If you want to charge respectable fees for your performances you must learn the art of selling your shows on the value they bring to the customer not on price. The biggest mistake I see many magicians make is they are so eager to perform that they are willing to drop the price of their programs well below what they should be paid. Personally I don’t bargain on price. My prices are fixed. I need to make a certain amount of profit in order to stay in business. The bottom line of being a professional versus an amateur magician is the professional magician earns his income through performing.
The biggest mistake I see amateur magicians making is they often charge far too little for their services. I’ve even heard them say they don’t feel like they are worthy of charging a professional fee, however this attitude really hurts the market. If you are worthy of charging money for your performances then you are worthy of a professional fee. I often hear new professionals make statements such as. “I’ll dominate the market by being the cheapest magician in the area.” I usually meet these people several months later at their new part-time job they are using to partially subsidize their income (no longer a pro.) Instead of selling strictly on price, you need to focus on the value of your program and what you can do for your customers.
With this being said, I understand that each market has a ceiling on price. I primarily perform in the school market and I will not be able to demand the prices of a top trade show performer. You must know your market and what the price ranges are in those markets. After that you have to set out to build the best possible program for your customers and understand what they see as valuable to their organization.
So when the phone rings and the first words out of the customer’s mouth are, “How much do you charge ?” you should have a strategy of how to handle this question. Remember your goal is not to sell on price, your goal is to sell on value. You need take control of the conversation and build the value of your program before you respond to the question of price. Here are three easy steps to keep in mind.
1. Don’t respond to price right away.
First gather information about the program. When I first started out I worked primarily birthday parties. I once had a customer call me and ask me about my price. I quoted a price only to figure out that the show was in Dallas three hours from where I lived, at seven o’clock at night. There are a lot of factors to price: size of audience, location, the type of magic they’re looking for, indoor outdoor, so on and so forth. All these factors will determine your fee.
2. Understand what it is you do.
I know it’s tempting when the phone rings to take any show that comes along. I understand you’re a great performer! I know if I talked to your mother she would tell me what a wonderful magician you are!
But seriously you can’t specialize in every type of magic show. I present primarily platform and stage magic. It’s my thing. It’s where I’ve focused most of my career. I am not a great close-up magician- yes I can pull off the occasional strolling gig, however, when someone calls me and they tell me they want a true close-up magician someone who can kill at close-up, and they have a large budget, but they’re looking for the best close-up magician they can find. Large budget? Best close-up magician they could find? Tempting? Yes! However I am not the right person for the job. I would not be serving my customer well by taking that job. I usually refer programs like this to someone like Cody Fisher- a world-class, close-up artist featured at the Magic Castle in the close-up room and in many television appearances. It’s important to know your limits because every time you go out and give a bad performance, it only hurts your company and our industry. If you work comedy clubs and primarily cater to adult humor, stay out of the school market. Try to find an audience that you can connect with and love performing for. Focus there, and your business will grow.
3. Don’t introduce price too early.
Price objections often come when you give the price too soon. Before you can talk about price in the sales process, you have to get the prospect to see the value your program brings to their event.
4. Find out their budget.
For private parties and small banquets they probably don’t have a specific budget for these programs you should just have a price based on size of show, how far you’ll have to travel, and what type of equipment you’ll need to provide. For large events, such as fairs festivals large corporate gatherings and association meetings, there will be a set budget. It is definitely to your advantage to find out their budget. The best way I’ve found to find out what their budget is- simply ask for it! If you get an objection to revealing their budget I simply ask whether they are interested in a smaller show in the $1000-$2000 range. Or would they be more interested in a large stage show in the $2000-$5000 range. Now to be honest with you, I don’t work many venues that pay more than that. If you need larger venues prices, contact David Copperfield or Criss Angel.
5. Focus on selling the value.
Now it’s time to reveal the price of your program. Take a big breath and remember the goal is to make a profit- not just perform another show. Remind them of everything that you’ll be doing to help them meet their event goals and don’t worry about competition- in the end they’re going to go with whatever act meets their event needs. After presenting the entire value to their organization tell them the price. And then don’t say a word until they speak. The basic rule selling at this point is, he who speaks first loses. For large organizations you’ll probably need to put this in writing and send a proposal. This is why price structuring is so important to your success. You don’t want to have to make a new proposal up and new pricing for each and every program you present. You know you have certain fixed costs to each program and what you need to make to be profitable for those programs. The only factors after that are travel, lodging, and any special equipment you may need to purchase or rent for the program. If you’ve asked enough questions and gotten the facts, you shouldn’t have any problems with this.