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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Step right up! » » Magic Worms: Using different thread for the demo than the product? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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EndersGame
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I've had a long-time amateur interest in magic, and when I saw someone pitching some Magic Worms at a flea market a few years ago, I couldn't resist the impulse purchase. I hadn't seen the Magic Worms ever before, but with my knowledge of magic I knew I should look for a thread, but it was practically invisible to the naked eye and I couldn't see it no matter how hard I looked. The pitchman assured me that what I was purchasing was exactly the same as what he was using, but when I got home and opened the package I was very disappointed to discover that the Magic Worm I'd bought came with a thin fishing line that was painfully visible (at least, in comparison to what the pitchman was using). It wasn't the gimmick that disappointed me - I'd expected that - but it was the inferior quality that disappointed me. Apparently I'm not the first to make this observation, as someone else wrote in another thread:
Quote:
On 2007-12-08 01:46, markmagic wrote:
Some people get upset, when they open the worm, and discover a fishing line. They can't see your invisible thread, but the fishing line is pretty obvious.

I did feel slightly "robbed", because there was no way I was going to be able to duplicate the effect performed by the pitchman using this inferior product. Of course, by the time I'd made this discovery, I was a long way from the flea market, and there was nothing I could do about the situation, which only made me somewhat more frustrated. I had been looking forward to having fun with the Worm, but even children would fairly quickly see the thread that it came with. As a result, it quickly ended up on the shelf to collect dust because it just wasn't feasible to perform with the secret being discovered so quickly. And yes, I have read this thread about lighting and background!

Is it a common practice to use IT for the demo and making the pitch even if the Magic Worm comes with a cheaper more "visible" thread like fishing line or similar monofiliment line? Or do you use exactly the same product in your demo as what people are purchasing?

With my interest in magic, I've since been able to purchase some invisible thread from a magic retailer, so I've been able to dust off the Magic Worm and start using it. But this whole experience did raise some questions for me: Was my experience just an unfortunate one, or do other pitchmen use IT for the demo even though the product uses more visible thread? And if so, this raises an ethical question: if buyers are in fact purchasing something inferior and different than what they are being led to believe, doesn't this have overtones of deceptive advertising? Sure, you want to make money doing your pitch, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the customer - surely it's not only about getting a quick buck. Especially if the product buyers get is less than what is being demonstrated to them - I don't imagine that my conscience could live with the fact that I'd be selling something that I know is just going to sit unused on a shelf or doesn't work as well as what I was demonstrating.

Maybe I'm over-reacting, because I still have a slightly sour taste in my mouth, so I figured I'd throw this on the table for some discussion, and to find out what the practices of other pitchmen are in terms of what you use for the pitch, and whether or not ethics comes into this.
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mota
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You aren't over-reacting.

The solution is simple...contact Don Driver here. He will set you up with a worm that solves all the headaches I had with that fish line too. His worm comes with better packaging, better instructions, and a line you could pitch straight out of the box with...

And the line is already attached!
Vandy Grift
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But lets not sugar coat it. The packages that Don gets are the best. But even they don't come with IT. Regular IT is just too weak to use with the worm. I don't know what kind of IT you are using, but it must be pretty strong to not break right away.

Actually,in my opinion, you are overreacting a little. It's a cheap little fabric worm that you bought at a flea market. Keep it in perspective. I think ideas like "deceptive advertising" and any kind of ethical dilemmas are way off base. I suspect the light just happened to be very good and you weren't able to see the line. You knew it was there. Just like everyone knows it's there. I don't know how many people you are going to fool using the worm as a magic trick no matter how thin your line is. It's more of a novelty. Like a puppet.
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DonDriver
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Gregorytopov don't get in the pitch business...ever!

Don

( it only has to last till the parking lot)
sethb
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I think we need to slow down and back up a little bit on this. I agree that buyers need to be able to duplicate what they are shown, otherwise you will have problems. However, read on . . . .

The worms I sell come with a very thin, almost invisible, clear monofilament fishing leader. If you aren’t in direct sunlight or standing under bright indoor lights, it will work just fine. It also has the advantage of being much stronger and more durable than IT. I have also seen Don’s worm and his setup is also quite good, it uses a very fine darker line which is probably even better, but it is still not IT. In my experience, IT is not practical for young children, and even teens or adults would need a fair amount of practice before they could reliably use IT in this situation.

I use IT to demo the worm because I never have control over my environment; I have to set up my pitch table where the show sponsor dictates. Sometimes I will have backlighting from a window, or I may be directly below strong fluorescent lights. If I’m outside I may have direct sunlight early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

That’s why I use IT, because I need a setup that’s workable in all conditions and with any lighting. Even so, I need to carry about 10 pre-strung worms with me, because sooner or later, that IT is going to break, especially if it’s a little windy or my hands get a bit sweaty, or I move a little too fast in the wrong direction.

However, every worm I sell comes with an instruction sheet I prepared, with all the tricks on it (I didn’t like the meager instructions that come packed with the worms). The custom instructions also help with the occasional complaint that “I can’t understand how to do this” –- I just tell them they need to read the instructions carefully and then practice.

More to the point, I also explain on that sheet that once you become proficient with the worm, you can substitute a very thin black thread for the thin nylon leader if you wish, but the handling is much more delicate. So I feel that I have solved the problem by 1) providing a durable yet usable “learning” line and 2) also providing information to use exactly what I use if and when they are ready to “upgrade.”

I’ve sold hundreds of worms, and so far I’ve only had two complaints, one of which was that the worm wasn’t actually alive (!?!), and one that the line wasn’t “invisible.” I think that’s a pretty good track record. I’ve even had a few kids come back in subsequent years to make repeat purchases because they lost their worm, or the dog got it, or it “wore out.” So I’m satisfied that people are getting an OK deal.

Also, unless a spec already knows the secret or the pitchman is a lousy demonstrator, IMHO it is NOT obvious that a thread is involved. Done correctly, you can generate both horizontal and vertical movement, have the worm jump through a hoop, do a double somersault around a pencil, and even cause the worm to rise up for a “kiss” without touching or moving the cup, as Don demos on his DVD. The more the worm does, the less conceivable a thread is behind it. I have had plenty of people ask me if it’s done with magnets, static electricity, body heat, batteries, and Lord knows what else. I just say “That’s a very good guess” and keep on going. Eventually most of them buy one to see how it works. It is a novelty, but it's also not a bad magic trick -- it's not too far from Okito's Floating Ball and a few other classics. SETH
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"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Vandy Grift
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Quote:
On 2008-02-14 13:46, sethb wrote:
Also, unless a spec already knows the secret or the pitchman is a lousy demonstrator, IMHO it is NOT obvious that a thread is involved. Done correctly, you can generate both horizontal and vertical movement, have the worm jump through a hoop, do a double somersault around a pencil, and even cause the worm to rise up for a “kiss” without touching or moving the cup, as Don demos on his DVD.


I'll concede that point. I guess since I saw my fisrt "squrimel" 30 years ago and it seems so obvious to me that a thread is used, I just assume that anyone that can't figure that out isn't too bright. But I admit, I have seen people watch and not know how it works.
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sethb
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Like most good magic tricks, the secret is simple, but the effect is not. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
EndersGame
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Thanks for your extensive post Seth, clearly you make an effort to have your customers satisfied, and aren't just after a quick buck at their expense - the fact that you've hardly had any complaints at all is a good sign! I appreciate your comments and insights.

Don, are you suggesting I'm not ruthless enough? Perhaps you're right, and maybe I should stick to performing magic, rather than ever becoming a salesman! Smile I'm probably too soft a character, and would be too worried that I'd be taking someone's money for a product they'd never use or be disappointed with. From what I hear (e.g. the post above by mota), the Magic Worms you prepare/sell are less problematic with respect to the issues I've raised, and if that's the case the ethical questions I raised don't really apply.

I do think that the Magic Worms are more than just a novelty item though - surely you'd ideally want people watching the effect not to figure out the secret, even when pitching it? Out of curiosity, when pitching the Worms, at what point do you reveal the string to them? Only after a purchase, or do you already give some indication about the method before that? (by comparison, with the Svengali deck you make clear that it's a trick deck and at one point while making the pitch you even show that the deck contains multiples of the forced card).
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TKD27
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Don's Svengali pitch reveals how the deck works, but I don't think anyone's worm pitch tips the thread. I would imagine that a lot of people buy the worm based on the illusion that it moves on its own. I could be wrong, I don't pitch them.

Gregory, you seem to have an interest in pitching, even if only as a spectator. I bet you'd really enjoy Don's Svengali DVD. Even if you took it more for background than for instruction, I bet you'd still get a lot out of it. It answers a lot of the questions you've asked in great detail. I'd really recommend it to you Smile

Matt
EndersGame
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Thanks for the comments, Matt. Certainly Don's DVD showing a Jam Auction sounds remarkably fascinating to me from the reviews and comments I've read here and elsewhere. Morality questions about the ethics of Jam Auctions aside (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has reservations there), the whole psychology is incredibly intriguing! I'm sure similar things apply to doing a pitch, in terms of the skills in working a crowd and understanding the psychology. So I guess you're right, I'll never be a salesman myself, but as a spectator I am very fascinated by the psychology and manipulation, and I'm full of admiration for the pitchmen who can do this well, even if I'll never be able to join their ranks myself.
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mota
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The philosophy that it only has to hold together until they get to the parking lot will work at fairs where people buy it and leave.

It is more problematic when working a flea market where many of your customers will be other vendor's kids and even those that aren't tend to spend a great part of the day there shopping from booth to booth.

They will come back when they see the fish line either for a refund or to have you tie the worm for them.

Just buy the worms from Don.
DonDriver
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Gregory you started this thread as "Magic Worms: Using different thread for the demo than the product?". Now you start talking about the Jam Auction. The two have nothing to do with each other...NOTHING !

Now you seem to post things just to be posting.Maybe you're on heavy meds...

Don
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My apologies for getting off topic Don. Please forgive my enthusiasm, which comes after reading reviews of your videos, which have aroused my interest in their subject matter. My last post was an attempt to reply to TKD27, who (in connection with the discussion about pitching Magic Worms) recommended your Svengali Pitch video, and from there it was only a small leap to your Jam Auction video. I'll leave my further comments and discussion about Jam Auctions for another thread. Please consider the temporary distraction as a compliment about the content of the material you have produced, rather than a reflection of my medical condition! Smile Now that the commercial is over, perhaps we can get back to the original subject, as Don suggests.
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impossible man
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Is "It only has to last till the parking lot" a light-hearted comment or part of the pitch philosophy? I've been talking to my wife about getting one together. Didn't realize the worms were still around, though.
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sethb
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Quote:
On 2008-02-14 19:41, gregorytopov wrote: Out of curiosity, when pitching the Worms, at what point do you reveal the string to them? Only after a purchase, or do you already give some indication about the method before that? (by comparison, with the Svengali deck you make clear that it's a trick deck and at one point while making the pitch you even show that the deck contains multiples of the forced card).

Just to clarify, I don't reveal the secret of the worm during the pitch, and I don't believe anyone else should either. Once somebody buys the trick, they have paid for and will learn the secret, that's another story.

And we don't reveal the full secret of the Svengali Deck either. Don does show ONE short card, but that's done primarily to bring the tip in closer and doesn't fully explain how the deck works. Even showing that all the cards have "changed" to the selected card still doesn't fully explain how the deck works. And of course there is the DL move, which is not explained at all during the pitch, either.

Aside from the Magician's Rule that you never reveal a secret, the secret is part of the attraction, and many folks will buy these items just to learn how they are done. (Gee, this also sounds like a few magicians I know!)

And I agree, if you are interested in this type of work, get Don's Svengali Pitch DVD, it covers both the Svengali Deck and the Worm Pitch, plus all the information you would ever need to perform them, and great tips on constructing a pitch table and booth. The DVD is not fancy but the information is first-rate and the real work. Now who wants one, just raise your hand, we'll get to you as soon as we can . . . . SETH
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"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
DonDriver
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The "it only has to last till the parking lot" is a pitchman joke.

Don
TKD27
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I'm far from a pitchman, and I never will be; so Don, please correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think the general idea of a pitch item is really that the spectators need to be believe that it is a wonder product they can't live without, but then, it turns out it's really quite normal and they will probably not use it that much anyway.

That was a horrible run-on sentence, I apologize. But my point is just that the spectators (tips? punters? marks?) must be blown away by the idea of this miracle product, right? Yet there are no real miracles out there...

I'm not quite stating it right, but do I have the right idea of the general pitching attitude? This stuff really is fascinating. If nothing else studying it will make you a better consumer Smile
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Don has said elsewhere that the majority of Svengali cards will probably end up in a drawer. (Maybe worse!) I think many worms will be relegated to the same fate. Even with the DVD I give with mine, I think the majority of decks will be paper weights very soon after purchase.

But who's fault is that? The worm and the deck are both good items of entertainment, when you know how. The fact that we, as pitchmen, have practiced (in my case, MAAAANY hours) does not preclude the customer from doing the same if they want.

I'll guarantee that Don was not born with a deck or a worm in his hot little mitt. He had to learn it, too, and as Seth has said, a pitchman pretty much does what he has perfected over time. I have yet to tip a DL to someone even AFTER they buy the deck. Let 'em read the instructions or buy Don's DVD(!) I found it, they can, too.

Does that sound hard or non-caring? Maybe, but did anyone ever tell you that "Life ain't fair!"? Just because I bought books on magic does NOT make me a magician. And I think that someone who buys the worm AND USES IT will eventually7 get the idea he needs something BETTER than what comes with it. Maybe he'll come here and find out! ;-)

Jon
DonDriver
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TKD27,

All pitch items are impuls sales.Like all the racks they put up at check-out counters.

Don
Jon-O the Great
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Gregory,

Here is a quote concerning the "gimmick" of the worm from another thread. I think it really covers the questions you have about the IT.

"...I would say something like this:

"This uses a gimmick...it is a simple gimmick, so simple it is embarrassing. I first saw this gimmick in second grade in a magic book at the school library. You are going to open the package, look at the gimmick and go, "That's it?"

Yes, it's that simple...and watch what it can do."

That section worked great for me...they would open it, find the string and go, "well, he did say it was simple." With that section in there I pretty much eliminated beefs about the gimmick."

Greg, I think with this reply and Don's DVD,. all the questions are answered! ;-)

Jon
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