Category: Image

Mar 08 2010

Stop Running If You’re Not Being Chased!

Magicians are guilty of constantly trying to prove that what they do is on the up and up.  A magic performance requires a certain amount of cleverly hidden deceit.  Unfortunately, many try too hard to hide the “dirty work” and end up over-proving the fact that anything tricky is going on.  Magician Al Baker, in the 1920s, called this “running when you’re not being chased”.

As a businessperson, how can you tell if you are doing the same thing with your customers?  Are you trying to over-sell your ideas to your prospects?  Let’s take a closer look at how a magician constructs a magic trick and examine the presentation.

Let’s say a playing card is selected by an audience member, shown to the audience, then replaced and shuffled back into the deck.  It vanishes and ends up in a sealed envelope in the performer’s wallet.  Amazing!  Yet many performers dilute the effect by creating suspicion.

Here’s a typical presentation:

While shuffling the cards, the performer says “Here I have an ordinary deck of cards…”  What?  Red flag!!  Ordinary? You mean there is such a thing as cards that are NOT ordinary?  A spectator is not going to consider a trick deck is being used unless you give him a reason to.

“…which I will shuffle to be sure they are all mixed.”  Hmmm, wonder why mister magic man just told the audience he is mixing the cards.  They’re not stupid.  They can see for themselves the cards are being mixed.  More suspicion. 🙂

Then later, when he is about to reveal that the card ends up in his wallet he says “…and please note the wallet that has been sitting on the table during the entire performance, which I have not touched”.  LIAR!  Everyone saw you pull it out of your pocket *after* manipulating the selected card (supposedly back into the deck).  Had he not said anything, the audience would likely forget the performer ever touched the wallet before revealing the card.

At this point, the audience forms a solution for how the trick was accomplished.  Even if it is not the correct solution, they think they have outwitted the magic dude and claim they know how it’s done.  The moment of astonishment never happens.

This exact scenario happens far too often in business.  Have you ever read a blog with an author that keeps reminding you over and over how much value they’re giving you?  They boast how much content they’re delivering.  Every few paragraphs they tell you how crazy they are for giving away so much good info.  Now I become suspicious.  The guy has been blogging for a year, and all of a sudden he’s going to give me some juicy info.  Does that mean all the other stuff was crap?  Sorry mister blogger dude, you don’t have to tell me what is valuable.  I get to decide that for myself!  Sure it *might* be good, but stop trying to state the obvious.

There has been some recent discussion about long sales letters.  Does it really require pages and pages of sales copy to sell your product or idea?  Could you be guilty of over-stating your case?  What happened to be pithy, and let me decide if there is value?  The moment of astonishment, or this case, the discovery of a useful new product or service is ruined because suspicion created too many questions.

Are you running, even though no one is chasing you?

Mar 03 2010

Are You Human? Prove It To Your Customers.

Do you work to establish rapport with your customers right away? When someone walks into your store or visits your website, you are a stranger to them. Remember how your mom told you not to talk to strangers? Do you let them know right away that “we’re in this together”?

Let them know you’re human just like them. Once you do that, you can make the dumbest mistakes, say the most stupid things, and they will still want you to succeed.

My friend Rode Sipe eats fire for a living. His stage name is Dr. Dumpe. He’s one of the most entertaining people I know. People love this guy! He’s also a very good businessman. When he works the streets, they rush to fill his hat with money. Why? Do people secretly hope to see him go up in flames? Maybe. 🙂

His secret: Rod is a master of communicating his humanity to his audience.

Here’s what I have seen Rod do in every one of his shows…


A smile tells a stranger you are comfortable being with them. It shows you are confident and friendly. It’s easy to do and it’s costs you nothing! A smile says “I’m happy to be here with you”.


Rod welcomes the audience. Acknowledges their presence. Thanks them for being there. He constantly looks for opportunities to welcome newcomers. Everyone that walks by becomes part of the show.

Eye Contact

I have never seen him utter a word unless he is looking at someone. He talks to people, not things. Looking at someone tends to draw them into the experience. People want you to pay attention to them.

Tell stories

Rod tells funny stories about his travels. He works a lot of fairs and outdoor festivals around the country. It gives you a sense of how fun he really is to be around. He could just stick fire in his mouth and show you how dangerous it is. Rod doesn’t do that. He knows it is more entertaining to tell a story about how his hand caught on fire during one of his shows!


Everyone in the audience becomes part of the show. When Rod screams at the audience, he expects you to scream back. He encourages interaction. He involves people on stage with him. He asks questions. No one ever feels left out. It’s a party with friends! He doesn’t talk ‘at’ you, he also wants your opinion.

Your customers want to know you are just like them. How can you use these techniques in your business? You are human, right?