Magic secrets REVEALED!

Imagine you’re at a corporate party for a moment.

(It’s OK, you don’t have to get dolled up, flirt with Janice or consume your entire bodyweight in Jay-ger-bombs)

There’s a magician at your table and he’s doing an infuriating trick with a little red ball which keeps “magically” reappearing under an upturned cup.

(I put “magically” in quotes because you’re not 7 years old)

“Guess what’s under the cup now, Janice.”

(when it comes to coming up with names on the fly, I’m a bloody legend)

“The ball.”

“Lift the cup.”

She does and finds a lime under there.

“What?! How did that get under there?”

“I put it there when you weren’t looking.”

“But I WAS looking. The whole time.”
“No, you weren’t, otherwise you’d have seen me shove it under there.”

Let’s put aside my smartassery for just a moment, shall we?

(I’m actually a lot worse than this in real life. When I perform this trick, I actually produce TWO limes. After the above exchange, I say “Now I’ve done it once, you’d never let me get away with it again, would you?”. I flash them what I think is a playful wink, but probably looks like I’m having some kind of seizure, and invite them to lift the cup again.)

As I said, let’s put my smartassery to one side…
The dirty work in most magic tricks is done on the offbeat – the moments when the audience aren’t paying attention.

The opposite of offbeat, as you’ve probably guessed, is “onbeat” – the moments of the act where the audience is totally focused.

The onbeat is not the time to do the secret move.

Comedy provides a good non-magic example.

The moment when the comedian is delivering the joke is the “onbeat” – you’re paying full attention to the setup and punchline. If you don’t, you’ll miss the gag.

(Not only that, but you paid £10 to get into the comedy club. You don’t want to miss the gag.)

The gap after the punchline is the offbeat – you’re not looking at the comedian. You’re digging your mate in the ribs, checking to see if they got the joke.

There’s a lesson here.


If you want to persuade and convince someone, do it when they’re not looking.

It’s especially true with marketing.

“Onbeat/offbeat” is just another way of saying “direct” and “indirect”.

Direct – “This is my thing. You wanna buy it?”

Indirect – “This is my thing. Here are some stories about how it’s helped other people.”

When you sell direct, customers are focused on you. They feel the tension and their guard is up.

It’s the 1-2-1 at your 4am BNI meeting, the sales call…

Indirect is the offbeat, the moment when they relax. It’s the 4:30am chat at the urinal after your high-pressure 1-2-1.

Here’s the thing, even though it’s the offbeat, the information still goes in.

You can persuade, inform and influence on the offbeat.

All this is based on a fundamental business truth:

Your customers aren’t idiots.

You don’t have to tell your customers you can help them for them to realise you can help them.

You don’t need to strap them to a chair and shine a light in their face to detail how your unique 149 step Facebook ad strategy would work for their florist.

Use the offbeat.

What are you doing on the offbeat to show your customers what you can do?

I bought the website to help make it easier for drunken audiences to remember me.

And help convince people that I wasn’t too up my own arse.

(Except for the smartassery above, obvs)

If you’re a florist Facebook guru, maybe your “I put the ‘ad” in Chrysadthemum” T-Shirt will swing it?

(You don’t have to hate me for that pun. I hate myself enough already)

Don’t just focus on the direct and obvious stuff.

What can you do on the offbeat to communicate who you are, what you do and why you do it?