Magic Marketing

I like to use magic, conjuring, sleight of hand, plain old fashioned tricker as a metaphor for what so many of us do in film and television production. We tell stories in such a convincing way that our audiences’ skepticism is temporarily suspended and they believe in our fantasy world.

But is magic a good way to communicate your marketing message?

effectivus is in Vegas this week (again) at the National Association of Broadcasters annual jolly; lots of fat old television engineers complaining bitterly at the spotty young geeks who’ve nipped in and taken over their industry. If you’re wondering, effectivus fits into both categories.

This year, being divisible by 10, marketing managers have again decided that using a magician to present on their booths would be a good idea. There is a rash of card tricks, vanishing dollar bills and marketing ladies being sawn in half across all the “1,500+ companies and 800,000+ square feet of exhibit space”.

These guys are great at attracting a crowd to your booth (you want that right?) with non-stop banter and amazing tricks (“ooh” and “ahh”). Obviously some of these guys have even talked to the companies who’s booths they are performing on, because they smatter their performance with references to the products.

So, as one guy is about to do a “cut the lady in half trick” he’s wittily making a reference to cutting video: “do you want to edit in Avid or Final Cut Pro”. The audience stares blankly whist presumably thinking “I don’t give a f*** just cut the girl up…”

No, really, no, this works as well as using knock out gas to build a “booth stickiness”. All these folks are doing is saying:

  1. Our products are so boring that we have to use this cheap trick to get you to stand in front of our booth. That means as soon as he’s finished you might as well move on: “nothing to see here”.
  2. Our marketing department is so devoid of understanding of our products, markets and what our sweaty customers do with them that this is what counts for “communicating benefits”.
  3. We’re desparate, please make it look like we’re interesting by filling up the aisle next to our booth.
  4. We’re screwed.

I can’t decide whether using a magician is better or worse than going for a marketing message like this:

What the heck does that mean?

“Waitress, another Margarita over here if you would be so kind…””

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5 Responses to Magic Marketing

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New blog post: Magic Marketing --

  2. Rory Ramsden says:

    After looking over this blog post I took a look around the site. You have done a great job gathering all this information.

  3. Simon Kirby says:

    Hi Chris,
    I did a one day course on magic (or mentalism, to give it it’s grown up name) recently. Interestingly, I think there are some big parallels between mentalism and marketing. In particular, as customer expectations escalate, great service probably means making customers believe we did something not just great, but impossible. Which of course, is the essence of magic!


    • Chris says:

      Thanks Simon,
      Yes, I think there are lots of parallels.
      I like to point out the parallels between conjuring and visual effects – all about distraction and slight of hand.
      With marketing I think it is similar, creating a belief in something, telling a story, getting buy-in to something which might not be concrete (yet), lots of good stuff. What’s not so good is thinking that it makes a good marketing tool.

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