How Magic Works in Corporate Settings
Part One: Focusing on Client Experiences and Needs
When clients are considering magical entertainment or magic-enhanced speaking as a possible addition to their event, they are often venturing into unfamiliar territory. Though every situation is different, my experience is that most event or meeting planners who are considering a magical speaker or entertainer fall into one of the following three categories: Explorers, Expanders, and Exorcists. Each group is asking a different kind of question.
Explorers: “What new thing can I find?”
The first group of clients are those who have never have worked with a professional magical entertainer in any venue. Many times, these people have either devised a magic theme themselves, or they have been presented with an event theme (“The Magic of…” or “Vegas Night,” etc.) decided upon by their team or another event planner. In the case of un-themed events or events without a specific magic theme, the use of a magician, mentalist, or magical keynote speaker has usually been recommended by another planner. (And if you ever wanted a short summary of my business model, that’s it.)
I find that these Explorers – companies, groups, and planners – are usually wide open on the creative side of applying magic to multiple events during a conference, though almost always with a careful eye to budget constraints. These clients value experience, creativity, and cost-consciousness. It’s a new world for them, and as a performer I appreciate the trust that these clients place in me to be their guide and navigator.
Being the initial experience for an “Explorer” is also a big responsibility, because the result of this experience will transform this client into one of the other two types – either an Expander or an Exorcist. It’s important to dream big and deliver for these Explorers, but it’s equally important to be realistic about what you can really do well and where your expertise lies. Stretch your skills, not the truth.
Expanders: “Where else can I use this idea?”
Another possibility is that a client has worked with a magician or mentalist on a previous event, but the client is only familiar with that single aspect of how mystery entertainment can be integrated into multiple parts of an event. The previous entertainer may have delivered a quality show for one venue, but did not indicate a level of versatility or creativity in providing a broader range of experiences. These planners are “Expanders,” ready to expand their understanding of what magic performance can bring to their events.
Expanders are often enthusiastic about magic, and are excited to hear different ways that they can create exciting, high-impact experiences for their audiences. These clients are anxious to hear success stories about how a different approach worked at other events, and if you have a creative twist on that idea for them, so much the better!
The risk, of course, is that given the open mind of an Expander, the over-enthusiastic provider will conclude that he has a hammer and the event is comprised of nothing but nails. Sometimes the Expander gets in on this game and also wants to add magic to every single element of the event.
Experienced planners and providers will resist this temptation. Less is often more.
Exorcists: “How can I end this and avoid another horrible experience?”
An unfortunate third possibility is that a client has worked with another provider in the past who delivered a low-quality program that did not inspire confidence in future use of mystery entertainment at all. They are the “Exorcists,” and they are actively excluding magic from consideration in their events. It’s not quite casting out demons, but this client has been burned by a bad experience and understandably wishes to avoid that in the future.
Strangely, after a planner has a bad experience with a caterer or vocalist, he or she will not swear off caterers and singers forever. With magic, though, the fact is that a poor performer creates an obstacle that can be difficult for other providers to overcome, regardless of quality. While it can be a challenge to get in the door, these clients can become some of your most vocal cheerleaders when you deliver a successful new experience to overshadow the old.
In this series, I will discuss a variety of creative ideas for incorporating magic and mentalism entertainment into different corporate environments. Planners who fall into each of the categories above will find ideas and insights that can help them use corporate magic, mentalism, and (sometimes) message-driven entertainment to ensure the success and lasting impact of their events.