Sean Heydon's "Onion Rings" Lecture
Northamptonshire Magicians' Club

Tuesday 5th July 2005
Reviewed by Mark Farrar

Seanís lecture was split into four parts: marketing; tricks; Q&A; and the performance of his act.

Sean started by talking about marketing techniques, telling us that he does a lot of cold calling, sending a mail follow-up, including promotional materials and a CD, immediately afterwards.

Sean also places a portable, folding billboard outside the restaurant, with their permission, of course, as this achieves three objectives:

1. It is advertising for you.
2. It is publicity for the restaurant too.
3. It sets the expectations of the customers (i.e. that there will be a magician performing).

Additional promotional material includes tent cards on each table, that contain his photo (so customers know what you look like and wonít be surprised when you appear at their table), contact details (for bookings), and a brief biography.

Sean emphasises, when first talking to the restaurant, that this is not just entertainment but a customer management system, and that he will work with, and even train, the staff to ensure that he is an integral part of the customersí restaurant experience.

For example, Seanís approach to a table is to ask the customers ďhowís thingsĒ, and if they do have any problems, he immediately goes to speak to a member of the restaurant staff to make sure they are aware of the issue and can sort it out as soon as possible. This has the obvious benefit that customers will not be that interested in seeing magic if they have some other matter preying on their minds, and it also shows them that you are more than just somebody hired to do tricks.

Sean then moved on to talk about some of the tricks he performs in restaurants, with demonstrations of the various moves and sleights that that are used. These included the Sharpie Through Banknote, the 654 Club (Seanís version of Sam The Bellhop) and the Ambitious Card.

Sean also showed us a DVD of simple magic tricks that he sells during performances. These are generic DVDs but with your own promotional covers on, and are currently available from a number of sources. They are used, again with the restaurantís permission, as a negotiating tool to help reduce the headline fee to the restaurant.

We were also shown a copy of Seanís sales letter and a CD that includes promotional videos and a version of the Princess Card Trick, which is good for ensuring that the CD is passed around to as many potential customers as possible (e.g. back in the office).

Finally, in the first half, Sean talked about the importance of scripting your material so that you can concentrate fully on the presentation.

Sean opened the second half by presenting the three items he had explained earlier (i.e. the 654 Club, Ambitious Card and Sharpie Through Banknote) in a pseudo-restaurant setting (i.e. with four people sat around a table pretending to be diners). An Observation Test was also performed, to demonstrate an alternative item that Sean sometimes includes.

Sean then talked about his approach to accepting tips, before asking members if they had any questions for him.

Finally, Sean performed his closer, which is Gypsy Thread with music playing in the background.

Even though I shall probably never perform in restaurants, I found this to be a very interesting and thought-provoking lecture, and it is good to see how well one of our local members is doing. It doesnít seem that long since I went to watch Sean perform a magic act at an otherwise music-based event put on by his school as his audition piece, and now he travels the world, is the official Budweiser magician, and manages a team of magicians who work restaurants around the Midlands. Sean has clearly learned a lot during these few short years, and it is great that we had the opportunity to benefit from experience rather than the theory that some lecturers seem to propound.

So, thanks to Sean for a great Club evening!

© Mark Farrar, September 2005