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College student offer the magic of marketing

Magician Peter Wood offers the magic of marketingArticle by Amy Limbert, Gazette Staff Writer
Gazette photo by David S. Spence

Magician Peter Wood figures he became a professional at about 10 years old - that's when he earned $15 at his first paying show.

"That's when I had enough tricks to do it professionally,” said the UMBC freshman and owner of Shazam Magic in Monrovia. “I started with a magic kit when I was 5.”

Wood, 18, continues to do magic shows for birthday parties, but is moving into the corporate realm, doing shows for company parties and partnering with companies to use magic as a marketing tool. He recently worked with Immersion Active, a Frederick interactive design and marketing company to market Immersion Active's services to NaturaLawn of America, Inc., a Frederick-headquartered lawn care company.

"Peter is quite a talent,” said David Weigelt, a partner at Immersion Active. “As a magician, Peter helped us develop a marketing stunt to get the attention of NaturaLawn's corporate office. He worked with myself and our staff at developing a concept that married the benefits of Immersion Active's service with our prospect's goals.”

Student works magic in the local business communityWood said he met Weigelt a few years ago when Weigelt hired him to do walk-around magic tricks at a company Halloween party. He and Weigelt came up with the marketing campaign together, Wood said.

"Dave [Weigelt] said ‘here's what I want to do,’ and I said, ‘OK, here's how to do it with magic.' ” Wood said.

He said “corporate magic” is not that different from “party magic.” The tricks are often the same, but with a corporate twist.

"I used a trick where I make small blades of grass grow into huge blades of grass, and the ‘magic ingredient’ I sprinkled on the grass to make it grow was Immersion Active's marketing prowess,” Wood said of the stunt at NaturaLawn.

Weigelt said Wood did his trick, “posted outside the company's office on a 20-degree morning.” He presented incoming employees with a small blade of grass, asking them to hold it in their hands. Wood then sprinkled a little “magic marketing mix” onto the employees' hands, and “upon opening their hands the small blade of grass had grown over four times it's original size,” Weigelt said.

Magician Peter Wood works his corporate magicPhil Catron, NaturaLawn president, said this magic marketing stunt was effective and well received. He said Wood and Weigelt “must have been out there 45 minutes waiting for me, so they won a warm place in my heart just for being out there.” Besides capturing the company president's attention, they also earned a meeting with NaturaLawn's director of marketing to discuss potential work.

"Anyone willing to go that extra mile deserves to talk,” Catron said. “Also interesting, I was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians for 15 years, and I know how effective magic can be. It's one of the best ways to keep an audience.”

Weigelt said Wood's strong background in drama and set design and construction helped Immersion Active “develop all of the supporting props that were so important in terms of initially grabbing our prospect's attention and then giving them something to remember us by.”

Wood said in 1997 he was hired to work at a political conference in Crystal City. There he had five or six tricks of Capitol Watch, the company that hired him. He got that job, like others, because the president saw his performance at a birthday party, Wood said.

Corporate services can run a little higher [than other shows] if the company wants him to rework his material or travel a long distance, Wood said.

He can customize a program for a company's product, such as with Immersion Active, or involve employees, such as making the company's CEO magically appear at the beginning or end of a presentation.

Wood said he offers up to a two-hour show, and private magic lessons.


Originally published in The Gazette: Business Watch on February 20, 2003

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