While many people from ages 55 and up are thinking of retirement, there are still a significant number of them who still wish to work. Yet, with newer generations taking over the workforce, it can be especially hard for this age group to find jobs that will take them. And what a waste of talent and experience that would be! Teri Lucie Thompson co-founded Knackstor Global, a digital platform that activates the gig economy for older adults, allowing them to earn, volunteer, and create community. In this episode, she sits down with Dr. Diane Hamilton to share with us the origin of this great company and the ways they are creating opportunities for adults. What is more, Knackstor caters to a double-sided market, providing a supply of experienced talents from those 55 years old and up and demand from small businesses, non-profits, and corporations looking to leverage their expertise.
Who says magic is only for entertainment? Seth Kramer, an illusionist and mentalist, uses his talents to help companies market and gain sales. He joins Dr. Diane Hamilton in today’s conversation to talk about how he balances entertainment with education to draw people into a company or brand. Seth takes us to his work in trade shows and how he works together with businesses for their presentation and to achieve their marketing goals. With so many competitions popping out, it has become a must to learn how to stand out in the crowd. Allow Seth to give you some insights to not only get leads but also converting those, even in settings like trade shows and business events.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Teri Lucie Thompson and Seth Kramer. Teri is the Co-Founder and CMO at Knackstor, which is dedicated to people over 55 and utilizing their skills. It’s a great new startup she’s working on. Seth is an illusionist and a mentalist, which is an interesting combination. He uses his talents to help companies gain sales and market. This is going to be a really interesting show.
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Activating The Gig Economy For Older Adults With Teri Lucie Thompson
I am here with Teri Lucie Thompson, who is the Co-Founder and CMO of Knackstor. She leads marketing initiatives that foster and grow Knackstor their brand, their community. If you don’t know about Knackstor, you’re going to learn about it. It’s such a fascinating platform for older adults. I’m excited to have you here, Teri. Welcome.
Thank you so much, Diane. I’m excited to be here with you.
I was looking forward to this. I know you and I have met, and I spoke at one of your events, which was so much fun. Can you give a little people some information on how you got to this point?
I’ll sound like a Knackstor as I go through this but I’ll be brief. I always say I have a career that spans three different categories. I started in education in teaching and then I moved into the financial services world and became a Chief Marketing Officer for two financial services companies. I moved into the higher education sector, where I was the CMO for three universities, Purdue, University of Arizona, and the University of Texas System. Although those roles sound like common roles, there was a thread in my career of coming into roles that may have been established companies, but I was doing something different. There was a time in the company like at State Farm, ironically, we had never had a marketing department. All of our marketing initiatives were run through distribution. Part of my job was to help create a new department. I’ve had this background of coming in and doing disruptive things. That’s why I was so attracted to this idea of Knackstor.
I want to get into Knackstor. That’s an interesting background. The Purdue thing explains how you know our mutual friend, Keith Krach. I’ve had my work experience at Forbes School of Business, which is now part of the University of Arizona. We have a lot of overlap of education, financial, marketing. We have so much in common. I knew we were going to have fun talking about what you’re doing. When you first told me about Knackstor, I was fascinated by what you’re trying to achieve with that. I want you to give a little bit of background. I know it’s a digital platform to activate the gig economy for older adults but can you give me more insights so people can know more about it.Never retire from life. Click To Tweet
Knackstor is built on innovative technology that helps create, as you say, opportunities for adults 55 plus. It’s a double-sided market. The supply side is these adults that are 55 plus who have retired, who are looking either to leverage their experience or maybe an advocation that they’ve built along the way. The demand side of the market is small businesses, nonprofits, corporations, and families that are looking to leverage this expertise for an accountant, somebody to tutor a child, or somebody to provide a business strategy for a nonprofit. There’s a wide variance of services that are provided and individuals that we assist on the demand side. It’s more than a tech platform. We like to think of it as a solution in the labor market that has come about because people are living longer and retiring earlier. We’re building this wealth of knowledge that a lot of times at 55, 60, or 65, there’s this artificial cut-off of, “You’re not needed in the marketplace anymore because of your age. You’ve timed out.” We’re saying nobody ever times out. In fact, one of our hashtags is #NeverRetireFromLife. We want to leverage all of that experience.
It’s such a huge market. I’ve given so many talks about generational differences in the size of the different generations. The Boomer generation is huge and nobody wants to retire anywhere. Nobody can retire. There’s a combination of things. I’ve looked into so many different things like when you retire, what can you do to keep busy? I would be bored if I just sat home. I always have so many jobs and things going on because I wouldn’t be able to sit at home. I am interested in how you’re able to take everybody’s skills. It’s a high level. There are platforms like Fiverr for different things that people can have logos or little things but you’re talking more high-level things or talking about everything?
As we build our quadrant of talent, we put our talent into four buckets and this is over-generalizing but for the sake of the show and giving a broad overview. We put white-collar professionals in one bucket who have significant experience. We put white-collar professionals without significant experience like the Millennials, the early Gen Z’s. We put blue-collar workers in a bucket. We put gray-collar, which is a common term now. That’s a lot of the tech people and healthcare people who fall in between blue-collar and white-collar, and those with significant experiences.
We’re targeting those sweet spots of white-collar and gray-collar professionals with significant experience. As I say, that’s an over-simplification but we are not set up to be like TaskRabbit where somebody needs somebody to come in and fix their water pipe. We’re focused much more on those white-collar services. Also, as they age, people develop avocations and they may be able to give pilot lessons, tutor children, or read to children. We have somebody signed up on our platform who listed Bible reading as a skill. We have a wide range, but the sweet spot for us is this white-collar.
You mentioned you were in Austin and that’s where you and I met, originally. I noticed that some of your co-founders are in London. You’ve had somebody in Illinois. People are spread out but you’re focusing somewhat in Canada. Is this specifically in one area or can you get it everywhere?
Our beta test is in Canada. We’re getting ready to move into North America. You can get the service now. You can sign up for Knackstor service if you’re in locations within the United States. In terms of the supply side, the Knackstors will begin recruiting Knackstors by market in the states. We did our MVP and our beta test in Canada because of some connections we had in Canada and because it was a small manageable market for us. We focused on Ontario and also because there was a nice mix of generations that would provide both the supply side and the demand side of this double-sided market. We’ve seen a great uptake in the market. We have about 300 Knackstors signed up for the platform now. We’ve been in market with demand generation ads to start getting those folks jobs. It’s an exciting time. People are interested in hiring Knackstors, so we’ve proven what we wanted to prove, and now we’re ready to move into North America more broadly.
When you say you’ve got these Knackstor signed up, you’re talking about the actual individuals who offer the services, right? What if somebody is reading and they’re thinking, is there an age? Do you have to be 55 or older? Do you have a cutoff? If they decide, “I want to do this.” What did they have to do to be part of it?
They go onto the website, which is Knackstor.ca. They can create a profile, sign up, list their skills, and tell a little bit more about themselves. If they want to upload a picture and description, they can. They select an hourly rate that they will charge. It establishes them as “A Knackstor.” An individual who will provide these services for other people who are interested in hiring them. I know you set up a profile because you’re so good at doing your homework, Diane. As you go on, you can set your rates and set a little description of what you do. When you search individuals, if I want an editor, I input editing in the algorithm in the search box, and it will return for me a list of all the people who are available to do editing. As people input different names and job titles, the platform keeps adding those and enriching the different services that are available for someone to hire from.
In terms of the first part of your question about do you have to be 55? You don’t have to be 55, but we do want people with significant experience. The whole vision of the company and the platform is to create this gig economy for the retired and for people who have significant professional experience within their domain whether their domain is their professional domain or their avocation. We dislike the word senior citizen, golden years, all of these things that imply that their time is up, they expire, or they’re no longer relevant. Our vision is ultimately older adults will be referred to as Knackstors because they’ve got a knack. It’s like Kleenex for tissue. These people have a knack. They’ve refined that knack and now they’re offering it in the marketplace. We can all become Knackstors. The age at which we do may vary slightly. Some of us may be precocious and decide to sign on at 50 or 52. We’re not going to screen and cut somebody off if you’re not exactly 55.
When you’re filling out your profile, one of the things they ask is your skillsets, your levels, when you’re available, and your schedule so you can work it around. I thought that was very comprehensive of how you’re thinking about this is why I want to do it. When we’re at the knackstor age or whatever you want to call us, you might be like, “I don’t want to do this in the morning.” “I don’t want to do this at night.” “I want to do this at this time,” or “I want to do it that time.” You have a lot of control.
It’s all about you. It’s providing a platform for you to talk about you. For you to market your services to an audience that we know is interested in hiring people like you. You manage that profile and presentation. You’re your brand on Knackstors. You’re a Knackstor, but you’ve got a Diane Hamilton brand, a Teri Lucie Thompson brand, or a Soma Basu brand. Your job is to fill out that profile in a way that best represents that brand as a Knackstor.
That’s all important. Looking at it from the Knackstor viewpoint is critical. I also want to look at it from an investor, maybe a VC is reading, angel investor, or somebody who wants to get involved in this. Are you still looking for people to partner with or have people invest in your company? Where are you in that process?
We have had people invest in our company. We have signed on with an accelerator. We’re very excited about that in the states on NEXT Studios in Indianapolis. We are looking to raise our next capital round. There are opportunities for investors. I’d love people to reach out to me. One of the things that we’ve heard consistently and all four of us in Calcutta, London, Austin, Texas, and Bloomington, Illinois, the four co-founders have robust networks that we have leveraged to provide insights and feedback about this platform and this concept. One of the things we’ve heard repeatedly is that for an MVP, this is one of the most robust platforms that people have ever seen. We’ve had a lot of interest from the VC and angel investment community, but this is a heavy marketing lift. In order to move this forward, we need significant marketing spends particularly from a social media and an earned media perspective. I don’t want to be long-winded, but the bottom line is we think it’s a very attractive opportunity. There’s still an opportunity for VCs to get involved. We’d love to talk to them.
You and I’ve talked about this at different times that we’ve discussed other things. I work on a lot of boards and I see a lot of things that are happening. One of the boards I work on is Flourish. It’s been backed by Reid Hoffman. He’s the founder of LinkedIn and all that. It’s interesting to see the apps and things that they’re creating. It’s part of that group that I’m in. Is this an app? Is this an online–only platform? Is it both? People probably want to know how that’s going to work.
Right now, it’s online with a mobile responsive format so you can access it. The plan is to build an app. In fact, that work is under way now. As we’ve watched people and gathered our statistics, over 55% of the people who are accessing Knackstor are doing so on a mobile device. That suggests to us that an app is the way for us to go.
Since you and I both have education backgrounds, I’m curious if you’re getting educators, speakers, consultants, and that type of Knackstor on the site?
We’ve had quite a few of those people. We also have a lot of people in the consulting area, particularly on marketing strategy and business strategy. People who do have an educational background and want to help. The pandemic has brought its own set of unusual circumstances with homeschooling, and that whole phenomenon in terms of students not being in school, parents not going to work and trying to manage both their jobs, and is their child doing what they need to do from a homework and assignment perspective. A lot of people who are former teachers or former educators were interested in helping in that regard.
Is there a particular Knackstor quality, traits, things that they can teach, or do that you would like to get more of?
We have built out a psychographic and a demographic profile of our ideal Knackstor. As we think about that ideal Knackstor psychographically, we’re very interested in people who have a learning orientation, curious, want to stay active, and want to be engaged. We like people who think of themselves as younger than their chronological age. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “60 is the new 40.” We like Knackstors to have that mindset, “I’m younger than my age suggests.” We like people who have the psychology of often re-inventing themselves and who are open to change. We’re interested in people who want to help create a movement to redefine the retirement culture.In the United States, the orientation of culture is always driven by youth. Click To Tweet
Back to #NeverRetireFromLife, we’re interested in people who don’t see stopping points but see when one door closes, another one opens, and they are eager to walk through that next door. That’s the psychographic orientation of people that we’re interested in bringing on. I mentioned demographically. We’re interested primarily in the Baby Boomers. Those born between 46 and 64, but again there’s room on either end of that spectrum. That’s what we define as our sweet spot. We’re interested in individuals that are consumed by a passion for their work. As I talked about before, white-collar professionals who’ve opted out or been forced out of the workplace.
I’m curious if there’s a screening of people you will or will not accept, is there a rating system as well?
There is a rating system. It’s in there now. I don’t want to misrepresent things to your audience, Diane, but there is a star system much like we’re all used to on Yelp, Google, and all the various applications. There will be a place for our reviews. People will know over time who’s the go-to person who rises to the top and who doesn’t.
I’m curious why you think we haven’t seen more of this. This is such an important thing. I know there’s competition. You can get part-time people from Kelly Girl or Fiverr for certain things. You have a unique, much more skill-specific, targeted demographic type of setup here. Why do you think that there’s such a big market untapped?
It has to do with the silver tsunami. I hate to use that language but there’s been this mindset of this group of people is not the group of people that’s driving the culture. Especially in the United States, the orientation of culture is always driven by youth. As people age and gain experience, a lot of times from a mass-market perspective, they’re overlooked. There are individual exceptions, and we’ve seen boards and a lot of CEO positions where it’s important. People are recognized for their years of experience or years of service, their knowledge. Generally, from a mass-market perspective, you go away, you’re forced out, or you retire.
A lot of people look to that as an endpoint as they’re less utilized in their roles. In the States and North America, it’s been a cultural phenomenon of a youth-oriented culture and a notion that retirement is a time when you play golf. You play with the grandkids. You don’t do anything. What we’ve seen with the Baby Boomers is there’s psychology amongst a lot of people and those that we want to target for Knackstor. As you said at the beginning of the show, “That’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to be bored.” There’s this sweet spot to leverage that vacuum and to help change that dynamic in our culture.
You said some of this is in beta. When is it completely launched in your mind?
We’re completely launched in Canada. We keep adding features. We will be in 2 or 3 markets. One of those markets will be Indianapolis and one of the markets will be Austin, Texas. We’ll be fully launched in those markets but I do want to make it clear that from the demand side, if you need a Knackstor, you can go on and you can hire a Knackstor from anywhere because the services are performed digitally. It’s not somebody coming to your house or coming to your business like the old Kelly Girl or manpower model. Geographic boundaries are in a sense meaningless in terms of the service that these Knackstors can provide to you.
How do they get matched up? Is it a formula? Do you go searching? If I wanted to hire a Knackstor, how do I find the right one?
It’s self-selection and we’re in the process of building more intelligence in the platform to make suggestions as to who will be the optimal selection for you. If you want a speaker for an event, you input speaker or coach and you’ll see a list of options come up. They’re hierarchically arranged by the hourly rate they charge. You can scroll down. A lot of times, people make the association that somebody is more expensive, they’re more recognized, and they have more experience. There’s some reason why they’ve reported that particular level of income. You can sort and then you make your selection. As the platform becomes more robust, there will be intelligence built–in that will help make recommendations for you.
This is a big undertaking from working with a few startups on certain boards. I know how much goes into this. I was excited to have you on the show because so many people will be interested in learning more about this. For anybody reading, if they want to be a Knackstor, they want to hire a Knackstor, be part of an investing, or whatever it is that they found interesting from this, how can they reach you and find out more?
I wanted to thank you for joining me. I was looking forward to this. A lot of people tell me about their ideas, their different companies, and their things that they’re working on but this one was exciting. Thank you so much for sharing it, Teri. This was so much fun.
It’s so great to talk to you, Diane. If you see Keith Krach before I do, tell him hello. We need to get Keith’s brains behind those too.
He would be a great one.
Bringing Entertainment And Education To Trade Shows With Seth Kramer
I am here with Seth Kramer, who is an illusionist and mentalist. He has several companies. He has Traffic Stoppers for corporate Trade Shows and Seth Kramer Productions, which is an event company that handles all kinds of entertainment. If you’ve seen people walking around some of these shows where they’re doing unusual magic tricks or things to capture your attention, it might be Seth. Welcome, Seth.
Thank you for having me, Diane. It’s good to be here.
I was looking forward to this. It’s an interesting line of work to get in, let’s say. I was a pharmaceutical rep for a long time and worked a lot of booths where we would have magicians and different things, and people walking around. You do magic. You do a lot of different things. It’s not just magic. Tell me a little bit of background of what you do.
I primarily started out wanting to be a lawyer. I went to law school but that took a back seat to my real passion, which is magic and illusions. It has been something that I’ve been interested in since I’m 9 or 10 years old. I’ve been doing it for a very long time but when you’re growing up, you never think that it’s something that you can turn into a business.
It’s a hard thing. I had front-row center seats when Siegfried & Roy were at the top of their game. I’ve been to David Copperfield’s and all their different shows. When you watch that stuff, it’s such entertainment. Now that you know how things work, do you always figure out what everybody else is doing? Is it easy to figure out everybody’s tricks?
I don’t look at it that way. I’m not interested in how the tricks work but I know how a lot of things work and sometimes I like to puzzle it out. I like to be fooled even more than I like to figure out what’s going on. I try and put my mindset into that of a person enjoying a show so I can sit and watch a magic show and forget about that. I’m a magician and I enjoy it. Sometimes, I go back in my head, try to dissect things, and figure out why that fooled me, why something works, or why something doesn’t work. It’s always educational for me.
You say that you understand the balance between entertainment and education. When you say it’s educational, there aren’t many magicians who do that. They’re not thinking about education. Does entertainment enough?Make the leap from entertainment to marketing. Click To Tweet
We have a very small group. As far as Professional Trade Show Magician Presenters in the United States, there are 30 who do this on a regular basis. There’s a lot of people who say they do trade shows, but they do 1 or 2 year or things that are not trade shows but more of home and garden shows, things of that nature. National and international trade shows, very few in the United States who do it on a full-time basis and who make a living doing it. I’ve been doing this for many years. I know pretty much everybody who’s come and gone through this.
You appreciate that the sales aspect of it and you engage people in. The thing is that the companies don’t want you to entertain them, but they want you to engage them. They’re looking for leads. They’re looking for people interested in buying their products. How do you do that?
I don’t sell a magic show. It’s a marketing opportunity for my client. It’s a learning process for the client because a lot of clients don’t understand how this works unless they see me on the Trade Show floor. It’s a process that I take them through. I try and learn as much as I can about a company. When a company either calls me or sees me on a Trade Show floor, we exchange information. Once you see what this is, people are stunned as to how well it works. Being able to go from nothing, starting with nobody in front of a Trade Show booth and creating an exciting presentation that draws people who are walking by and turns 1, 2, into 8 people. Sometimes, I can be standing at a trade show with 100 people or more watching my presentation. I learned as much as I can about a company. We have several phone calls or video conferences together and we discuss what their marketing goals are.
Every company has goals that are a little bit different depending on the size of the company. Some companies are there to show a presence who want as many people in their booth and as many leads as they can possibly get. I have other clients that are very picky. They only want people who are genuinely interested in their product and a very focused lead. I learned as much as I can about a company and I have something I call the Trade Show Questionnaire that I send to the clients. It gives them a bunch of different questions that they could answer to help guide me into how I can create a presentation that suits their needs.
I teach a lot of marketing classes and we talk a lot about having segmentation, target, marketing, gunshot approach versus focused approach, and things like that. As you said, some want every more body as a lead and then others have a very focused kind of thing. I’m curious as to the questions that you ask them to find out and then how do you limit. Everybody coming up to you will be interested in what you do and may not fit that niche that they’re trying to reach. If you have a Trade Show where you’re getting all these scans where you’re scanning their badge or whatever if they come up to you, there you’re getting a lead, but how do you determine if those are good leads or if it’s a gunshot approach?
What I do is cast a wide net. That’s the best way to describe it. You cast a wide net and you get as many people to come over to the exhibit as possible because you never know who’s going to show up at these shows. You figure somebody is walking down the aisle, they have some interest in the industry but you don’t know that they have a specific need or know about your company. Sometimes, people walking down the aisle don’t necessarily know that they have a need for your product or service. I cast a wide net. I get as many people as I can to stop at the exhibit. The show is entertaining and the magic I do, the illusions that I do are really strong and fun. It’s a very high-energy show and very participatory. I select a lot of people from the group that’s gathered to help me with the show. A lot of people get involved. During the show, I pepper my presentation with very specific product information about the company. This is information that was gathered through the meetings that I’ve had with the client and through the questionnaire that I sent. Using that information, I deliver those little spurts throughout the presentation, so people hear it. I’m in a very unique position because typically, I’m placed at the front of the exhibit. Sometimes, I’m the first thing that people will see when they come to the exhibit because I’m very prominently positioned in what I call the corner aisle, two aisles at the Trade Show converging together.
I’m on that aisle that has the most traffic passing by. I’m sometimes the first person that people will encounter. I can spot a badge, somebody twenty feet away and we call them by name and get them over. I said, “Did you your free gift? If you had, you have your magic lesson.” I have a bunch of different approaches that I use to get the first person to stop. It doesn’t take that long to get the first person, usually, it’s 1 or 2 minutes. I have various different approaches that I use. It’s hard to visualize it if I talk about it, but assume that I get somebody to come over.
I start my presentation with that one person and that one person turns into 2 to 4. Because the crowd is constantly building, I don’t say the message once. This is a message that’s repeated over and over again. These points that are given to me by the company, they’re repeated several times throughout the presentation. If you come at the beginning, you hear them. If you come in the middle of the presentation, you hear them. If you come in towards the very end of the presentation, you hear the wrap-up as well.
Can you give an example of something you might say?
It could be anything depending on what the product is. Talking about the specific features of a product, talking about how long products have been market, or how we improve the product from last year, what additions we made this year. It could be any information that the company wants to disseminate to the show attendees. My job is to get the people over to the booth and deliver that information to them. Sometimes, people think I work for the company because I dress just like everybody else in the exhibit whether I’m in a suit and tie, which is not so much these days. Typically, I’m in a short-sleeve polo shirt with a company logo and I look like an employee from the company. People don’t know who I am or if I worked for the company or not. My preference is they don’t know. I’d rather them take that I’m an employee of the company.
The advantage that I have over an employee from the company is I have this crowd gathered. They’re listening to my presentation and I could ask questions that people could raise their hands during the presentation. I could ask, “How many people heard of this company?” “How many people are familiar with this product?” “How many people realize that it does this, this, and the other thing?” I get a show of hands. I didn’t tell you that prior to the show, usually the day before the show or early in the morning of the first day of the show, companies have a booth meeting. Everybody who’s going to be in the booth has a booth meeting. I asked my client for ten minutes in the booth to introduce myself to everybody because not everybody knows that I’m going to be there. I introduced myself to everybody. I tell them what I’m going to be doing. I tell them that this is going to be a team effort, “Your marketing director hired me to get you leads. This is going to be a team effort. I’m going to do my best to get people over here.”
What I don’t want to see is me getting people over here and then right after my presentation, have them leave with no additional comment. I tell them, “I’m going to do this presentation. You’re going to see this, and this. At the end of the presentation, you’re going to be there. You’re going to see all of the questions I ask. You’re going to see all the hands that are going to go up. You’re going to see how many people are interested in more information.” I’m going to ask those questions. Using that information, you can see who the interested people are, and you make sure that those people don’t leave the booth because I can’t do this single-handedly. We can do this with a group. Sometimes, we have an A and a B station. We could split up the group. People who were interested in and people who are not interested, they can see. You could send certain people to one area, certain people to another area. For some people, if they don’t have big interest, we’ll send them one direction to pick up a little giveaway personalized promotional premium that they could take home with them. We could send it to another area to get a more detailed demonstration or more information from a sales rep for people who want a further demonstration.Zoom has really opened up a great opportunity for educating everybody. Click To Tweet
As you’re doing these things, I’m thinking of the ones that I’ve seen. I’ve had my watch taken or different things, “Here’s your watch.” I guess you’ve seen that you’ve had even saw a woman in half or different things that you’ve done. How elaborate do you usually get? They’re there to do more than just answer questions. You’re doing some sleight of hand stuff while you’re doing it, I assume.
I do anything from sleight of hand magic where somebody takes a playing card and it ends up in some impossible location, inside a locked box that someone’s been holding since before they selected or sign their playing cards. That playing card could be signed and then winds up in a box that the same person is holding at the end of the show. I do something where I have somebody choose a word out of a company promotional material. I tell them what word they’re thinking about. I have a bunch of different illusions and it’s not so much important what the illusions are. It’s the way that I work the marketing message into those while I do the show. The show could be anything from things that a lot of people have seen, a sleight of hand magic, some mind-reading. Sometimes, clients have larger spaces. They build a stage. We have a small stage and we could cut a person in half twice an hour. Hundreds of people will stop to watch that because as you said, you saw Siegfried & Roy, in the show that they did in The Mirage.
You’re sitting in an audience and the closest seat is probably 30 feet from the stage. Sometimes, it’s another 20 feet from the middle of the stage to the front of the stage. You’re 40 or 50 feet away. At a Trade Show, I do my illusions. Whether it’s the sleight of hand magic or it’s cutting a person in half, my closest person could be three feet away. It’s amazing. The way that I have chosen the specific illusions that could be done in any situation, close up, 360 degrees, and people standing in a complete circle around it. I’ve chosen these illusions because they’re able to be done in that type of environment.
It’s such an interesting field. I’m a speaker. I know what it’s like now with COVID-19 to try and do the same thing the way we used to do it. How are you doing your job now with everything? Can you do it on Zoom?
The last trade show I did was in March 2020. If you’re paying attention to the trade show industry at all, if you follow it at all, there have been no live trade shows that have gone out of the United States. Every year, there are close to 10,000 trade shows in the United States. That brings up out 200 shows every week. As of March 2020, as far as live, in-person trade shows, there have been none. At the beginning of the pandemic, the middle of March towards the end of March 2020, I started getting all these messages from my clients. I’ve had twenty or so shows booked at that point for 2020. I’m getting calls every day, “The show has been postponed and maybe go virtual.” “What’s virtual?” They say, “We’re canceling it.” “We canceled the show.” “We postponed the show would.” “We get virtually.” “We’re not doing it until next year.”
I was getting all these cancellations. By the end of March 2020, beginning of April 2020, every show that I had booked had canceled or been postponed until 2021. It keeps on getting postpone even shows that it was supposed to have been in February or this March 2021 has now been postponed to May or June 2021. I have a feeling some of those shows are going to be postponed until August or September 2021 until we get 80% of our population vaccinated. I don’t think anybody is going to feel it’s safe to do these shows. I haven’t done any live shows. I haven’t done any virtual trade shows. Have you been to any virtual trade shows since the pandemic?
I do a lot of different virtual things. I wouldn’t say they were trade shows but events.
I’ve got virtual events as well. I’ve done virtual conferences. I’ve done all kinds of Zoom-related meetings, whether it’s industry-related with some of my clients. Some colleagues of mine, we set up several different meeting groups. We have networking within my own industry, these 30 or so trade show presenters and magicians, and some other talents, and some trade show jugglers.
I could see such a market for what you do.
All the professionals in the trade show, we call it trade show professionals. We do that type of presenting trade shows. We set up our little group and we met every week and talked about, what’s going to be moving forward? How are we going to approach this? What are the things we can do to do this? Some companies have tried doing these virtual trade shows and I’ve attended these virtual trade shows. To be honest, it’s not conducive to what I do. It’s very sterile environment.
As you’re saying this, it would be such a great time for you to train these companies to have their salespeople or different people know some of the things you do that you can do that through Zoom and give them the behind-the-scenes, “Here’s what questions you need to ask in here.” “You can have somebody do some of the things I do.” It’s a Training 101 for, if you can’t have Seth there, the next best thing. Have you done any of that?
I haven’t done any training of that sort. I have kept in touch with my clients through Zoom. We’ve done several face-to-face meetings like that, trying to figure out some clients would try to decide whether it’s worth going into these virtual shows or not. For the most part, most of my clients have decided that they were going to wait until the live shows have come back. We don’t know when they’re going to come back. Their deposits have already been given to the show management for these shows in 2020 and 2021. They have shows that are being postponed. Some of them attended some of these virtual shows that were very disappointed with their results. They would spend all day at their virtual trade show exhibit, which looked like everybody virtual trade show exhibit. A very few people came by, very few people stopped, and the few people stopped were not interested.
I attended one on a lark. Somebody invited me to a virtual trade show to see what it was like. I went to a couple of them. It’s disconcerting even as a trade show attendee to walk around through a virtual trade show. It’s like playing a video game and going from booth–to–booth. All of a sudden, this one particular one, you’d walk close to a booth, and then you’d hear somebody call you by name. If you get close enough, I guess it triggers something on there. You’re engaged in a conversation. I wanted to see what it was like and see what it was very early on. It was more of a curiosity for me than I was interested in engaging in a conversation. It was a little strange to be put into that. They make you choose this little avatar as you walk around it.
It’s weird, but what I think would be better than that I haven’t seen done yet. I could see you would be great. Have you ever had put on a quest that where you download the Oculus app and you’re in virtual reality glasses? I have one of these virtual realities. They’re $400 or $500 but I could see companies putting them on people if they can’t go places and watching you. You would be like you’re in the room. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. You’re swimming with sharks. You’re flying in airplanes. You’re doing all these things and you could look down, you can see the floor.
You can see the ceiling. You’re in where you think you could never be. You’re out in outer space. There are all these things. I could see that could be a way for the future of what you do. You wouldn’t have to be there if they could buy your app or whatever that you’ve created, this 3D visual of you doing these things. It’d be hard to make it customized like you do but it would be really interesting in the future way if you can’t be there to get into that immersive experience. You should get one of those and play with them. It’s cool.
I’ve seen the Oculus goggles. I was at a trade show when they were first introduced. I tried them on a long time ago. The entertainment company that I have a virtual rollercoaster ride that we put people on using the Oculus goggles, which is pretty amazing. It’s an interesting idea. A lot of magicians doing virtual Zoom shows. I’ve explored the idea. I’ve done a bunch of virtual sales kickoff. Through some clients, I’ve done some virtual happy hours for them where I’ll come in and we’ll have the whole company there congregated. I’ll teach them some magic they can do with objects from their desk.
I’ll spend some time with them and teach them some things, magic that they can do and work out a corporate message that they can use, or even do it for fun for their family and friends. It’s an entertaining thing. I also have a virtual show that is good. It’s very interactive. It involves a lot of people. It’s amazing because some of the magic happens in the viewers’ hands. It’s amazing to do through a computer screen. I have created one of those shows. A couple of my clients have taken me up on it during the holiday season. For some reason, my clients are but new clients are not making the leap from entertainment to marketing. That’s the struggle that I’m dealing with.
They’re thinking of a one-time show that they’re not getting leads. They don’t recognize the value and the ROI at all.
They don’t get part of it. It’s a way something that I have to work on educating everybody but that’s what Zoom is great for. Zoom has opened up a great opportunity for me. What I used to have to do is I would use video demonstrations, which I never really liked. I have very little of myself on video because first, I’d never really thought that magic is something that should be experienced on video. It’s something that has to be experienced live. I still believe that. It’s the best when it’s live. No matter how good you are on Zoom, it’s not the same as doing it live.
However, that being said, if you use Zoom as a sales tool and what I can do is I could schedule you Zoom meetings with clients, I’ve done this quite a bit, get them online with me, and show them what I can do. It’s live because I can have them do some things in their own hands. I tell them to bring certain things to our meeting and show them how this thing works this way. I could also explain a little bit more in-depth and it’s much better to do it face–to–face. Sometimes, people need to see something, they hear something or watch a video. It’s much better coming from me. The Zoom has been a very good sales tool for me to explain in a more concrete way some of the things that I can do.
It’s an interesting time. I know my daughter said they did some magic thing to resume for her company at Tealium. She said it was pretty cool because people were able to have some of the tricks, even if they’re at home and she couldn’t figure out how they did it. I could see it would be a great tool for so many people. From my marketing experience because I teach so much of it, companies need to see that there are two aspects. It’s edutainment or trainment, whatever you want to use the word that they’ve combined the two, it’s such a great opportunity for learning about the value of what you bring. I was looking forward to having you on the show to explain that. This was interesting. A lot of people want to know how they can reach you and find out more about what you do. Do you have some way they can follow you or find you?
They could find me at my website, www.TrafficStoppers.com.
I always enjoy the shows where you can’t figure out what you just saw plus it boosts everybody’s dopamine. It makes everybody feel good. I always love it when they add the illusions and all the stuff that they add to shows. Everybody wins in the process. Thank you so much, Seth. This was so much fun having you on this.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Stay safe and be healthy. Hopefully, we get to meet face–to–face someday.
That would be nice.
I’d like to thank both Teri and Seth for being my guest. We get so many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. You can look at the blog to read it, to listen to it, in addition to all the airwaves where we air. I hope you enjoyed the episode, and I hope you join us for the next episode.
About Teri Lucie Thompson
Teri joined Knackstor as co-founder and CMO in 2020. She leads marketing initiatives that foster and grow the Knackstor brand and community—including communications, partnerships, social media, and content. Knackstor Global is a digital platform that activates the gig economy for older adults, allowing them to earn, volunteer and create community. Knackstor Global’s digital platform allows seniors to continue to be valued by offering their skill sets and passion crafted to perfection over their lifetime. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Knackstor rebooted its service platform to help seniors operate virtually from the safety of their homes.
About Seth Kramer
The Corporate Magician- In Person, and Virtual Presentations For Trade Shows, Meetings, and Special Events.
I help companies maximize their presence at live and virtual trade shows, meetings, and special events.
Specialties: Marketing, Entertainment, Event Planning and Coordination
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