On Location at MagicDealers.com

magicdealers-300x170MagicDealers.com is a directory of magic related websites. I’ve had the pleasure to work on the site and help out with promotions. With my help, MagicDealers.com has skyrocketed back to the top of search engines and is getting a ton of traffic. If you get a chance, check it out.

Recently, the buzz peeked the interest of Vanish Magazine. They came to our offices for an interview. You can get a copy here: Vanish Magazine #10

Below is our interview:

Gerald Kirchner, CEO of one of the largest magic distributors in the world, made it his mission to find potential customers and deliver them to magic stores. The result is a website that is quickly becoming popular among magic suppliers.

“I go to bed each night thinking about magic shops,” Gerald said. “These places are owned and operated by people who work hard to deliver magic to every inch of the Earth. I wake up in the morning and imagine ways to make life better for that community.”

Gerald isn’t alone. There is a growing number of magic store owners who understand the value of networking. Those of us in the magic business—my fellow dealers, wholesalers, and manufacturers—are a family of distant relatives. Gerald’s new directory, MagicDealers.com, is like a family reunion, or an ongoing dealers room from your favorite convention.

“I go to bed each night thinking about magic shops…”

I visited Gerald at his office at Magic City—wholesalemagic.com—two massive warehouses filled from top to bottom with millions of dollars worth of magic books, DVD’s, the latest tricks and classic staple magic. It’s aisle after aisle of the world’s best magic.

Hanging on the wall behind his desk are Gerald’s favorite tricks—items he produced in his twenty-one years at Magic City—now celebrating their 40th year in the magic business.

I said, “Gerald, it’s like the most creative magicians in the world exploded in your office. There are cool toys and magic everywhere.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of history in this room,” Gerald said. “My dad, Chuck Kirchner, sat in this chair for over thirty years. He helped mold the magic business as we know it today.”

“I hate to reveal this to you,” I said, “but after listing my site in the MagicDealers directory, it quickly became my number one magic-related traffic source.”

Gerald explained, “That’s not a surprise. I hear that from many of the certified dealers listed in the directory. The website gets a tremendous amount of targeted traffic and we aim it at magic stores who want new customers.”

“Gerald, it’s like the most creative magicians in the world exploded in your office. There are cool toys and magic everywhere.”

“How do you deliver results so quickly? What makes people click my link?”

“It doesn’t always work that quickly,” Gerald said. “But I try to ensure it happens eventually. Every dollar that comes into the directory is spent in advertising our members. We run Facebook and Twitter campaigns for our dealer pages, plus we tap a few traffic sources I don’t want to make public.”

“Pretend I’ve never heard of MagicDealers.com. What is it?”

Gerald took a sip of his coffee and said, “MagicDealers is the world’s fastest growing magic directory. We don’t have every dealer listed yet, but we’re working hard to find them and deliver them a whole new customer base.”

Aaron Smith: Why should people list their site in the directory?

Gerald Kirchner: Everyone can use new customers, readers, or clients. The directory funnels those prospects to its members. Traffic pours into our site from search engines, social media platforms, and our proprietary sources. Our goal is to deliver actual, paying customers; people looking to buy magic tricks right now.

AS: Who can join MagicDealers.com?

GK: The site is for anybody with magic-related services they want to promote. Performers, dealers, manufacturers, magic magazines and news sites, really anyone in the community. The best part is, you don’t even need a website. You can use MagicDealers as your website.

AS: How much does it cost to become a member?

GK: Right now, you can have a listing in the directory for $99 per year (Magic Shops) $25 per year (Magicians).  That price may go up next year. Additional tools, such as promotional sales throughout the website and key features hidden within your listing, are available for premium members for just $99 per month. Premium members also get a discount from the Acme Magic Banner Exchange, only $25 per month for full rotation. Acme has now served over thirteen million banners on magic websites, so it’s a tremendous offer.

AS: A hundred dollars for a lifetime listing is a good deal. How does a magic shop or magician get listed in the directory?

GK: It’s easy. Go to the website, magicdealers.com, and click “Get Listed.” Fill out the form with your information and submit it for certification.

AS: You mentioned certification again. How are magic dealers in the directory certified?

GK: We verify the information provided by every dealer. I don’t have a way of guaranteeing it at this point, but we make sure the store is legitimate as best as possible. Honestly, not every magic store makes it through. I have to be able to go to your site or visit your establishment and know that you are an actual store. Sometimes it’s obvious the site isn’t real. If they claim to have every product distributed by Magic City for instance, but haven’t ever bought from us, I know they’re not real. Sometimes I have to call around and check references. I do what I can without being overly-demanding for information.

AS: But what if I’m traveling and don’t want to navigate the site to find a dealer?

GK: There are two mobile options to access our complete list of magic dealers in real-time. You can download the “Magic Dealers” app from the App Store on any IOS device, such as your iPhone or iPad, or from Google Play for any Android device. Our app had over 400 downloads in the first week. It’s very popular.

AS: That’s a lot of downloads for a directory app. Congratulations. Other than the app and website, how can I find out about new stores on MagicDealers.com?

GK: You can follow us @magicdealers1 on Twitter and like our Facebook page at facebook.com/magicdealers — we keep both sites up-to-date with the newest additions to the MagicDealers family

.AS: I noticed that MagicDealers.com is sort of it’s own little world. Sites within a site.

GK: Just like Facebook and Twitter, MagicDealers is a form of social media that shouldn’t be ignored. Google, Bing, and Yahoo rely heavily on directories like ours for content and current information. My advice to magic stores, creators, and performers is to get listed in the directory right now. Don’t wait. Join now. Keep your listing updated with all of your current promotions. You have a whole new place from which to draw traffic. To get customers. To make sales.

AS: One last question. Is that a Klingon Bat’leth on your desk?

GK: [smiling] Yes. Yes it is. I use it as a letter opener.

Source: VanishLive.com


How Many Licks Does it Take for a Review?

Pop1Ask the wise owl, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” and he always answers the same: “THREE(hee)!” For proof, see the original video…

But how many sales does it take to get one review on your website? The answer is a little over two thousand. That’s right, two thousand sales. Have you already given up on the idea of ever having reviews on your site again? Don’t! I have an idea that will have your site full of reviews in no time.

From my research, I have concluded that it takes a little over two thousand sales of any one item or for every two thousand products you sell site-wide, to net one review. This is just an average, but that might be why you have little to no reviews. It’s not your fault, it’s the stats fault–a numbers game. Unless your site is wildly popular and you’re selling like crazy, reviews are just not going to magically appear (pun intended).

Don’t feel hopeless. Have no fear. I am hear to help! First off, you need a strategy; a reason for customers to write reviews.

Customers only respond to a few things:

  • Discounts
  • Special Offers
  • Incentives: Free Magic, Drawings, Member Forum
  • Mores Discounts

One last thing… The personal touch. That’s right, customers respond to a personal touch. They want to know you care. And you do! Or you wouldn’t be in the magic business.

Here’s what you do: After you have answered all of your incoming email, pick your last ten orders that have been delivered and send the customer a personal email. Something like, “Hello, I see you received your last order. What did you think of MAGIC TRICK NAME?” It only takes a few minutes to write a quick, two-sentence email. Make a general letter and fill in the personal details. This will most likely result in at least five responses. Answer back with a follow-up, thanking your customer and state that you will include their comments in a products review.

Done! You just got at least five new reviews in less time than it took to read this post.

Talk Back Questions: In your experience what is the ratio of sales to reviews? What are your favorite review incentives?

Building a Magic Mailing List (Part One)

feedburner-feed-setupSocial media, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even MagicDealers make it easy to communicate with customers throughout the day, throughout the week. But these venues are a room full of people. Yelling, “SAVE 30% OFF TODAY ONLY!” into a room of people, isn’t just rude, it’s not very effective.

You can and should promote your special offers through social media, you just have to take a different tact. Email, on the other hand, is the perfect venue for shouting, showing, and converting.

For an email to be effective, you must have email subscribers. Step one: decide how you want to collect these email addresses. If you are going to use an email delivery service such as MailChimp or ConstantContact, then those companies will have tutorials on their site for collecting and maintaining your subscriber list. For the most part, you just add a form to your website that customers fill out and submit.

As your list gets bigger, those services cost more and more money. A large magic shop may have 50-70,000 magicians on their mailing list, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month to send reliably. Be prepared for your list to grow and always check the prices of the service you plan to use long term.

But there is a free alternative to paid service providers that’s quickly becoming the preferred solution among marketers of all sizes, and that’s FeedBurner. It’s an email delivery service offered by Google. It’s free and easy to use, but it is a bit confusing in the beginning.

FeedBurner turns any RSS feed into an email and delivers it to your customers from Google’s servers, which have amazing deliverability when it’s not gmail.

Want to see a FeedBurner newsletter in action? Sign up to this blog’s newsletter—Free Magic News & Insider Secrets!—at the bottom of this article or on the right hand side of this page. You should receive our newsletter with 48 hours after confirmation.

There are two components to FeedBurner:

First, you need a FeedBurner account. Set it up and make sure you have email as a delivery option. I recommend a dynamic subject line. The options look confusing, but read through them and it will make sense after a few minutes.

Then you need an RSS feed. The easiest method is a blog. If you run your own server or have server space, install WordPress. If not, WordPress offers a hosted option too. Find your RSS URL and enter it in FeedBurner. Set your site to automatically signup customers to FeedBurner (they still have to confirm, so it is Opt-In all the way), and have an option to subscribe to your newsletter on your blog and the main sections of your website.

When you are ready, post a special offer in your blog in the form of an article, and once a day, Google will check your RSS feed and deliver your newsletter to your list of subscribers. If you decide you want to change programs later, just download your list from FeedBurner and upload it to the next provider.

But what do you post to get the best results? What do you write about to entice magicians to buy magic from you? Get your FeedBurner account setup and your blog installed, and I’ll answer these questions in Part Two next week.

The “MAGIC” of Advertising and Why it’s Hard to Find a URL

Magic_AdvertisingIn Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws, the Third Law states, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And since almost everything worth advertising is, at least in the mind of its creator, a “sufficiently advanced technology,” the marketing of such products benefits by borrowing from the magic industry.

In fact, experts call words such as amazing, magical, and astounding, “stop words.” These are terms and phrases that when included in headlines and headers, cause potential customers to stop [flipping through the magazine or changing channels] and pay attention to the sufficiently advanced technology being advertised.

This is why it is difficult, near impossible, to find an available URL for your magic business that incorporates these stop words; those websites are already being used by the mainstream market.

Porsche’s recent slogan (circa 2011), “Engineered for Magic,” both takes advantage of our industry’s core term and gives credibility to the idea that men only drive a Porsche due to a “wand” complex.

Even non-technological products take from the magic industry’s precious limited vocabulary. Spider-Man is, after all, only “amazing.” The same term used to describe turn-of-the-century baking apparatus.

Magicians have struck back over the years. Magic creators parody the occasional well-known summer blockbuster for their trick’s title or they incorporate popular mainstream products, from playing cards to iPhones, in their routines.

I remember Steve Fearson performing a trick for me while we were hanging out at a magic convention more than a decade ago, when the Internet was still finding its place among the general public. He had me select a card and then go to Oprah’s website, which revealed my card right next to her picture!

Today, there is a constant supply of innovative technology advertised as magic. It is important magicians develop new magic tricks just as quickly, setting the bar for what is magic and what is “like” magic.

In the past, a young kid might say, “I know how you did that, you used one of those fake thu***.” Now days, he will say, “You know, there’s an app for that. And it’s amazing!”

Staggered Newsletters – Public Service and Competitive Edge

Sometimes it pays to follow the leader. For a while! (image by material)

Sometimes it pays to follow the leader. For a while! (image by material)

No matter who you are and how unique your unique sales point is, you still share some degree of customer overlap with at least one competitor. There are online magic shops thousands of miles apart from each other that report upwards of 20% overlap, and brick and mortar stores might share 80-90% overlap with their local competitors.

If you realize with whom you share the most overlap, there are crafty ways you can be more competitive in a way that helps you both and the magic community as a whole.

The typical relationship between two competitive magic stores, especially online retailers, is one of “monkey see monkey do.” If one magic store runs a special promotion every Monday, before long, the other store will do the same—usually the smaller entity mimicking the larger one. Over time, the discounts get steeper and steeper, and conversion declines.

Instead of falling into this trap—a situation where overlap customers might not purchase from either company—exploit the paradigm. On Mondays, when your competitor launches their weekly discount, announce a new product from one of your vendors that your competitor doesn’t stock. Choose an item you believe in strongly and hype it up.

Choose an item you believe in strongly and hype it up!

Specific item enticement will prevail over broad-range discounts, particularly after those discounts become commonplace. Once your competitor’s discount expires, announce your own discount offer and mention the item from your previous newsletter is still available.

Some online retailers run the same specials so often on the same days—with the same artwork—it’s easy to anticipate their moves and exploit the overlap. Surprisingly, both of you should see an increase in conversion. Chances are, your competitor gets your newsletter just like you get theirs. If they see the direct competition, their first instinct is to react by copying you. In which case, you revert to the old schedule and you will have, at least in this way, changed places with that competitor in the minds of the overlap.

If you have difficulty finding a new item your competitor doesn’t have on their site, contact Wholesale Magic and ask for an item that was once trendy but has faded out of popularity. We can even provide you with a bulk discount. Stores call us almost everyday for this exact purpose.

When you get the item, refresh the write-up and create a new graphic. Announce it in your newsletter, on your social media, forums, and make it a big deal on the front of your website. Now it’s the hottest item of the week and you have the exclusive. Some retailers buy all of our stock so that other stores will have to purchase the item from them. A small investment with a big return.

Staggering your newsletters in direct response to a competitor with high overlap has a positive impact on the industry. Your company’s demand for exclusive items refreshes old stock, which provides magicians with good magic at a competitive price, and rewards [often] forgotten manufacturers. Under optimal conditions, you will create higher conversion for you and your competitor as these actions result in contrast, which by default has a higher yield.

Note: if you receive your competitor’s newsletter on a Monday, they might have sent it on a Sunday, which is the first day of the retail buying week in the magic industry. It can easily take 24 hours for a newsletter to reach all of a large subscriber list.