Hands down, my favorite market to work in as a stage hypnotist is the college market. If you are a stage hypnotist who is new to the profession, and you want to get more stage hypnosis bookings in the college market, there are some essential things you need to know.
There are approximately 4,000 colleges in the United States. From little schools with populations of hundreds, to huge campuses with tens of thousands of students, the process of getting booked as an entertainer is pretty much the same. It is not the same, however, as getting booked on a cruise ship, or for a county fair, or to do a high school after-prom party. If you're a stage hypnotist trying to get more work, it's critical that you understand the different buyers in different markets, and how to interact with them properly. That's how you get more stage hypnosis bookings.
First Key: Know the Buyers
Colleges and universities have a few potential buyers for stage hypnosis shows. These buyers are pretty much universal across campuses, though they may have different titles. Here are the four main buyers you can find at almost every campus:
- Every college is going to have some kind of an orientation staff. That staff is responsible for helping new students get oriented to the college experience at the start of a new school year. Some schools do their orientation sessions over the summer while school is not in session, while others do them for a few days before the new school year starts, before the main student population has returned.
- That orientation staff will have a full-time professional who is in charge of organizing orientation. That's your buyer.
- Campus Activities
- Campus Activities, Student Activities, Campus Programming, Student Activities Board... they go by several different names, but they all do the same thing. It's an organization, made up of student leaders, whose mission is to put on entertainment and educational events that enrich the college experience. The students at every school pay a Student Activity Fee, and those fees make up the budget for the year. At some schools it's a tiny budget, while at others it's huge.
- At each school, there's going to be either a full-time professional or a part-timer, often a grad student, who advises the Activities Board. At some schools, the advisor is really the buyer, but at most schools the students have actual buying power. They have different positions and roles (Comedy, Speakers, Live Music, etc) and they choose who gets hired.
- Student Government
- At some schools, the student government association functions much like a campus activities board. There may be special events that fall to them to provide entertainment.
- The Greek System
- The Greek system is its own self-contained community within each college or university. Each Greek house will put on its own social events throughout the year, and they will also partner up at times to organize philanthropic events like fundraiser shows. They usually have limited budgets, but if you're a newer stage hypnotist this can be a good way to generate early revenue and keep working on polishing your show concept.
Second Key: Know the System
Orientation professionals have their own conferences each year, and this can be a way to get in front of them. Offering to do a show for free at their conference can give you the chance to "showcase" your skills and show concept, which can lead to bookings. Otherwise it's traditional marketing: cold calls, direct mail, and email outreach.
Student Activities groups are even harder to get noticed by because they are constantly being flooded with marketing from all the different kinds of artists in the marketplace. The volume of cold calls, snail mail, and emails that get sent to them is truly staggering. If you want to get more stage hypnosis bookings, the best thing to do is target these buyers at regional and national conferences hosted by the National Association for Campus Activities or the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. These associations bring together artists and schools. It can be quite costly to attend these events as a vendor, so you need a specific strategy to make it worthwhile.
Student governments and the Greek system have a much smaller role in purchasing entertainment than orientation offices and student activities groups. They're easier to get ahold of, but have way less buying power than their counterparts. At most schools, both student government and the Greek system will have an office, usually in the Student Union building. Start your outreach there and see where it takes you.
If you know your potential buyers, and you understand the system they are working in, then you can approach them in a manner that reflects your understanding of them and the problem that needs solving. They'll be much more likely to listen to you and consider you for their entertainment needs.