Street Corner Marketing 101: Lesson 1

August 23, 2012

cartoon picture of a guy sitting on the corner with a signYou 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!


1 Comment


  1. Todd, I loved this post and more than that even I love how you are doing your newsletter. I got it today opened it and was drawn into your topic.

    I would not have gone to your website ( even though I love it too) but I get busy and you no offense but you are not at the top of my mind:-) But… I subscribe to your newsletter because I enjoy it. I am not in the restaurant business but your messages are broader than that. So I like getting them.

    The way you write your messages leads me back to your site where after I finish reading your post, I will spend a bit of time looking around since I am already there.

    When I have clients or friends that need help with their restaurants, you are front of mind and I refer them to you.

    You are the text book case of developing and nurturing a relationship with your clients and friends with a newsletter. And you have found the perfect way to do it for your market.Yay you.

    I just created and launched an online course, The Easy Peasy Email Newsletter Course,(www.easypeasyemailnewsletter.com) to help others do the same. As you know, it is more than just knowing how to get a newsletter out. The bigger stumbling block is what to get out and developing your voice and message. Only then do the mechanics come into play. My course goes over both.

    I hope you will let your clients know about this resource so they can follow your great example!

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