What David Blaine Taught Me About Marketing

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I watched David Blaine go 25,000 feet in the air holding onto balloons on TV the other day. Seriously, it was like a scene from the movie UP—one minute he’s on the ground and the next, he’s arm-in-wing with birds and airplanes. 

It was part of his most-recent stunt Ascension, where he sought to reach Class A airspace via helium weather balloons.

If I wasn’t so enamoured with seeing the final result, I would have turned it off immediately due to the sheer anxiety it gave me seeing him float away into the sky. Nonetheless, he proved once again why he is the most interesting man on the planet. 

Then I remembered something I saved from him on Twitter a few years back…

David Blaine Tweet

“Magic needs to be meaningful, interesting, and believable.”

It was the only thing I’ve ever heard come out of a magician’s mouth that made any sort of sense. So much so, that I figured some of that magic might apply to my own work. 

But how? 

Allow me to break it down for you…

Magic is Meaningful

Great magic goes beyond trickery and deceit and provides real meaning. Most of the time that meaning is entertainment, but for a moment it proves one thing—humans can make the impossible feel possible.

With magic, that understanding comes from witnessing it first-hand. 

I can recall a street performer who posted up near my apartment in New York when I was in college and would perform dollar tricks in front of city-goers.

One day I gave him a crisp Abe Lincoln and asked what he could do. Sure enough, he had me rip a chunk off the bill, and thrust it straight into a lemon he pulled from his pocket. He then split it open to reveal my $5 unscathed—no tear. Either my eyes deceived me, or he just actually pulled $5 out of a lemon.

But what did that mean? 

It hit me harder than a sack of lemons—what I thought was impossible, just became a reality.  

Seeing the money disappear into the lemon and come back whole was enough for me to believe something that I thought was complete bullshit. As a result, he walked away with $20 straight from my hands.

So what’s the point?

Impossibility is the greatest possibility you can have in your back pocket (besides a wad of cash and a lemon). 

Magic is Interesting 

Any great feat of magic is built on interest—just look at how Blaine snatched up my interest when he decided to float into the sky on a bunch of balloons. 

Interest is the core of any magic trick or marketing ploy. It’s the foundation that builds up the trick and it’s what keeps your audience’s attention on you.

Creating that interest can come from all over the place—literally. Take Blaine’s Ice Pick Trick for example. 

Look at how Blaine captivates Kanye West and Will Smith simply revealing the ice pick. Then he draws them in by setting up the trick and covering them with cups before smashing them with his open palm.

It’s like watching a conductor of a symphony prepping his players for the final crescendo.

When it’s all said and done, every audience member is holding on by a limb, their interest spilling over like a boiling soup of intrigue, and their attention is solely on Blaine.

But how does one create that kind interest?

Take a note directly out of the magician’s handbook—be bold. When everyone else goes right, go left.

Blaine didn’t earn his spot as the most interesting man in the world by doing sleight of hand. He went big—trapping himself underwater, swallowing frogs, and standing on a pole for 36 hours.

Be willing to do something completely different than anyone else and stand by it.

Magic is Believable

We’ve all heard it before, “seeing is believing” but with magic believing is everything.

I am a realist—when something “magical” happens in front of me, I’m immediately asking questions. I need to know what just happened, how it happened, and if you can do it again. 

I’ve learned over time that I’m one tough bastard to convince of anything. I, like many others, have developed a thick skin for bullshit and can smell it like a cow pasture in the middle of Ohio. That being said, once you’ve got me, I’m hooked forever.

Take this ring and hanger trick that I can’t stop watching.

When I tell you I’ve watched this 20 times in the last two weeks, I am not kidding. All I want to know is how he got that ring onto the hanger. (I’ve yet to figure it out and will update you as soon as a find out)

This trick has completely captivated me, so much so that my entire YouTube feed is filled with David Blaine tricks and stunts.

And that’s wherein the magic lies.

Blaine’s captivation of the mind (mine to be exact) has led me down a deeper rabbit hole of his work. I’ve now invested time and attention to this master of magic, one I never planned on studying, and yet here I am writing an article about it. (amazing how that works, huh?)

As a result, I am now a full blown Blaine believer.

What can magic (and David Blaine) teach us about marketing?

Never did I think I would be taking marketing tips from a magician and yet here I am, spilling everything I’ve learned from my hours online with the magical mystery man:

  1. When you create meaning with your audience, anything is possible. 
  2. Be more interesting than a basic card trick.
  3. Believing is seeing—so show people what you can do.

First, I want to say, thank you to David Blaine for sharing this tweet back in 2014 as I never thought it would serve me this far down my career path, let alone be a perfect marketing tool.  

Second, I want to encourage you to try thinking about your marketing a little more like magic and see how that works for you. 

Third, if you’re looking for marketing that grows your business like magic (we’re talking David-Blaine-worthy) shoot us an email right here and we can talk strategy. 

Jake Hackman