Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Queen's Christmas Day Secret

It's been revealed that Her Majesty The Queen watches her own televised 'Christmas Day Queen's Speech' but NOT with the rest of her family.

Apparently she retires to an adjoining room and watches herself in private. Now why would she do that?

Critical Comments

Apparently she watches and makes notes on how she could improve the presentation so that any mistakes are corrected the following year. Now that's excellent and we should all review what we do. However, to do so onloy in private and therefore exclude the possibility of first impression, fresh comments from nearest and dearest is actually missing out on an important opportunity that cannot be repeated.

I'm certain they all provide positive support afterwards, but this will be less useful than immediate comments without preparation. And we must all be aware of this and make use of those moments after a performance, whilst still at an event where our audience, whether customers, clients or guests, make comments about what they have seen and felt.

Further, to then make contact with important people whose opinion we value for more detailed feedback.

We don't all, like The Queen, have the luxury of speech writers or other experts to perfect what we deliver - so this on the spot and later first hand feedback is essehntial.

Maybe that's something you could look at building in to your after show action in the New year.

Happy New Year to you all

The Infotainer

Goal Setting & Goal Getting

I'm writing this just after Christmas and therefore with just a few days to go until the New Year starts.
Now, as many of my students and apprentices will already know, I don't believe in waiting for 1st January to set goals and make decisions. However, it IS the time of year when many DO make some changes, make a new atsrt, make promises to themselves.
Whether they keep them or not is another matter, of course, and I'll deal with that in a later post.

New Year Resolution Tips
For now let me offer you this advice:
  • Set Goals carefully. Only set Goals you truly want to achieve. 
  • Ensure that they are Specific ie detailed
  • Ensure they can be measured - so you can see progress and know when you have completed them
  • They should be a challenge and stretch you a bit - but also should be possible!
  • Don't choose anything impossible or that has bad effects on others!
  • Set them from your heart. Dig deep and mean them. 
  • Write them down and share with people you trust and who can support and help you.
Then start to work on your goals!
Tell me what goals you ahve set and what will your first step to achieving be.

Until then ....

John Gordon
The Infotainer


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Success - What Is It?

I now people who believe that success is having a single hit the top of the music charts. Or complete a sell out tour. Others who believe it is about making six figures each year. Or own a big house, two cars, have kids at University and about to retire.

Clearly success means different thing to different people. We can all define what success means to us and have successesses each and every day! What it great for some may mean nothing for others. It could be something seemingly small to most but represents a major breakthrough for that person. Being able to stand up. Leaving the house. Speaking with a particular person. Perhaps even speaking at all!

So why do I ask?

Well, in the entertainment arena, when discussing things like volume of work, types of gigs, marketing campaigns, fees earned and so on, it's essential to remember the same things. What is total success for one may be merely the starting point for another. We cannot judge. So when someone says: "I'm getting a gig every couple of weeks now" it isn't appropriate to say "Is that all?".

The success of anything can only be measured against expectations, desires and needs.
Once we know the benchmarks we can evaluate how much of a success something has been.

What's this got to do with you?

A lot! The purpose of this post is to simply give you some food for thought. To awaken you to the whole idea of success and perhaps, with the end of this year looming, to think about goals and goal achievement for the coming new year. More about that very soon!

So here are some questions to think about:

Q1: You are a Face Painter and at a party you create ten of the absolute best designs they have ever seen. The kids love their faces and their parents think they are wonderful too. Have you been a success?

A1: That depends! It depends upon the brief, the agreement you made with your client. IF you only painted those ten and there were ten more who wanted but didn't get painted - and your brief was to paint them all - you have failed! However wonderful the limited results were, that's only a job half done, and the sadness and tears no doubt created a problem and made it worse than not being there at all!

Q2: You've designed and put up a website. It talks a lot about who you are and what you have done and shows some great photographs of many of the parties and events you've worked at. Many friends say the site is great, it's colorful, exciting and easy to look around. Is the site a success?

A2: Again, there is no way of telling from this. You may feel it's a success because you had to learn about site design, struggle with templates, uploads, source code etc and you achieved something you've always wanted to do. So in tat sense, perhaps it is. But whether the 'site' is a succes will depend on exactly what is the intended role, the purpose of the site and whether it will achieve that consistently over time.

For example, if the site is 'merely' a 'vanity site, a portfolio, a showcase whose only role is to diplay work to people sent directly there, then only comments about navigation and usabiliy will be relevant. However, if there is an intention for the site to be found by search engines, and offered up in the results pages for people sarching for artistes like you in your market - then the success can only be measured by testing the search engine results for the keywords that market will use. Achieving this will means having to apply very different design criteria to the site pages. We must know the intention to be able to judge the success.

One more example

Q3: You gave up your full time job and started to work solely as an entertainer. You have brought in enough work to just cover your bills, your outgoings. Because of the recession, work is getting harder to pull in and there are certainly no guarantees. Things look fine(ish) in the coming months but rising costs mean that some bills get harder and harder to meet. In fact, there's a possibility that you may have to change motor vehicles to a small one that's cheaper to run and tighten your belt in a couple of other areas too. Is this a success story?

A3: I'm going to leave it there for now and ask YOU what YOU think! IS this a success story? Make a comment below and I'll reveal what I think next time. Until then...

... I wish you all the success you desire and deserve

John Gordon
Founder APE


How To Use Google Alerts And Increase Your Business

There was a short discussion on a forum recently about Google Alerts. I said that I am continually surprised how performers who want to get more business aren’t using the wide range of free tools that are available to help them!

Whilst guessing may be the way some prefer, I’d rather know just who is mentioning me on other Blogs or sites and what they are saying. Or exactly which other sites are bookmarking me or linking to me and to what pages. But I couldn’t do this without Delicious or StumbleUpon or Technorati or the Link: Modifier in Yahoo!

Anyway … I received requests in double figures to spill the beans about Google Alerts and how you might use them to benefit your business. So, before I start, I guess I should say that what you’ll now read is just what APE is all about. It’s an article for Academy for Professional Entertainers members who want to know how to increase their visibility and pull in more prospects and convert them into lifelong paying customers. All explained in a way that is relevant for you and in a join-the-dots manner so you can take immediate action and get closer to your goals. I am continually writing articles just like this on topics you must know about and put into action before your competitors do!

Google Alerts – What Are They?
Essentially they are results of Google using Web Intelligence to track the web using your personal selected searches and sending you the results by email (or RSS feed). It’s like a free online ‘clipping’ service.

You can limit your searches to News, Blogs, Webs, Video or Groups or Comprehensive across all of the above. Bear in mind that you’ll only get results from the latest entries that appear in the top ten search results.

You’ll see that you have a choice of frequency, either As It Happens, Daily or Weekly.

They are clearly flagged in the email so you can filter them easily to a special Inbox folder.

Why Is This Useful?
Many reasons. It’s a great way to stay ahead of others and be informed first. You can hear the news before your local newspapers or TV!

An example: if you register and request info on “Snazaroo facepaints”, Google will send you an email with the web addresses and the information of pages it has found with updated info.

Reputation / Vanity Search
Of course you must start by tracking your own personal name, business name and company names. Then when you get a mention, you can respond with a thank you or a correction or addition.

Google Alerts can also be used to track incoming links to your websites. In the search terms field just add the ‘link: operator’ you use in search engines here and you’ll get an alert every time someone links to your site and that link is indexed by Google. Cool.

Brand Management
Track you name and You need visibility in all the right places, so track them and see where you get mentions, and where you don’t! Don’t forget to include your Blogs, Facebook pages, Squidoo Lenses and other sites.

Hopefully you do use article marketing and this is an easy way to automatically keep track of where they have been syndicated to and reprinted. Create an alert for each article title, ebook title or book title.

Industry Research
Any organisation, club, forum or convention or fair that you are involved with can be tracked so that you keep up to date with any changes, additions or announcements …. so that you can then blog or tweet about and become an invaluable resource.

Firstly, and most obviously, you would set alerts for the topic of your niche so as to get notified about what’s happening in that niche web-wise. Think of this as web intelligence.

When you use it wisely, you can be the first the announce breaking news to your communities.

When you sign up for keywords or key phrases related to your market, you’ll get a daily dose of news, blog posts and other web info related to that industry. Then use the info not just to monitor your market but to start threads, offer links and post the latest news. This is great if you have clients and customers in a community on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Competitive Research
Who is talking about your competitors? Who is talking about your clients? Find out with these alerts! Track competitor’s company name and get updates how they are positioned or discussed so you can counter with bigger efforts.

Client Research
What are your existing clients up to? Have there been key personnel or policy changes? Have they published a report of an event yet? Track all this and more with Alerts on your major clients.

Link Building / Increase Site Traffic
By mining Google Alerts for sites related to your top keywords you can find websites in your market place and then see which sites are linking to those sites!

Another great idea concerns keyword ranking. Suppose you want to rank highly for ‘Face Painting Ideas’. Set up an alert to be notified every time a new page or blog entry is indexed for that phrase. Then post a response that contributes and use your keywords in the name field. This ‘defaults’ to your url and you therefore get a backlink.

Create alerts for your domain and blog domain and you’ll be alerted when you receive a mention. No need to include the www.

Comments / Backlinks
Building backlinks is a high priority in your SEO work, and this can be helped by automating this exercise. Google Alerts can send you backlink opportunities every day for free! By keeping track of your topics you’ll discover when new content is available.

This is a great way to find linking partners to establish backlinks.
As you know, these provide really valuable backlinks to your Blog. So when you receive an alert that a Blog is using one of your keyphrases, visit the Blog and make a comment to get a backlink. Don’t forget to use the keyword in the name section and the correct url of the pages you want to optimise.

By setting up, say, “kid’s parties” “leave a comment” it will send you all blogs in that niche where you can leave comments.

Lead Research
Research clients you would like to work for. Look out for expansion, closures, job changes, account gains etc, any online activity. This gives you valuable insight into who they are talking to and who is talking about them. In today’s I learned about an article that was published by an Article site that was new to me. This is pure gold ~ if you know how to drive viral traffic to your site!

Lead Generation
I hope you scan your local media for news of potential new venues, events and other happenings that may provide marketing and work opportunities. Google Alerts provide a way to do that online too so that you can scan news for “restaurant opening” or “new shop” or “company launches Coventry”.

If you want to find out which companies are hiring entertainments, create alerts for “company celebration Coventry” or “business celebration Coventry” or “Coventry awards dinner” and so on.

Local Events
Clearly any Alert involving you local companies, venues, towns, celebrities etc will keep you informed as to what is happening locally you should be aware of.

Product Research
Getting Google Alerts to conduct searches for say "how to do temporary tattoos?" Now with this term you’ll only get a handful of results. But that could mean there’s a gap in the market for an ebook, a course or specialist website. An alert for “how to face paint?” brings in 383,000 and you’ll be notified as more change or are added.

New Content
Get alerts for you topic and seminars, podcasts, webinars, white papers and so on. For example “pregnant moms webinars”. This provides you with great ideas and info for Blog content, Twitter posts, status reports on Facebook etc.

Advanced Alert Searches
Use advanced search options and search operators

You can use the same Google Keyword Search tricks as you’d use in a search engine ie use +,-,””, or, not or link:, site: ). This will bring you more accurate results ie

+keyword = exact keyword match only

facepaint +party will limit mentions to parties.
“juggle” will also find “juggling” and “juggler” but +juggle will only yield juggle results.

Exact Key Phrase Search
This means that it’ll offer all the words in that phrase, but not the exact phrase.

To do that, simply put the phrase in double quotes.

Alternate Keyword
Use “OR” between words (in capitals) ie “face OR body paint”

“John Gordon” OR “Gordon John” location:UK

A tilde in front will return related terms:

~balloon twisting would include related terms

Single site on single topic notification:
“party entertainment”

To Get Publicity
Once you have an alert about a review of your product / service, publish an excerpt on your blog or site and link to the full review. If there is an article or interview again post a summary with a link to the full article.

If you do get a blog mention, propose that you do an online interview or a Q&A session or write an article as ‘guest blogger’.

If you get a good review, ask them to repeat their comments on your Blog.

Build lists of sites where you can submit your Press Releases or reach out to a journalist or editor.

Find journalists covering your topic to your media list. Clearly anyone who has an article published on that topic is likely to do so again, so include them on your distribution list and send them news releases, tip sheets, and pitch article and segment ideas to stay in front of them. Then they’ll think of you as a resource when they need one with your knowledge, experience and credentials.

Well, that’s it. They are a phenomenal way to get free notifications on anything and everything. Google lets you create up to 1000 alerts. You may have to experiment with Google Alerts for a few days before choosing one that delivers the most meaningful results for you. But once you set these up you’ll have your own early warnings, your own clippings, your own team of researchers all of which you can use to get more ideas, more leads, more traffic, more prospects, more bookings and more income.

So head here now and sign up!

John Gordon
Founder APE


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sports Stars Lack Loyalty

I’ve just read about Jenson Button, newly crowned world champion, agreeing to join McLaren and partner Lewis Hamilton in an all-British line-up for the 2010 season.
So Jenson has turned his back on Brawn (now owned by Mercedes), the team built from the ashes of Honda. What would have caused the move? Whether is will be good, racing alongside Hamilton and defending his title, we’ll have to see.

But sport is full of people changing teams, changing loyalties. How can they do that? How can they turn the loyalty they surely are expected to show, on and off? One minute they’d risk life and limb for their team, and then next they could be supporting another team and battling against their former colleagues and object of their loyalty.

Are YOU Loyal?

So what about your loyalty? Do you have any? Are you expected to? How about clients and agents you work for. Wouldn’t they expect you to not work for a competing organisation? Could you attract visitors and customers to one venue and then attract them away and elsewhere the following week?

Are Customers Loyal To You?

How about your customers? Are they loyal to you? You work for them, deliver more than they expect, exceed your brief but next time they book someone else. A competing performer. Is that OK? How does it feel? Are they being disloyal or is it all in the game?

Aren’t they free at all times to be on the lookout for a similar service but one that’s perhaps better, faster, cheaper, more versatile or better meets whatever criteria they desire? What if they met someone like this … would you feel they’d forgotten about you? All the good things you did?

What if you competitors have discovered just how to find your clients? How to spy on the competition (you), to find your keywords and use them in a better way? What if they obtained a list of all your valuable website links and added the same ones to their site? Maybe they have now made contact with your prospects, your clients and customers and learned how to continue communication with them, nurture them so that THEY are ‘top of their mind’ in the future.

Doesn’t this mean your existing customers won’t remain loyal and will exercise their freedom of choice and move to the supplier or team that suits them next season?

What can you do about it?

I’ll tell you … inside APE!

Founder APE


Monday, October 05, 2009

5 Ways To Increase Your Business With Name Painting

Several face & body painters have recently 'discovered' the ancient art of 'Name Painting'.

I first saw this some years ago at Whiteley's Mall in Bayswater, London and later at Covent Garden and Camden Lock, both upscale, popular tourist and local attraction street markets. I never investigated it, but all the exponents were from somewhere in the 'Far East' and the designs followed a similar pattern. I had my name created and it hung on my office wall for some time. Each letter can be created in a limited range of symbols, each of which represents a particular character or trait.

I have no idea what those currently intrigued with the idea have in mind, and maybe they haven't either, other than it being an interesting diversion and something they can understandably turn their hand to with ease. I dare say that some will translate the designs into face and body designs and use them in their primary work. I've also seen mention of producing the artworks at events when the weather makes it impossible to face paint.

However, there are a number of very beneficial things they could do with the work they produce and I thought I'd offer a quick heads-up here and hopefully fire up their interest even more.

Give Aways
For 'temporary' face & body painters, it means they now could have something with lasting value. Once the skills are learned, they will only take minutes to create but would last for a lifetime. These Name Paintings would make superb 'give aways'. They have a reasonable perceived value and would therefore make an impression when received as a gift.

Once created on paper or board, they could be 'branded' with a stamp (or sticker) to create a perpetual promotion. I should mention here that it may become important what size they are created. Bear in mind envelope and postal limitations, and also, for when you offer them mounted or framed, what is available here too at an appropriate price.

When To Use

1. As a 'thank you' to a client after a gig
Hopefully you DO send clients a follow up email or maybe postcard or ecard. Imagine them receiving a thank you letter and a Name Painting of their or their family name. It's an excellent personal gift but not too much, especially because you have created it and it's very closely related with what you do.

2. As a competition / survey prize
I'm sure many will run competitions on their Blogs or websites. These could be any number of things from naming a design, the best submitted design idea, best coloring sheet that month and so on. See articles I've written on Competitions, Polls and Surveys as promotional tools elsewhere. Then you reward the winner or winners with specially created Name Paintings.

3. As a bonus
When creating a 'bundle' as a price promotion, a Name Painting would be an excellent addition. Given the price these sell at when created live, this value added bonus would work wonders. Instead or having to reduce your fees to match a competitor's price, start to add value! Whereas you may previously not known of a way to do that (although there are many options), this is simple.

4. As a free gift when prospects 'opt in' to your list
As I am sure you know, opt-in rates increase massively when a free gift is offered. If you have an opt-in for a special list and offer these as an incentive - you'd end up with the prospects name, email and snail mail address.

In all the above cases, it would be simple to enclose a PS that said:

"If you'd like a Name Painting for another family member, I would be happy to send one at a special reduced price ...." and so on. This is a simple upsell that I see families taking advantage of.

5. As a way of getting the edge on competitors
Just being able to offer this to everyone who makes a booking on certain days, or over a certain price, or once booked x times in any period ... however you wish to limit availability, creates a scarcity that creates desire and demand. And this is so powerful when you are the only one on the block making such offers.
That's it. Just a quick heads up on 5 Ways To Increase Your Business With Name Painting
PS If you have any questions about the above, simply leave a comment and I'll respond
John Gordon
Founder of APE


Sunday, October 04, 2009


This post is to simply say welcome and to invite you to bookmark this Blog and come back again soon.

What's In It For You?

The Academy (APE) is a simple solution to a complex series of situations. It wouldn't do justice to explain briefly in this introduction so I'll hold off until next time. Suffice it to say that

=> If you are in business as a Solo Entertainer
=> You want to raise your game
=> You want to raise your profile
=> You want to raise your fees
=> You want to work for more of the right kind of client
=> You want to get more work in new markets
=> You need help in online marketing
=> Business is slow and it needs a boost
=> You'd like to travel more
=> You'd like to earn more without traveling

.... and many many other topics related to achieving peak performance and success, whatever that means to you, then ..... go APE now!

APE will be open for FREE membership which brings you newsletters crammed with help and advice, strategies, tips and tools related to the above. There will be articles, free software and scripts, resources and links .... everything you will need. Later this year I will be announcing a series of teleconferences so that we can talk online and solve your most pressing business and marketing problems and there will also be a live workshop. More on all this later.

All details will be announced in the APE newsletter so sign up now so that you get to know before your competition does! Simply go to the website (link below) and fill in the form.

APE is now open to Founder Members (with special bonuses) and over the coming weeks I will be adding some articles, tips and tactics to improve your entertainment business.

If you do have any questions, then email me anyway. I will say that, although APE will later be a paid membership site with a variety of levels of membership, founder members will be signed up FREE, and you'll have access to everything.

I look forward to hearing from you

John Gordon
The Infotainer and Founder of A.P.E.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

How NOT To Hire A Magician

I receive hundreds of 'Alerts' every day about our business. Today I received one with the following title:

Tips Upon Looking A Magician For Hire

Apart from the poor English in the title, I found an 'article' that was very strangely written and full of mis-information. It started:

"When hiring a magician on a birthday party or corporate anyhow, you will want an entertainer who offers a scoff at clarify and makes your event memorable. However, there are scads so-called illusionists who haven’t taken the time to perfect their art variety."


Maybe later I'll include some other extracts and comment on them, but the point today is about opportunities for you to get your name out there by writing true, factual, inspitrational, helpful articles and distributing and syndicating them on the internet.

Maybe you have never considered 'Article Marketing' as a promtion tool. Perhaps it's time you did. I'll be showing you just how powerful this can be and it's a FREE way to

  • build credibility in your niche
  • raise your profile
  • esatablish your 'platform'
  • build trust and likability
  • add to your authority
  • create content for your Blogs
  • create content for Social Media sites
  • create valuable link juice
  • create content for your website
  • write an ebook, bit by bit
  • make your site 'stickier'
  • create ezine content
  • create an ecourse
  • get valuable comments on your blogs
  • and much more

Well, that's todays tip. But whatever you do, don't write articles like the one I read today!

John Gordon
The Infotainer
Founder of APE