is difficult to actually get your own slot.

Generally, I don't enjoy marketing exercises and only wish that I got enough magic work to not have to worry about chasing up shows but unfortunately, magic is a business just like any other and, even when I have lots of work booked for the forthcoming weeks, I have come to realise that a gentle but sustained effort is necessary. It is a common mistake not to chase future work when you have plenty which has obvious shortcomings.

Some years ago, I set myself the task of writing a new letter every month that should be sent to no less than eight people. One month might be golf clubs, the next might be Hotels, occasionally I write to Agents although, I have come to the conclusion that time is better spent chasing actual clients. Most of the letters fall on stony ground, a few of them bear fruit, sometimes a long time, even years, after the original letter. Occasionally, lucky timing strikes very rich, but overall, the bookings, especially when combined with any knock-on work, which is the richest source of all, greatly outweigh the effort and minimal cost.

A key word is persistence. Any sort of sales activity can only do good and a very low key regular effort is much better that an occasional mad flurry. Another key word is analyse. Understand which letters have been the most and least successful so that you can improve future attempts. This might all sound very obvious but then, marketing advice usually is but you will be pleasantly surprised at how little effort will soon start to show results.

Kevin Gallagher, January 2004