What Street Beggars Can Teach You About Marketing

Yesterday as I was driving to my writing class I stopped at a light next to a well kempt man holding a sign. Normally I ignore them but his chatter was so inviting that I had to see what was going on. His sign said:

Bad advice $1

Chuckling I had to learn more about this comedian who's stage is a street corner. It looked like he had everything he owned in the backpack next to him with a cup hanging from the side. Obviously he wasn't rich but looked like he knew how to hustle. Clearly people asking for money on the street are desperate and some of their pleas reflect that desperation. Others have a much more humorous creative take on their situation. These are the ones I will always give a few bucks in exchange for a picture of their sign. Here are people who know how to sell their situations.

One of the things that will always get me in a sign is a sense of humor. The other thing I love about this sign is the directness of it.

Snorting my tea onto my companion when I saw this sign while on the 16th Street Mall,  I had to stop and give this woman and her friend some money in exchange for this shot.

Though you can't see it, this couple's sign asked for $25 for a marriage license. Whether they truly needed the money for a marriage license or not it was creative.


Are these people crazy?

These days whether you own a business or are even just looking for a job you need to know how to market yourself in a way that cuts through the noise to reach an audience that cares. Here's are a few things these "marketers" did well:

  • Understood the uniqueness of their situation or product
  • Communicated their unique selling proposition well
  • Know that part of marketing is entertainment
  • Appropriate use of humor
  • A willingness to be silly, creative or outrageous in order to make the sale

To survive in today's tight economy you have to know how to and be willing to market yourself. It's simply a requirement.  When you have that inevitable "woe is me" moment just remember how first world your problems are.

At least we're not hookers right?