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Wisdom Of The Ages From P.T. Barnum – Practice Builder Publishing – Tools & Resources For Accountants And Tax Practitioners

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Wisdom Of The Ages From P.T. Barnum

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“Without promotion something terrible happens… Nothing!” P. T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum was the consumate promoter, showman and businessman. His successes are legendary. He became so successful that he even promoted the exit to his museum as a feature unto itself by posting signs all through his museum that said “This way to the Egress.” Most visitors did not know that Egress and Exit were synonymous and as they entered the “Egress,” the door behind them locked, and they had to pay a second time to enter the museum.


Before he lost the majority of his fortune due to investments made to attract businesses to his beloved Bridgeport, Connecticut, Barnum successfully promoted the American tour of the Swedish singer, Jenny Lind.

In 1850, Barnum contracted with Miss Lind, for her to sing 150 performances within a one year span of time, at the price of $1,000 per performance. Plus expenses. With the inclusion of expenses, for her small traveling company, that would be equivalent to almost five million dollars today.

Moreover, it established Barnum as a legitimate impressario, or entertainer, rather than a mere huckster. His share of the profits from the Jenny Lind tour was over a half million 1850 dollars, or almost fifteen million in today’s dollars.

Promotion and marketing went hand in hand for Barnum. He was a natural at it because he was good at numbers. Numbers, and the constant monitoring of his numbers was the key to his marketing. He monitored what he was promoting, and matched it to his daily sales.

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On April 7, 1891, he asked about the box office receipts for the day; a few hours later, he was dead. He was monitoring his marketing results right up until the very end.

You too, should relate your revenue to your marketing activity, and watch it on a daily basis. It’s not enough to do some marketing and secure some new clients. You must be able to relate your marketing activity to your client acquisition, client longevity and fee increases, and match the action to the result.

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