No, this article is not about marketing your illusion show.
This is about creating an illusion in people’s minds to con them into regarding your show highly. The ultimate goal is to get them to book you for their event.
I said “con”, not motivate, because that’s what illusion marketing does. It creates false impressions of your show. Through hyped-studded advertising, it imbues your show with qualities so sterling it’s impossible for it not to fall short of the ad copy’s claims and the client’s expectations.
About a decade ago, the marketing-for-magicians craze swept the magic world. Many hobbyists embraced its teachings and gushed all over the Internet on how they became better businessmen despite the fact they previously sucked at magic. Even professional magicians who did not have enough shows to feed their props-shopping binges knelt before these marketing gurus to serve as their acolytes and advocates.
One of the most endearing lessons the marketing-experts preached to the magicians in the choir was the lesson of not aspiring to be the best performer in town. The mantra, as I understood it then, seemed to be, “Just cobble a magic show out of your mishmash collection of tricks and market it like crazy. Marketing will compensate for your program’s shortcomings and for your lack of skills. You don’t have to be the best. You only have to appear as if you were the best.”
Well, it’s the classic “if you can’t be, fake it” lesson of the smart alecks. The only difference is that they call it now a “secret to turbo charge your magic career and make your phone ring off the hook.”
They didn’t say it exactly that way, but that’s how I understood the razzle-dazzle marketing that the new crop of magicians-turn-marketing-experts teach. I think this is also how a number of their students understood it.
As a result, many magicians, with modicum rehearsals, green as a green mango in experience, and steeped in mediocre ways, churn out slick flyers, business cards, website and other marketing collateral. They saturate the market with their names and sales pitches. They follow religiously the magic lesson that selling their shows is a numbers game, not a function of quality, according to the Gospel of magic marketers.
In some instances, the ploy worked, but only to a certain extent. In our business, the best marketing medium is word-of-mouth. A performer with an expensive website may get clients quickly, but he can lose them as quickly when his clients realize his show has little semblance to the show hyped to the seventh heaven by his website copy. Repeat business then becomes scarce, and referrals will come in trickles.
Illusion marketing is not totally bad, though. It can bring good results in the short run. It may even help you run a lucrative magic business over the long haul, provided you don’t get sucked into the quicksand that illusion marketing is.
The quicksand is the part where you fail to match your performance skills with the claims of your ad copy. The new attitude should be, “If you fake it, live up to it.”
Tomorrow, let me share with you the results of a test on pricing schemes. You guessed it. Price can create an illusion in the buyers’ minds and make people to hold your show either lowly or highly.
If you use the psychology correctly, you don’t even need to tinker with your shows anymore. You can remain in a state of mediocrity and people will still adore you.