Selling an Illusion Show

Selling an Illusion Show


As an illusionist, how do you get shows? How do you sell your magic and make your show commercial?

I am aware that many budding illusionists are interested to do paid shows. Here is a selling point which you might find useful when you are pitching your services to a potential client.

I am assuming the following things first:

    • You have some form of illusion act that is suitable for your target market.
    • You have rehearsed this act diligently in front of your faithful mirror, friends and family. You may even done a few shows.
    • You are mentally prepared to give a full show to entertain an audience.


You must first realize that what you are selling is invisible. It is non-tangible. You have no fancy hardware to show, no buttons to press and the prospect cannot examine it before purchasing your service.

Imagine, you have to convince and assure your prospect that you will do a good job – all she has is your word that you will do a good job. We are use to be able to test products and even try them out for 30 days if we like. In our over populated product market and skeptical society, your word may not be enough. We need another approach.

The traditional way to sell your show is to tell the prospect how happy it will make her guests, how the show is value for money, how your show is self-contained and relieves the worry from her etc.

This is fine but may not be enough. You must try to penetrate the mind of the prospect. Marketing and selling is about communication to the mind.

When selling a service, which is intangible, try as far as possible to attribute it with tangible qualities. Spawn by the product era, we are conditioned to judge things by its tangible qualities.

For example, when you buy a new car from a new dealer. The main factor influencing your choice would be the car. The design, colour, motor, CD player etc. After sale service may not seem like a big factor initially, right? However, after you buy the car and receive excellent after sales service and treatment, you would most likely recommend the dealer to friends and would probably buy your next car from them as well.

Well, the same type of strategy can be applied to magic and specifically your illusion act. So, what tangible qualities does magic have?

primavera pole levitationPrimavera’s beautifully presented “Pole Levitation” illusion

remySavary Rémy (Cie Magic’Emry) with an elaborately set “Torch Box” illusion

Tangible qualities can be things like the props you use, costumes, stage setting, magic furniture etc. Have action photographs of you performing for a live audience with your props. Do not just have a picture of you smiling and standing on stage. Have tangible items such as illusion props, stage settings and costumes. Photographs and descriptions of these tangible items help sell the show. How often have you been more impressed by a photo of a magician with a cage and tiger than a magician just smiling and posing?

Your show descriptions should detail elements that the audience can visualize – impressive modern props & sets and elaborate colourful costuming. Also, when writing your show description, ensure that you describe visual effects that can summed up in a single sentence. For example, ‘a girl vanishes in a blink of an eye and reappears in the audience’ or ‘the illusionist levitates and vanishes in mid-air’!

At this point, many must be yelling their heads off. “What? Props, costumes, what? You are in the business of selling you, not your props and costumes! The client should book you for who you are, not what you have!” I would agree with you in an ideal world but the truth is, the psychology of buying is very different from what you would want. Marketing is perception and often people buy what they perceive is good. So, it is important o make them perceive you are good and not reply on them forming their own conclusions. You have often heard the term ‘packaging’ when it comes to the marketing of music stars – YOU are no different.

InterludeMiguel Gavilan presenting “Interlude” with multiple visual elements

Understand this: What you market, sell and make money from are different things.

MacDonald’s advertises and markets their burgers heavily and sells fries, but makes money on their drinks. Likewise, you can advertise and sell your props, costumes and other tangible qualities to your client during the point of sale. But during the show, they will receive much more in terms of entertainment and the intangible qualities which were harder for them to perceive or fully understand initially.

So, getting bookings is not just having a good act! To get more shows, you need more than just to improve your act. You could have the best act and still not get shows. Fight fire with fire. A marketing problem must be solved with a marketing strategy.

Understanding that your magic is a service and using methods to sell a service such as attributing tangible qualities to it will allow you to penetrate your prospects’ minds.

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