Over the last decade, a number of magicians have turned into marketing and treated marketing as one big magic trick.
One of the hallmark lessons they teach is the need to create the perception of being the best.
As I understand that lesson, a magician, to be successful in his business, need not be the best. He just have to convince his publics that he is the best. To accomplish that, all he has to do is create the perception (a close relative of illusion) of being the best through hype-studded advertising and hustle marketing.
The “Myth of Being the Best” marketing principle, which teaches how to create the perception of being the best even though you are not and to sell that perception to the client, is a bit too much for me to swallow. I view it not only as a dangerous sleight-of-mind to trick paying customers to hire a show destined to disappoint them but also a formula for mediocrity.
Another lesson that magicians-turn-marketing-gurus seem to love to teach is the gospel of the-cart-before-the-horse marketing. “It doesn’t matter how good your act is,” so the teaching goes. “If you can’t persuade someone to hire you then it’s worthless.”
An oxymoron, obviously. A great act that can’t persuade a client to hire you is a contradiction of logic. Why? Because the show itself is a marketing, moneymaking machine. You don’t need persuasive advertisements to convince bookers of your talent (or lack of it) once they see your act. The act itself is your greatest, most persuasive sales and marketing vehicle.
I have a friend who belongs to the top three performers in my country. He has a great act, not merely good, but maybe better than 97% of the magic acts in the Philippines. Plus he is an extremely gifted performer, ventriloquist and comedian.
Not having finished high school, he is wanting in the ability to write. He can’t compose a hypnotic headline, much less a persuasive sales letter. His marketing tools are limited to his business cards and his shows. Yet, his phone is ringing off the hook (a favorite picturesque language of the new breed of marketing gurus). Prospects who have seen his performances want to hire him because they are sold to him—by the quality of his show. My friend doesn’t do much persuading when he’s on the phone. The show is doing the persuading for him.
Well, maybe my friend is a product of a freak marketing accident. For the rest of us mortals, though, we have to sell our shows more aggressively, using a combination of marketing tools or employing a whole system of marketing program to get the results we want.
No matter what this marketing system, I believe its formulation should be predicated on the product having qualities superior than its competitors. Aspiring to be good is not enough. “Better than good”, “very good” and “great” are more like it, if one wants to be competitive.
To be the best takes a lot of time when there are brochures to design and sales letters to write. But it is an excellent goal to aim for, if one wants to really succeed as entrepreneur and artist.
Anything less may produce some temporary quick results the same way a band-aid palliates a small wound. If you need to grow, however, you have to improve every day and raise yourself to greater heights of excellence.
Perform illusions onstage, but create genuine talent and ability to build a business and career in the real world.