"Morning V. And how are we today?" I said as I bounced into the office.
I was in a good mood.
I was starting to belive that there is something in love spells after all, even though I know that there can not possibly work. The demo. love spells on our website are not even connected to anything, but still ...
"Tell me what are we going to do today and I'll make the coffee." I was thinking about the previous evening.
Vivienne looked at me.
"Spells only work when they have been cast. But you know that don't you."
Sometimes I wonder whether I am easy to read or whether the whole psychic malarkey has a grain of truth somewhere.
"I want to expand our on-line business portfolio to include psychics."
"I mean, do you have any idea how much money we are losing by not having a proper psychic presence online?"
"I imagine that all depends on our rankings with the search engines." I ventured, and was ignored.
I have to inject a dose of reality every now and then.
I optimise and create sites for Viviennes on-line magical enterprises, and as working in any business, it is always better to promise less and deliver more. I am more careful about these matters having had to leave my previous employment in a hurry.
When I worked in the bank, the manager always worried about the performance of search terms such as "cheap mortage deals" and similar mind-numbing phrases.
Currently, and in an equally competitive environment, I have to worry about 'cheap psychics', 'where do I find a cheap psychic' or 'psychic readings by phone'.
"Since we have been investigating psychic readings by phone, we also need to investigate the possibility of readings online, and consider undercuting the competition."
Witchery in the twenty first day and age is a cut-throat industry.
The "we" here really meant "me". I do the IT and she does all the witchy stuff.
I don't believe in magic or any hocus pocus myself, but he or she who pays the piper calls the tune.
"So where shall we start?" I wondered aloud, looking for direction.
"Pretend that you want to see a psychic and that you don't have any money."
"What would you type into the google?"
Amazingly, she had been listening to my lectures on internet marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO).
"I won't have to pretend to be broke. I can barely afford to heat my flat." It never hurts to put in for a raise, even if obliquely.
"You can have fifty percent of profit from the revenues off the online psychic site."
"Done". I said and typed in "cheap psychic readings online UK".
It seems that we could get a psychic medium or tarot reading for 45p.
"Wow." I had no idea how much money there was in the future. A little banking joke here for those who work in the industry - I used to work in futures (and swaps).
Some of the webpages employ dozens of psychics with little busy signs indicating whether or not the psychic is busy. This was big business.
Forty five pence (almost half a dollar) multiplied by sixty multiplied by twenty four and then by the number of psychic employed was a lot. More even than owning a car park. This really was big business.
We looked at the pages with professional curiosity.
Vivienne checked the psychics, their qualifications and prices. The funny thing is she actually believes in this stuff.
I looked at the web pages. Was there any on-page SEO? Did they look trustworthy?
I looked at the testimonials. Testimonials build trust and are easy to fake.
I found myself looking at the testimonials with a critical eye, and decided I could improve the fake ones I use on the psychic demo page.
I add fake testimonials to our demo pages, to give them that feel of authenticity. I've even added them to the bottom of the love spells page.
I wasn't impressed by the design of most of these pages. I pointed out one particularly hideous example to Vivienne, before belatedly realising it was one of ours. It had been designed before my time. No wonder I had been employed.
There are some good ones, and looking at competition is always an eye-opener. Some pages had inventive 'calls to action'.
The 'call to action' is the phrase that encourages you to do something often after you have been sucked into the copy. Examples are: "Buy now.", "Get your cheap reading now."
Some even included additional phrases such as 'limited time offer' designed to instill a sense of panic and increase urgency.
I have some fun ideas for our cheap psychic pages which I'll showcase somewhere on this site.
Anyway, I'm digressing, all you need to know is that after this research (in my spare time), I added a millionaire money spell. This will make you, like duh, a millionaire. I also added a page to showcase my efforts.
I'm quite pleased with these, especially the big, bold, call to action.
I was brought back to earth with a bump.
"Well. What do you think?"
"There is a lot of money to be made", and "great service to be provided" added hastily. I didn't want another lecture on providing value to the client.
The bank always told us that the client always came first, and then proceeded to rob them blind. Viv. conversely, not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. I sometimes wonder if I should ask her for a free reading. I don't belive, but just in case, the last thing I need is more bad news.
They say trouble comes in threes, and this has been the case for me. Job loss, relationship breakdown and now working for a witch.
I must have sighed.
"Stop being maudlin. Everything works out for the best."
Maybe but for who? Like all oracles Viviennes pronouncements can often be read two ways. But how does she know what I am thinking about?
"How many psychics do you know and how much do they charge?" I asked changing the subject.
"At least twenty, and I can get them for £15 an hour".
"Maybe one of them will give you a free reading?"
"Or I can. After all you don't believe in this rubbish do you? Or maybe you are scared ...'"
Not for the first time I wondered about temp work anywhere but here.
I maintained a dignified silence, and waited for V. to continue, which she did in a surprising way.
"You've worked here long enough, and need to be more hands on. This revenue stream will be entirely yours."
I hate it when she uses phrases like 'income stream'. It gives me flashbacks to the bank. I wasn't too sure that I liked the sound of 'entirely yours' either.
'Entirely yours' turned out to mean exactly that. Interview the potential psychics. Check on their availability, credentials and the like. Build the website, optimise the sales pipeline.
This was way outside my core competencies. Building a website wouldn't cause any problems, not would writing good copy, but how could I decide whether a psychic was world class, distinctly average or completely uselesss.
"How do I decid whether or not a psychic is skilled, knows how to read the cards, has genuine ..." I paused for a moment ...
"... spirit guides, has a gift for tuning, is genuinely clairvoyant, receives information from angels and ..."
I've picked up a bit of the jargon over the previous months.
Vivienne interuppted me before I could continue.
"Do you have love and relationship dilemmas that need sorting?"
My relationship problem was that I had been unceremoniously dumped, and I didn't need a world class psychic to tell me the reasons why. My ex-fiancee left me when I lost my job in the bank. She considered me (harshly) to have been deceitfull and dishonest.
"No I don't, and I don't want to know my future either."
"Well then you are going to have to rely on your intuition."
I thought regretfully about Cassandra, intelligent, feisty, olive complexion, cute ass, sexy accent and a perfectly aligned moral compass.
It was this that had caused the problem. It wasn't that I lost my job at the bank that bothered her. She was far to loyal for that. It was the fact that I had been (in her eyes) dishonest.
I didn't need any insightful psychic reading to tell me that I was unlikely to see her again, or if I did it would be at a distance in the arms of another.
I must have signed audibly as I heard Vivienne mutter "the sooner you quit mooning around and start focusing on the job in hand the better for all of us."
I don't know how she does it. I really don't.
It was time to get to work. I've recently discovered an old eighties band:the buzcocks. I put on an approriate track and with the lyrics 'Do you believe in ESP? I do and I'm trying to get through to you" ringing in my ears, put pen to paper and started to write a to-do list.
Firstly, find and interview gifted and experienced psychics.
I stopped writing. This would be hard work. My experience, although limited of dealing with clairvoyants and psychics, was like herding cats. They all want special treatment. They want to feel needed.
I sighed again. Loudly. Vivienne had left so I could sigh as much as I wanted.
Still money talks. Psychics, clairvoyants and readers of the tarot need to eat as much as the rest of us, and their skills seem to preclude them guessing the winning numbers to the lottery.
V. had given me a list of contacts before leaving. There were names, addresses and phone numbers. Interestingly some of the addresses were in expensive areas of London. The profession was more lucrative than I had realised.
I decided to arrange the list of assorted readers and psychics by area. I would interview those living in the cheapest areas first, and the psychics living in more affluent areas at a later date.
I wondered if I should have two websites. Cheap psychics listed on one and expensive psychics on the other.
Would that work?
Branding, and associated copy is the key to successful selling in all marketplaces, and I doubted that the magical world would be any different.
I phoned the first psychic on the list. The phone rang a few times and went to the answerphone:
"I am a gifted medium using powers beyond this world to help you with your problems and frustrations."
I left a message discussing the business proposition.
I phoned the next and again went straight to voicemail and again left the business proposition.
The basic proposition was simple. We would deal with the business side of things, and pay a flat rate of 25p a minute for all readings.
But to spice things up a bit, and see whether any of these psychics were gifted mediums (not just the fakes I suspected), I also left a question for them to answer. If it was answered convincingly, the rate would be increased to 45p per minute.
It was about Cassandra if you have to know. No names were left in the messages to preserve her (and my) dignity.
This might help me split the psychics into groups for the two possible websites. The first and more expensive website for the specialist psychics who actually seemed able to provide a convincing reading. The second for the cheaper psychic readers, who were in my opinion unconvincing and I'm going out on a limb here, moonlighting in the magical realm.
The webpages wouldn't be branded as such. Look at flying. Instead of first class, second class, cattle class and so on, we now are subjected to premium economy or business traveller and other confusing terms.
The websites would be similar. In fact, when I have a moment, I'll add some possible designs here.
I tried a third number, and waited impatiently expecting 'Immediate intuitive readings a speciality' or similar generic nonsnse.
Instead, mocking laughter, followed by:
"There is more chance of hell freezing over."
And then a click.
I rang again.
"Hello. This is Molly. I specialise in immediate intuitive readings. How can I help you dear?"
I must have misdialed.
I gave Molly the spiel, tested her, signed her up to the lower value website and continued.
After a few calls, I changed my interviewing criteria, as none of the psychics were in the least bit convincing, whispering general platitudes and barnum statements.
Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you don't, but it is always important for the client to feel they are receiving value for money.
Why do you think private banks are set in such ornate surroundings?
I started to grade the psychics on empathy, opening spiel and quality of barnum statements.
I gave "our unconscious minds are totally individual" a zero.
Anyone who talked about angels or spirit guides also received a zero for not helping me, selling a service and being unoriginal.
Conversely "I am a reader who uses the energy surrounding you to connect ..." received a ten as and went straight into the tier one bracket.
As did the medium who said "I used your voice to focus on your energy ..."
The day dragged, and for the millionth time, I cursed my bad luck for having lost my job in the bank.