Pay if usable - a marketing experiment

Post topics about the business side of magic.

Postby Jim Riser » 01/25/12 01:14 PM

I am playing around with different ways to distribute/market individual short one topic e-publications. Below is a link to a sample pdf of an item for the financially challenged performer. Rather than set a fixed price for such very specific short publications, I am testing to see if there is any sense of honor among magicians by offering the info for free with the request that those who find it useful will send payment of what they feel it is worth to them.

I have used the described info in actual performance and know how effective it can be.

The link:
http://www.jamesriser.com/Magic/Secret.pdf

At the least, perhaps some of you will let me know what you think. Thanks.
Jim
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Postby mrgoat » 01/25/12 01:38 PM

Here's an idea. Set up an Amazon affiliate account, and put the link to the product you are telling people to buy in the PDF.

Honestly, not sure what the 'worth' is of telling people to go and buy something used for something else to use for magic.

It's a clever idea, for sure. But no idea what to donate for such information.

Did you have an amount in mind?
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/25/12 01:51 PM

mrgoat, I do not want to merely market like everyone else (Amazon account). There is no fun in that. I am offering hopefully new info as the product. Most people in magic are not familiar with the item described - so it is new and possibly useful info to them. Perhaps not. To someone on limited funds who wants to experiment with different methods, it might be worth more than it is to you. That's the point of this experiment - to try a different marketing approach based upon worth to customers. This is merely a marketing experiment. Judging from the amount you just sent me, the info was not useful to you ;-) That is exactly what I want to determine.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/25/12 02:02 PM

I have no idea what you would expect to receive for a PDF telling me to go and buy something.

Hence me asking.

If you don't want to tell me, cool. :)

I like the idea of 'pay what you think it's worth' but when the only information you are getting is a 2 page PDF telling you to 'go and buy this thing' without even any links or even names of the product it's kinda hard to work it the value of the information.
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/25/12 02:44 PM

The value of info is not directly related to length and can only be determined by the end user. This pdf acquaints people with a readily available device that most probably never have seen nor heard of. This item can effectively be used in magic. Either this info is of value or it is not. I leave that to those who download the pdf.

What is your hangup about being "told to go buy this thing"? Actually, I tell no one to buy anything. I merely introduce them to possible uses for an item. They may buy it or not - their choice. Do you bitch about having to go buy a deck of cards when buying a card magic book? Sheesh! BTW - it is 4 pages not 2.

With the correct item name which I give in the pdf, it shows up on the first page of a search by Google. You are familiar with Google, aren't you? It appears that you are part of the spoon fed generation who expects everything to be supplied for them. It really is OK to get off your duff and do something for yourself - even something as energy consuming as typing in an item for a search.

I know what the info is worth to you. Thanks for the input.
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Postby Ted M » 01/25/12 03:16 PM

He was suggesting an Amazon affiliate account so that if you link to the product (not to your PDF, but to the product you recommend) at Amazon, then you would automatically get a cut (ie, a de facto donation) if people bought the product by following your link.

You would then also have some idea of how many people thought the information was useful enough to go buy the gimmick, and you could then compare that to how many give you some additional donation via paypal.
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/25/12 04:36 PM

Ted;
Thanks but that (affiliate link) is already on my web page (see my signature link). I wanted to test here for feedback without the Amazon link involved. The fun part is playing around with various methods for input based upon limited info provided. Perhaps spoon feeding is needed for the masses. Perhaps not. That is all part of what I want to determine. Ted, thanks for the input.

Back in the day before the rise of consumer electronics, such info as presented in the pdf was considered quite valuable. Times change with technology advancements. Nevertheless the method utilizing the item being discussed for magic purposes is diabolical.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/25/12 05:26 PM

Jim Riser wrote:The value of info is not directly related to length and can only be determined by the end user.


If you say so. When I do some work, I know the value of it. And putting together a short PDF with no effects, a reference to a product and no recommend brand name or linkage doesn't make it clear what you wanted to be paid.

So I guessed and paid you what I thought it was worth.

Sorry you don't think that's enough.

Jim Riser wrote:This pdf acquaints people with a readily available device that most probably never have seen nor heard of.


Well, I think anyone with an elderly relative will have seen it. It's not exactly a secret, is it? And the same tech is already used in magic afaik.

Jim Riser wrote:What is your hangup about being "told to go buy this thing"?


It's not a hang up Mr Riser. It's merely a comment that in the PDF there isn't much apart from making people aware of an electronic item they will need to purchase. There are no completed routines nor effects. There isn't even the name of the manufacturer or a link to where one could get it if one wanted to. Sorry you misinterpreted me.

Jim Riser wrote: Actually, I tell no one to buy anything. I merely introduce them to possible uses for an item.


Indeed. You are correct. But, obviously, if you are interested in using it, you have to buy it.

Jim Riser wrote:They may buy it or not - their choice. Do you bitch about having to go buy a deck of cards when buying a card magic book?


I am not bitching. You asked for feedback, I gave it. Maybe you just wanted people to tell you that you are awesome?

And if I buy a card magic book, I'll own some cards.

If someone put out a PDF entitled "STRANGE MYSTERIES" and it contained nothing but "you could get someone to take a card, then you could find it. You will need to buy cards" and then asked me what that was worth, I'd say not much.

Jim Riser wrote:Sheesh! BTW - it is 4 pages not 2.


Indeed it is. With a very large font.

Jim Riser wrote:With the correct item name which I give in the pdf, it shows up on the first page of a search by Google.


Well, many do. Which is the one you recommend. I assume they have different prices, different ranges, different volumes of vibration etc. If you are recommending one, I'd have liked to know which is the one a man of your experience thinks is the best one.

Jim Riser wrote: You are familiar with Google, aren't you?


No, never heard of it. You're familiar with not being rude to people that just gave you money, aren't you?

Jim Riser wrote: It appears that you are part of the spoon fed generation who expects everything to be supplied for them.


Well, in some cases, yes. I bought a PDF about a product that you don't name nor link to. Seems silly not to really. When you know what it is.

Jim Riser wrote:I know what the info is worth to you. Thanks for the input.
Jim


Anytime.

I work in marketing. I love anyone trying anything creative to make money. I gave you my feedback and you reacted like I was insulting you personally. I wasn't. You are a very talented man and make items that are wonderful. No doubt about it. Sorry you misunderstood me.

Damian
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Postby Tom Stone » 01/25/12 06:18 PM

Jim Riser wrote:I am testing to see if there is any sense of honor among magicians by offering the info for free with the request that those who find it useful will send payment of what they feel it is worth to them.


Jim, since I'm not a mentalist, the manuscript wasn't really for me. But I hope you don't mind my input anyway.

The three suggested effects are somewhat limited in the venues they can play. They are not that suitable for stage or for regular close-up, but seem more designed for private parties and informal occasions - places where everyone know each other. If so, the assistant has to be chosen with care, because otherwise the whole group will know the workings within a week. Safest way would be to bring a spouse, I guess. But if so, there are plenty of non-technical solutions to accomplish those three effects; hand signals, verbal code, placement of objects.

Point being, the suggested effects does not show the method in its forte, and are all limited to a venue very few work in.
That is why I feel that this sample perhaps isn't the best item to use in an experiment like this.

I have still paid a small sum though, because I am most keen to find out what you might have in store for experiment #2.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/25/12 06:22 PM

Tom Stone wrote:I have still paid a small sum though, because I am most keen to find out what you might have in store for experiment #2.


Exactly the same reason I paid.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 01/25/12 07:11 PM

Fun Fact: The Secret Invention was actually the invention of Bill Dodson of Louisville KY who made the items for Nelson. They went through several incarnation as Bill explored the technology. Bill is mentioned in the Del Ray book. They were dear friends. I knew Bill late in his life - a truly fascinating individual.

As to the project - Part of the problem is in assessing worth. Does this compare to something (or more specifically, does this share the same dynamic) as anything else on the market or in experience with which one can compare.

Magicians/dealers have long taken existing technology, scraped off the identifying labels, and resold it to the community sometimes at large margins. I know one company bought equipment from TV industry sources and sold it as a device for conjuring. One could argue that the difference in price between the actual item and the magic catalog price would be the sum to pay in this instance - because it is the sum that HAS been paid in the past.

However, we also have a tradition for openly and freely sharing this type of information. For example, my friend in the TV industry happily told me the above information. I know that magicians regularly share information such as alternatives for store bought roughing fluid. Two or three well respected card men have happily passed on to several people that plasti-dip works effectively the same as the $90 science friction product.

So, on one hand we have a tradition of paying dearly for access to information of this nature (in the mark up between actual item cost and the magic catalog price) but we also have a tradition and expectation that this type of information is passed on freely - perhaps often invigorated in the passing BECAUSE of the jacked up prices for "found technology."

I would not be surprised if a magician had found this item and attempted to sell it for four or five hundred dollars. So, obviously, the information has value - but our culture has also traditionally passed on that information for no cost when discovered.

I think a more viable marketing plan (if one's goal were to make money) would be to give the information away for free, but offer the needed item at market value. That would require the "seller" obtaining the item wholesale in order to be a money maker - BUT it would allow those who were interested to easily and conveniently obtain the item, rewarding the person who is providing it to them at said convenience.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 01/25/12 08:04 PM

If the goal is to test magicians' honesty, I don't think this experiment does that. As we have seen, people will pay in order to encourage future releases from Jim. This says less about their honesty, or their perception of the value of this information specifically, and speaks more to the value they place on Jim as a resource. You should take it as a great compliment, Jim - we think so highly of your contributions people will pay in hope of more, without even knowing what it might be, and based little on what is actually offered here. As a marketing experiment, I don't know if it will realize anything meaningful - but as a testament to your knowledge and history of contributions, it would be hard to classify it as anything but a resounding accolade.
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/25/12 11:38 PM

Brad,
Yes, Bill Dodson was the maker. In addition he wrote a series of electronic articles for the do it yourself types that were featured in The Linking Ring in days gone by. He did have several interesting circuit designs and was the go to guy for miniature electronics.

The question is ascertaining the value of an idea. We all know that just the germ of an idea can grow in to a signature piece. I value ideas more than finished products. The idea of using the device described will click with someone but not with most. This is how it should be and is to be expected.

Making money is not really the goal but a measurement tool for evaluating how much people value the idea. Most will not see the value as it might not go along with what they do. This is fine and not seen as criticism. It's just the way things are.

Tom,
Here in the US a growing number of performers are running parlor type shows for groups of say 30-50 people in various hotel rooms. This is the type of venue where the device can be of use. The spectators do not all know the others in the room.

It is also of use after a walk around gig when people are casually talking with each other and request something else. As an encore piece under the right conditions, it is difficult to beat. It is not for everyone.
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Postby Diego » 01/26/12 02:24 AM

Robert Nelson's, "Secret Invention" and later, "The New Secret Invention", were for covertly transmitting voices/sounds.

Another product, (also by Dodson) "Psycho-The Telepathic Brain", was the vibrating device for cuing the performer without any sounds/words.

Interesting, Nelson marketed The Secret Inventions, as a very HIGH ticket item. He sent 2-4 page brochures pitching the wonders of his, (then) electronic marvel. He also had 4 page inserts in his catalog hyping it.
AND he charged, (and got) $595.00 for it. This was in the 1930's and 40's, when that was several months pay for many people. You had to be serious, (or a monied amateur) to buy one.

Looking at Riser's PDF and Nelson's mailings, there are a lot of similarities, even though 70 years apart.
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Postby Diego » 01/26/12 02:28 AM

Brad is right. Nelson was not the only dealer who would find something that he could sell as a prop/effect, and after putting in a box/envelope, proclaim it as, "Another Nelson Original" on the label!
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/26/12 07:34 PM

Diego, thanks for joining in. In the late fifties and early sixties I used to walk from Lazarus south on High St., stop at the Planters Peanut shop for some warm fresh roasted peanuts, past the burlieQ theater, and on to Nelson's Magic with its flagstone front. He had a wonderful assortment of P&L items in addition to the electronic items. You are right about the names of the items. I gave all of my Nelson literature to a collector friend around twenty years ago so am going from memory. Again, thanks.
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/30/12 12:13 PM

OK, I have finished this little marketing experiment and determined what I already assumed to be true. The pdf is no longer available. Thanks for your participation.
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Postby Bob Sanders » 01/31/12 01:21 AM

Jim,

This old marketing professor would be interested in what you discovered in your experiment. How people deal with the differences in cost and value can be very interesting.

Intellectual products do not enjoy the years of documented research that are available on hard goods.
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Postby Bob Sanders » 01/31/12 09:51 AM

The publishing of information since the 50s has exploded. Anybody can publish anything virtually anytime due to the new technologies. Some of the information is useful and accurate. Much is neither.

The deterioration of the quality of the information is very obvious in categories such as journalism and news. Much of the News today is just Programming with virtually no professional diligence or journalistic reporting connected to it. Social promotion defies the concept of quality differences and perpetuates the culture of an underdeveloped society. There is no requirement for authenticity of the sources of the publishing and the reader may totally lack the capacity to segregate fact and fiction or recognize the sources of each. The value of all approaches zero due to the lack of reliability of the published information.

It may indeed result in the value of zero being assigned to all published information without an initial investment up front by the receiver. Intellectual property may suffer in commercial value as a product. A society of freeloaders cant be expected to value other peoples property. They dont see how stealing is part of the culture of entitlement.
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/31/12 04:24 PM

Bob;
Check your email for a different type of pdf. It's more suitable for the entitled menu driven folk - but they are NOT entitled to it! It may turn out to be best to publish the good info, plans, etc. only to be GIVEN to those who really appreciate such items. The masses may remain ignorant as they do not see value in original types of thought and the really good stuff would be wasted on them - they would not know what to do with it.

I already tick off the wannabees by refusing to sell to them. They will really go ballistic when I refuse to GIVE them my e-publications! I love it!
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Postby Edward » 02/02/12 08:38 PM

Good for you Jim!
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Postby Jim Riser » 02/20/12 01:56 PM

As a continuation of this experiment, here is a freebe for those who might want to make some sort of apparatus with typewriter style keys or inlays:

http://jamesriser.com/Magic/Letter_Numb ... leKeys.pdf

As always, feedback is desired. Enjoy.
Jim
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Postby Andrew Pinard » 02/20/12 02:21 PM

Thanks Jim...

Have you tried pouring two part clear epoxy over the label afterwards to simulate bakelite? Just one quick thought... More later!

Andrew
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Postby Jeff Haas » 02/26/12 10:07 PM

Jim, that's a very interesting DIY tip. I don't have a use for it yet, but it's always fun to read something like that when it's well thought-out.

Jeff
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