Tricks Of The Trade From The Greatest Showman On Earth
On April 2, 1891, five days before he died, an eighty year
old P. T. Barnum picked up a pen and wrote a letter to his circus partner,
James Bailey, saying, If you faithfully follow my methods you cannot
Barnum was a world famous entrepreneur, publicist, politician,
philanthropist, author, speaker and promoter of the circus. He was also
one of Americas first millionaires.
What were Barnums methods for success?
1. He believed there was a customer born every minute.
He didnt limit his target he aimed for the planet itself. Barnums
American Museum in New York City the Disney World of the 1800s
was so popular that over forty million people visited it during his lifetime,
when the population of the country was forty million.
2. He believed in using skyrockets.
Barnum strove to capture peoples attention in whatever audacious ways
he could devise. At one point he had an elephant plowing the field on his
property. Why? Because the field was near the railroad tracks that took
passengers into New York. Barnum knew an elephant would grab their attention
and act as an unforgettable publicity stunt.
3. He believed in giving people more than their moneys
Barnum wanted people to feel good spending money with him. He traveled the
world in search of performers and products that had appeal. Barnum created
popular enterprises where people felt good spending their money.
4. He fearlessly believed in the power of printers
Barnum was unusually creative at generating publicity, but he also knew
he had to inform the media of his plans. He became globally famous and incredibly
wealthy by knowing how to befriend editors.
5. He believed in persistently advertising.
Barnum believed with an almost evangelical zest in the power of advertising.
He wrote, When you get an article which you know is going to please
your customers, let the fact be known that you have got it.
6. He believed in people helping people to get results.
Barnum treated people fairly, making asking for favors easier. When he wanted
to buy what was to become his museum his references were so enthusiastic
that at first the owner didnt believe they were honest.
7. He believed in negotiating creatively, treating employees
and performers with respect.
His terms were fair. His staff loved him. He paid good wages, shared profits,
and made many of his performers rich.
8. He believed all was well.
His inner strength came from an unshakable faith. Barnum suffered business
failures, personal bankruptcy, and family tragedy, yet was not destroyed
by the losses. His American Museum burned down twice. His home burned to
the ground, and he also lost his wife and two children. Yet Barnum never
seemed to bat an eye.
9. He believed in the power of the written word.
He saw the power of the written word as a force to influence public opinion.
Barnum began writing when he was twenty-two years old, editing a religious
newspaper and was arrested for it.
10. He believed in the power of speaking.
From Theres a Customer Born Every Minute:
P.T.Barnums Secrets to Business Success ($17.95, AMACOM, 1998),by
He knew the spoken word could move mountains. His famous talk, The
Art of Money-Getting, helped him crawl out of debt (and become a millionaire
a second time.)