Homeless man teaches marketing lesson

(Originally published August 20, 2009)

I came across this photo on Facebook after it was posted by Larry Pollack. What a great shot, and what lessons we can learn!

Think about what this fellow has achieved with just a smile and a sign:

  • Most street beggars, just by their demeanor, make most people want to cross the street to avoid them. There’s no cloying pleading here, and no menace. This guy looks friendly. You might even be inclined to learn a little more about him.
  • He’s not making a plea for sympathy or trying to create a guilt trip. It’s not about him; it’s about you. If you want to take part in the game, go for it. If not, OK with him.
  • This actually could be a conversation starter. Even if you don’t play the game, you might be inclined to stop and talk for a few seconds. And if you do that, the odds increase that you’ll leave a little money behind.
  • The challenge draws you in. Anyone who enjoys throwing balls at a dunking booth might get a similar charge out of this.
  • You know the price to play up front, and it’s doable. It’s not a vague request for a couple of bucks or for your pocket change. It’s 25 cents, and you can play once, twice, 50 times or not at all.

I don’t know, but I imagine this fellow does better than a quarter here and a quarter there, and he does better than most of his competitors.

Grammar tip: Usually, when a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund (a verb used as a noun), it should take the possessive form. Don’t say, “Do you mind me asking you a question?” Instead, say, “Do you mind my asking you a question?”

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