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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category


2010-01-25Where in the world am I today?: At sea aboard the Emerald Princess

I was originally going to write about something else today, but then I headed to my email inbox and stumbled across a message announcing a new directory of Canadian comedians, my first thought was… Here we go, yet another social networking site, but this one struck a chord for some reason and I decided to have a closer look… Here’s the content of the original email I got just so you can have a look at what I received. Many of you may have already received this, but if not, here it is…

As a Canadian Comedian it’s time to stand up and be counted!

In an effort to have a definitive record in honour of the ones who entertain us, Comediapedia has begun its search for each and every Comedian in Canada.

Comediapedia aspires to be the first complete living record of everyone who has ever dared call themselves a Canadian Comedian with direct links to Canadian Comedians and other features like:

– a current cross-country comedy calendar of upcoming performances by your favourite Canadian Comedians

– a compelling history of the Canadian Comedians and their stories compiled by Harry Doupe

– Comediapedia’s e-newsletter

– anecdotes and road stories from the comics you’ve heard about, and those that you are going to hear about

We need you! We’ve spent months compiling a list of Canadian comedians for one reason… we are gathering all Canadian Comedians together in one place to highlight the amazing talent that is produced here in our country.  Every Canadian Comedian, from amateur to professional – from sea to sea – with talents in Standup/Sketch/Improv and Musical/Variety  – will receive an invitation to create a profile on Comediapedia.ca.

It’s simple… check out the website to create your profile:


You can share as much or as little as you like… and then spread the word!

Together we can bring attention and regard to our profession.

Without agenda and full of hope, I invite you to join us.

Now, this is with out a doubt a bit ‘Canada-centric,’ but for those performers from Canada who have some comedic content in their show it would be interesting to take a sort of census of our ranks and figure out just how many of us there are in the Great White North… Along with soft wood lumber and hydro electrical power, comedians seem to be something we’re good at exporting – Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers and Jim Carrey to name just a few, so jumping on the band-wagon of that is comedy and comedians from Canada though a bit regionally specific had a weirdly patriotic appeal to me.

The registration process took virtually no time at all and the think I noticed and liked immediately about the way the profile page is set up is that you can add links to some of the most popular other social networks that are out there – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Seems like everyone has their own social network these days, but the fact that this one seems to recognize this and encourage you to tap into your other social network spaces seems pretty cool and allows you to bring all of this information under one roof quite successfully.

Downloadable Marketing Materials

2010-01-18Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Had a phone conversation with a producer this past weekend about a job coming up in March and at one point in the conversation he asked me about posters and other graphics that he could use to promote my performances at his festival.

It’s all on-line,” I said.

Being able to point people to a downloadable source of photos, graphics, posters and other information that they can use to promote you is something everyone should include on their website. I’ve had a number of other conversations with other producers who, when I asked if they needed any promo materials, informed me that they’d already downloaded everything they needed from my website and that if they needed anything else they’d let me know…

It’s actually funny sometimes to see what images people pick to promote my show because I have images that are relevant to various markets that I work for and sometimes people will pick an image to promote my show that I wouldn’t necessarily say matched the market that the image was specifically designed for, but wha’cha gonna do? By putting the information up for general consumption you sort of leave some room for interpretation on the other end of the connection…

Even though some images make more sense for certain markets, all of the images and all of the graphics were designed to promote me, so what ever image is picked tends to be OK and if there’s really something off with their choice it gives me fodder for conversation and jokes at the beginning of my shows anyway so I’ve never really felt too mis-represented by having someone mix and match the images I’ve got on across various markets all that much.

I suppose I could avoid this eventuality by not posting the information on-line and instead providing the appropriate promotional images each time a client asks for something, but I’ve received more positive feedback than negative about having on-line options that make life easier for those in charge of putting together festival brochures and flyers because of the ease-of-use my site offers.

Keep it clean, keep it easy to navigate and make it easy for people who need to access and download your promo and you’ll make a lot of friends with people behind the scenes as well as those who are in charge of booking you.

Babysitting as Marketing?

2010-01-11Where in the world am I today?: At Sea in the Caribbean aboard the Emerald Princess

Lifted the movie poster for Adventures in Babysitting for today’s post because it somehow seemed appropriate. What does babysitting have to do with marketing? Aren’t Mondays on this blog supposed to be about some sort of marketing tip? Well let me tell ya. The last three days or so aboard the Emerald Princess my cruise ship agent, Wendy, has been on board with her family including her 21-month old daughter. In the chaos of being on the ship with her husband, her parents, her inlaws etc., not to mention the social/business obligations she had to meet the entertainment department on the ship, get to as many shows as possible and be “ON” as an Agent… Well the added responsibilities of the 24/7 job that is motherhood stretched energy levels a bit thin at times…

Having lived through the happy chaos of parenthood with my two boys, I recognized immediately the need to give Wendy a break and offered to keep an eye on her daughter who had already come to see several of my shows in the Piazza, so for little pockets of time when ever I saw the opportunity I jumped in as babysitter so Wendy could grab a bite to eat, or have a conversation, or check on her husband, or what ever.

So what does this have to do with Marketing?

Well people who are successful in business are successful at building relationships. In the five years that I’ve been getting cruise ship work through the Don Casino Productions office I’ve spent very little time actually building a personal relationship with the people in the office who continue to provide me with a TON of work. When I first heard that Wendy was going to be on the ship I thought that perhaps it would be my chance to ask a number of questions about the upcoming season, about getting the sort of work that I wanted to pursue, about possibly getting a pay increase, about any number of topics, but the need I saw which I could happily fulfil, that of a babysitter, will likely do more for my connection with Wendy than any three hour conversation about the state of the industry would have.

Besides, it was fun. My kids are nine and twelve at this stage and are becoming increasingly independent. Having a couple of hours to share with a younger child was actually a lot of fun because it reminded me of a much different time in my journey as a parent.

The fact that my shows so successfully kept Wendy’s daughter… Heck, Wendy’s entire family so entertained in the Piazza of the Emerald Princess will also likely put me in good standing with the agency and with the Entertainment Department of Princess Cruises as one of the things that Wendy did say to me in one of the conversations we did have was – Princess should book you for all of your available dates… They NEED you!

So… Some fun shows, a few hours of hanging out and babysitting and it feels like I achieved more in the last three days in terms of traction with my agent and Princess Cruises than I think I may have in the first five years of working through the agency… Amazing!

This Year’s Christmas Card Project

2010-01-04Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Since about the time my older son Koji was born back in 1997 I’ve made an effort to get a Seasonal Greeting Card into the Mail and over the last five or six years these cards seem to have become more and moor elaborate and have included everything from the legendary “Magic Jumping Fish” to paper models of my S-Cargo to mini-milk carton ornaments to this year’s effort which was all based around the shape of that classic Little Tree Air Freshener.

In recent years it seems like we’ve needed to send out between three hundred and three hundred and fifty of these cards and need both an English version as well as a Japanese version. The need for the Japanese version stems from the fact that for years I worked in Japan and still want to stay in touch with friends and colleagues there as well as the fact that my wife is originally from Japan and we send these cards out to her family as well. Beyond the three hundred and fifty-ish cards that we had printed, I also ended up sending out some where around a hundred and sixty ’email versions’ of the card, so in the end, over five hundred people were exposed to this year’s effort at seasonal creativity with a promotional twist.

This annual extravaganza ends up turning into a bit of a labour of love and this year’s card was no exception. 2009 was quite a busy year for me contract-wise and on the week that I would normally devote to getting Christmas Cards into the mail I was sailing aboard the GRAND Princess… On the way to the airport to join the ship (my wife drove me out) we stopped by Staples with a memory stick containing a PDF version of everything and dropped it off at their Print Shop to get printed. While I was away on the ship my incredible wife hand cut the three hundred and fifty-ish air fresheners out, punched holes in all of them, attached the little piece of elastic and assembled the cards where the freshener was place on the card to make it look like it was dangling from a car’s rearview mirror.

When I got home from the GRAND on December 21, I finished printing envelopes, and started stuffing. I also managed to get the email-versions sent out each with a bit of a personal note included On December 22 the cards going to international destinations made it into the mail. On December 23 those to Canada got sent. On December 24th we finished some last minute Christmas shopping and on December 25 and 26th I crashed, chilled and enjoyed the sense that I had just barley gotten this year’s effort out in time to get a pre-December 25 post mark. December 27th I was back at the Airport flying to join the Monarch of the Seas.

So why make such an effort and spend so much time, energy and money on a Seasonal Holiday Greeting Card? I get to the middle of the process every year and I ask myself the same question. It starts of innocently enough being yet another avenue to poor creative energy and one I quite enjoy, but somewhere in the middle of the assembly-line like process of stuffing, licking and sticking envelopes it sort of becomes a bit of a drone job… The true impact of the cards only really makes sense to me in the months that follow because inevitably over the course of the year as I run into past clients and colleagues who’ve received the card and comment that it’s one of the things they look forward to each year. That what in essence is promotional tool has become a yearly tradition taps into a much greater resonance than a standard mailing. That’s when all of the effort makes sense.

Steaks Anyone?

2009-12-28Where in the world am I today?: Hopefully – Port Canaveral FL, USA joining the Monarch of the Seas.

Nothing say’s Happy Holidays like a Steak… Right? Yes? No? Maybe? Well I’ll be honest, I’d never really thought of it as an ideal gift myself which is why I was caught off guard a bit while I was sitting in the Horizon Court Buffet aboard the GRAND Princess about a week and a half as Peter Gossamer ordered steaks on-line for key clients, family and friends (for fun the links above will take you to three different on-line retailers for steaks…to be honest, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the ordering process to figure out which one Peter was actually using). The image was made even more amusing by the fact that Carol, Peter’s assistant and fiancé kept telling him to hurry up with the orders because the ship was slowly easing away from the peer in Dominica. The wireless signal that Peter was connected too was land-based not ship based, so as we moved away from the peer there was a very real risk that the connection would dwindle before a key transaction could be completed. In the end I think Peter managed to get about 70 – 80% of his ‘shopping’ done for the Holidays in one foul swoop via a couple of on-line delivery companies… Amazing!

Though a steak isn’t necessarily a product that I’d first consider as the gift that says ‘Thank You,’ the idea of a gift to say thank you is something I’ve recognized for years. I posted about the ‘GGOL’ (Generous Gift Of Love) as it’s become known in the circle of performers who attend C.A.M.P. in Winnipeg back in July. This idea of giving something back was driven home to me in Japan where I was exposed to the Japanese tradition of giving the bride and groom a wedding gift, and then having them give you something back as a thank you for coming to their wedding. When I got married in Japan, my wife very gracefully looked after all of the arrangements on that end of the spectrum as I felt completely out of my depth, but wedding package services that you can have organize your ‘special day’ in Japan include previsions for these gifts from the happy couple.

If steaks are a bit off the radar in terms of what a thank you gift can be, then some of these gift packages from Japan struck me as even more odd. Laundry detergent, facial tissues, toilet paper…all of these things are considered appropriate thank you presents from Japanese brides and grooms… Why? Well my wife explained it to me like this… People in Japan don’t have large homes, so giving them consumables makes more sense than giving them ‘objects.’ Laundry soap and household paper products are items that gets used up and are something that most people see as having day-to-day value which can at times be more important than a luxury item or trinket that just sits around and collects dust.

My friend Scotty Watson told me of a rule that he and his wife have in there home that goes like this… Nothing new can come into the house unless something old leaves. The way Scotty spoke to me about this rule I knew he was quite serious and as he seemed to quite like all of the stuff that he had collected for himself over the years, the chances of him wanting to pick up anything ‘extra’ that would force him to get rid of something he already had and really liked seemed somewhat remote. One thing that replaces another…that’s OK, but a rule like this would make most people think twice about accumulating crap if they had to get rid of things they already had as part of the process…

If you look at gift giving with this in mind, then the best possible gifts are likely the ones that improve your life without adding extra clutter to it. If you wrap your head around this then perhaps the idea of a Steak as a gift isn’t so odd after all. Well…unless you’re a vegetarian.

A Fun Introduction

2009-12-21Where in the world am I today?: Flying home from Fort Lauderdale to North Vancouver…

Got off the GRAND Princess and am on my way home… Feels good to be getting back before Christmas though I still have a small pile of stuff that needs my attention before I can really kick back and enjoy the Holidays. Still, the mere fact that I’m heading home and will be able to get to ‘The Pile’ while at home and get to sleep in my own bed is pleasantly comforting. I’ll hit the switch in my head, click into travel mode and before ya know it I’ll be arriving home… Ahhhhhhhhh… In the mean time however may as well get to the blog topic for the day – Introductions.

On ships I almost always get asked how I’d like to be introduced before I head out on stage. Typically it’s the Cruise Director or Deputy Cruise director on the ship who does the intros for the shows and the easier you can make it for them to get you on stage the better. If you can craft something simple for them easy to remember that elicits a laugh from the audience so that they get to play the comedian, so much the better. Depending on what sort of day they’ve had, the sort of energy they’ve got to sell you before you show and any number of other factors your intro may get the crowd whipped into a frenzy before you even step on the stage or it may just do the simple job of telling the audience who is about to hit the stage.

I travel with a couple of prepared introductions each of which has a bit of a comedic slant and aren’t too taxing in terms of memorization…

Intro #1 –

Though best known for his award-winning juggling antics, our performer this evening also shares something in common with comedy greats Jim Carrey, Mike Myers and Dan Aykroyd. He too is Canadian. Please welcome to the stage the one and only David Aiken – The Checkerboard Guy.

Intro #2 –

This evening’s guest entertainer’s prize-winning comedy juggling performance has been a huge hit around the world! In fact, he has just come back from an extended tour in Japan where he was doing his entire show in Japanese. We thought it would be fun to get him to do his show for you tonight in Japanese as well. Please welcome the comedy juggling sensation, The Checkerboard Guy, David Aiken!

Having two gives who ever is doing the intro a choice in terms of which one they feel more comfortable delivering and I always let them know that these are just suggestions. A place to start… The guy I was just working with on the GRAND took the basic premise from Intro #2, that I was going to do my show in Japanese, and weaved a whole different set up for it… Great! Different people have different levels of creativity and energy to put into these things, but the objective is to set up the fun that the audience is about to experience.

If #2 Intro is used I always walk out and start the show in Japanese just for effect and again the show starts off with something a little unexpected (well unless I’m in Japan) and gets the crowd ready for the journey I’m about to take them on.

In a very real sense, any piece of marketing or promotional material that you create is an introduction to a possible client so if you’ve put a ton of effort into creating a website, a promotional video, business cards etc. to try and get the job, well then why not make the effort to craft an introduction to the show that’s fun and in keeping with your personality so that each audience also gets the right sort of introduction to you and your show.

Marquee Pictures

2009-12-141Where in the world am I today?: At Sea off the Coast of Brazil aboard the GRAND Princess

I joined the GRAND Princess yesterday in Forteleza, Brazil. A very long day of travel to make it to the ship this time around, but no harm, no foul, it’s all part of the gig. As I joined the ship I was handed the usual welcome aboard envelope that gets handed to guest entertainers by the Practica on Princess ships. In it I had a welcome letter, a Food and Entertainment Schedule a phone list etc. and even though I’ve done enough of these contracts to know what the form welcome letter usually says I took the time to read over the information which provided a nice lead in to today’s post. Here’s the quote from the welcome aboard letter –

Please bring your promotional photographs to the cruise director’s office as soon as possible so that we may update the marquee outside the theatre.

I grabbed a selection of what I call “Marquee Pictures,” 8 x 10 photos on which I have also included my name, a catch phrase and a bit of color and walked past the marquee outside of the theatre only to discover that my shot was already up. Now this sort of marquee doesn’t exist on all of the Princess ships, or at least doesn’t always get used to promote the guest entertainers, sometimes it’s dedicated to the resident production show singers, but on Royal Caribbean I find that on just about every ship you go on they want to have pictures for the marquee in front of the theatres and often want multiple copies (usually 4).

I remember getting caught out one contract with out my regular supply of 8 x 10s and needed to scramble to get the photo department to print some out for me. Ever since then I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying duplicates of five different images that I used to promote my show. Often these images aren’t needed for the marquees, but I’ve found that along with giving away a cbg ball cap to my technical crew, signing one of my 8 x 10s and putting a message of thanks on it often leads to the crew posting the picture in the Tech Office or sticking it up back stage. Some ships I’ve gone back to now have a collection of different pictures and I’ll often hear from other performers that they saw my photo back stage on one of the ships they were just one.

Having a bit of a legacy after you’ve left is a pretty cool thing and helps people remember you if/when you end up getting back to do the gig again. It’s not rocket science, but as I’ve said in other posts, it’s the little added details that do end up getting noticed. The cumulative effect of enough of these ‘little things’ often makes the difference between acts that work occasionally and works that work all the time..

Custom Printed Discs

2009-12-07Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Welcome to another fabulous Monday and a tip about marketing… This is one I put into effect a number of years ago before I had an ink jet printer that could print directly onto discs. At the time, and even now, I find that providing any music tracks to the sound men that I work with on ships works best if I just hand them a CD. I used to carry Mini Discs and CDs and these days I sometimes plug my iPod directly into the sound board, but CDs are still the norm when it comes to playing back music during a show. Though I could just grab any CDR and burn the music to such a disc, there’s something a bit more classy about handing over a disc that ‘looks’ like it belongs to my show. There’s just something more professional about it. Having a custom designed disc label or the ability to print your image/logo onto a disc is the way to go and is one of those little details that people notice and remember.

Around the time when the decision came that I wanted a custom disc label was also about the time that promo was going from VHS to DVD (man I am dating myself no aren’t I???). At the time I was working with a designer on revamping the look of the promo I was sending out and one of the things we came up with was a design for a cbg disc label. I’ve never done such huge mailings of DVDs that I ever went to the extent of replicating my promo DVD, instead I simply burned the discs as I needed them, so having a custom label made seemed like the way to go. I went to a shop in the Vancouver area that specializes in blank media and they were able to take the disc label and apply it to both DVD discs and CDs. Each disc is labeled with either a DVD logo or a CD logo so I can keep them straight and I end up using these discs for burning a lot more than just Promotional DVDs and Show Music CDs…

Say someone needs some High Res Photos – I grab a CD and burn the images on a Disc. If I shoot a bunch of pictures at someone’s show I throw them on a disc and hand them over… So much of our world these days is based in the digital world that being able to copy information onto a disc and give it away comes up often enough that using this space as a platform for promotion only makes sense.

Especially as ink jet printers that can print directly onto blank discs have come down in price so much these days, theres almost no excuse for not coming up with a design that looks good, sells you and what you do and makes people remember you and your show then slapping it on what ever disc you end up handing to people. It’s just one more way to leave a positive impression and have a way for people to remember you and stay connected.

Get Me This Info…

2009-11-30Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

As many people seem to know I’ve been the consultant on who to bring in for the Annual PNE Street Stars Program since about December 2004 when I first met with Patrick Roberge, the Creative Director for the PNE, about reviving the street program at the Fair. My role as point man for the program has been going strong ever since and I’m working on another project at the moment which will take place during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver as well.

The world has chanced a big since those early days when some people were still sending me VHS tapes (I didn’t get many, but I did get some). For about four years DVDs were the way to get me video that I could take in to meetings and demo potential acts for the powers that be. These days, everything has moved on-line and when I meet to discuss acts with the higher-ups these days, this is the info I go into a meeting with –

  • Act Name:
  • Real Name:
  • Web Site:
  • YouTube Video:

Then when we decide on the acts that we’ll be using I typically need the following additional information –

  • Email:
  • Mailing Address:
  • Phone Number(s):
  • Bio (40 – 60 words max):
  • Photo (4 x 6, 300 dpi, jpg):

I’m starting to compile a data base of this information for performers that are being considered for events that I work with so I can quickly deliver these details to the marketing department and the contracting department. Having these details on hand, up-to-date and ready-to-go makes my life significantly easier, so if you’d be interested in being considered as one of the acts for the Street Stars Program at the Pacific National Exhibition which will run from August 22 – September 6, 2010, then getting this information to me will be your first step in the process of being considered.

Even if you think I’ve got your information already, it’s worth touching base to make sure that I do indeed have it and that the information I have is up-to-date and accurate.

2010 Trading Cards

2009-11-23Where in the world am I today?: Princess Cays, Bahamas aboard the Emerald Princess

Well, it’s that time of the year again… A couple of months I put out a bit of a query hoping that I could enlist the assistance of someone…anyone…who might have a bit of design sense who I could convince to help me with the design of the 2010 Trading Card… Nobody answered the call, so I sat down and came up with something myself and sent out the initial design to a few folks who’ve ordered cards in the past to get their feedback. Mike Wood stepped up and introduced me to the Mike Wood Hockey Card Rules (MWHCW).

From when I initially sent the design to Mike for review to when we eventually settled on the final details of the 2010 design it ended up taking about a month I’d say. This process took longer than I had anticipated, but having two sets of eyes looking things over means that the end results are stronger than they would have been otherwise. The more we tweaked the more I found that certain basic design concepts kept coming up and in the end I felt like we achieved an uncluttered simple elegance to the design. In Mike’s words –

This year’s card is a modern update of the classic sports trading cards of yore. Think late-70s hockey card. They’ve got everything but the chewing gum stain. They’re a little asymmetrical for one thing, which was a trick that helped those old timers hide the fact that their donkey-powered machinery often cut entire sheets of cards completely askew. To keep the whole thing looking like a set, the base colour scheme is white, with navy blue for the details (text, pin-stripes etc.). For the accent colour, any shade within the spectrum of visible light is up to the individual player performer to decide. Back in the day I used to love when O-Pee-Chee used a colour in this way to highlight something other than team affiliation. One year, all the defensemen got a green outline, and the rookies all got pink. Good times…

I sent my cards in to be printed a few weeks back and am looking forward to getting them back in about a week or so. The order information went on-line shortly after I had made my order and I made an initial announcement on Facebook after everything went live at:


I’ve discussed how great these trading cards are in a previous post so I won’t bother going into the hows and whys of my love affaire with this particular piece of promotional material, but those who order these cards once often end up ordering them again and again and again. If you’ve ordered the cards in past and want new cards for the start of the 2010 Season then get your orders in soon to ensure that the cards are in your hands before the beginning of the new year. If you’ve never ordered these cards then why not treat yourself to something new in the way of self promotional tools… If you have even half as much fun as I do with these, then you’ll have a blast handing these things out!

Powerpoint or Keynote Slides

2009-11-16Where in the world am I today?: Limon -> San Jose (Costa Rica) -> Miami, Fl, USA

Almost a year ago when I was working on the GRAND Princess the image that accompanies this post was created to promote my show in the Princess Theatre. The technical staff of the theatre asked me for a photo then took that image and created a Powerpoint slide to project on the side screens of the Princess Theatre before the show began. The ability to quickly provide them with a jpeg to use in the slide meant that they had an image of my selection to use for the slide and at the time I was happy to have them create the slide that got used to promote the show.

I’m now thinking that with a little bit of effort I could come up with something far better in the way of a Powerpoint or Keynote slide or perhaps even a full slide show that could run for the 15 – 20 minutes prior to my show starting much like those trivia contests that run in movie theatres before the feature begins. People are in the theatre, if the side screens are available people will get sucked into watching them… Why not take greater advantage of this as a resource for not only promoting the show, but also engaging the audience, and prepping them for the nature of the show to come?

I’ve just finished a contract aboard the ISLAND Princess and thoroughly enjoyed working with comedian Jim McDonald who, to my mind, has taken the concept of using a slide show to a whole different level and has incorporated it into his act. The slides get such a strong reaction from the audiences that this is what he uses to close his shows.

Now stand-up comedy is quite often an art form that primarily appeals to the sense of hearing. Sure the gestures a comic makes on stage ad a certain visual component to the act, but it’s amazing to watch the audience get sucked in to not only the words that Jim is saying but also the visual clues that are provided by the slides and video that he has prepared for the end of his shows. By increasing the scope of the visual appeal of his show, he increases the overall resonance of his show.

This notion of audience appeals is discussed in a great book geared primarily towards performers of magic called Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee. Though this book is now decades old, it does a fantastic job of discussing various ways to appeal to an audience and suggests that the more ‘appeals’ you can incorporate into your performance the greater the impact you’ll have on your audience…

All this from the original concept of projecting a slide (or slides) before your show to promote to the audience what’s to come. I’m fully prepared to admit that I haven’t taken full advantage of this appeal to the audience and view it as a potential gold mine opportunity to market myself, my website and my sense of funny to each and every audience that I play to when projected images are possible prior to the beginning of the show. It’s not possible in every venue to be sure, but where it is, why not take advantage of it.

Google Ads Anyone?

2009-11-09Where in the world am I today?: At Sea aboard the ISLAND Princess.

I got a coupon from Google a while back offering me $100.00 worth of free Google AdWords. At the time, I was busy working I never got around to actually doing anything with it. Then a few weeks back I got another similar coupon and once again found myself with other distractions on my desk that took priority.

On the one hand, the fact that I’m busy enough working to not have researched this marketing opportunity means that perhaps it’s not entirely necessary, but on the other hand my experience has been that any time spent promoting your show is time worth spending… Does being busy enough working mean that you can afford to slack off a bit or should you continue to pursue all options available to you because ya never know when the jobs you’re currently doing might one day dry up and having other venues to play is always a good thing.

I tend to side on the keep pursuing multiple markets angle for a couple of reasons –

  1. It’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket, or in the case of a comedy juggling show, to market exclusively to one market, just in case that market mysteriously evaporates on you
  2. Personally I quite like mixing it up. Were I to work exclusively in one market and one market alone I think I’d end up getting very tired of doing the same show in the same sorts of venue to the same sorts of people. Mixing things up keeps me sharp and keeps me working for and listening to my audience.

Back to Google AdWords… Has anyone out there received similar offers from Google and more importantly, has anyone actually followed up on this offer from the internet ad giant? Especially in this day and age when hard copy promo has almost become a thing of the past, tapping into yet another digital opportunity to promote yourself does make a certain amount of sense, but before diving in head first myself, I’m wondering if there’s anyone out there who’s tapped into this on-line opportunity and whether they’ve found it to be a marketing/advertising vehicle that’s worth pursuing… I’d welcome people’s thoughts on this, so please do leave a comment if you’ve got something to say on the topic.

The CBG Money Bag

2009-11-02Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

OK, this is a bit of an odd one, but I do think that it could be considered a piece of marketing material in a weird sort of way… Years ago, when I was first getting started in the world of touring street performers I wanted to give something to the performers that I met along the way who had an influence on me, who’s work I respected and who helped contribute to my growth and success as a budding performer.

Now a bit of back story is probably in order… Back when I was in High School and even before I got to High School I had learned how to use a sewing machine and became quite proficient at using it. One of the things I did early on and have done ever since was to make bags for the different props I keep in my prop case. I find it helps keep various props organized with in the cake and also keeps them looking good longer than if I just threw all of the stuff into the case randomly.

After making numerous bags in various sizes and shapes I created a pattern that was durable, robust and did a remarkable job of holding up to the constant abuse of carrying around tons of coins and bills, something Street Performers do quite a bit of. As I started to travel and tour to performance festivals a bit more frequently I’d make a few extra bags to carry around and when ever I encountered a performer who’s work really clicked with me for some reason I’d give them a bag. What started as a simple gift from someone who not only wanted to become a better street performer, but also had a genuine love of the art form, grew into this weird sort of exclusive club. Other performers started to recognize that all these really great Street Performers seemed to be carrying around this same sort of bag for collecting their money in and some started to ask where they had come from.

This was/is a pretty great example of seeing a need and successfully filling it. These bags were something that I wanted for myself but discovered that they were something that many others wanted too. In a weird sort of way I initially became knows as that young juggler who made those great money bags and at the time I was absolutely OK with that because I reasoned if people knew me at all I was ahead of the game. These bags allowed me to become friends with some of the greatest Street Performers of the day and being able to hang out with them allowed me to grow as a performer that much more quickly than I would have otherwise.

I still make these bags for myself as I still use them to organize my props and keep them clean, but it’s been years since I gave one away to anyone. Still, it’s amazing to me that certain friends continue to use the bags I gave them so many moons ago. #1 – It’s cool that it’s a gift that keeps on giving and #2 – I’m simply amazed that they’ve held up this long!


2009-10-26Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Last week I got to participate in the Creative Mix Ideation Conference and over the course of the day I exchanged business cards with a pretty decent number of different individuals. It was great to be surrounded by a room full of people who, in some way or another, make their living via their creativity and their creative output. I realize now, after the fact, what a great networking opportunity this was and could have likely taken greater advantage of the opportunity had I really set out to schmooze. As it was I had a fantastic time and did come home with a fist full of cards from a number of people I had enjoyed conversations with.

Though I had a pretty busy weekend I made the effort to drop everyone who’s card I had picked up a quick email just as a follow-up. A quick thank you for having given me great feedback on my talk at the conference and an invitation to continue the conversations that we started via email, connecting via Facebook, Twitter or any one of a number of other social networking sites or perhaps even over a coffee and (dare I say it) face to face personal interaction…

What will come from this remain to be seen, but the follow-up post initial meeting is something that’s incredibly important and one of the greatest marketing tools you have at your disposal. The simple act of inviting people to continue the conversation suggests an open-ness that will lead to more chances for collaboration than ignoring that window of opportunity.

The same sort of thing can be said with any sort of promotional mail out be it some sort of electronic mailing or good old fashioned snail-mail correspondence. The initial act of sending something out is like a knock on the door of opportunity, but the follow-up is where the dialogue really begins. Once the door to opportunity is opened that’s when the chances of developing a mutually beneficial business environment really starts to take shape.

You might just be the individual to provide the solution to their entertainment dilemma and simply sending out your promotional reel or a newsletter or what have you is only half of the process. The other half really does come from the act of following-up. Making the extra effort to remember people’s names, remembering something about them that you can connect with, something that either shows that you were paying attention when you first met or, have done enough research to be able to carry out a reasonably intelligent conversation about something that’s relevant to the world of the person on the other end of the line.

There will be moments when the planets align and you click with the person on the other end of the connection, there will be other times when the gears just don’t mess, but a very real part of the business of show is the ability to develop relationships with potential employers and to craft feel good scenarios for all concerned. Do this and your success in this business, heck in just about any business is a given.

Give it Away!

2009-10-19Where in the world am I today?: North Vancouver, BC, Canada

I’ve had a call the other day from a friend inquiring about a show at a social function that they were helping organize for a group of about fifty people. We walked through the formalities of talking about the wheres, the whens, the expected audience, all the stuff I inquire about before talking about price, but inevitably the question of price is where the conversation leads…

So… How much will this cost?

Over the past couple of years I’ve been working more for cruise ships, multi-day festivals, trade shows and in situations that are quite a bit different from what this friend was asking me to come and do and I was a bit stumped as to what I should charge… Now it should also be mentioned that this particular friend is well connected with a fairly high profile company with whom I’ve had a connection since 1992 and I’ve enjoyed numerous benefits as a result of this connection so in the bat of an eye and with out really thinking too much about it my answer to the question – “How much will this cost?” my answer was –


I went on to say that because of my long term association with various people at the company and all of the benefits that I’d received over the years that I’d be happy to come and do the show for them. No need to worry about money… I’m sure I’ll continue to benefit form my association with them so consider this favour or perhaps just a deposit into the karma bank…

Our conversation continued after the details were more or less in place and not two minutes later we were talking about an opportunity that, were it to pan out, would more than compensate me for my time and effort for this upcoming show that I’ll be doing for ‘free.’

Never underestimate the power of giving things away. If you’re trying to impress a potential client or have a particular cause that you feel strongly about then contributing your talents in a pro-bono fashion can have huge spin-offs and help get a the ball rolling on what may end up becoming a very profitable long term relationship. Short term loss for long term gain trumps short term gain for long term loss every day of the week, so the hidden benefits of giving a few shows away are quite often worth more than what you might have charged in the first place and long term be worth more than you might even imagine.

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