Reviewing this month’s emails from Alexandrites, I’ve noticed some of you branching out, developing simple shows from the magic I’ve taught you and going out and performing locally for family, Halloween parties and church events.  This is thrilling!  Some of you feel you’re still not ready to take to the stage and that’s okay too.  Be where you are.  In what I believe is a gesture of modesty, some of you are doing events for free.  If you’re just having fun at family events and such, this is understandable.  However, if you’re entering the magic market and your price is zero, we need to talk!  You may be doing more harm than good to yourself.  I wish I could draft an all-encompassing table with all the prices for all the different types of shows you’re all doing.  However, it’s not that simple.  There are just too many variables.  Even regions within the same county can see a wild fluctuation in prices.  Although there’s no easy answer, I can equip you with a way you can find out what to charge and guide you to the right decisions in what to charge.

Hopefully, I can assume that you’ve agreed to charge something above zero.  Congratulations, you’ve just crossed over from amateur to professional.  It still may come as a big shock to learn that many entertainers, including magicians, who think they are earning a living from shows, are not!  They simply haven’t worked out their actual costs, and subsequently don’t charge enough for their shows.  I too was guilty of this when I was starting out.  I used to do local events for free to get good, until one of my fellow magicians from the Magic Castle explained to me how I was driving down the market.  I want you to all to charge more so that you help raise the value of our art.  This helps all of us. Read the rest of this entry »

Murphy’s Law was created for events! “If something can go wrong, it probably will go wrong, at the worst possible moment.”  Things happen.  Vendors get delayed in traffic, their cars break down.  A sudden storm may force your outdoor picnic inside.  The father of the bride might get a food allergy.  A speaker or entertainer for your event might get stuck at the airport due to bad weather.  You never see it coming, but the unexpected can send the event into a tailspin that not even those managing it can fix.  It’s amazing to me how few people realize that an event is not an empirical fixed thing.  It’s is an event.  It’s live!  Anything can happen.  How exciting!

Murphy’s Law was created at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949.  It was named after Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on Air Force Project MX981, a project designed to see how much sudden deceleration a person can stand in a crash.  One day, after finding that a transducer was wired wrong, he cursed the technician responsible and said, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.”  The contractor’s project manager kept a list of “laws” and added this one, which he called Murphy’s Law.

The time to plan for Mr. Murphy rearing his ugly head is weeks before the event even occurs.  How do you do this?  Create one or several backup plans like he did with his transducers.  The attitude to take on is that things might go wrong, but most probably won’t.  By having a couple of backup plans, you won’t have to take the time to stop and come up with a new plan from scratch at the actual event. You can go straight to Plan B or Plan C.  You want to have a “healthy paranoia.”  As Dilbert said, “Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”  So the best way to handle things not going according to plan is to plan ahead.

So, what if you do plan ahead, get to the actual event, and then things start crumbling?  Since we don’t live in a perfect world and because of Murphy’s Law, here’s what you do the next time the unexpected happens. Read the rest of this entry »

Each month I send a new trick out to you Alexandrites via email or post. I read all the comments and emails on these tricks, and some pretty lively discussions have ensued on discussion boards from them.  Although most have benefited from learning the magic and have progressed, there is a segment of folks who feel these tricks are not quite what they expected, and have expressed dissatisfaction with them.  They’ve told me that they feel “these tricks are too simple.”  My reply is always the same, “Have you mastered it yet?” There’s usually a long pause.

I have a friend who had made millions in direct marketing. Those familiar with the field will know that working off the right mailing list is more than half the battle. He told me that the biggest moneymaker he ever had was a weight-loss product he pitched through the mails. Not surprisingly, he worked from lists of people who had previously bought weight-loss products. The grim reality was that they were probably still overweight and looking for another solution to their problem.

He told me that the most productive mailing list he ever worked off was a list of people who had ordered another weight-loss product within the last week. This meant, of course, that the person hadn’t had time to give the first product a fair trial. Yet, they were already ordering something else to accomplish the same thing.  You can just picture them opening the first product and discovering that, instead of offering a magic solution, it required diet and exercise. So they immediately tossed it aside and ordered the next product that they hoped would provide a miracle with no effort on their part. No doubt, they would then sit by the mailbox in breathless anticipation of how the new miracle product would transform their bodies. Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes people create a fabulous event, the kind that has people talking long after it’s over.  But despite all the careful planning for the day-of, there’s one big problem…nobody shows up!

Poor attendance is usually the result of the mistaken belief that once you’ve arranged a good event, attendance is something that just sort of happens.  In reality, if people don’t know about it, they will not come!  Unfortunately, this is a lesson that too many people learn the hard way.

The solution: Marketing is a vital component of any event.  If your event is small your task will be simpler.  For small events, invitations should take care of most of the work.  But for big events, your marketing goes beyond a simple Evite or mailed invitation.  A webpage or website specifically for the event is a must.  Provide a link to the event page or site on your regular site’s home page.  It sounds obvious, but be sure to include specifics (date, time, place, etc.) on the page or site, as well as a prominent registration button that people will be itching to click!  Try EventBrite if you can’t easily create another page on your site for the event.  Don’t forget to also include images of people having a blast at similar past events on your site. Read the rest of this entry »

I really think every event could use a little magic. I don’t necessarily mean hire me to do magic for your next event, but rather that most produced events have a specific problem. They lack the element of “magic”; something out of the ordinary.  In a word, “outrageousness.”

I have a great deal of respect for both magic and marketing, and I think they both share common attributes.  When they’re done right they are extraordinary.  They are outrageousness personified.  Good magic and good marketing has drama and an element of shock to it.  I embrace shock value and use it in the proper places in my stage show.

Of course outrageousness loses its effect through overuse.  The purpose of marketing is to get the attention of consumers, pulling them away from the competition and converting this into sales for your event business.  You want your client to experience a shift in the way he or she thinks about you; a wow! This will not only make you stand out from the competition, but will add huge amounts of bottom-line profits to your event business. Read the rest of this entry »

For the past few weeks I’ve been discussing the top 25 event blunders and what to do to fix them.  Today we arrive at number 11: not sticking to the budget.  Creating a budget is key to meeting your event’s goals, but the real trick is staying within the boundaries of that budget. Unexpected events, such as rain, more guests, more chairs or extra food can creep up and make you change your event plan.  These snags don’t have to blow your budget if you have all this built into the event plan at the start.  The budget belongs in the event plan and is there to help you be prepared for the unexpected.

Like in life, overspending for an event is easy.  You want the best, right?  Planners can overestimate their funds and underestimate the costs of what they need for the event. This can lead to unpleasant surprises toward the end as it becomes apparent that the event planned is simply not affordable.  In my blog, Alexander’s Magic Finance System I covered some great techniques to help you stay on budget in your personal finances.  There’s also a great site called Lifehack that has some tweaks worth writing down in terms of budgeting.  Not surprisingly, staying on an event budget is much the same.  It’s just that it’s (usually) the client’s money.  Some of these points may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often they’re overlooked. Read the rest of this entry »

March has been quite a month for me so far.  While speaking on Time Management and Diversity for the first time to different companies, Elena and I got booked to go to The Caribbean on The Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship.  Then we will perform at the Four F Convention in New York. I wrote about it in a previous blog.  It’s a convention for magicians, and as you might guess it’s very difficult to fool magicians.  In fact, Penn & Teller have a show called Fool Us devoted to this very idea. Fooling people really comes down to an attitude.  It has less to do with secrets than people think.  A few blogs ago I wrote about magical secrets.  While they most certainly have their place, it’s important for all of you Alexandrites to understand that there are far more important components to the mystery soup.  This blog can be called “Fool Me”.

Because of the nature of the magician’s work, secrecy is important.  The magician depends upon mystery, which in turn depends upon secrets.  Magic is interesting as long as an audience can be puzzled. If you stop and think about it, we’re really making something happen that others know cannot happen.  This is not easy.  Some people want to show their brilliance(?) by performing a mystery and then showing how it’s done.  Muhammed Ali used to do this a lot.

Noted dramatic critic Ashton Stevens once said, “I have faith in magicians and I believe in them – but I was the most disappointed man in the world when Thurston had me come on stage with him and I discovered how one of his mysteries was done.  I would rather believe that magicians perform miracles”.  The magician’s art is to take people to land of mystery.  A land of “Arabian Knights.”  A fairyland of wonder.  In the human mind, in the faculty of reason a three divisions.  Analysis, synthesis and judgment.  Analysis takes things to pieces.  Synthesis puts them back together and judgment weighs the matters at hand.  The interesting thing about synthesis is that once the mind has put things back together and solved them, it loses interest and looks for something else.  Remember this power of synthesis in humans and keep them interested and amazed without giving them the solution to the problem.  Never explain to a lay audience how your mysteries are performed and, protect your fellow magician by protecting his secrets.  In the training I provide you through my free magic tricks the inner secrets of magic are entrusted to your care.  You owe it to your fellow magician as well as to yourself to protect the profession. Read the rest of this entry »

Not all events require invitations, but if yours does, getting them out too late is the tenth event blunder on my list of 25! How will these invitations be sent?  By email, by post, or both?  How will people RSVP?  These and many other small details are important to consider when figuring out how and when to send out the invitations.

Invitations, like promotion, have to be done creatively.  Guess what?  They don’t have to be expensive.  Here’s a great resource I found for printing free invitations: www.makingitlovely.com. Although invitations may be cheap, one of the most expensive parts of an event is getting people there in the first place.  ­The best and cheapest form of promotion is word of mouth. ­ Once you know who the event is for, ask yourself what group all the people belong to, if there is one.  A business, an association, a church, etc. Sometimes they belong to more than one.  Jackpot!  Once you know this, you can aggressively promote to group members months before the event. ­ A few weeks before you can print and distribute small invite cards to group members.  These can be dropped and distributed at their next group meeting, saving you expensive postage.  The best events are those with person to person promotion.  Advertising is definitely important, but people talking to their friends is the most effective form of promotion, as any restaurateur will surely tell you.  Even with a ton of promotion (flyers, advertising, etc.), you will never draw as many people as those who stop by out of pure curiosity. Read the rest of this entry »

The show Wizard Wars has made quite an impact. If you’ve not seen it yet, it’s the same idea as a show like Iron Chef.  Magicians are brought together and given random objects.  They have to come up with the best mysteries they can with these objects, are judged, and the winner takes home $10,000.  Elena and I received a call from the producers to appear on season two.  Sadly their contract did not get renewed and the second season is not to be.  Such is the fickleness of TV producers.  Nonetheless, the fact that we were called reminds me that there are unlimited opportunities in the field of magic.  It is so varied, so broad that the possibilities are virtually limitless!

There are three great divisions of our art, in terms of effect on the audience: 1–Effects which are accomplished by mere physical means.  Tricks with cards, coins, handkerchiefs, etc. – things usually employed in a magical performance. In this division are effects which people believe they could do themselves if they could discover the “Modus Operandi.”

2–Experiments based on Super-Mentality. In this division are included mind reading, mental telepathy, and all effects apparently based on remarkable mentality. To magicians these effects are no more mysterious than a simple card trick, but to the audience they are manifestations of unusual mental power on the part of the performer.  The  spectators  think  that  they  could  not  possibly  accomplish  these  results.  It is the one division where there is possibility for total suspension of disbelief. Read the rest of this entry »

The ninth event planning blunder is failing to allocate the right resources and skills to the right people.  In the last event blog we discussed the pitfalls of not getting help.  This blunder builds off of that.  After you get the help you need for the event, assigning the proper jobs to the help is crucial, even if you don’t hire a professional event planner.  Having the wrong people managing an event can be a recipe for disaster!  The key to a successful event is the right people with the right skills at the right time all working together.  All the planning in the world won’t make up for a mismatched event team.

There’s a great book you ought to pick up called Right Person Right Job by Chuck Russell.  In it Russell states, “Core personality is made up of traits that have been conditioned over many years. Such traits are critical in assessing a candidate’s ability to perform virtually any aspect of any job.”  Do you think you can accurately assess someone’s ability?  You better be able to, and do it quickly, if you’re going to produce a successful event with a team. Read the rest of this entry »

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