To know magic is to know people, and how they think and act, but how is this going to help you turn into a better freelancer? Magicians have been able to fill entire theatres starting in the 1850s without any internet. In fact, they all used different techniques for people gathering, managing immense crowds to their spectacles even back then. How? By knowing exactly what people wanted to hear, see, and feel. And then using this knowledge to their advantage.
Magic is not about deceiving people. On the contrary, I’d say magic is the most honest profession in the world. You are promised a lie, a huge, hefty, spectacular lie. And then the magician delivers exactly that. As a freelancer, your “lie” is impeccable service. Once you get your products or services straight, you can deliver them to people in the most attractive way possible. We can learn a lot from magicians on how to get the best clients possible.
Who is your audience?
In business, like in magic, you have to know your audience. As a performer, you need to know who is in the public, so that you can permanently adjust your performance. For example, kids are much harder to impress than adults on the stage. In the business world, it’s exactly the opposite. You can fool children but it’s not advisable to do that with adults. They can file a lawsuit, which is a lot of hard work for a few extra bucks.
Although I’m an amateur magician with scarce performances for my family and the occasional police squad in front of the club at 3 in the morning (I don’t like going inside clubs, it’s too noisy for me) I learned a lot about how to shift my message depending on who I’m about to meet for my business. I talk and behave accordingly if I’m in front of a customer, an investor, a partner or a colleague. I speak their language. I make them feel welcomed. I know them.
Persuasion, the real magic
Persuasion is the art of convincing someone that something that looks impossible is actually possible. This is what a magician does every day when going on stage. Although you know that the lady that goes flat into the box will never get cut in half, the mystery remains. The magician persuades you into feeling like the lady has just been cut in half and then restored back to its normal self. He just pushes the limits of your mind, and the same goes with business leaders who need clients and employees to trust and follow them. They need these people to believe in them, in their strategy, vision, and ultimately, the product.
Steve Jobs was by far the ultimate “magician” in business. One of his most recognizable quotes is “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”, which is the absolute truth when it comes to marketing, ads, and everything else. Nobody knew they needed an iPod when it first came out, right? Yet people flocked to the stores to get one just after the presentation. Even if the market is not experiencing any issues or shortages, companies that know what they are doing are making the problem and then offering the solution to the public at the same time.
The Mystery Element
In magic, the mystery is the most important element. It occurs when you know that something happening in front of your eyes cannot happen, yet it does. In the business world, the mystery is about the value of a company, its proposition, and key differentiators. A magician never reveals how a trick is done, making it better and better every time he goes on stage.
With every show, the magician is adding new routines to the act and making his appearances look surreal. Companies should do the same, constantly improving and innovating their products. Pushing the envelope, creating new barriers to go into the market and putting distance between them and the competition.
Make it as personalized as possible
Evolution is crucial to success, as is change. You need to constantly evolve in order to keep up the pace. Yet offering just evolutionary products with changing characteristics is nothing without personalization. In magic, performing with a personal touch is more valuable than any grand illusion you can ever set up. When the impossible occurs, capturing that look of amazement in the eyes of the audience is priceless.
As a business owner, my passion for providing that personal touch with everything that I do for my clients is omnipresent. I learned a long time ago that no matter how much I work on automating my processes, everything fails without that personalized attention to detail. Every problem that my clients have is unique, therefore every solution that I offer is completely different from the other. Working closely with them to find that unique solution is key to my and their happiness.
End it with the “Aha!” moment
When the magician vanishes into smoke or the giant elephant appears and then disappears on a tiny stage, that’s the sort of magic you and I, and everybody else react to. That’s when you involuntarily give the magician the “eye”, or the “nod” of amazement. In startups, the same principle applies when the customer finally gets it. For when they see your idea for what it is, and in the same light as you do.
When you have the “aha” moment, that’s when you know your business means something. To you and then everyone around you. End your business project with an “aha” moment for your future clients, as magicians do with their audiences. Give them something to remember, and a reason to come back for more, over and over again.
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