How to Sell Out Before You Make it Big.
5 Steps to building a bigger and better audience, customer relationships, and loyal fans.
In the world of performance art a “sell-out” can be a derogatory term or statement, “He is a sell- out...” Although in this blog, we are talking about the great mind-set to be a sell-out in show business, which is the actual money machine behind performance art, a sell-out means something totally different. All performance artists want to “sell out” yet not be a “sell-out”. Now that’s funny! Here are my thoughts on how to be a sell out.
1. Share your Dreams with your Acquaintances.
To do this you must develop first an empathy for their dreams; be caring and supportive by using your talents, time, and gifts to help others. Volunteer, Work for Free, and Be willing to Share your service for free whenever a budget is not available. If you are not willing to work for free you haven’t developed a true sense of audience empathy. I share and perform each time I am asked and even when I’m not asked (sorry about that).
In High School my Basketball coach would invite me into the visitors coaches office and ask me to perform some magic. My coaches had empathy and love for how my magic affected others and were excited to ask me to share it. Even today, if someone asks me to perform I rise to the moment. If you truly have empathy for your audience and believe what you have to share will enrich and benefit their lives then you will know what you are getting paid is more important than your fee.
If I am volunteering on a board or on a committee then everyone their will see magic for free. The stage crew, tech guys, flight attendants, concierge, at the gas station or bank they all see magic. At my doctors office, Insurance office, or local chamber of commerce, they all see magic. I guess you could say I throw-up my magic on everyone I meet. This is why I love magic because it allows me to give so freely something so great. The gift of yourself and sharing your dreams with others inspires them to do the same with you. This is how I let them care about me and my show. I care about them. I thank them for letting me share and they thank me by helping me sell out.
Resource: Ebook download Optimystical, by Rod Wayne: A How to Guide to making your DREAMS become Possible.
2. Sell 100 Tickets at a time and sell out Every Time.
This for me is a big one and makes all the other steps feel more rewarding and even the free shows you accept will bring big returns. I can’t count the amount of times early in my career that I paid for advertising and only a few people I knew would show up to my show. The many hours I spent rehearsing and then only to have very little turn-out in ticket sales. This tormented me leaving me broke and underfunded. How could I continue my path as an artist and not afford to invite and advertise enough to fill a theater? Only after art school I realized that my path was that of an artist and that all I really wanted was to share my art/magic with others. I accepted that I would be a starving artist and the most important mission was my art. It is not an easy life and like many great artists in the past, I too would suggest another path, than art. Being an artist, believing is more about the art than the reward and finding the reward in the creation and in sharing your art.
Once I started sharing my dreams with my acquaintances the phone started ringing, and what I call VIP Clients, started calling. They were not asking to purchase one, two, or a small group of tickets to my show, they were asking how much I would charge to share my art with their business or local group, large family, or friends. You see, once people believed in me and my goals and dreams and they witnessed my passion for helping them by my desire to share, they started to care about my dreams and wanted to help me achieve them. It changed the way I thought about money and my audience. I would never again have an empty theater with only a few people to see my art. I would be invited to entertain for large groups by one individual who cared so deeply about supporting what I do they would give my art as a gift to those they cared about whether it were their clients, industry, friends, family, or community. In my mind, I like to think of these clients that support and hire magicians and performing artists as purchasers of 100’s if not 1000’s of tickets to support my art and mission statement.
I have had so many wonderful clients that have funded my art and talent to allow me to continue to focus on the art. They do this by putting me in front of their audience. If you think about each person in your audience as a possible VIP client who could someday help you share your art with more people, you will thank them and truly be rewarded as a artist. This means you have to bank on the generosity of those in the position to support the arts. It also allow you to focus on your art and the gift your art brings to the audience. It may mean you are starving. For me, I would rather starve then to shift my focus away from the art. Over the years, these VIP clients have told me how much my service means to them and the benefits they see in booking me to work their events. Already in 2017 I have 246 Shows booked for the year and it’s only the 4th of January. I don’t think any of these events are shows I have to sell tickets to. I will promote some of the shows to invite my fans and followers, although these are shows booked by VIP Small Business Owners, City and County Leaders, Promoters, Public Relations Experts, Corporations, Families, and Theaters all excited to share my talent and art with their audience. I work for many wonderful people who believe in my art and bring lots of people to see my magic.
3. Write a heart felt Mission Statement.
You must believe in your brand. Build your personal brand through your Mission Statements, Biographies, and Artistic Values, and Resume. The better this is the more engagement and support you can expect from acquaintances that may someday be customers.
In order to have a fulfilling career in any field, you should put much thought towards your professional values and what is your competitive edge. Anyone working in the art field should come up with:
-A Mission Statement that will guide you through each stage of your career.
-A narrative Biography of your background, accomplishments, and credentials.
-A list of Artistic Values that define what all you need in order to do your best work. No one else is going to set these standards!
-Keep your Resume up to date and available to your clients. This is professional and will allow your acquaintances to see, in one place, your accomplishments and experiences.
4. Build Acquaintances, not Customers.
I asked my brother Robert Jay Housley how he grew a large successful construction company in such a short time and this was his response,“Build acquaintances, not customers.” I find this fits right in with how I think about my clients. First, we must all learn how to connect with our audiences and colleagues by sharing ourselves openly and honestly. Add something personal to your mission statement like your dreams and goals. We have to let people in and treat them as friends not customers. This is easier today than ever before with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These mediums offer a deeper look into peoples lives allowing us to care more. This can be very personal and if used effectively, you can build great relationships on the web which can drive people to your website or blog, attend your events, and initiate creative opportunities to share your art. These are free resources that can promote your services!
I try never to think about anybody as a customer, I work hard to build that relationship into a friendship by doing everything I can do to help them and not nickel and dime them for additional things I may do to help their event be a success. I work with them to make it a success and use all my talents and creative abilities to benefit them. Maybe it’s the artist in me that would rather have friends than customers, although I feel customers would rather give their money to a friend for a good service provided. It may seem like a little thing although it is very important that your mission statement is clear and that you develop empathy for your acquaintances and think how can my service help them?
The following statement is how I like to sell my service: “I would love to help you...”
5. Listen to your audience
This is easier said than done. I hope my unique outlook as a magician will help you learn to really listen to your audience and acquaintances. As I develop a new magic act or routine to share with my audiences, my thoughts are: what will they feel, what will they think, what will they see, what will they hear, and what they will remember. While performing it, all my theories and preconceived errors are made clear. If I am well rehearsed and can listen while I perform, I can hear what they are hearing, notice what they are seeing, and if I really have mastered the performance then I can listen and feel what they feel.
Sometimes this is easy and obvious although sometimes I am left with just a sense that something is off or not right with a piece. It takes dedicated thought to discover this and adjust to fix. This is the artist joy to discover, to never be content, and to always strive for perfection. It allows you to grow and discover what speaks through you and what message your art is communicating. Always making changes to make the show better. This is just good business no matter what you do.