Trade Show Magician
So you have an exhibition coming up and you’re thinking of hiring a Trade Show Magician for a different way to stand out in a sea of competitors all vying for delegates attention.
When it comes to thinking about new ways to differentiate your stand from the others with giveaways or experiences you need to be sure that it’s going work.
People don’t want free branded pens or USB sticks anymore (who is even still using those anyway) and there is a limit to how many times a box of Quality Streets will get the right people to stop and talk.
So on this page, I’m going to be covering a few reasons why using a magician for a trade show can work. What to expect and also how to utilise the magician so that you can get the most out of their time.
So let’s get started with why.
Why hire a magician for an exhibition?
Let’s start with four reasons why you should hire a magician for your trade show and what things they’ll be able to bring to your stand.
1. Good At Stopping People
One of the hardest parts of working on an exhibition stand is getting people to stop.
There is so much on offer at a trade show that people get overwhelmed.
The endless lines of different stands all eagerly competing for the attention of every passing person.
People don’t like being sold to and as a result, are quite often apprehensive about engaging in a conversation with an exhibitor.
Having a good magician who’s used to working at trade shows on your stand though is a surefire way of getting people to stop and engage with your stand without them feeling under pressure.
Everyone loves close-up magic and are much more willing to stop to see a magic trick than to be pitched to by a salesperson.
This then leads on to the next point…
2. You can build a crowd
Magicians can perform quick tricks that will instantly get people’s attention.
Once you’ve got a few people stopping to watch, more and more people wonder what is going on and then a crowd begins to form.
If you hire an experienced trade show magician then they’ll know how to make this happen.
They will be sure to get people laughing and having a good time which will intrigue people especially if they see everyone enjoying themselves on your stand.
Make sure you talk to the magician you hire before the exhibition to let them know what your goals are.
Maybe you don’t want a huge crowd around your stand as your product is very specific and won’t be relevant to many people at the show.
In that case, you want short tricks to engage people so that you can see if they’re worth talking to, which leads me on to the next point.
3. Lets you vet the delegate
You know who your customers are and at a trade show there are quite often a lot of people that you know don’t fall into that bracket.
Sometimes you don’t even expect to make any sales but you just have to be there to show your face to your competitors.
So whilst your magician is building a crowd and entertaining them, it gives you and your team the perfect opportunity to take a glance over at their badge to see if they are a potential customer of yours.
That way whilst your magician is reaching the end of their performance you can join the group ready to initiate a conversation.
There are lots of different ways to do this as well.
One time I taught one of the staff members a very simple trick that was the ending to my routine so when he gave me the signal that he wanted to chat to them I would then set him up to finish off the trick.
The delegates loved this and it was the perfect icebreaker to begin talking about business.
You can also ask your magician to look out for qualified leads.
For example, telling your magician that you’re looking to speak to certain job titles or companies and to make the introduction to you when he finds someone fitting the bill.
4. It's memorable
Magic is memorable.
People remember seeing a magician for years and years and if you can associate that memory with your product, service or company then you are on to a winner.
People love close-up magic and have often seen magicians at evening events or as entertainment at weddings.
They’re often the most memorable thing at a party as very few people remember the food, flowers or what the lighting looked like but the entertainment (if it’s good) stays in people’s minds.
You’d be surprised at how many times when meeting people on events they tell me about the last magician that they saw, where they were, exactly what the magician did and how it made them feel.
My goal is to be that magician, the one that they tell people about.
“Oh, I saw this magician Dan Farrant at so and so’s wedding. He did X, Y, Z and it was incredible!”
By using a magician on your exhibition stand you can imprint your brand or message in people’s memories. Especially if you can incorporate your product into the magic trick which we’ll cover a bit later in this post.
How to use a magician on your stand
In the next part of this post, I thought I’d cover a few ways that you could use a magician on an exhibition stand if you hired one and what sort of things to expect.
Things like what tricks they’ll do, timings and different ways to incorporate your brand into their act etc.
The average exhibit will start at 09:30 and finish around 17:00 which is quite a long time, especially if that’s three days in a row.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, performing magic is exhausting.
Being under constant scrutiny by lots of sceptical people at an event, whilst trying to be entertaining and funny for two to three hours straight get’s really tiring.
I remember doing my first few events. After they were finished I was so physically and mentally drained that I got really ill!
After a while, you begin to build up some stamina and doing an event becomes totally normal.
I still get pretty tired if I have an event every day for two weeks straight or do three events in a single day. I remember one December a few years ago I had 14 events in seven days and wow I was completely knackered after that.
Getting the timings right for an exhibition is important too.
Most exhibition magicians will offer a day rate and be there from the beginning to the end.
I tend to recommend doing 45-50 minute sets throughout the day with short breaks every hour.
The magician will then usually take around 30 – 45 minutes for lunch.
This way they don’t burn out and become a fumbling mess by the third day and can give their all every performance.
The other option that some magicians offer is to not be there the whole day but come for the busier times only.
If you’ve been on an exhibition before you’ll know that there are busy times and some really dead times where no one is around.
To get around paying for the magician for all this dead time during a trade show you can get them to come for maybe two to four hours when you think it’s going to be busier.
It will be a lot cheaper this way too!
Close up magic or a show
The other option that some magicians who do a lot of trade shows will offer is to do a shorter show every hour or so.
This way it becomes more of an event that people will come back for at a certain time.
You can then build up a big crowd of people around your stand and once a few people begin to stop more and more people will wonder what’s going on and begin to engage with your stand.
This can be a great way of using entertainment at a trade exhibition to get attention.
I’ve seen it work countless times with not just magic but also other forms of entertainment such as football freestylers, dancers or musicians.
Just a note that if you do opt for this option check with the trade show hosts as there may be restrictions on sound and you don’t want to upset the other exhibitors around your stand with noise every hour.
What sort of tricks to expect
Every magician is different and whilst their repertoire of tricks may have some crossover, their patter and personality will be totally different from other magicians.
When working on a stand doing close-up I’ve found the hardest part is stopping people and getting them to engage in one quick trick.
After you’ve got them to stop and they’ve seen something, it’s a lot easier to do a few more tricks as they know that you’re good (and you’re not trying to sell them something).
People’s preconceptions of magicians don’t tend to be positive and so dispelling this thought as soon as possible is my first goal.
I tend to do something really quick, visual and fun for the first trick which then gets them involved.
One thing to mention is whilst I have dozens and dozens of tricks I won’t do many.
Through trial and error, I’ve worked out which ones work and which ones don’t when engaging people at a trade exhibition.
I’ll tend to only do four to six tricks but if people are particularly enjoying it and come back to see more I can obviously do lots of others.
Using a script about your product
It’s very tempting to turn your magician into the salesman/woman giving them a script and inserting cheesy lines about how your brand does magic…
Now some magicians will be happy to do this but I’d encourage you not to get them to.
I’m yet to see a trade show magician doing a script about the product that isn’t really cheesy and lame (with probably one exception which you can see a bit later in this post).
The performer won’t know your brand/product/service well enough to answer people’s questions and you want to use them to be stopping people.
Customers will appreciate not being sold to and just being entertained that they’ll be a lot happier to sign up/leave their details or engage with your salespeople after they’ve seen the magician’s performance.
Taking the magician around with you
A little tip that I’ve been doing recently on trade shows is towards the end of the day as things begin to slow down it can be the perfect opportunity to walk around and visit some of the other stands.
Usually, a lot of your company’s existing clients will be exhibiting at the exhibition too.
It can work really well to visit their stand to say hi and touch base and bring along your magician to entertain their staff and team.
A lot of my clients have taken me along with them and it always goes down well!
Pricing and Fees
These days the costs of exhibiting are monumental alone with electricity, lighting, furniture and scanners all being sold on top of the space itself it can quickly add up.
It’s hard for any company to come up with new ways of attracting customers, especially without spending your entire marketing budget for the year.
But, hiring a magician for your trade show can be a cost-effective way of gaining more attention and leads to your stand.
Magicians will quote a lot of very varied prices.
Someone just starting out or an amateur magician who does a few gigs in their spare time is going to be a lot less than a full-time professional magician who performs at dozens of trade shows a year and relies on repeat bookings from happy customers or referrals from previous clients.
For evening events, the going rate for magicians could be anywhere from £400 – £1,250 for close-up magic.
That will depend on a few different things like:
- The time of year
- The location
- The day of the week
- The timings of the event
- The experience of the magician
I would be wary of hiring someone charging less than £350 for an evening event.
They’re most likely just starting out and whilst you may get lucky and book the next David Copperfield, it’s probably not worth the risk.
For an after dinner stage act you’d be looking at anywhere from £750 – £3,000.
If they’ve been on TV or are particularly well know then you’ll be looking at around £1,500 – £10,000 and if you want the likes of Dynamo or David Blaine then you’ll be looking at spending upwards of £50,000!
But when hiring a magician for your next exhibition you are more likely going to be looking at paying their day rate.
Probably in the region of £650 to £2,500 + travel expenses per day (I’m around £850 per day).
Most will also offer a discount if you book them for more than one day as well.
It might be worth asking for a quote for a few hours during the middle of the day when the stand will be at it’s busiest and that way you’re not paying for their time when no one is around to perform for.
Incorporating your brand or product
I’m always happy to talk about the possibility of incorporating your brand into the tricks and it’s worked really well in the past.
There are a few different things that I’d suggest but I’m always up for hearing your ideas and trying something new.
Branded Playing cards
The easiest way to incorporate your brand into the magic is to use branded playing cards.
Now I do lot’s of varied magic tricks using coins and money as well as other borrowed items and things but probably every magician in the world does a card trick.
It’s really easy to get some branded playing cards made up by a printer with the backs of them all displaying your company’s logo etc.
Not only will I be able to use them to perform with on the stand but they also make fantastic giveaways that you can give them out to delegates as a gift.
People don’t tend to throw away playing cards for years and years and so whenever people get them out to play a game with them they’ll be staring at your brand.
Have a chat with your trade show magician as they will most likely have a few requirements when it comes to getting playing cards branded. They won’t want to use your average playing cards that have the quality of something out of a Christmas cracker.
Incorporating your brand or product into a magic trick is a really good way of getting across your message at a trade show.
Magicians can be quite a creative bunch when it comes to this as well.
We enjoy puzzles and challenges so it will be definitely worth pitching an idea to your trade show magician if you want to go down this road.
Now personally I tend to stick to doing magic, stopping people, entertaining them and then introducing them to you.
No one knows your product or service like you and your team so I tend to leave you guys to do the selling. Other magicians though are more than happy to learn a script or pitch and to create a bespoke magical show for you.
I personally think this is a bit too much and can seem like a real hard sell and the times I’ve seen it it’s been cheesy as well.
Now personally I tend to stick to doing magic, stopping people, entertaining them and then introducing them to you.
No one knows your product or service like you and your team so I would rather leave you guys to do the selling.
Other magicians may be happy to learn a script or pitch and to create a bespoke magical show for you.
I personally think this is a bit too much and can seem like a real hard sell and the times I’ve seen it have been cheesy as well.
As you might have seen on my site one of the different styles of magic that I perform is Digital Magic which mixes technology and sleight of hand magic to bring a new twist on the traditional close-up magician.
If you’ve seen the video above as well you can see it makes a really interesting, visual and engaging magical show.
Most people have seen a magician at an event and will have a good idea of what to expect when a close-up magician comes up to perform at an event.
Digital magic though takes these old tricks and brings them into the 21st century.
It’s very engaging and even someone who thinks they’ve seen close-up magic will be intrigued about how the magician will incorporate the iPad, iPhone or tablet to the magic trick.
Not only is it an interesting new way to engage punters with a magic trick but it also opens up a lot of doors to branding.
When I perform at a trade show or corporate event and I’m performing as a Digital Magician I will always set the background of the device to match the company’s brand as well using it in the tricks themselves.
Thanks for reading
Anyway, I hope you’ve found this post helpful and given you some ideas for your next trade show.
I know I’m biased but it honestly works really well to have a close up magician on your exhibition stand.
If you’re interested in getting some more information or want me to pop into your office to chat about your next exhibition I’d love to.
Just drop me an email and we can arrange something. Happy exhibiting!