Building a Show Pt 6

Theming – private party solutions (part 6)

Jimmy Leo“To entertain for the purpose of temporarily taking someone from their cares and worries in the world is noble…but to recognize an entertainer’s ability to REACH an audience and UTILIZE that gift for an educational purpose…holds FAR greater value”                                                Jimmy Leo

I often hear a great deal of balloon artists, magicians, face painters and assorted types of specialized artists discuss the down side of their bookings.  I speak often of a show throughout this article series and continue to, but I have never sat back and said that this performance focusing around a certain theme had to be balloons only.  For that matter, it doesn’t need to be magic only, face painting only, stilt walking or juggling only either.  It’s a performance.  The way to gear it towards making the client happy is to give it a theme that’s appealing towards the client.  The way to keep it fresh and constantly re-booked is through adjusting the format it’s given in.  The way to keep it at a higher value is by adding multiple elements into your performance.
Imagine the value placed on a magic show?  A decent price tag, yes?  Now imagine the value on a balloon artist with excellent balloon twisting skills.  Also a high value?  Perhaps.  Now imagine the value of someone who plays games with the kids at a party?  Perhaps not as high, but still a certain value is there.  What about a storyteller at an event?  It’s not something a person sees everyday.  A higher value based on it’s degree of supply.  Face painters?  Quite a few out there? Indeed.  Stand up comedy?  Not at many family oriented venues.  but each kind of entertainment listed here has it’s own markets.  What if there were a way to arrange a blending of multiple entertainments to arrive at a more sought after product with it’s own market?  NOW we’re talking!  And what if this blending of entertainments into one performance resulted in a show that was not so common…perhaps even rare.  Would it impact the value of the performance?  Of course it would!
“I’m looking to get some balloons for the party: but I want to make sure there is face painting too.  And magic?  I like that too.  I think I’d like that at the event as well.”  The party is 2 hours long.  Did I mention there would be 45 children?  There’s probably about 40 adults coming as well.  So….how much will that cost me?”
I’ve heard this too many times to count.  They just never seem to understand, even as it rolls off of their tongue, that what they seem to be requesting is a very tall order….and then when the price tag rolls in, they seem shocked that it costs so much.  On top of that, the time frame is too short, and there’s no way EVERYTHING can be provided to everyone with involved being happy – Enter the themed private party show.
“Ma’am,, I’m pleased that you care enough about your son/daughter to want so much at this event.  Clearly their happiness is your number one priority and that’s a refreshing thing to see.  may I ask a few questions?”
And the qualifying process begins.  The most important thing to remember is that you want to be sure you are presenting the right kind of performance to the right kind of client.  The wonderful thing about the show is that it can be tailored up or down with regard to it’s length, features, Finale, types of entertainment involved (not enough money in the budget? – Pull the balloon portion out of the show…avoid the parts that incur expenses).  When I first designed my shows, I presented them to libraries.  After a talk with magician Terry Parrett, I moved them in the school system direction as well.  The truth is, though, i enjoyed doing them so much, that I started offering them to the Birthday party market – and they LIKED it!  It wasn’t your typical dog and pony show.  it wasn’t the clown with the silly outfit who does basic balloon animals, a few magic tricks, stickers and paints clouds on kid’s hands.  This did have all of those elements rolled into an interactive show that people really got into – young and old alike.  People would book this show just because they had a certain friend coming and they KNEW they wanted THAT guy to be the one who was transformed into the balloon ogre during the Hercules Story.  They, as parents, received an opportunity to provide something very unique to their child on this special day, have it themed to whatever their child’s favorite story or characters were, and for a few moments became a child again themselves.  No one offered this to them before.  The idea of turning it into a princess party or a pirate package went WAY beyond their expectations.  Little gems of education would be thrown in as well – perhaps a little something about the middle ages…or some other amazing moment in time that the kids were somewhere slightly aware of through some exposure to it on Saturday morning cartoons.
I stood there at Johnny’s Birthday party again.  I had worked it for numerous years and though they seemed to love me, I was growing weary of presenting them with the same performance they had come to see year in and year out.  Please do not misunderstand, it wasn’t that I thought less of their opinion – to the contrary I thought more.  i felt that they were my favorite customers for very personal reasons I will go into another time.  As a result, i wanted to give them something more.  Something that in my opinion held a greater value.  They had never come to see any of my library presentations or school assemblies.  I knew they never saw my storytelling presentations, and this was the first time I was going to be doing one at a much smaller venue.  I was apprehensive because i wasn’t sure how it would be received.  Still, i believed in the performance, so i decided i would give it everything i had.
The question knocked around my head over and over again for the entire ride to the show.  Of course this new presentation was working in the libraries and schools; It focused on storytelling which is literacy based.  Would it really pan out in a backyard BBQ Birthday venue though?  More importantly, these are people who are repeat clients many times over.  They have come to understand to expect a certain standard from me.  Is this a situation of giving them something I have never offered this market before…or merely me taking advantage of an opportunity to guinea pig an audience that already places tremendous trust in me?  I felt confident in the first, grabbed my bag full of pre-made props and ventured into the backyard.
The details beyond that point are trivial.  For those who insist on satisfying curiosity, it was a success.  If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this article now.  But I believe that the success here opened up the doors for my current thinking towards the idea of presentations over line twisting and theming a show rather than giving them what I want or feel gifted with presenting.  The funny thing about this is that even as I type this, I’m reminded of why I felt Johnny and his family were so special.  At an early age, johnny developed a condition that ravaged parts of his body.  In truth, Johnny was quite a handicapped young boy.  And even as I sit here, I am now contemplating the possibility of putting together a performance that focuses on the strength of overcoming obstacles, how it could play specifically to those who are handicapped, and what directions I can take this show in.  Even now, I still gain new insight and direction.  new markets and new opportunities…all because I am careful to see what new ways a performance can be themed.
The fact remains that the private party should be the single most desired place on the part of an entertainer to place a themed performance.  It’s the place where the common entertainers tend to gravitate towards the most…meaning that a themed performance blending multiple forms of entertainment would be the most welcome and hold a far higher value.  Up sells and down sells present themselves, allowing for bookings that match the customer’s needs while still giving you the entertainer the opportunity to stay or stray from formats.  Finales?  It can be the choice of the entertainer whether or not it’s offered, what up sell value it holds if treated as an up-sell, and what kinds of finales to offer.  Giveaways?  Did someone say giveaways?  Again, entirely up to the entertainer.  But the show presents one advantage that strolling entertainment does not – the advantage of having the entire crowd in front of an entertainer all at once.  If the giveaway is a branded item that can continue pushing the theme of the event long after you the entertainer have gone, and can also serve as a means of putting your contact information in the hands of every attendee of the event.  Perhaps, instead, the giveaway can be one last themed attempt at making the birthday boy/girl feel special.  Specialized little balloon kits or magic tricks with a card reading “Courtesy of John Doe, the Birthday boy”  Any kind of catchy phrase focused on the birthday boy/girl and tied into the giveaway item will make it memorable.  “Having fun at John Doe’s party was like shooting fish in a BARREL! attached to little plastic fish.  Be sure that whatever the catchy phrase, it ties into the theme…..Remember, the entire purpose of theming the event, even a private event, should be to appeal to what the client’s likes are instead of one’s own.  Theming to their desires, even in this venue, will continue to secure the bookings.

coming soon……Theming your Performance; The Bigger Picture – Part 7

All inquiries, questions and comments are always welcome. As always, it’s a pleasure to share my knowledge with others – Thank you for the opportunity!

Journey to the Center of the StageBuy Jimmy’s DVD Journal to the Center of the Stage Today!

Jimmy Leo – Cloud 9 Balloons

about Jimmy Leo –

Based in the Tampa suburbs, Jimmy Leo has been twisting and entertaining with balloons for over 16 years. He has worked for such clients as The New York Islanders, Steinway Pianos, Jet Blue Airlines, appeared on local and national television, and performed for hundreds of schools, libraries, camps, charities, restaurants and nightclubs. Along with spending time seeking out new markets and creating new routines, Jimmy has penned a book on performance and marketing and filmed 3 instructional DVDs.. He has put together stage shows, and workshops for schools, camps, libraries, colleges, and corporate businesses. Along with these accomplishments, He has designed and presented multiple lectures and presentations with the purpose of providing educational entertainment with various purposes; some being to promote reading and awareness of the environment, and others designed to promote awareness of reducing stress in the workplace. He is currently emerging as a key note speaker on the art of creative marketing and team building. Still, his two greatest accomplishments are named Miranda and Emily.

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