After 33 years skydiving, 28 years doing demos including the past 13 years doing demos as a full-time occupation, after more than 1100 performances and an average of 50 performances per year since 1987, I can tell you that there is an uninvented industry, the effect from which I believe, once nurtured into existence, can have a very positive long-term influence on the growth of the sport parachute industry.
Witness: Uncle Sam's marketing efforts for recruiting and making soldiers, sailors and airmen include the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds and the Golden Knights. The word "demo" evolves from those old demonstration teams.
BUT: We need a huge paradigm shift. We need to stop thinking about the short term gain from our entertainment services. Entertaining audiences as professional entertainers will eventually cause event producers to begin trusting a new industry - the skydiving entertainment industry. Producers today do NOT trust skydivers. For most intents and purposes, the skydiving entertainment industry DOES NOT exist today except for a very scant handful of elitist skygods and soldiers who like their tighty niche left alone. And except for me. I need seedlings so this entertainment industry can sprout, grow and spread.
Don't be a recruiter. Don't think like a grunt. Don't demonstrate anything. Entertain according to the first rule of the entertainment business: always leave them wanting more.
Ask most seasoned DZO's and they will tell you that "demos" don't pay for themselves and are NOT effective marketing tools. I can see clearly that this is only a problem of attitude and perception. It is not likely to change however, from the DZO's perspective. The DZ biz and the skydiving entertainment biz need to exist independently from one another. Don't ever let a performance slow down a DZ's service. The return on any single performance is not a short term gain for the DZ (or a very small one at best.)
The goal instead: show the event production industry that there is a population of entertainers they can trust. Build it and they will come. Trust me. They will come.
The demo market is vast and virtually untapped. It must be tapped not by fun jumpers and DZO's. It will grow and expand when the demand can be serviced by our new supply of entertainment professionals who happen to be experts at aerial delivery.
Trust me. Producers are waiting while we sit on our hands. Let's get this discussion underway. Please. m~
"The rest of them are all a bunch of cowboys." Michael Verlatti, JHE Event Productions, 2000 producers of Wright Brothers Centennial, 2003