You can learn a lot from the guy on the corner. And I mean this with no disrespect; panhandlers are amazing marketers. Living in the city as I do, I am often approached by people asking for money. Honestly, my typical reaction in these situations is to avoid contact. I prefer not to be bothered. However, on occasion I submit to their request and hand over a token gesture of loose change. In other instances I have been known to go to the ATM and part with $20 bucks.
It seems as if there are more and more people asking for money. I have encountered them in the parking lots, along the freeway ramps and at busy street intersections. I have even heard rumors that some of these folks actually make a decent wage, having honed their craft to a point of personal liquidity. So lately, whenever at a light waiting for the green, I have been observing some of the techniques used by these; oh heck, let’s call them fundraisers, and the brands they build to entice their consumer base. Here is the first in a series of my findings.
Brand and Brand Message
A brand is typically defined as “a promise to deliver on a service.” In the case of the street corner “fundraiser” their promise is to make you feel better about yourself. For instance; there is a guy who stands at the end of my neighborhood freeway exit every afternoon. He looks disheveled, down on his luck…handwritten sign on cardboard. But I have seen so many of these guys with the same approach that in my mind this particular brand message does not cause me to reach for my wallet…that is until I see his cute dog just sitting there on the dirt shoulder, obedient and ever loyal to his wayward master. Forget the guy I want to save his dog! Cha Ching! I feel better about myself knowing that the 50 cents I just contributed will put food in Rover’s belly. Moral of the story; consumers are hit with 6000 graphic brand impressions every day…make sure yours occupies a special place in their mind.
Tune in again for another installment of Street Corner Marketing 101 when the topic will be “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”: Consumer and Market Research. Until then; keep on branding!