BrandingBlog Radio: Magical Thinking with Jeff Sexton

Sometimes I’m a bit intimidated to talk to Jeff Sexton. It’s kind of like going back to high school and having an intellectual chat with your old English teacher…or in this case, an Olde English teacher.

He’s been doing an awful lot of Magical Thinking lately. One of the more interesting examples involves tiger penis. Yep.

In addition to discussing feline phalluses (phalli?) I also got him to talk about how a business owner can use Magical Thinking to improve marketing, merchandising and the customer experience. That’s the practical application of Magical Thinking. Of course, if it’s phalli you want, go check out this guy.

One more thing….if you enjoy this podcast and get it on iTunes, it would be so cool if you could give it a rating and a comment. Thanks!

8 thoughts on “BrandingBlog Radio: Magical Thinking with Jeff Sexton

  1. Dave Young Post author

    Really….the tiger penis stuff is only about 2 sentences out of 46 minutes. But, it makes good copy.

  2. Pingback: Magical Thinking

  3. Mike

    Dave & Jeff,
    I now realize the value of putting a name on an intangible item from this blog, thanks! Seth Godin refers to self doubt as “the lizard in your brain”, a clown teacher in Failure Club describes the same intangible as your vulnerability muscle, these are all intangible items with a name, I almost think that I now need to build an intangible list.
    I believe that magical think is due to us being tribal by nature, without direction/leadership we would have no rule of thumb to follow. Perception controls reality but who’s controlling perception? I believe this is why we have leaders or propaganda, someone has to control perceptual reality, I don’t think we can survive without some form of leadership or conformity, kings, queens, tribal leaders, elders and so on. Enter Jesus and the 10 commandments, this is where perceptual reality deciphers right from wrong, it gives human beings a direction to go in and it’s very powerful when used in advertising, look at what happened with Coke vs New Coke , we fell in love with everything that Coke represented and became pissed when we thought that bond was broken.
    Wouldn’t you say there has to be some type of magical thinking in transactional or direct response otherwise we wouldn’t have Pitchmen like the late Billy Mays?
    Too me, especially in small business USA, when you boil this blog down, it comes down to, what business do you Like, Trust, Know & feel best about & how do we use “magical thinking” to make that happen?
    I believe in two components in an ad, component#1 make you fall in love with what the product will do for you and component #2 make you fall in love with the owner/company, in some instances I think the second is more effective.

    1. Dave Young Post author

      Thanks Mike!
      I love when someone leaves a comment that’s longer than the blog post!
      You and Sexton are like two peas in a pod.

  4. Jeff


    Thanks for the comment; Dave’s right — I love it. So here are a few thoughts that your comment managed to spark:

    1) Magical Thinking is necessarily interwoven with our social nature. Think in terms of taboo and stigma and ritual. Roy Williams talks about irrational commitments. And I think you can never truly bond with someone if you believe they have nothing more than a rational commitment to you, that there association with you is governed by nothing more than preponderant positive advantage. Magical Thinking is fundamentally a-rational (some would say, irrational). It affects us even when we KNOW it’s silly. And the part of us that thinks magically is the same part, I believe, that enables us to make irrational commitments and drives us to live up to them. This is one reason I reject those rationalists who disparage Magical Thinking.

    2) I have heard it said that customers come for what you can do for them and return (or stay) based on connection with YOU the owner. Some owner operated businesses are able to combine the two, so that the core differentiator of the business is rooted in the core values of the owner. Add in a little storytelling magic and you’ve got some very powerful stuff on your hands.

    3) The ability to make tangible things FEEL tangible is huge! And a deft manipulation of magical thinking can put you leagues ahead of the competition by
    a) Enabling you to figure out your most valuable intangibles
    b) Providing methods for creating rituals, symbols, or talismans associated with those intangibles

    – Jeff

  5. Mike

    Jeff, I agree. There’s inherent magic in Roy naming a car dealer “Pugi of Chicago Land” there’s inherent magic in “Mattress Mack” “You see it? We got it. Buy it today and it’s in your home tonight. My guys are ready to load the delivery truck and follow you home right now. No, you can’t order it in another color. That’s the color we got, right there. Do you like it?” there’s inherent magic in a radio ad that I produced for an insurance agent that talked about hugging his clients and loaning them 10 bucks, that ad doubled his business in 3 months for goodness sakes! Somehow the perception of like enters your brain BEFORE you ever step foot in their store…that’s powerful!


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