One of our regular contributors, Bob Abdou (Mr. Puppet) sent this in a couple of years ago and I thought it was well worth repeating.
By Bob Abdou
A man wants to go into the shoe business, so he buys shoes for a $1.00 and sells them for 50 cents. He can not keep the shoes in his store long because everybody wants them, he is constantly buying more shoes for $1.00 and keeps selling them for 50 cents. One day, an accountant walks in and says to the man “how can you stay in business when you buy shoes for $1.00 and sell them for 50 cents?”. His reply was “VOLUME”!!
This story can be applied to performing full time or even on a daily basis if you have another job besides entertaining. Many ventriloquists ( I am using ventriloquist since this is a vent website story) think that lowering their cost will get them more work. That is true, folks do book by cost but not many. In my years of doing vent I have found that the quality of the show and getting to the gig early is what customers really want. There are a few vents that boast about how busy they are only because they are charging way below standards. Yes, they are busy, Yes, they are making money (some money) Yes, they are getting the art of ventriloquism out there for all to see. BUT, yes there is a downfall to this and the wording is Perceived Value.
If you are the cheapest in town then you are not known for being a great vent, you are known as being “the cheap performer”. Cutting costs and lowering your price just to get work will eventually drain your pocketbook/wallet, It will drain you physically but it will also drain you emotionally. Once a vent runs out of gas emotionally, well………you will always be tired and have terrible lip control. Now you are known as “the cheapest performer with terrible lip control”
Here is a thought on Perceived Value…if you charge a client $150 for a show, you will carry your own bags into the building. If you charge the client $500, the client will carry your bags in for you. No it does not make sense but this is what happens in the real world. Respect for the art of vent is not just doing every show that is out there.
Vent does not fit into EVERY situation. A real pro will know what works and what doesn’t. If you have to ask yourself will vent work for this situation, it usually means it doesn’t and you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Trying to force ventriloquism into every situation will only “disrespect” the art and make it a mockery. Now you are known as “the cheapest performer with terrible lip control and a doofus”
How does a person like this stay in business??? VOLUME!!
Thanks, Bob for a great article.
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2009 by Dan Willinger
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wow, great advise, then I realized I wrote it!!!
I gotta start listening to myself more!!
thanks for the post
I took your advice the first time, Bob, on charging more, not sell myself too cheap. I guess I’m just not much good anymore, as I ended up having to sell the second figure. If I sell the one left I might double my money. Think I’ll just walk out with a newspaper, spice it up a little with a buzzing bee rolled up it it, tell the free jokes in the paper to save on overhead, and I won’t have to share what I make from the show with the dummy. Just joking of course, because even as a lawyer the client is more satisfied because feels like he got better quality because it cost a little more.
Bob, that was excellent advice from a very busy pro who really knows the business. I totally agree with you. As a full time performer I’ve always realized it is extremely important to place a value on your work and yes, vent does not fit in every venue. You have to know your market and stick by it. A unhappy client can’t wait to talk about the cheap vent with terrible lip control at their event. Happy customers also talk and they are the ones I want. The best advertising is word of mouth from satisfied clients. It’s easier to keep repeat customers than always having to find new ones. They will provide you with a nice steady income for years.
Bob, I love this example you gave……..”Here is a thought on Perceived Value…if you charge a client $150 for a show, you will carry your own bags into the building. If you charge the client $500, the client will carry your bags in for you.” You are right on the money with this one. The more I charge, the more people want to help. You will never be perceived as a professional in your field if you keep lowering your prices. Work hard, know your market, and don’t be afraid to put a value on your talent. Thanks Bob for sharing that great advice with us. We look forward to more words of wisdom from you.
I checked your website, Linda Holliday. I can see that you are a very busy pro too, just like Bob Abdou. I really applaud you both. Very good work.