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Wednesday
Dec092009

What I learned from KISS.

For years I've heard the saying KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of calling myself stupid, but I've embraced the idea of keeping things as simple as possible, whenever possible.

However, this is not what I'm talking about - I'm talking about the Legendary Rock Band KISS! I got to see them in concert last week, on December 4th, in Austin, with my 15 year old son, and it was an awesome show! Though, if you followed me on Twitter, you'd already know that. :-)

Gene Simmons, for those who don't know it, is a marketing genius, and he doesn't really miss a step when it comes to marketing KISS. Here's what I learned from the concert that's appropriate to us as performers.

Even from the back of the room - even with the camera out of focus - you can still tell what band we went to see!

1. Branding. OMG - KISS is more than just a band of 50% original Rock God's, they are a BRAND, an institution! No one can replace KISS. People can dress up like them (and hundreds did at the concert), imitate them, mimic them and so on, but there is only one KISS - and the KISS brand is carried into and printed onto just about everything imaginable! They are irreplaceable and no substitute will do when you want to see KISS.         
                The exact same should be true for us as performers. If you are generic magician, ventriloquist, clown etc., and have done nothing to make your prospects want you specifically, then you have not created a strong enough brand for yourself.


Gene Simmons flew to the top of the light rig!2. Commit to your character! Gene Simmons is a tongue wagging, drooling and spitting demon of a Bass Guitar player on stage. He makes no apologies about it, in fact, if he wasn't, we'd all feel like we didn't get what we were expecting from him.
                Commit to your character as a performer in both your marketing materials and in your performance. The character of both should be intertwined and interchangeable. If you are a low key performer, and some of my favorites (Nate Staniforth) are, then your marketing materials should embrace that character, if you're loud and out there (Bizzaro or Brian Brushwood) then your marketing materials will be similar. If Bizarro's website and promo materials all said "Magic for any occassion" that would be incongruent with his character.

3. Give your customers what they want! For KISS this is easy - we want to hear their classic songs, we want outlandish costumes, make up, VERY music, amazing lighting and video productions. We want Gene Simmons to wag his tongue at everyone and be a beast. We want 6" tall platform boots. We want Paul Stanley to zip line to the back of the auditorium and play. We want Gene Simmons to play from the top of the lighting trusses after flying up there. We want full commitment to the us, the audience, and dammit... you better sing Detroit Rock City. They delivered ALL of these things!
                What are your customers expecting from you? Not sure? Ask them. When I get to an event (usually before then) I ask the question "What is it going to take for this to be a successful event for you?" Then I know, so that I can deliver exactly that. Your situation is probably different from mine and I trust that you'll figure out how to discover what it is that your customers want.

Money coming in hand over fist!4. Sell something! Throngs of people lined up to pay more than retail for t-shirts ($29.95 on their website, $40.00 at the concert), CD's, posters and more to help capture the moment that they were at the KISS concert. Tens of thousands of dollars were made, in addition to the fee the band generated at $125 per ticket (or more).
                Why were people willing to pay more than reasonable retail for the SWAG at the show? Because they LOVED the show and were looking for ways to extend that connection with the performers beyond the show.
                I feel that it's almost IRRESPONSIBLE for you to not offer your clients and FANS a way to further that connection with you by NOT offering something for sale after your shows. No one has to buy what you have, but you are taking away opportunity, in added income, advertising, brand building and credibility creating by not selling something that is related to YOU after your shows. Of course I offer an Instant Author Kit for those of you who perform for family audiences and I add $100-$600 or more at just about every show I do from selling these books. If you don't need extra income, I applaud you, but I'm pretty sure that Gene Simmons isn't hurting for money, but he still plasters his face on everything from dolls to Dr. Pepper Commercials and the reason he's not hurting for money... a lot of it has to do with BOR (Back Of the Room) sales or SWAG. I will write more about this in a future blog I'm sure, as it's one of my hot buttons for magicians/jugglers/vents etc.

5. Create great pictures! If you take a picture at a KISS concert, you're going to be able to look at just about ANY of those pictures and, even without recognizing the stars, you'll know you were seeing KISS because their logo, images and name were everywhere. But that's not all I mean by create great pictures - I mean slow down, take a few seconds and POSE so that people have an opportunity to take great pictures.

6. Love what you do and you can do it forever. To me, Gene Simmons is KISS. Sure I like Paul Stanley too, and those other guys who apparently found a better gig were fun too, but lose Gene and it's over for me. Watching him perform makes me realize how much he apparently loves doing what he does. The guy is 60 years old and stomping around on stage, flying to the top of the rigging and having a blast.
                If you love what you do, if it truly gets you excited to get up and get going in the morning, you'll never have to work a day in your life!

Long post, but I hope you've enjoyed it. Please leave your comments below, but limit them to marketing, and not to KISS talk (unless marketing related). :-)

C.J.



Thursday
Dec032009

Lessons from car buying...

This week I've been helping my 16 year old son try to find his first car. Actually, his first truck. He's very specific in what he wants. In the process I've watched many a used car salesman use techniques that I know are sales techniques, but they WORK.  So, here are a few things that I noticed and that I'll share here with you.

1. Create urgency. Every car dealership we visited had the same sign in it. This sign said "The car you found, and like today, that you are going to think about until tomorrow, may be the same car someone else looked at yesterday and is thinking about until today". They were selling the idea that you don't have time to think about your decision, or the car that you like may be gone. For the most part, this is crap. Just sales technique, but I still found myself, and my son, worrying that the vehicle may not be there when we go back.

As performers, we can use our calendars to create this urgency with phrases like "I've had other calls about that date, but nothing is in concrete yet, though that could change at any minute." For me this is true. I've had people call about a date, and need to get with a group of people to make a decision, then five minutes later someone who could make a decision called and booked the same date. Be honest, but stress to your prospects that, in most cases, there is only one YOU to fill a date, and once it's booked, they'll have to settle for less.

2. Give a reason for a discount. Every car we've looked at started at one price and then that price lowered during negotiation (not yet to a level we wanted it to be at or he'd be driving now), but there was always a reason given for a discount (repairs needed, title problems, been on the lot a while, end of the month closing out the books, haven't had it worked on yet... but if you take it now... and so on).

As performers, we can seldom raise our fees after one has been quoted, but you can always lower the fee if there is a need. However, there should be a reason . For me personally, the only reason is routing - for example, if I'm traveling across the country to do a show in California, I may be willing to give a discount to another client who's doing a show in California the next day or two days later because it saves me money and time on travel. The clients I work with understand the idea of coop buying. You can negotiate your price, but always get something in return - permission to videotape, a video testimonial, a letter of recommendation, something in barter (hotel room nights, meals, gift certificates etc.).

I personally prefer working from a published price list and not negotiating on price, but when I am flexible on price, there is always a reason given and there is always something either given up from the contract or an added perk given in return. I recommend the same.

3. Ask for the sale.  In my book More Shows! More Money! I tell a story about another car buying experience. It's reprinted here:

Ask for the Sale

Recently I was in the market for a new vehicle. I saw an SUV I really liked, the new Nissan Xterra. I checked out the vehicle on the Internet and discovered it was very reasonably priced and well within my budget. I went to my local dealer (actually to all three local Nissan dealers) and expressed an interest in the truck. Then I test drove one. And even though it was obvious I was interested in the vehicle and gave every signal I was ready to make the deal, the so-called salesmen never asked me to buy it. Zig Ziglar calls these people “Professional Visitors”, as they cannot, in good conscience, be called salesmen.

On a whim I stopped at the local Isuzu dealer to look at what they had. I noticed they had just dropped the price of the new Troopers by $5000 which made a vehicle I liked a lot more than the Xterra very close in price. I hadn't looked at them closely before because I didn't want to spend that much on a vehicle. This time the salesman recognized I was a serious shopper and helped me fall in love with the Trooper, took me inside and asked – “Do you want to fill out the papers and see if we can get it financed for you?” Why yes, I do, thanks for asking. He sold me a new SUV because he asked me to buy it, a mistake that the previous three tour guides (Oops, I mean incompetent salesmen) had not bothered to do. Had even one of these previous people asked me to buy an Xterra I'd be driving it today instead of the Trooper.

The point don't forget to ask for the sale, if you don't ask, someone else will and you’ll be wondering how they got so lucky.

END EXCERPT

I hope this makes sense and I hope it helps.

'Til next time... C.J.



Thursday
Nov262009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful that I have a "job" that I love so much that I can't wait to get out to the office and do some work on it. The quote "make a living doing what you love to do and you'll never have to "work" a day in your life" is so true. Seldom does what I do feel like work.

I'm thankful to have an awesome wife, 3 incredible children, amazing and talented friends, and a business that is having its best year ever, even when others are having hard times. I think it all comes back to being passionate about what I do for a living - it makes everything else easy.

If wealth is measured in friendships then I am the richest man alive. Thank you to all of my dear friends for your love and friendship. I know you're always there for me, and you know that I'm always here for you. And those are NOT just empty words as we've proven so many times.

Enjoy your Turkey and I've just got to add (as this is the only day I even remotely care about football) Gig 'Em Aggies! Beat the hell outta t.u.!

Wednesday
Nov182009

Listening to Magic Newswire podcast with Marvin "Mr. Electric" Roy. 

I've just started listening to the Magic Newswire podcasts, and I recommend that you do too. It's filled with gems of knowledge and wisdom from some of magics greats. Subscribe to it, it's really good listening.

Today's listening nugget was from Marvin Roy. He just passed over this comment quickly, but it stuck with me; I'm paraphrasing him but he said "It doesn't matter how good you are in front of an audience if you're not good in front of the BUYER first. If you're not good in front of the buyer you'll never get in front of the audience.

Brilliant. Read that phrase over and over again and let it sink in.

Tuesday
Nov172009

50% off for first 5 people!

To test the new shopping cart and website I've created a coupon code of Testing4-50off . Use this coupon when you check out and you'll get 50% off of your TOTAL ORDER!  Heck, at this price I wouldn't be surprised if a magic shop decided to stock up a bit on product.

BUT... this is very limited just to see how the coupons work and to make sure the new website works - so, this expires Thursday Night, 11/19/2009. AND, it's only good for the first five people, so there's no time to fool around - get your orders placed NOW! When it's over, it's over.

C.J.