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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Try before you buy..... Is this an option for high price effects? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Stephen Young
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Many effects that appeal to those who frequent Spooky, rely on hand made and/or aged props. The construction of which may be difficult and time consuming, leading to relatively high prices when compared to off-the-shelf effects.

My Missing In Action is just one such example. (see link in signature)

It seems fair to assume that some people may find that taking a chance on an effect,
(which is what we do whenever we purchase any magic effect as we never completely know what we're getting)
can be put off by a high price tag.

With Missing In Action I have decided to implement a two tier purchase option.
The full effect with props is 125 Euros (more than just a little pocket change)
But I have decided to let people purchase just the instruction PDF for 25 Euros.

If, after reading it they wish to purchase the full effect, then they can do so at a cost which will make their total payment the same as if they'd bought it straight off.
Or if they are handy enough, they can decide to make their own props.

If they don't like the premise of the effect at all, their investment modest as it is not completely wasted.
They can take the system they have learned and use it to develop other effects using this system.

This is an experiment on my part
Is this decision completely bonkers? or is it a possible business model for similar effects?

Steve
Wizard of Oz
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I think that is a wonderful option for a more intricate routine/system like your Missing In Action, and could probably work with other similar effects. I just don't know if it would be a good model for some of the more mechanically-driven effects, where the prop and its workings are everything...and once the method is exposed, it's essentially a done deal.

I think this is a great question to pose to the community though, and I'm curious to read more.
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weepinwil
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I think Steve's pdf only option opens the effect up to some, such as myself, who would probably not be able to purchase the entire effect but would love to learn the method.
"Til Death us do part!" - Weepin Willie
Christopher Gould
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Quote:
On 2014-01-26 16:20, Stephen Young wrote:

or is it a possible business model for similar effects?

Steve


It is indeed Stephen, and one I have started to put into action with the Elite and Pro range at AM… to some extent.
There has been a gradual escalation or price in bizarre props over the last few years, including my own. This is obviously accompanied by an escalation in quality. However, things are getting so pricey that I fear that some of the more weak willed guys here will end up mortgaging their house and selling their distraught partners to the slave trade to buy the ‘next big thing’.
So bringing out releases in two versions is both kind to the customer and good business for yourself.
Having said that it is not without its problems. You need to consider how you value your work. For example, although some of my props are complex and difficult to make, the thinking behind them is *always* more complex and the time taken to write the routine *always* longer than the time taken to make the prop. A creator knows this, but his customers don’t. So were I to sell just the pdf of one of my pieces, I would be selling myself short, as people would not pay the amount to cover the cost of creating it. In my case, the cost of the whole package means that the prop sometimes acts to subsidise the real work (the thinking and the writing). So, although I have considered it, just selling the pdf does not work for me, and by the same token, you need to ask if you will get an adequate financial return from just selling your work in pdf form.
Sometimes the ‘effect’ will not work without the expensive prop, conversely sometimes the ‘effect’ does not need the expensive prop. Sometimes you get a great prop and a rubbish routine or vice versa. So there is not one simple formula.
You have to take the nature of customers into consideration too. Some are collectors who never perform, some are performers who never collect. Most are somewhere on the road between these two extremes. For example, if you are performing on stage, an authentic prop is nice, but not always at all necessary. If you are showing a small gathering of friends a weird artefact, then the reverse is true.
I become increasingly uncomfortable about such issues, particularly in the current world economic state. I get concerned that some people who get bitten by the bug of collecting end up spending more than they can afford, and that I may be practicing some sort of economic apartheid on those with a limited income.

So...
I certainly applaud your thinking here and I hope it works for you and your customers, and I do think that these are issues that other dealers should consider.
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Alan M
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I don't think it's bonkers, but a rather good example of thinking outside the box in terms of marketing. It seems probable that some performers would want to present this same effect but with a theme different than WWII.

I own your ESPy-onage, and see how that method could be adapted to different ideas. So my guess is there's much value in the M.I.A. instructions alone.

Best of luck and if you are bonkers, it's for a much better reason than this idea!

-Alan
weepinwil
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Actually, I think Doug Higley could answer some questions. Seems he sells his Grind Show pdf and then you buy the Zibit if you want to do it. Would be interesting to know what percent buy the Zibit.
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Godzilla
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I think this also shows,Steve has belief in his release,to do this! Smile

Also,Outlaw Effects...you could make a purchase of '*o *ark' performance manual,prior to getting Lun@ !
You could learn if the books were right for,You! Smile
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Mind Guerrilla
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Quote:
On 2014-01-26 16:20, Stephen Young wrote:
It seems fair to assume that some people may find that taking a chance on an effect,
(which is what we do whenever we purchase any magic effect as we never completely know what we're getting)
can be put off by a high price tag.

I'm not so sure it's the high price tag alone, and I'd hate to accept "whenever we purchase any magic effect...we never completely know what we're getting" as a general rule. It depends on the particular effect and on the seller involved.

One can walk into a magic shop and "try before you buy" by asking for a demonstration. With some effects only available online, we're offered the next best thing: thorough descriptions accompanied by photos and/or video demos. With others, however, we may hardly even get a glimpse of the product.

Be it in person or online, I'm not sure to what extent people would be interested in purchasing a manual in lieu of getting a good look at the merchandise in action. Should be an interesting experiment.
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I think its better to give the manuals away. Since 2010 Subversive Circuits has made the manuals to all its products public domain and freely available for download and sharing. We were lambasted for it in the beginning by people who have since gone to the wall. Our reasoning was that by allowing people to see what they're getting they can make more informed purchases. I sometimes see the manuals on torrent trackers. This is good. It means more eyeballs potentially get to hear about our work. Though someone could conceivably replicate the hardware, they can't rip off the software. The chips are all deliberately locked against dumping their content. But you can read the hell out of the manuals.
Christopher Gould
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This kinda illustrates my point Tomo, there is no one size fits all for different dealers. Although this works well for you, where the item is essentially what you are paying for. It would be suicide if the routine and thinking behind the routine was the focus. However, it is an interesting concept that dealers could send something out pre-sales that would give the potential buyer a clearer idea of what they are getting - like sending out a jigsaw puzzle with enough pieces missing to not make the whole picture work. I like the idea that this could 'go-torrent' to your advantage.
I have often argued for an idea of a sort of 'dealers charter' of good practice, as this community is small enough to support such an idea. Such issues as the ones opened by this thread could be discussed in such a set up. However.... really, it aint gonna happen.
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I certainly see Stephen and Tomo's side of this, but I find I incline towards Chris's points.

The main things a creator can do for a buyer are 1. be as honest as absolutely possible about *general* methods and degree of skill required, 2. answer any and all questions as fully as possible about the effect (without necessarily tipping actual secrets or proprietary information), 3. build the best quality one possibly can, 4. deliver the goods in a timely fashion, and 5. provide assistance after the sale to ensure the customer is as fully satisfied with the effect as possible.

I would say all of the gentlemen I've mentioned in this posting are doing this. It is about honesty and a genuine desire to contribute to the community. The actual methods by which we communicate our latest creations is (as Chris has said) going to depend very much upon the individual creator and the exact nature of the various effects they put on offer.

Prof BC
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Stephen Young
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Quote:
On 2014-01-26 20:23, Mind Guerrilla wrote:
Quote:
On 2014-01-26 16:20, Stephen Young wrote:
It seems fair to assume that some people may find that taking a chance on an effect,
(which is what we do whenever we purchase any magic effect as we never completely know what we're getting)
can be put off by a high price tag.

I'm not so sure it's the high price tag alone, and I'd hate to accept "whenever we purchase any magic effect...we never completely know what we're getting" as a general rule. It depends on the particular effect and on the seller involved.

One can walk into a magic shop and "try before you buy" by asking for a demonstration. With some effects only available online, we're offered the next best thing: thorough descriptions accompanied by photos and/or video demos. With others, however, we may hardly even get a glimpse of the product.

Be it in person or online, I'm not sure to what extent people would be interested in purchasing a manual in lieu of getting a good look at the merchandise in action. Should be an interesting experiment.



I believe the price has everything to do with whether people take a chance on an effect or not. (assuming that the premise of the effect appeals to them in the first case of course)
If a book test was advertised as the Holy Grail of mentalism more people would take a punt on it at $5 than if it were $200

I can't agree that a demo in a magic shop nullifies my comment that you never know EXACTLY what you are buying
A demo won't necessarily tell you whether it's a gaffed deck or some unseen sleight or set-up (unless you somehow are party to the secret behind the effect)
Which is not what we are discussing here.

A PDF is not in lieu of anything. It is an option to limit your investement until you have more information than just the demo/advertising which is all you would have to base your opinion on otherwise. You would have no less "a good look at the merchandise in action" than any other effect sold online.

The whole experiment may turn out to prove me completely wrong.

NOTE: while writing that last sentence a Paypal notification came in for the first purchase of the PDF option.
I will try and get some feedback from the purchaser regarding his thoughts on the matter.


Steve
Vic Nadata
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At Gemini I have put in place a area where potential customers can download a free sample of a manual as well as some free routines. I have had that area since we opened up a little over a year ago. I think it has worked out well, and allows people to get a sneak peak at the manual before buying.
Sicnatius
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Hi folks,

so I was the first one interested in this experiment.

I followed the thread when Stephen announced this new product and the review. But since I am doing Lun@ and The Fallen, I was afraid, that it was too similiar to the effects I already do, plus 2nd WW is a not that well received topic in Germany. But I was very curious about the workings and method, just didn't want to invest that much money to find out.

25 Euros is a good deal, to find out the method and see if I can come up with my own effect, using said method or if it's just too cool and I'll upgrade to the full product.

So much from my side, now I want to start reading Smile

Regards

Michael
Christopher Gould
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I think this is a great idea Vic, and certainly one worth adopting by other dealers. After my last post it did occur to me that I have sort of done the same thing with the Kadar Deck, but I will write about it on the correct thread. There are two issues here it seems, first that the customer is given a non-ambiguous description of what they are getting and are supported pre and post purchase, and I gree with everyinng the good Prof has to say on this. The second point, and the more difficult one, is how do we as dealers maintain the quality of our work, get due payment for the considerable amount of time that goes into it's creation and yet produce something that gives everyone a shot, regardless of their income.

Kudos for Stephen starting this thread and thinking this way - it is good that dealers are beginning to open a dialogue on this I feel.
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Stephen Young
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The points raised by Chris, about getting due payment for the immense amount of work that goes into these ventures, are very important ones.

It would be very easy to devalue what we do. Which would do a disservice, not just to ourselves, but to other creators.

I don't profess to have all the answers (or any of the answers necessarily) but I think the course of action I started on is worth pursuing for a while to better judge the outcome.
It's good to know that others have followed similar routes.

Steve
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I have mixed feelings about this. Generally I am more likely to purchase something if I know the method in advance. I am too long in this business to simply want to learn the secret, but knowing the method will in many cases tell me if an effect is practical or workable for my purposes or whether it is feasible for me to adapt it to work.

On the other hand someone could purchase the instructions for MIA and then make up a cheap set of the props with none of the quality of the genuine articles. Then they go down their local magic club and show off the effect and people see the cheap version of the props and think "that MIA looks pretty cheap and naff for 125 euros". Having seen the props for MIA (admittedly only over skype) I know that they are high quality but I wonder how I'd feel if my first introduction to this beauty was seeing someone perform it with cheaply made props made without the love and care that Stephen puts into them.

Mark
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Mind Guerrilla
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Quote:
On 2014-01-27 07:20, Stephen Young wrote:
A PDF is not in lieu of anything. It is an option to limit your investement until you have more information than just the demo/advertising which is all you would have to base your opinion on otherwise. You would have no less "a good look at the merchandise in action" than any other effect sold online.

Of course, if the option to purchase the manual is made in addition to getting a good look at the merchandise (from a demo, photos, etc.), well, that's another story and might be something I'd go for.
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Not bonkers, and a great idea. Cesaral and a few others I know do this, as well.

Regards,
Mike
Stephen Young
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@Mark This is a scenario I had also thought long and hard about.
I decided that it was the same as someone badly performing any effect.
The first time someone sees an effect may be some guy massacreing (spelling?) it down at the magic club.

Just in case anyone is interetsed in what goes into a set of props for MIA, here's a run-down.

40 individual facsimilie microfilms are created in photoshop ( a great big thank you to Dutch Frank for all his work on that. They are absolutely fantastic)
These files are printed onto photo paper and cut to size
40 outer folders are stamped individually with a rubber stamp, then folded.
Between 1 and 4 staples are inserted into each of the 40 cards, then removed again to leave authentic staple holes.
The photos are attached inside the folders.
The 40 folders are then put through an aging process involving 4 seperate stages
Finally the folders are heat pressed to remove any distortion produced by the aging process.


Steve
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