Does Your Marketing Get People To Pay Attention To You?

As a marketer I can’t help but to constantly notice and analyze how businesses and brands entice me.

When a big name brand comes up with something witty, I sort of expect it. But when a pan handler attracts my attention—that’s a whole different story.marketingattention

Have you noticed homeless people all over the world have gotten creative? Really creative. It’s as though they all realized that sitting at the side of the road with a dirty hat and a mundane cardboard sign wasn’t cutting it anymore.

They (like a lot of businesses) realized it’s all about crafty content and storytelling. Without the right message, they (and you) don’t stand a chance.

Before I launch into why I think homeless people are a marketing inspiration, I assure you this article isn’t meant to exploit anyone. I’m just showcasing their ingenuity.

How are homeless people doing it right? Like this:

They speak the truth. A lot of pan handlers know that asking for money in exchange for food isn’t as creative as being honest, asking for money to buy smokes or booze. Get to the point. Brands that say exactly what they are, even if it isn’t glamorous, get my money.

They’re agile. When your meal depends on your messaging, you can’t risk messages or tactics that don’t work. Just like in business, you need to be flexible. Make small changes as needed.

They say “thank-you”. When was the last time you thanked your customers? The clever panhandlers know the long term value in thanking everyone who gives them money.

They’ve stopped outbound activities. Running around asking people for spare change is as intrusive as cold calling (which we all know is dead). The most effective marketing strategy? Inbound activities; creating quality content that pulls people to you.

Size doesn’t matter. “Anything helps” is a common phrase on panhandler signs. Sure, it’s not the most creative piece of content, but it shows that everything matters. I see a lot of companies ignoring small opportunities (especially in high commission based sales). Never lose sight that a lot of small sales can turn into a huge source of revenue.

They tell it like it is. What if homeless people used big long words and didn’t say what they really wanted? Yes, it’s absurd, but businesses do it all the time! So many companies over complicate their messaging and fail to convey what their business even is.

They use animals. If you don’t feel sympathy for the homeless person, chances are you will for their dog. From Geiko’s lizard to Taco Bell’s Chihuahua, some of the biggest brands recognize the emotional connection an animal brings. If you can’t incorporate animals into your messaging, consider other opportunities to connect on an emotional level.

They use humor. How do you get a competitive edge beyond “Need Money” and get a laugh? Last summer my boyfriend went out of his way to give money to a pan handler just because the sign said “Every time you donate Justin Bieber loses a fan.” Who wouldn’t spare a loonie for that?? Another favourite of mine was the sign that said “I bet you can’t hit me with a quarter.”

If your content was this witty, just think of the result!

This post has been modified and republished with permission from Kelly Batke

Kelly Batke

Kelly Batke

Freelance Content Marketer at Kelly Communicates
I am a Vancouver based freelance content writer with a passion for simplifying communication. Anyone who knows me knows how impatient I am—and that’s a good thing when creating sharp content because my primary motive is to always be understood quickly. I have studied Technical Writing, Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, and Creative Writing. Prior to working freelance I spearheaded the marketing and communications at Jostle, a Vancouver based tech startup. I also spent three years overseeing the communications at Faronics, an IT security company. In my free time I can be found perfecting my triple pirouette in the ballet studio or having lunch at Taco Bell (which remains my marketing inspiration!)
Kelly Batke
Kelly Batke




  • May 18, 2014


    bebizzy I’d be really honored if you could share your views through a wonderful comment,

  • May 18, 2014


    BrettRelander googiegirl gingerconsult Are u aligning yr marketing strategy with yr core market & exciting your audience by being unique?

  • May 18, 2014


    BrettRelander googiegirl gingerconsult I’m still learning but there are many great people around on Twitter to learn from..

  • May 18, 2014


    TedRubin googiegirl gingerconsult great post!