I promised earlier to explain why I choose to go after the corporate market in my career. I am a firm believer in learning from the greats. Max Malini had a motto: "If you want to make money, you have to go where the money is!" I have found this rule to be a guiding light in my work.
In my Making Magic Real series, I tried to gradually build up my view of what the art of magic is all about. I have a mathematical mind and that comes across in all my thinking. In mathematics, you can use all the right formulas and perfect logic, but one small mistake in the basic math can throw off the entire problem! That is why I often harp on very basic principles when dealing with a complex problem. In trying to solve the intricacies of magic, I used that procedure. I will do that here.
The belief that you will make as much money as you are worth is not entirely true. As a matter of fact, it is rarely true! There are so many factors involved with this question that it is impossible to discuss them all. Let us, however, try to boil it down to a few simple ideas. You will make as much money as you are worth depending on what you negotiate and what the client is capable of paying! I know this is obvious, but many performers don't think this through. They believe that the better they get, the more money they will make. Unless you seek out the types of clients that can afford to pay more, you will not improve your fee no matter how good you get. Again, if you want to make big money, you have to go where the money is.
Rich people have money! On a side note, I have met a lot of regular people who resent rich people. I can't understand this. I love rich people! It's the rich people that have the money to pay me! It's rich people's money that allows us regular people to live well. This is not just in magic, but in all of life. Rich people put their money in banks so that normal people like us can get loans for new houses and cars. Rich people build things that employ normal people such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. Rich people go into stores and spend lots of money so that those stores can hire normal people to work and make a living. Never be so naive as to think badly about the rich.
Rich people get their money from big corporations. If there is a lot of money around, there is a corporation behind it. Even in those industries we think of as being apart from the suit and tie corporate world, they are still there running things.
Take the music industry, for instance. Rock stars, rap singers and country artists seem about as far removed from corporate America as you can get. Yet, the recording companies, the television music stations and the performing venues are all owned by huge corporations who call the moves. Movie stars seem to live in a world of their own making, but take away the desire of the movie companies to employ them and they are finished. Football stars, basketball players and professional golfers can only go as far as the corporations running things allow them to. These people do create their own demand, but still it is the corporations that act on that demand.
I know this all seems obvious, but it is necessary to drive home the point that it is people sitting behind desks in huge office buildings that make everything happen. The smart move is going directly after these corporations and their own events if you want to make really big money. Although the businesses they own may be lucrative, nothing will come close to working for the home office.
As an example, the Trump organization owns many casinos. You might get a job performing in one of their lounges and your fee will be dictated by what that casino normally pays such an act. If, however, The Donald's home office is having a Christmas party and you are lucky enough to get a job performing there, your fee is negotiable and the sky is the limit. You can bet what you end up with for a night's work there will be a lot more than that job in a casino!
This kind of work is plentiful and not just for holidays. Large corporations constantly hold events all year long. Many hotel chains rely on these meetings for a main part of their income. Marriott hotels, Four Season hotels and a slew of other hotels and resorts have huge banquet rooms primarily for such corpo rate events. Usually these award banquets feature some after dinner speaker. This speaker can be a famous sports figure, a politician or some type of entertainer. This is where you can fit in!
You can only imagine what a company might pay to get an ex-politician such as Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton to speak. A current baseball star or professional golfer commands huge fees. If you move into that area, the meeting planners are used to paying big bucks! A fee that might seem totally extravagant to you will probably seem like a bargain to them. You have a benefit as you are going to do something rather than just speak. But your speaking qualities and personality have to match what they are used to getting in those other speakers. You have to be able to fit in and that is where the real challenge is.
I have found that mentalism works perfectly in this situation although any magic can work equally well if it is thought out and appropriate. Some type of message always helps such as the Power of the Mind or You Can Accomplish Anything. You don't want to get too corny and you shouldn't try to portray yourself as a motivational speaker (a much worn-out phrase), but there should be a reason why you are there. Of course, your main job is to entertain, but if you can offer a little something extra, it can pay tremendous dividends. Just be subtle!
For many years, I was brought in on the last night of meetings as a "closer" for the event. Lately, however, I am often booked on the opening night. The companies I work for found that my show was a great way for all the attendees to get to know each other and get them talking. Because I involve so many participants and since much of my show deals with their individual thoughts, it is a natural way for everyone to loosen up. That has now become another selling point for my show.
If you can establish yourself as a corporate speaker, there are enormous benefits that will come your way. The first is the tremendous size of these companies. Many corporations are so big that you can do numerous shows throughout the year for the same company and never repeat an audience! Meeting planners speak to other meeting planners and quite often a company officer or some other important figure in the company will recommend you to other groups. Your fee will be known so there are no negotiations necessary. Often, members from other companies will be in attendance and can get you an "in" with their own organiza tions. Also, if you can perform on stage for an audience of 200 to 500 people, then it goes without saying that you are more than qualified to do smaller, more intimate gatherings.
I personally make it a point to perform whenever and wherever possible. By doing a few things before and after the main show, I let it be known that I am very capable of working at trade show booths, hospitality suites and private parties. From such engagements, I have found myself performing before governors, ex-presidents, famous sports figures, television stars and even on stage in Beijing, China for 600 Chinese businessmen through the use of an interpreter!
The road to getting into this kind of work is not easy and there is a lot that must be understood. Hopefully, the following chapters will help you get there!
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