The Law Of Supply And Demand

There are two fundamental ways of selling anything. Either you are able to supply that which is in demand, or you create a demand for that which you can supply. If you understand this you are a good business man.

Let us regard Mentalism as a Product for Sale. If we are right at the very start we think to ourselves "now what do they want?" and finding the answer, we go ahead and create an act that fits present day requirements.

On the other hand, maybe we have an act already so our problem is different. We think this time "How can I create a demand for this act?".

The two are not the same and so it's no good thinking about Publicity Stunts until you decide which is which. If you are concerned with the second contingency, that is having an act and selling it, you may be in for a few headaches. It is quite possible that you have worked for a long time to perfect a series of tricks and to routine them into an act. Then, when everything is ready to go, you suddenly find that nobody "wants that kind of thing". You have spent five years working on something that isn't in demand.

On the other hand, you might think you are a shrewd fellow who looks around and spots everything that's going well and you decide to do the same. So you spend five years perfecting a new act and when it's ready you find that what was in demand is now decidedly out of fashion. It's not as easy as it seems.

So we have two headaches. Let us deal wkh number one first—selling the act that already exists!

Creating a Demand

We presume that in the first place you have an act. What is more, we presume that it is a very good act, it has been tried and tested as best you can, everything has been fully rehearsed, you know how to do all the tricks with your eyes closed (we speak figuratively!) and all in all, you have faith in the quality of your act. If you don't have any faith—you won't convince anybody else that it's good and even if you do—it won't be long before they find out that it's not what you claim. v

Before you decide upon a Publicity Campaign—which has to come, you must first decide where you want to perform. You will direct the mass of your publicity in one field (i.e. cabaret, theatre, dinners, etc.), so consider very carefully the best type of places for your work—a thing which is governed very much by the type of act you have created. Obviously, big illusion acts cannot be done in small rooms where you get dinners held. Close up magic and mentalism looks silly on a large stage. So fit the place of performance to the act—and even modify the act when necessary to fit the place of performance. Ideally, you should have an act that you can do almost anywhere. It will go on T.V., it is angleproof for the cabaret floor, it is large enough for the stage and it can be squeezed into a fairly large room for dinners. Any "pro" will tell you how easy it is to get an act like that ! !

Fortunately, the Mentalist has the advantage over the Magician when it comes to creating a "versatile" act. The Mentalist does not have to work with big props and a personality can fit into any room or fill any stage— and I don't mean with tonnage!

When you think of it, you realise that a Mindreader is primarily supposed to read minds and if so, any apparatus—no matter what it may be, is something which does not fit the picture of the true Mindreader; our conception of the authentic telepathist is the man who simply stands there and tells you what you are thinking. Bearing this in mind ourselves, we may rightly suppose that a commercial act which purports telepathy, can be one which uses very r~" i i i [ [ i_ c_

little equipment. An important point to remember, because the less equipment you have—the more places there are for you to perform.

So we analyse our act and then decide where we can best perform it. As an example, we can assume that we decide Dinners, Small Audiences at intimate gatherings and perhaps small halls, are the places where we can best perform. (Remember, this is only an example—it need not necessarily be so).

Our next concern is to decide outright how much we want to get for our performance and that financial conclusion will direct our attention to some particular class or level of society. Quite a few of my friends make a steady living playing what we call "Working Men's Clubs"—but these places do not pay what fees can be expected from Cabaret at society restaurant places. How much you expect to be paid is something which decides what you do, what quality you exercise and what standard you have to maintain. It is wrong to suppose that a sophisticated Cabaret Act is just the thing for an 401d Army Reunion Dinner', etc. Both classes are open markets for a good performer but it's no good trying to kid yourself that a strongly worded and rather naughty show for Army Camps is highly suited for the Savoy Hotel. Also it is wrong to suppose that all the money is, to be made from the best places. You might get paid more for work in high class places, but there is more work to be had as you come down the scale of social entertainment. Many "old hands" 1 know earn as much in a year with regular bookings at Clubs and Dinners as do quite a few top line professionals who now and then get a Cabaret booking. The best place for anybody to work—is the place where they feel best suited.

All this might seem irrelevant to the Question of Publicity as a subject, but it is by no means so. Only a fool will go madly ahead and spend a small fortune on an artistic and expensive brochure that sent to club organisers gets him a booking that would have come just the same from a duplicated letter. And on the other hand, a cheap duplicated letter sent to a Cabaret booking agent does not bear out a sophisticated act that it suggests. "Lady X" who wants a distinguished performer at her house party next Friday— likes to see a four-page, art paper, professionally drawn, coloured and designed Brochure. Mr. Roberts, a busy club secretary and organiser of social evenings can't be bothered—he wants to know quickly what you do, how long and how much.

Decide what you want to do, where you want to do it and then, and only then, get down to creating a demand by perpetrating a Publicity Campaign.

We are taking for example a performer who decides to work for small gatherings and we shall take it that he aspires to a medium level and intends to work in a class above the barrack room and below cabaret. There is a big market in between.

Let us consider for example a few of the many places which may call upon his services. We have social parties, wedding anniversaries, twenty-first birthdays and the kind; there are Church activities and there are a diverse number of Clubs of the semi-sophisticated class. We have annual affairs of industrial companies that often call for an entertainer at their Dinner and Dance. There are Masonic Dinners—entertaining at private licensed rooms for groups which hire these premises for meetings, there are receptions of various kinds and Charity Banquets. There are many "private engagements" to be had—which are held at private houses of the well-to-do (and often pay very well) and there are quite a few exhibitions to cater for your services. Last, but by no means least, now and then work is to be found with a Concert party or Variety group.

From this we see at once that, although we have indeed cut down our field in which we intend to perform, we have even so, allowed plenty of scope for our work.

Now we decide to create a demand in this field and we consider how to do so. Our policy should be to achieve two things. First to become known and to get in—and then to maintain the bookings so that year by year you go back. Do not aim at a short sighted policy which suggests you go once, do it and forget it. In our present field of work (the example) there is much demand for "repeat orders" so work with an eye to the future.

To qualify the last sentence, let us take it that if you push your prices up to the top—you may well get in once, but you may well be "overlooked" next time. It is almost a sin to undercharge and it is foolhardy to overcharge. Be reasonable.

Maintaining the bookings with the same agent is the consequence of good work at reasonable prices, which speaks for itself, so we can deal with the first part of our policy and see what publicity can do for us to "get known".

Personal Publicity

There are many different types of publicity and we shall deal with a few of them and later we shall give examples as are used and that can be used. One type we term Personal Publicity and that is what is often called in show-business "a gimmick". A personal publicity gimmick can be literally anything; it's very vague and yet there are many good examples to be found. It can be something you say or how you say it—and become noted for those words or that expression. It can be a laugh (our English Magician Tommy Cooper soon wins an audience with his gimmicked laugh) ^or it can be a mannerism or personal feature. You would be surprised to learn what a perfectly bald head did for Yul Brynner the actor! You need not necessarily shave your head bare as he did—but it was an angle which as a gimmick was "it". If you can create a personal gimmick and live with it (!)it hallmarks you for life and that means publicity. If you are not born with something different to use, make one; one of the greatest men of showbusiness is Charles Chaplin—he wasn't born with two feet stuck sideways and a bent cane in his hand—he made the gimmick and the gimmick helped to make him. Anything is better than nothing; even being nasty like Richard Himber makes you famous! Although he's the most horrible man I know—I still have a healthy respect for him and he's one man that knows and uses publicity. Take a look at the world of showbusiness; nearly everybody who is anybody has got a gimmick, and not without reason. The acid test of a good gimmick is one that if used by an impersonator, people would recognise you without being told who was being impersonated.

Personal Advertising

Under this heading we cater for such things as Business or visiting cards, brochures, handouts, headed writing paper and novelties which advertise you and your business. Later in this Step we give some examples of advertising used by a well-known American magician which show the practical side of the subject. Let us here, satisfy ourselves with a brief consideration of the subject on hand:—

Visiting Cards (or Business Cards)

Things which are so cheap and useful that there is no excuse for being without them. However, little as you may pay for them—you should go to the trouble of having them done right. Choose a good quality card—and have the printer use what style of type you think looks neat. Most important of all, get the wording right on the card. The basic essentials are your name, address and telephone number and profession. Sometimes, it is enough to have your name and profession only but in any case, avoid the common mistake of over-wording on a visiting card. Keep the professional status to a minimum and avoid overflowing lists of achievements like:—

Mr. T. Corinda Mindrcadcr

Available for dates .*

Magic, Mentalism, Hypnotism & Puppets

(For Children & Adults)

Address : 65 Mortimer Street, Tel. Lan 2491 London, W.l.

EXAMPLE 44 A " EXAMPLE 44 B

We have two examples. In 44A" we have achieved what a visiting card is supposed to achieve—it tells them WHO you are. In "B" we see what is nearly an autobiography and yet we see the type of thing so often. It is not good— it is a sign of culture to know what to say and what not to say—even on a visiting card.

In example "A" we could use the name "Mentalist" in place of "Mind-reader". It does not make a lot of difference—except that everybody knows what you mean by Mindreader and not everybody knows the meaning of Mentalist. Also, we could add the name of our agents (if any) or our address, if we wanted it known.

In example "B" we find a host of sins. To start with, there has always been something wrong with the phrase "Available for dates . . ." It suggests unemployment! It is wrong to put anything like Hypnotism and the words 44for Children" within a mile of each other. It is wrong to appear a "Jack of all trades" because having read it the only conclusion is "well what the hell is he?" Lastly, you may have magical qualifications like Member of the Inner Magic Circle, but to put them on your card as M.I.M.C. means everything to Magicians who know and won't book you—and means nothing at all to outsiders. The Magic Circle is a famous club and sometimes it carries weight when getting bookings—so if you want to use any titles, and having the right to do so, say what they are and don't abbreviate. Better by far to leave such qualifications to the brochure which is read by people who want to know about you.

The Brochure

Paying attention to our earlier discussion we must remember that different types of advertising must be used for different fields. We maintain our example and continue to imagine that our field is small audiences. Our first consideration is how much do we want to spend on a brochure and is it worth it ? Well, the last part is easy to deal with—of course it's worth it. If you work it out in businesslike fashion, you find that you need as little as one per cent, result or booking from your circulation to pay the material cost, which leaves you with all that publicity if nothing more. At our Magic Stud'io we have often sent out ten thousand circulars and when we get one hundred replies it is very good business. The same applies to almost any form of mass advertising—you need so little back to pay the cost. Although we do not suppose that you will be sending out thousands of brochures, it is quite possible that you will dispose of very many over a period of time. Remember, as a professional entertainer you are in business, and in any form of business, advertising is usually an investment and not an expenditure.

The amount of money you want to spend on your Brochure will obviously be the factor that determines quantity and quality. The initial expense can be quite considerable as you have to cost art work, original printing blocks and the kind. Once this is overcome—they cost very little.

My advice to you is to have a brochure and moreover, have a good one. 1 would suggest that for economy, you have your brochure designed so that from one page, it folds into four. For example, take a quarto sheet and fold it twice and you get a leaflet with four small faces and one large when opened out. This is quite adequate for the unpretentious! It means also that from the printing side, it is an easy "run". Your printer will set up to run twice only (for one colour) and one must bear in mind that the more runs involved the more the cost. It is a matter of taste as to what style you want but for those who cannot decide, I would suggest the following as a reasonable guide.

Size quarto which you fold into four as they are needed. A good quality white art paper (just the same as this Step) and at least two colours. The more colours you use, the more the expense, but no less than two colours; better three or four. (Your printer will tell you that with careful selection of four basic colours, many other colours can be created at no extra cost; my advice, consult a good colour printer or commercial artist.) Quantity: first run 1,000.

Design and layout. I would recommend that you regard each small side as one page and utilise these as follows. Front—a first-class drawing and a few words which present your name. Sometimes you can use a phrase which invites people to look further . . . "Can you read minds?" and the next page tells them you can! Sometimes an action photo is used on the front cover —but make it good if you use it. I prefer, as I say, a simple introduction.

We unfold the page to inside left and start there with information about yourself. Who you are, what you do, where you have done it. Make sure that it is in good English and don't be ashamed to give yourself a bit of a build-up—remember this leaflet has got to sell you! Our next page, inner right is best devoted to what others say, a time honoured advertising technique, and we cover this with photo copies of press reports, cut outs from complimentary letters and perhaps a final plug which tells them how they go about booking you for their function. We are left now with two "pages". The very back and the full size. I feel that the best place for a full-size photograph (professional pose) is the small back page. A close-up head shot is good for this. Admitted a photograph could go on the inner large page— but there is one thing against this and that is, because of the four-fold page arrangement, there would be two big creases bang in the middle of your photo' which is not to be desired.

We are left with the full quarto middle page and can use this in several ways. I have seen some excellent cartoons which drawn by the right men, go a long way to describe the "product" (you) in a nice way. I have seen the continental fashion which runs along the lines of contemporary art (line drawings) which psychologically suggest "Magic". There is something in historic plates—and there is much to be said for a "mixed" or "scrambled" layout of action pictures. The latter, if they are available, are very good because they show what you have done. You pick shots which give views of large audiences, you on a Television screen, a few close-up showing the expression of amazement on faces of members of the audience, and for good effect, you can stick in name headings from daily or well-known newspapers and below in smaller type, use favourable comments given by critics. As you will appreciate, it depends a great deal on what material you have available.

Once we have planned the design, layout, size and shape we assemble all the material we have and make a note of any ideas that might be good. We then set out to find the right man to do the job. Ten to one you are not an artist and you can't beat the right man for the right job. You don't go to the dentist to get your boots repaired so spend a few pounds or dollars and have a professional artist draw up the brochure for you. Unless you happen to be first-class yourself—do not try and do it yourself (as some do) because you cannot afford to have an amateurish brochure.

There are people who do nothing but design brochures for a living and these are the best people although usually they are the most expensive. I know one English magician who recently paid £140 for nothing more than art work on a brochure. But what he has is a work of art.

Any good commercial artist knows about colours, design, etc., and almost certainly, can handle the job. Tell him just what you want and then listen to what he may suggest as improvements. Have him produce several drafts or rough sketches that give you an approximate idea of the finished product. Finally, settle for what you think is so good it cannot be improved, and have the "master" drawn and designed. Your artist, knowing about block making and printing will produce the originals in such a size that thev can be reduced to the desired size of quarto. The drawing will probably be five or six times as big as the finished product and they will be photographically reduced by the block makers. A helpful artist will tell you where to have blocks made and recommend a good colour printer. He will also handle the whole project if you pay the right money—remember, it's his job so he knows what he's doing.

One final word concerning the "quarto leaflet brochure". You will appreciate that once the art work is done on a grand scale, reduction may be made to any reasonable size and so you may like to think about two sizes of brochures made from the original drawings. This means twice as many blocks—but a tiny pocket brochure can be a handy thing to carry around.

We have described very briefly one type of Brochure. Needless to say, there are others much more expensive and some cheaper. If you have sufficient ambition, publicity material and money, there is nothing to stop you producing something "Out of this world". You can get something that looks almost too good to handle. A six-page booklet; velvet or cloth covers, sophisticated embossed lettering, scroll work in gold and black, tinted papers, cellophane protective inserts, and every copy personally signed by you with ink specially prepared by Soulies of Bond Street (Three guineas a bottle) but we have already said that there is no need to advertise above the level of your intended market. It may be as well to remember that no matter how good your brochure, you still have to go along and prove you're good on the day!

Photographs

There is not much to say about this because a lot can be taken for granted. You will need quite a few copies of good photographs of yourself. This means, without any arguments, a good photographer. Your pal with his Brownie camera might take good snapshots but they are not in the least any good for you. Go to a professional photographer (or have him come to you) and get it done properly. Normally, the more copies you have printed from the negatives, the cheaper it gets, so look ahead and have as many done at once as you can afford. Two sizes are advisable, theatre display size, usually about 10 in. x 7 in. and postcard size, about 3J in. x 6 in. Lastly, in case you are unacquainted with the fact, there are people who can doctor your photos, working on originals, to make them look much better than the first print. Unless six chins is your gimmick—have an artist blot out five!

Headed Paper

The last subject we deal with under Personal Advertising is the business of having at your disposal. Headed writing paper and maybe envelopes. Personally, I do not like name-advertising on envelopes and think it better to use a plain one. However, it is pretty important that you have a good headed paper. In saying what I am about to say, I do not wish to be personal to anyone in particular, but during the course of each year I should say I receive some thousands of letters from Magicians and Mentalists and to be quite truthful—the usual standard of headings used on their business papers— is utterly appalling. To start with, 1 loathe corny names; stage titles adopted by people who having no imagination think "The Great Faggo" fits in well with a cigarette act. An accurate check of my records at the office shows we have no less than seventeen people calling themselves "Mr. E." (all of them claim they were the first!) which cannot be a good thing for the other sixteen "Mr. E's". It cannot be a good thing to have a name that can be confused with another person.

Your headed paper should look like the rest of your advertising material— tasteful and neat. An artist-drawn block is very good and inexpensive and once again, don't overload your private paper with personal data. (See Visiting Cards). It is literal etiquette to put your address on the right of the page, so don't stick it on the left. It is an accepted licence in business to run your address with your name as a heading or across the top of the page.

The Publicity Campaign

If by now you can remember our introductory remarks, you will recollect that we are dealing with publicity for an act that already exists. It may be superfluous to point out that it is not an easy matter to design (for instance) a Brochure—when you have done nothing and whatismore, you don't know what you are going to do! Remember, a brochure is part Promise and part History, it's a promise of what you will do and history of what you have done! Therefore, you cannot conduct a Publicity Campaign until you have an act.

The basic structure of your campaign is founded on a very simple formula. Get something to sell, let them know you have it for sale, sell it, keep on selling it. Four stages which we can break down as follows:—

(ia) Get something to sell. In other words, once again, have a good act ready to do and ready to describe in your publicity matter.

(6) Let them know you have it for sale.—means you are ready to go, and the easiest way to arrive is with a bang. That means a fairly big Publicity Stunt, and the more your ambition, the greater must be the stunt. For this, in Mentalism, we call upon Headline Predictions, Football Pool or Racing Predictions, Blindfold Drives, Challenges (with no risks attached) and things of that kind. They are the stunts that launch you like a battleship—and sometimes you end up in deep water!

(c) Having done the big stunt, it's a fat lot of good sitting back and waiting, so you exploit any publicity you gain and bring it to the attention of those who will be impressed and give you work for it.

(d) Having got a booking on the strength of your Publicity Stunt, you now play it out—and keep getting bookings since your object is to stay in work as much as possible. Therefore maintain your publicity and keep yourself to the front. No matter how famous you are, throughout your career it is necessary to booster your name with another publicity stunt. So keep at it and when the fame of the last stunt dies down, start working on another to rekindle the fire.

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