A Year of Stories: “Just Ask” a.k.a. How I Got Sponsored

A Year of Stories with Brian Miller "Just Ask"

Posted by on July 3, 2016

A while back I had two sponsors for my business: a wardrobe sponsor and a hat sponsor.

What does that mean?

It means that a local men’s clothing company in Connecticut provided me with a complete wardrobe: five dress shirts, three custom tailored slacks, sport jacket, overcoat, and garment bag.

They even put signs up in their main storefront with my promotional photo and name on it. You couldn’t pay for that kind of advertising!

Storefront posters.

It also means that one of the oldest dress hat stores in the United States provided me with 1 hat per year at my choosing, within reason, and free hat steaming/reshaping any time I needed it.

In exchange I advertised for each of my sponsors on my website. I put their businesses on promotional materials, social media, and during live events.

I was the envy of many colleagues in my field during this time.

“How did you get sponsored?” That was the most popular question I received from magicians, many of whom were much more successful than me at the time. My answer to that question is also one of my mottos in life and in business.

How did I get these amazing sponsors?

I asked.

That’s all it was. It was a time when I had very little savings and was rebuilding my business after moving to Connecticut. I didn’t have the money for a complete professional wardrobe and was desperately in need of nice, new clothes.

My manager at the time, John, and I came up with the idea to get clothes for free in exchange for advertising their business. We found a local business whose owner seemed cool and interested in the community, walked in, and asked to meet with him.

On the spot I told him who I was, what I did, and pitched the idea of a sponsorship, emphasizing all of the advertising I could offer him. He asked where he could see me perform, and I told him to come down to Foxwoods Resort Casino, where I was the exclusive magician at the comedy club. We told him that there would be four free tickets waiting for him at the next show and he agreed.

The night of the show he arrived late with three friends, and I had already performed. I met up with him and offered to do a couple of close-up magic tricks. After just one trick he said:

“You’re amazing, kid. You got a deal. Come on down to the store this weekend and we’ll get you into some nice stuff.”

We got all set up and started advertising for his store on my promotional materials. He also told me that anyone who mentioned my name would receive 30% off. Many of my friends, fans, and clients took advantage of that offer.

A few months later John and I decided to make a similar pitch to Delmonico Hatter in New Haven, CT. The store has been in business for over 100 years and it is truly a sight if you’re into hats.

Delmonico Hatter with Brian Miller

Circa 2011, credit Mike Ross Photography

The owner was skeptical initially, but once I told him that I already had a wardrobe sponsor, and everything I was wearing had been provided (and that he could receive a 30% discount), he was sold.

We walked out with two brand new dress hats and another great deal.

The men’s clothing store eventually shifted owners. The new owner wasn’t interested in me and within a year closed the store (although those two facts are entirely unrelated).

Delmonico Hatter and I maintain a positive business relationship although I haven’t asked for anything in years. I have more hats than I know what to do with and I’m happy to occasionally plug his business on my social media.

The point is this: There are so many incredible opportunities available to you if you just have the courage to ask for what you want.

Until next time,


Share your own experiences in the comments section below, and don’t forget to sign up to get a new story every Sunday!

Brian Miller

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is a Connecticut youth motivational speaker who travels the country sharing his message and magic with high school and college students . His TEDx talk "How to Magically Connect with Anyone" is one of the most popular in history.
Brian Miller

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  1. Joni
    July 4, 2016

    Enjoyed reading your story. I have been in sales for many years. Today I am what many would consider successful in the timeshare business. I am a true believer that timeshare has come of age. After reading your post I reflected on my approach when meeting a guest that’s on vacation and took the time out of thief vacation to come and sit with me. I start by letting them know I acknowledged that and thank them for their time. I take the time to hear what they do as a family. What interests they have. How they take their vacations. Family time is precious. We always are in need of it. Afterwards I will share a little about who I am and why I sit each day and look forward to meeting families and hear awesome stories about their families vacations. The one thing I realize I do after reading your post and I would have to say I’m pretty consistent is I will tell them …. At the end of our time spent together I would like to ask for their business if they find this is something they want, will enjoy using, and can comfortably afford it.
    I always get a confirmation that it is ok to ask them.
    Knowing what to expect I believe is a very important aspect of building trust with a new customer.
    It’s not something you can train. You have to be yourself and be real.

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