Most Magic Shops Overlook This Profitable Niche (materials included)

Photo by Sharese Ann Frederick from Purchase, N.Y.

Photo by Sharese Ann Frederick from Purchase, N.Y.

In a niche market—a market composed of niches—the most profitable revenue streams often originate from a company offering a service overlooked by its competitors.

And what’s best, these revenue streams weather recessions and other economic cycles better than mainstream sources.

For magic shops to identify these niche services, the merchants must focus on the needs of the magicians they serve. This article offers a real-world example and provides the materials needed to take advantage of the opportunity.

When a magician negotiates the terms of a booking, their customer will often ask a common question.

The Question: “Will you teach the audience a trick during your show?”

The Typical Answer: “Yeah, I can do that,” or “I’m sorry, but I really don’t like to teach magic. You know, a magician never reveals the secret.”

The BETTER Answer: “My show is pretty much set and choreographed for audience enjoyment, but I’m happy to setup an area where I can teach some magic after the show.”

Magicians, if they are so inclined [and educated by their magic shop to do so], might consider offering to “teach some magic” after the show as a fundamental part of their booking package.

The “area” the magician offers to setup is a dealer’s table—known as “back of the room sales.” Magicians should not try to sneak in a sales table, but rather use the above reportage to upsell their client on the idea—to introduce a service paramount to the magician’s show package.

Back of the room sales is not a new idea among magicians. Many of your customers are already selling magic before or after their show and/or on weekends. But it is rare for magic shops to teach magicians how to properly offer this service and to provide discounted merchandise for magicians to resell.

In fact, this missed opportunity is why ALL magic jobbers sell direct to pitchmen as part of their regular wholesale clientele—magic stores dropped the ball and demand eventually gave way to supply.

Magic City manufacturers many of the most popular pitch items, perfect for back-of-the-room sales, and we can offer them to you at extended wholesale; providing you with the opportunity to fill this niche in your area.

Here is an article and a flyer in Word format. Edit the Word document with your own store information (you can open and edit Word documents via Microsoft’s LIVE website). These materials are free to distribute to your retail customers worldwide.

Then, click here for a list of popular pitch items at extended wholesale.

You take the bulk orders. You make the volume profit.

Top 10 Secrets to Digital Profits

Royalty free digital content is the single most profitable product in the magic industry.

If your magic business is flush with cash and your bank bursting at the seams, then you probably do not need to tap the digital market. But if you live in reality, chances are you want to make the most of the Royalty Free opportunity.

Here are the secrets to digital success…

  1. Acknowledge the Value

    It is understandable that some merchants do not want to sell downloadable content—they feel it has no value. But it only takes a quark of common sense to see streaming video and ebooks contain the same information as tangible DVD’s and regular books. Offering valuable content to your customers at digital prices, with instant delivery and no shipping fees is a tremendous benefit to the magic community. With digital products, you can reach magicians in countries where shipping is impossible. You can cater to magicians who want their whole library with them accessible 24/7 via the cloud.

  2. Digital Is Not Derogatory

    In the past, digital products were an emerging technology and not widely understood, let alone widely searched. Merchants had to educate their customers about the new content. But today, customers pursue digital content. Their loyalty to one merchant over another may be due to download selection. Digital is no longer derogatory. It is sought out and appreciated—expected.

  3. Producer Mentality

    Look at the front of your competition’s website. The products they push the hardest are the products with the most profit, usually an item they produced in-house (count the word Kindle on the front of Amazon). The Royalty Free Program gives you a whole new product line you can sell with the same—or more!—profit as the items you make yourself. Push RF products like they are your own line. Royalty Free products are always in stock, they are total profit, and they turnaround into new orders fast. These products are YOURS for one whole year.

  4. Promote or Go Broke 

    Barnum said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing.” Most people think “promotion” means running a sale. It can, but really, promotion is more than that. To promote a product means to elevate it. Simply running a special on a product does not elevate its status—often it has the opposite effect. Promotion comes from educating your customers about the benefits of the product and advertising that promotion on your website, social media, magic forums, and in magic magazines. You can write articles and print them out for your brick & mortar customers, and include information for them to buy your digital products.

  5. Websites Are Not Lifeless Things

    Well, I should say, “good websites are alive.” The engine is running. There is life within the site detected by visitors. The engine serves visitors the valuable products they want or need. If potential customers come to your site and you do not inform them of products they might like, and your reason to suggest the item, then those customers will go someplace else. A blog is an excellent engine. You can post articles about a specific item or groups of items and push customers to buy them. In the case of downloads, offer PayPal buttons right in the blog. A simplified checkout. Start the engine and promote the quality products you offer with the most profit—Royalty Free.

  6. Categorize and Prioritize

    Products on websites are usually broken up into categories so that they are easy to browse. In those categories, a visitor might see subcategories. If your customer wants to buy a “Card Trick,” they simply click the category link. Inside “Card Tricks” they might see “DVD” and “BOOKS.” Add “DOWNLOAD” to that list. If you only have a few Royalty Free titles to start, push a specific item on that category page—post an ad for it in the category header or link the “Download” category directly to your promotional page or product page. Copy the downloadable merchandise into every category that applies.

  7. Custom Copy & Images

    Not every merchant is a writer and graphic designer. But custom sales tools really are a major secret of the biggest magic stores in the world—magic or otherwise. Find the Royalty Free Products other stores are not pushing and feature them on your site with a beefed up cover and some custom text. Turn filler into features. Make small tricks big.

  8. Incentives to Buy

    All non-essential sales—food, water, home, electricity—are the result of incentive. Incentives are the motivation beyond the base need for a purchase. What I like to call “the excuse.” Sure, you need a hot water heater. But if you get a bigger one you can take longer showers. The same works for magic. Of course, your customer wants to buy a magic trick today. “Buy any three and get the Digi of your choice free!” Customers are already visiting your site because they want to buy a magic trick. The amount of profit you make is up to you.

  9. Royalty Free Resolves Disputes 

    Use downloads to appease a customer service issue. Let’s say you made a mistake, an honest one of course. Use a download to make up for the problem. They cost you the least to give away, have zero shipping costs, and are delivered instantly.

  10. You Can Hold Royalty Free

    Unlike traditional digital media or distribution paradigms, a Royalty Free product license gives you the right to print out or supply the product on disc (one at a time, amassing stock is prohibited). Whether you have a brick and mortar store or you want to include free items with an online purchase, Royalty Free is as versatile as you are. Use Royalty Free to make money and provide value to your customers. Royalty Free is a tool and the best merchants are digital craftsman.

  11. BONUS TIP!

    There is an old saying, “You can’t get the second sale until you have the first sale.” Offer free downloads on your site so customers can test drive your download system. Once they become comfortable with the concept, they are more likely to purchase. Plus, free products are a great way, in general, to net more sign-ups from casual visitors, decreasing bounce rate.

Click HERE to get started with Royalty Free!

Powerful Product Descriptions (Part One)

Illustration by HikingArtist.

Illustration by HikingArtist.

I’ll be blunt: most of our industry’s ad copy is horrible. Especially online product descriptions. Even the well-written, grammatically correct copy lacks the oomph necessary to sell a product.

It’s no wonder magicians want flashy photos and video trailers. For generations we’ve bored them to death with text descriptions.

But that can change. Starting with you. You don’t have to be a professional writer to produce easy-to-understand copy with high conversation; you just have to learn a couple of techniques.

In part one of this series, I am going to teach you a dirt-simple method to transform writing that blows into marketable prose. Follow the directions below and you will see instant results in your own writing.

Our example is a fake magic trick titled, “Jonas Powers’ Stage-Size Appearing Chair from Box”

Here is an example of the type of ad copy I’m asked to spice up on a regular basis:

Finally, an appearing chair barstool for stage work. If you are looking for a signature stage trick start with the stage size appearing barstool chair by Jonas Powers to open your show, or to close your show.

At first glance, the copy isn’t terrible. It’s a good start. In fact, it’s just good enough others will use it without question.

However, the opening is weak—nobody has really been waiting for this trick, stage-size or otherwise. The middle doesn’t provide enough information to move the reader to a buying decision, and the end doesn’t lead to the next paragraph, presumably where the reader will find a call to action.

Compare to my edited version:

Flat box, instant barstool! Open your show with the self-working production of a full-size barstool, or sit back and relax for a funny finale. It’s the durable, portable, audience-floorable Chair Box by Jonas Powers!

A visual image of the routine is revealed in the opening line. The second sentence, though it might feel a little long, illustrates the range of the product. The last line introduces the creator of the effect and leaves the reader wanting more—the call to action.

The concept here is to pack each paragraph with as much information as possible without weighing down the text. How? Instead of writing the whole paragraph prose style, I first wrote the phrases I wanted to use as free verse poetry, then I strung them together.

You can tell exactly what I did by reverse engineering the text.

From the sample paragraph, select the best one to five word segments and put them under the paragraph with a dash. Do this four times, the average length of a poetry stanza.

Finally, an appearing chair barstool for stage work. If you are looking for a signature stage trick start with the appearing barstool chair by Jonas Powers to open your show, or to close your show.

– appearing chair barstool

– for stage work

– signature stage trick

– appearing barstool chair by Jonas

The dashes represent bullet points (major selling points in a product description formatted as a list). The phrases above are what the writer is actually saying in the original paragraph. Pretty bland, huh? The whole paragraph is really just the title over and over again.

Lets try the same technique with my re-write:

Flat box, instant barstool! Open your show with the self-working production of a full-size barstool, or sit back and relax for a funny finale. It’s the durable, portable, audience-floorable Chair Box by Jonas Powers!

– Flat box, instant barstool!

– self-working production full-size barstool

– relax for a funny finale

– portable Chair Box by Powers!

With some punctuation, these bullet points could actually be used in ad copy. Here’s the tweak:

  • Flat box, instant barstool!
  • Sit back and relax! Funny finale!
  • Self-working! Full-size barstool!
  • Chair Box: The Portable Powers!

All I did to make one paragraph better than the other, was to say something worth writing about. My version may sound hyped-up—it may have flare that wasn’t there in the first paragraph—but I didn’t lie. Good magic deserves a product description that does it justice. It’s okay to be excited, as long as you’re honest. It’s a technique known as poetic license.

Hidden Opportunities Find Magicians

ID-10088314

“Image by Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

I received a call the other day and thought I would share it with you:

Q. Will you teach everyone a magic trick during/after the show?

A. That’s a great question! We used to teach a trick during the show, but through experience, we have found it actually detracts from the magic. We want your audience to be amazed and entertained as much as possible and for you to have a memorable event.

With your permission, we set up a magic table in the back of the room. We sell a few easy to do magic tricks that audience members can take home and share their love of magic with family and friends. Of course you can prepay for everyone to receive a kit for free. That’s a great option and gives guest something to do after the show…

A very simple way to get away from and handle a semi insulting question.

“There’s a big difference between a demonstrator and an entertainer.”

What you don’t want to do. Tell your potential customer you refuse to teach a trick and you are way above that! The customer does not understand how it works and is genuinely asking a question. We know, asking a magician to teach a trick during a show, is like asking a band how to play the instruments.

What’s the hidden opportunity? Select six to twelve tricks audience members can buy directly from you. Put your name, email, and website on all the instructions. Put them all together as a package deal or magic kit. This gives you repeat customers and sets you up for new ones. You can easily double, triple or make even more off your “dealer room”. Some magicians even reduce the rate of pay, just to set up that booth at the end of the night.

Have an intermission for some sales during the show. It works best with a partner, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. This also gives you a nice break and set up time for the second half of the show.

Let WholesaleMagic.com know you want special instructions or Magic Wand Scrolls and they will be happy to work with you. They can even give you ideas to push.

Jay Leslie

What’s The Best Trick You Can Recommend?

chair_suspensionWhat’s best is completely subjective. It’s like asking “What’s the best car to own?” or “Who’s the best band?”

The effect you create with (or without) a prop becomes the effect you create in the minds of the audience – so – the “Best Effect” may have nothing to do with a particular version–it’s the performance that counts. It’s the impression you create.

I’ve seen magicians kill with a simple trick like Mental Manipulation and bomb with highly technical one.

I’m not putting-down anyone with technical skills. I’ve worked my entire life to present sophisticated slights throughout diverse routines. Performing the “best” effect may have nothing to do with the prop alone. It might have everything to do with your ability to entertain.

When you ask, “What’s the best?” All you get in return are opinions. Opinions don’t perfect your ability to entertain, your knowledge does. I’d rather see magicians think about it this way, “I like this effect, can you give me some tips to make it better?” Let’s consider your style and the venue it’s in and make the best effect we can.

Jay Leslie

 

Magic Stores Report $6000 in Revenue!

icone-downloadWholesaleMagic.com launched the Royalty Free Program last month, and magic dealers have already reported combined revenue in excess of $6000.

And that is with only 40% of stores reporting!

Think about it for a moment: six thousand dollars magic dealers kept without paying a dime of it back to a jobber or vendor or shipping company; SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS in total profit that did not exist before our Royalty Free Program.

If you are in the magic business, then you know nothing much is selling right now unless you push it hard. So why not push products with 100% profit?

The pie is getting bigger! Here’s how you can enjoy a slice…

Select from any of the products listed below or from our Royalty Free product page. Add the item to your site and feature it. Send it to your list and push it relentlessly. When a customer purchases the item, you keep all the money. The buck stops with you!

I asked one of my dealers what the Royalty Free Program means to him and his business. He said, “To me it’s an endless inventory. A year-long, profit-laden revenue stream. After just thirty days my bestsellers are mostly royalty free.”

He nailed it.

He understands the program.

He sees the value in generating royalty free profits in this economy.

It is never too late to join the party. The program is scalable for any size business. Every magic store, no matter how large, starts with one Royalty Free product. Don’t just add it to your site—push it! Sell it. Keep all the money!

Complete Course in Pick Pocketing

Derek Dingle Last Notes by Simon Lovell 

Dracola by Gerald Kirchner

Burning Up by Nathan Kranzo

Bob Hummer’s Devastation Principle

Cups and Balls by Senor Mardo

Dotcha! by Gerald Kirchner

Flipper Coin Repair by Roy Kueppers

From the Stall Booklet

Interlocked Card Production

Pop-Card by Steven Pignataro

Expanded Shell Repair by Roy Kueppers

Mark Cannon’s Great Escapes Convention

If you have questions about the program, feel free to contact us. We also set up a FAQ page here.

Is Royalty Free Right For Me

Bigger Profits from Less Shipping

UPS_truck_-804051In the past, jobbers required minimum orders to qualify for wholesale and would refuse to ship just one unit of a single item. However, as a means of competition, some distributors have lifted their minimums and will ship any quantity the store requests. Overtime, this practice became standard, and this feature—desired by the retail side of the industry—began to hurt magic shops more than the recession itself.

Regardless, stores show their support of these policies by continually taking full advantage of lax minimums. Even the largest magic stores will now contact a jobber and purchase just one of an item every time they need that item—sometimes purchasing “onesies” throughout the month.

Jobbers lose money on orders like this and so do the stores. Magicians spend about the same, but pay for it with their time. Turnaround is at an all-time low right now, and it is because magic shops use their jobbers like their own personal warehouse.

And most jobbers have grown into that role to a point where they can still make money, albeit a reduced sum, from the retail outfit’s small orders.

The magic shop, however, has adapted only in that it is willing to make less profit.

Next time you sell a D’Lite, an Invisible Deck, or a pack of Invisible Elastic Thread Loops, realize that it isn’t the last one you will ever sell. These are staple goods. Another customer is going to want one of these items just as soon as you ship this current order. Not only are these items regular purchases, they are typically single-item orders.

Buying these items and other staple goods in quantity—even just three to six units at a time at regular wholesale—provides the magician with faster turnaround time, increasing conversion of a first-time buyer into a long-term customer, and nets you an additional 10% savings from reduced shipping. Add to that dozen discounts, and your increased profits can be in the hundreds every week.

Think about all the wasted shipping fees the magic industry produces annually just in the redundant shipping of single-unit staple orders. Could you use an extra 10% in your profit margin? An extra 10% in yearly income? On the remote chance 10% sounds small, realize right now you are losing 10% on a 40% margin. That’s a quarter of your profits leaking from a hole, easy to plug.

Magic Store or Well-Stocked Affiliate? (Part Two)

Photo by Jayson Shenk.

Photo by Jayson Shenk.

If you own an online magic store and feel like it’s getting harder and harder to make a profit, it could be because your business is no longer a magic store.

When the industry’s suppliers relaxed minimums and offered free drop dropshipping during the recession and current recovery, merchants didn’t take the opportunity to weather the storm and rebuild their business. Instead, these policy shifts turned many online magic stores into affiliates.

In part one of this series, we talked about digital content affiliates—magic shops that send their customers to a vendor website for direct fulfillment of downloadable merchandise. Now lets look at tangible product affiliates and steps merchants can take to repair their businesses.

Example of a Tangible Product Affiliate: the majority of magicians who visit the magic shop’s website purchase one or more items the store doesn’t actually stock, and then the merchant orders the item(s) in from a vendor or has the vendor dropship the order directly to the customer.

This product streaming, or “on-demand inventory,” is nothing more than an affiliate program with shipping costs.

The on-demand business model—where the customer is unaware that all or most of the advertised merchandise is actually sitting in a vendor’s warehouse—is today’s “business as usual.” The model produces a great deal of stress for retailers, and it eats away at vendor resources, reducing the purchasing power of the industry’s largest buyers.

Retail entities that stock product only as it sells are known as “dollar turners.” Since those entities don’t actually invest in an inventory and create demand for products already in stock, they simply turn the customer’s dollar into their vendor’s dollar.

Sometimes this is meant as a temporary arrangement—the merchants are under the false impression if they turn dollars long enough, they will put their competitors out of business and enjoy a restored economy solo.

In reality, customers migrate to “real” stores because of fast turnaround, stable prices, and reliable service. Big retailers who focus on promotions rather than infrastructure slowly lose marketshare to mom and pop businesses and typically can’t explain why or how. The industry is a mystery to those merchants because their fingers are on the wrong pulse.

Another fallacy comes form comparing this model with other on-demand models with cheaper overhead and product costs. In the magic industry, there are few companies who do this well, and most have or have had shipping hubs setup right next to their vendor to reduce cost. If you are more than a twenty-minute drive from any one of your vendors, this model isn’t for you.

There are two primary steps merchants can take to either thwart ever becoming a tangible product affiliate, or to repair their business model after accidentally making the switch.

The number one reason merchants become tangible product affiliates is because they stop pushing what they think customers should buy, and yield only to what customers want—turning a seller’s market into a buyer’s market. The remedy? Once a month, order in a dozen units of an item you believe is a good product, and market it to your customers.

Magic shops concerned only with adding every new item to their website without creating individual demand for those products, lose money on “bread and butter” staple goods. The remedy? Analyze your customer’s top-ten reoccurring single-item purchases and keep those items in stock a dozen at a time. Always ship staple good orders yourself (Invisible Decks, Folding Quarters, Invisible Thread Loops, etc). It’s foolish to lose money on a small order with very little profit, especially when you know it’s coming.

The best magic dealers understand that they are more on the demand side of the equation than the supply side. Those magic store owners stock what is already selling, plus they invest in new items to create a flow of future demand. This is what customer’s pay retailers to do.

Dracola: A Bloody Good Trick!

dracola_gerald_kirchnerIn the late ’90’s, everyone in the world had their eye on newcomer David Blaine. Including me.

One night, as I watched Blaine’s newest television special, I waited anxiously to see what amazing thing he would do next. He picked up an empty, crushed beer can and was like, “Look, look!” I looked. He moved the can around in a circular motion and it popped back into shape. He waved his hand over the can—the opening resealed—and the can was brand-new again. He cracked it open and handed it to one of the spectators, who took a refreshing swig of crisp beer! The spectators totally freaked! And rightfully so.

My first thought? Camera tricks.

My Second thought? Gross!

He found the can on the ground and asked someone to drink from it—that’s disgusting! Plus, “discovering” the can is weak in my opinion. I knew there was a more dramatic way to perform the trick, so I tinkered around with the idea: is it possible to “resurrect” a can from the dead?

After developing the final routine, my first victim—Ahem! Spectator—stopped by the warehouse to pick up his order. I showed him the trick, which now included the unexpected draining of the can, Dracola style. He was floored! And he was familiar with Blaine’s performance, so it was even better. He said it was like two different tricks—Blaine’s routine just sort of happens. Dracola explodes!

Later, I learned the version Blaine performed was a culmination of ideas from John Kennedy, Anders Moden, and Tim Ellis, who later produced the trick in booklet form, calling it “Healed and Sealed.” Other magicians came up with similar ideas as well, but Healed and Sealed was the best known at the time.

Unlike Healed and Sealed, you can perform Dracola impromptu with a can right out of a vending machine. Thanks to one of magic’s favorite tools, I was able to eliminate many of the weaknesses of the effect—namely, starting with an empty can. The routine itself plays a part too. The vampire theme offers the freedom to drain the contents of the can and to “revive” the soda by returning it back to its original state, inside and out, right in front of your spectator.

Try it yourself and see firsthand the power of this amazing trick. Get Dracola for less than 10 bucks! You will enjoy fooling your friends and family, convincing them you are the true Dracola! Do you hear that? It’s the children of the Sprite. Bwahahahaa!Picture 1

 

 

Magic Store or Well-Stocked Affiliate?

Some magic store owners didn’t realize they made the switch!

If you own a magic shop, you are constantly searching for new ways to expand your marketshare, increase your product range, and better serve your customers.

But sometimes that means embracing new technologies or unconventional archetypes. It’s important to explore all aspects of these new models to ensure the concept fits your longterm goals, and at the very least, be aware when you take your business in a whole new direction.

Example: magicians visit the magic shop’s website, order a digital product, and are then redirected from the store’s website to a third party where the customer downloads the product.

This is known as an affiliate program. And the magic shop, instead of being referred to as a “store,” is called an affiliate. The term affiliate may apply to the shop as a whole, or to just one section of the shop’s website. A shop may begin as a traditional store and then convert—gradually or all at once—to an affiliate.

Photo by Jayson Shenk.

Photo by Jayson Shenk.

In non-magic industries, the affiliate concept is also known as “The Gallery Model.” Typically, the gallery model is used as part of a lead generation program—the main company builds its own mailing list and customer base from “tentacle” sites that feed the larger enterprise.

Since traffic sent to the fulfillment site has purchased a product, lead generation via the gallery model is a good way to capture real customers while filtering out casual visitors. Even if the customer only paid one dollar, it still means they are the cream of the crop—the best the referral site’s mailing list has to offer.

As far as the magic business is concerned, nobody is claiming third party digital vendors are recording customer info for the purpose of capitalizing on those customers directly (other than the initial sale of course). Similarly, magic vendors are unlikely to share customer info with content providers as a means to prove sales and to factor royalty; in this industry, such providers are often direct retail competitors with the affiliate sites.

One way to ensure these situations do not occur is to verify the vendor’s target demographic before choosing a third-party affiliate program. Does the vendor advertise their products and services exclusively to retail companies? Does the vendor’s online following exceed the number of potential clients? If so, that company may covet the same customer base as you.

Like merchants from any industry, magic shop owners are drawn to the idea of affiliate programs because they are fast, easy, and have zero up-front costs to get started—the exact opposite of the traditional store model. That’s not to say this is a bad arrangement by any means. Some magic stores want to be affiliates—commission is simple compared to gross and net. “Affiliate” should not be considered an evil word.

But even if you are not an affiliate, you should still be aware that as the affiliate model gains popularity, it alters—fundamentally—the industry landscape for everyone.

Eventually, the biggest buyer or “storer” of goods is no longer the most important client to vendors. The greatest assets are high-traffic online magic shops—galleries—who send the vendor the greatest number of customers. Magic stores with tangible inventory are unnecessary in this model.

That means website owners with zero buying power, but with heavy traffic flow, are more valuable to a vendor than the merchant who actually stocks a dozen DVD’s here and there. The affiliate model puts internet-only-including-no-warehouse-start-ups on equal footing with the “big guys.”

There are some powerful advantages too. The affiliate model opens the industry to more retail outlets, a larger market for content producers, and greater access to magic products by potential customers in areas of the world previously restricted.

In short, there are only two ways to distribute downloadable content. By affiliate program or by royalty free license. Merchants should consider the pros and cons of both systems and make a choice that best reflects their longterm goals.

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