A few of the photographs I took during the Sheffield Street Magic Festival on 1-2 November 2014.

I’m pleased to say that we’ve now had payment for this and are able to pay participants. Shop regulars should have received their pittance fee; if you’ve not had yours, call in or give me a ring. This should be a complete list. If your name isn’t on, contact me immediately.

Peter Antoniou, Russ Appleby, John Archer, Ian Baker, Adam Bell, Steve Brownley, Ashton Carter, Chris Clarke, Nathan Clarke, Connor, Roger Curzon, Darren Dudley, David, Steve Faulkner, Craig Frith, Julie Gascoyne, Ian Hallworth, Peter Hammond, Ian Henshaw, Toby Hudson, Tom Hudson, Ryan Jackson, Ben Jones, Dominic Lawrenson, Nathan Lindley, Looch, Tom Magick, Jared Manley, John Martin, Jordan Maycock, Callum Morris, Gareth Neale, Vincent O’Brien, Gordon Pemberton, June Savory, Ben Smithies, Jake Smithies, Tim Smithies, Wiz Spencer, Andy Taylor, Peter Wall, Tony Wilkinson.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who performed or helped in any way. I hope you enjoyed your involvement and feel that the Festival helped raise the profile of magic in Sheffield.

The 2014 event was much bigger than 2013, spread over two days and with two evening shows and two ‘junior magician workshops’ (despite the organisation  fee being the same!). I’d love to get your feedback and hear your ideas for improvement if we go for a 2016 Festival. Don’t hesitate to comment below, or email me. Thanks.

Many performers use promo videos. I’ve made a few myself.

Animated Logo for Craig’s Magic.

But are we looking at this the wrong way round? Yes, a ‘promo video’ is designed to promote the performer and his work. But perhaps we need to give more attention to the potential viewers; not making the concept of ‘promotion’ the centre of our intent, but instead to explain why what we offer solves specific needs our viewers have.

Think of them as ‘Explainer’ videos, not promo videos.

“An explanation is a way to package ideas.” To create an effective explanation we must transform bare facts into a more understandable collection of ideas and concepts.

Explanations helps to clarify why something (a product or service, for example) makes sense and fits a need and solves a problem, thus making it easier to understand and apply to some purpose.

An Explanation Video should enable people to see an idea from their own perspective”, thus allowing them to make educated decisions about whether they want to invest their time, money, or energy to find out more about what you can offer, and ultimately book you.

With the wide availability of broadband services, the proliferation of video hosting platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), and the reducing costs of video production, online videos have become an indispensable part of our marketing arsenal.

Explainer Videos are short (certainly less than two minutes), imaginative, and succinct videos that can be used to communicate a product, a service, an idea or a value proposition quickly and effectively.

Explainer Videos can use video clips of you and your previous clients, photographs, places you’re worked, and objects, or 2D/3D animations, or a mixture of these to communicate some aspect(s) of your business, and create an engagement with your potential, or current customers.

Explainer Videos use real people or animated characters (or both) within a and engaging narrative or story-line to create emotional bonds, trust and empathy with your viewers.

How Should Explainer Videos Be Used to Gain Most Benefit for Your Effort?

Using Explainer Videos as part of your overall marketing solution will enable you to communicate information, feelings, and emotion to your audience, by using motion, images and sound.

Explainer Videos should be included on your website, your blog, on video hosting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), and within your social media network: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram.

Ideally, you should have a video channel set up on YouTube (or other video hosting sites), with video and channel branding which is consistent with your overall online brand; your website and all social media channels.

You need to ensure that your videos are properly annotated and tagged to ensure that they are properly indexed on Google, YouTube and more easily found by your potential viewers when performing searches.

To be effective, Explainer Videos need to have a well thought out script. If using animated characters, they do not necessarily need to be complex to be effective. In fact, Lee Lefever of Common Craft uses animated characters with no facial features in many of their animations. As this removes the emotional distraction created by our brains interpreting the emotion on a character’s face.

So, some considerable thought and creative imagination needs to go into your explanation and the proper format and structure of your video for it to have the desired effects of communicating your message and creating engagement with your audience.

An Example Explainer Video Script Outline

Neil Patel, co-founder of CrazyEgg, drew up a list of what a good Explainer Video script for a startup company should contain. I’ve adapted his suggestions for our market. The basic elements are:

  • An introduction to you and an overview of the service(s) you offer;
  • Why your services are of value to your target market;
  • Specific examples;
  • Show what you can offer and how you can solve a problem or meet a need;
  • Give a ‘call to action’;
  • Use client quotes and testimonials to seal the deal.

Why You Should Be Using Explainer Videos: Some Relevant Statistics

According to a recent survey by Shutterstock/Comscore, when users perform online search they are significantly more likely to click a video link rather than a text link.

Digital Video also tends to be most often watched on mobile devices, when the viewer is in their own home, or on their own leisure time. So, your viewer is relaxed and has more time to take in your message.

60% of all Internet data is now made up of video content.

Of the 190 million videos watched, one sixth were watched on mobile devices. 36% of those 190 million videos were ads, some being forced views to get access to otherwise free content!

So, video ads have also become a popular and acceptable medium for viewer business/product/service information gathering, and entertainment. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, online advertising revenue/spend has been above $11bn for three consecutive quarters in 2013/2014.

Of this figure, mobile advertising makes up $5.3bn, a 76% growth on 2013 figures (PWC/IAB 2014);
Digital Video makes up $1.5bn, a 13% growth over the same period in 2013.

The proportion of consumers watching TV or movies on tablets on a weekly basis has grown from 17% to 26%.

Many companies are adding videos to their home pages as a means of increasing user stickiness and engagement. It has been shown experimentally that users spend more time (up to 88% more) on websites that include video content.

This can also help search engine rankings, as search engine algorithms also take duration of user time spent on webpages as a measure of relevant and quality content.

Explainer Videos can lead to a higher sales conversion rates; online retailer stacksandstacks.com reported that visitors were 144% more likely to purchase after seeing a product video than those who did not.

Including video in emails greatly increases the probability of reader click through CTR: GetResponse Study showed that video Emails Increase Click-through Rates by 96%. Wistia showed a 300% increase in click through rate compared to emails not including video. Hubspot – normal CTR 2.4%, with video CTR of 16.4%, 583% higher than average.

According to Kissmetrics, video now appears in 70% of the top 100 search results listings, and viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video.

In short, Explainer Videos are ideal for small to medium businesses with a low budget, which I reckon includes most of us!

Why Explainer Videos?

All videos enable you to connect with potential clients in ways that you cannot do with e-mail, phone calls, or print. It takes time to build customer rapport and trust, and research has shown that videos can do this more effectively than any other medium.

Explainer Videos can help introduce yourself and your services before you make direct contact with prospects. As the client has contacted you after seeing your videos, this cuts down/out most of the initial effort required to get a customer familiar with your work and increases the prospect of a successful relationship.

Impact of Effective Explainer Videos on Sales

This research has come largely from the retail market, but I feel strongly that it applies equally to those in the entertainment business.

Higher Conversion Rates and Reduced Returns with Videos: Recent research has shown that shoppers who chose to view product specific videos were 85% to 174% more likely to make a purchase than viewers who didn’t, and that pre-purchase video viewing reduced returns by up to 25%. [Sources: Retail Touchpoints, Internet Retailer, Ice.com]

Videos Reduce Your Bounce Rate: When making buying decisions, 60% of consumers will spend between 2 and three minutes watching Videos that educate them about a product that they are considering purchasing.

Video Gives Higher Search Rankings: Video results appear in about 70% of the top 100 listings.

Videos Increase Sales: site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors.

Videos Encourage Use of QR and Barcodes: The most popular use for mobile action codes, such as QR and bar codes, is linking to mobile video: 40% of codes link to video content, including product demos.

Videos Establish Credibility and Trust with Your Customer before You Sell To Them: 57% of purchase decisions are made prior to ever talking to a sales-person.

What Kind of Explainer Videos Work Best?

According to one recent analysis by socialbakers.com, YouTube videos under 2 minutes in length get almost 50% of all views. This is an ideal duration for short Explainer Videos.

A recent study, “Types of Brand Videos Consumers Want to Watch” (Source Levels Beyond August 2014) found that viewers were primarily looking for the following kinds of videos online:

  • How-to, instructional or tutorial videos 67%
  • Comedy or spoof videos 42%
  • Product/information videos 34%
  • Micro-documentaries telling the story of a person or event 33%
  • Animations/infographic videos 30%

From the point of view of Explainer Videos it is interesting how many viewers are interested in animation/infographics, product/information videos, How-to and micro-documentaries. All of which allow ample scope to create interesting videos with promotional objectives in mind, especially product, service and support videos.

The reason we don’t emphasise comedy, or spoof videos, is that it is easy to offend people with comedy, and it takes either a naturally funny presenter, or team to pull them off effectively. Nevertheless, younger viewers do prefer humour, and, if you have the imagination and resources then this can work very well to show yourself in a light-hearted and different way to the fact-heavy manner of the usual showcase video. Especially if you’re a comedy entertainer!

So, keeping in mind the above insights, you should be able to effectively use low budget, short, Explainer Videos to help boost bookings with the following:

  • Promotional: Showcases your performances and services
  • Testimonial: Highlights your talents by showing clients happy with work you’ve done
  • How-To: Informs prospects on how they can use your services
  • Information: Explains the features and benefits your services offer
  • Entertainment: Shows your human side; leverage viral videos, perhaps contests or challenges?
  • Hints and Tips: Present useful information relevant to your clients (hints on organising kids’ parties, etc)

These are types of videos that most performers should be able to make use of to help promote themselves and their services. They fit into the ‘normal’ range of things that good businesses do in their usual marketing efforts, but transformed into a new medium that allows more creativity, expression, engagement and dynamism in communication.

A recent STRATA survey found that viewers are more inclined to watch online video ads if they’re entertaining (43%), targeted to their interests (31%) and educational or informative (30%). Younger viewers (18-29 year olds) prefer humour, whereas older viewers find the informative side of an ad more appealing. *[Source: marketing Charts, STRATA]

Further evidence for the use of Explainer type videos comes from Advance Auto Parts, a car parts retailer, which tried placing how-to and instructional videos on its website and Facebook pages. They found that visitors who watch video stay on the site twice as long and visit twice as many pages versus those who don’t see video. Sharing their videos on Facebook (which you should always do!) further enhanced their online reach.


Explainer Videos are a very effective way to communicate your services in an engaging and imaginative manner. With the rapid uptake of Video as a marketing communications medium by many businesses, it would be very easy to get left behind and lose the advantage of Explainer Videos to reach and engage new clients, or just to get your ideas out there and get recognition as a leader in your area.

Wedding DVD promo for SmartDanceWorks.

About Magick’s Video Services

We produce ‘real-life’ and animated videos for performers, such as magicians and dance companies, and other small businesses. If you have any questions about Explainer and/or Promo Videos, or the production process involved in producing one, or if you are considering having a video produced, please contact Russell for a no obligations conversation about your aspirations! Or with a little thought (and hardly any technical expertise) you could have a go at making your own! Click here for more information.

Another little foretaste of the events at the Sheffield Street Magic Festival (Sheffield city centre, 31 August 2013, if you don’t already know).

Close-up artist Craig Frith will around during the afternoon to amaze you with magic performed right under your nose!

Incidentally, this is the promotional video we made for Craig’s website. Get in touch if you want something similar for your site.

I’ve been working recently on a new DVD Making Magic, with Craig Frith, Travis Carter and Adam Bell. This is designed to offer the student magician a sound introduction to the basics of close-up magic… the sort of instructional DVD we would have liked to have had when we started in magic.

We discussed the old adage that if you know ten ways to find a chosen card and one way to reveal it, you essentially have one trick. But if you know just one way to find a chosen card and ten ways to reveal it, you have ten tricks.

Of course that’s something of an over-simplification; and you wouldn’t do all ten at one performance, would you?

So I thought it would be fun to drop in a few example revelations at an appropriate point in the DVD. So on Saturday I roped in a few of the layab…, sorry, Loungers, to perform some quick card revelations. Things escalated somewhat so I decided to put them all together in a short, and possibly amusing, film.


The ‘silent movie’ theme seemed to fit. There are no explanations in this particular section; we’re just looking at ‘the what’, for ‘the how’ you’ll have to wait for the DVD. And for ‘the why’ you’ll probably need to consult with someone better versed in the convoluted psychology of the average card magician.

Nevertheless, we optimistically hope that it will be a small step in encouraging new magicians to think a little creatively about their card magic!