Giving away a magician’s secrets
Steve Cohen makes more than a million dollars a year doing magic tricks.
I will now tell you the secrets of this magic:
- He sells to a very specific group of people, people who are both willing to hear what he has to say and able to pay what he wants to charge them.
- He tells a story to this group, a story that matches their worldview. He doesn't try to teach non-customers a lesson or persuade them that they are wrong or don't know enough about his art. Instead, he makes it easy for his happy customers to bring his art to others.
- He intentionally creates an experience that is remarkable and likely to spread. "What did you do last night?" is a great question when it's asked of someone you entertained the night before, particularly if you can give the audience an answer they can give. That's how the word spreads.
- He's extremely generous in who he works with, how promiscuous he is about sharing and in his attitude.
- He's very good at his craft. Don't overlook this one.
I guess it comes down to this: if you're having trouble persuading people to buy what you sell, perhaps you should sell something else. Failing that, perhaps you could talk about what you sell in a different way.
Important clarification: I'm not telling you to sell out or to pander or to dumb down your art. Great marketers lead people, stretching the boundaries and bringing new messages to people who want to hear them. The core of my argument is that someone's worldview, how they feel about risk or other factors, is beyond your ability to change in the short run. Sell people something they're interesting in buying. If you can't leverage the worldview they already have, you are essentially invisible. Which is a whole other sort of magic, one that's not so profitable.