We have been working on a new routine that we find startling and amazing. It has consumed us over the past month and a half. We practiced every night and when we were ready to startle and amaze others we took it to the real world.
Our first performance fell a little flat. That’s to be expected, we thought. After all, we had been practicing in front of our three-fold mirror or our collection of puppets and human like figures necessary for driving in the fast lane on certain highways. They could not react or interact and so it made sense that our timing might be off.
We tried a second performance and it fell even flatter. We thought we could attribute failure to our audience being drunk but because it was for a church group at 9:30 in the morning, we think it may have been our fault.
We ran through the effect for a friend – former friend – and he was not impressed. “Why do you do all those sleights to end up with nothing?”
We left the convenience store in a huff – or “huph” as they are called in Los Angeles.
We know a good trick when we see it and we were convinced we had seen it, thousands of times in the mirror over the last six weeks.
Late Saturday night, while the city was watching fireworks, we sought out honest audiences to watch the trick. We thought it might be received differently depending on ethnic, racial, religious or lifestyle affiliation. The only difference was the way the different audiences shared their lack of enthusiasm for our hard work, innovation and willingness to share.
Despondent, we went to a focus group yesterday in Studio City, California. It was a nice experience. For $750.00, they will assemble a demographically relevant group of consumers and let you get their feedback. We didn’t have $750.00 but we did know someone who was presenting an ad campaign for an ingenious take on deodorant delivery via the internet. He said we could use seven minutes of his time.
The routine takes 24 minutes so we had to pare it down to its bare essence. Looking back, we probably should have pared down just the parts that were not the magic trick per se. Because of our ill-advised self-editing, a card was selected, a lemon was introduced and set on fire but then our time was up.
We were anxious. The audience never saw the exciting conclusion so we worried about their reaction to seeing just the first third of a trick.
Our fears were not well-founded. The focus group rated the trick “fair” to “good.” They found the routine to be positive, uplifting and life-affirming. Their comments indicated that they had not been aware of such a product in the past and would likely purchase and recommend to others. While they did not consider themselves in need of “extra odor protection” they did know people who could benefit from the product.
While none of the comments directly mentioned our trick, we took this as a positive. The trick did not draw attention away from the deodorant by internet concept. Not one person mentioned our routine, the presentation or the lack of a conclusion.
After receiving so many bad reactions, we took this as a positive step forward. We now know, for a fact, that there is nothing in the first seven minutes of the routine bad enough to cause an audience member to comment or react. That is a huge insight for us. We assumed it was the first seven minutes that ruined the trick that followed. Now we know that it is the trick itself that is terrible. People do not hate us per se, it is what we do that they hate. That is practically life affirming.