bcard001My name is Ron Carnell.

I’ve been deeply involved with the Internet since 1997, with computers and software since 1980, and with marketing and sales, well, since pretty much forever. My first job as a kid, back in the early Sixties, was selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door and I’ve been selling, in one form or another, ever since.

Of course, you have been, too, whether you know it or not.

Every interaction between two or more human beings is, at its core, a sales pitch. That’s especially true for entertainers, because we’re always trying to sell ourselves. That’s what entertainment is, after all. Selling yourself. And we all do it, every day and pretty much all day.

We don’t, however, always do it well.

I firmly believe the Internet is the greatest marketing tool for magicians since Guttenberg came up with that neat idea of his for a printing press. And it breaks my heart to see so many of my magician friends either ignoring its potential or, worse, approaching it half-heartedly.

Twenty years ago, you needed a phone to even consider yourself a business. Ten years ago, you needed an email address or you simply didn’t exist. It’s all about expectations and, as magicians, we all know how important those are. Today . . . you need a website. It’s very simply what people expect from professional businesses.

However, it’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes you look bad. Your website is the face of your business and it’s inevitably going to speak volumes about the way you do business. It either says, “We take our business seriously enough to create a truly professional website for our customers,” or it screams, “Look, I let my fourteen-year-old nephew design a website for me.”

To attract or retain customers who are surfing the Web, your site must draw them in, hold their attention, and guide them to the desired result, whether that is adding their name to your email list, booking a show with your site’s on-line form, or picking up the phone to call you directly.

But when users land on your website, they bring their own needs, wants, perspectives, and motivations. They’re volunteers on your site and choose from one moment to the next whether they’ll stay. If the visitor feels you don’t understand them, if they can’t figure out what to do, or if you’re just not providing the value they want offered, they’re always just one simple click away from your competitor’s site.

Like a good writer telling a story, your website needs to grab and hold a reader’s attention.

For magicians, that presents some unique opportunities as well as unique challenges.

  • Challenge #1: You are your own product. When you sell a service, as opposed to a tangible product, you are offering your personal time with the promise of a particular result.
  • Challenge #2: Your time is limited. And the value of what time you have is not consistent. For most entertainers, your Saturdays are more valuable than your Mondays, and your afternoons and evenings are worth more than zero dark hundred mornings.
  • Challenge #3: You must prove you can deliver a great show, while still remaining flexible enough to meet a new client’s needs. And you often have to do it while keeping confidential client information confidential.
  • Challenge #4: The Internet is a global medium, while most magicians are serving a local clientele. It’s a bit like doing close-up magic in a theater that seats 5,000 people. It can be a real struggle to be heard and seen by the RIGHT people.

Better Magic Sites has been created to help educate my many magician friends on what I feel are the most important aspects of marketing yourself on-line. It is NOT all inclusive, and in fact barely scratches the surface. Entire books have been written on many of the concepts we discuss in just a web page or two. But it is, I think, a really good start.

Our content is divided into three Acts, much as a good magic show might be, and each Act is divided into a Beginning, a Middle, and an End, again much as most sets should be designed.

Act I covers the basics of building a really great web site. It doesn’t assume you already know everything, but rather starts at the very beginning. I firmly believe that Marketing on the Internet — or marketing anywhere! — should always start with the very best product possible. Acts II and III will only work as well as your website works.

Act II covers the basics of marketing your website or, in other words, building traffic. The best website in the world is absolutely useless if no one ever goes to it. The old “Build it and they will come” methodology hasn’t worked since about 1995. Act II will show you how to attract potential customers using search engine optimization, social media, and a few off-line tools you are (or should!) already be using.

Act III covers the basics of selling, especially at it applies to websites. Having a great website is paramount, and attracting a lot of visitors is great, but the real goal all along has been to books gigs and make some money. This is both the hardest part of the equation and, clearly, the most important. I know, I know, you’ve been selling all your life and you’ve already learned how to best sell yourself as a magician. Trust me, doing it on-line, without that face-to-face contact, is a whole different animal. Act III will show you how best to convert visitors into paying customers.

Ready? Let’s get started.