Not a lot of people believe in magic, but then again... not a lot of people know exactly what magic is. Having dabbled in the art myself, I can tell you that magic is a lot more than just sleight of hand routines and crafty prop work. David Blaine in his book Mysterious Stranger, said that a magician is really an actor playing the role of a magician. A magician is someone who can make someone else believe in the unbelievable. According to Paul Harris (another legendary magician), magic is actually the art of astonishment.
The moment you witness something astonishing (like a great piece of magic), your conscious mind pauses for a second and actually considers whether or not to believe what just happened. It is in that one moment that you have experienced true magic. The reason I bring up the notion of experiencing true magic is because we are just starting to recover from the wonderful season of Christmas. A good way to know whether or not you have given the perfect gift is to watch the reaction on the receiver's face and judge whether he or she experiences that moment of magic.
Marketers can learn a lot from magic:
1. Delight with the unexpected - The one thing about a great piece of magic is that the ending is usually very hard to predict (unless of course it's a classic effect like sawing someone in half). An unexpected ending would generally leave the audience amazed and could easily create a long lasting moment of magic. Marketers should always try to deliver the unexpected. This is most readily applicable to the service industry, where a typical customer experience can be made magical by delivering something unexpected. E.g. A free upgrade to a first class seat for a single traveller.
2. Create something engaging - Another facet of a great piece of magic is that it will always keep the audience engaged (especially cynics who are watching every twitch of the magician's hands). Great marketing should do the same thing. Whether it be a 30-second spot or a below-the-fold display ad, the intended audience should be engaged enough to want to answer the call to action.
3. Involve the audience - If the audience participates, they are made to believe that in some way shape or form that they actually have control over some part of the magical effect. This does two things: makes the effect more engaging and creates a stronger magical moment at the end. Most marketing is a one-way message to an audience and although some one-way messages can be engaging, most are not. The wonderful thing about social media is that it allows for an actual conversation (a two-way interaction as opposed to a one-way message). When you are creating a new piece of marketing, always think of how you can involve your audience.
Final thoughts: The art of marketing can easily be related to the art of magic. It should be the goal of any marketer (and any magician) to create a truly wonderful moment of magic and make it last as long as possible.