Marketing Lessons from the San Fransisco Homeless
Last week, I was talking to a buddy of mind about marketing and know, like, trust. I’m not sure how the conversation came about, but it made it’s way around to homeless and the innovative methods the homeless employ to get the money of people walking by. It reminded of some valuable marketing lessons from the San Francisco Homeless that I received
Years ago… in the late 1990s, I lived in San Francisco. Other than there being quite a bit of homeless, I never really thought much of them or even interacted with them much. Look straight ahead, mind your own business, and keep walking was my way of dealing with life. Had nothing to do with there being homeless on the streets. That’s just the way I dealt with life.
I returned to San Francisco a couple of years ago for a business trip. I was there for a week, so of course, I mixed business with pleasure. We bought plane tickets for my husband and son so we could all experience a vacation while on this business trip. Absolute wonderful. Despite not being fond of San Francisco (just too much city for me), I truly enjoyed myself.
Being in the tourist district, we happened to experience quite a bit of homelessness. From a marketing perspective, it makes total sense for the homeless to be in the tourist areas. Think about it. Who’s more likely to be susceptible to the plight of the homeless? People who are used to seeing homeless and have learned to keep their eyes straight ahead, or wide-eyed tourist eager to experience something new? Probably the tourist. They’re looking, whereas residents are not.
Know, Like, Trust
The homeless in San Francisco have gotten savvier. I remember when homeless sat on the sidewalks and simply begged for money. Held out their hands and asked. The homeless are so much better now. It’s like they’ve been googling lead magnets or something. They’ve go the Know Like Trust thing down pat. Let me share my experience with the homeless as a tourist in San Fransisco.
It’d been nearly 2 decades since I’d returned to San Francisco. I remembered some places and streets, but let’s face it, I was pretty much as lost as anyone. My family and I would exit the hotel and assess the situation. Which way to go to get to our next destination. Yes… we looked like we didn’t exactly know where we were going.
Voila! A man appeared next to us. “Can I help you find something?” he asked.
The man looked a little shabby, but nothing alarming. What we didn’t realize at the time, it was his introduction… his way of getting us to know him.
We took the bait and mentioned we were looking for tickets for the metro.
“Oh! Yeah. That’s just around the corner,” he said. Then he explained what the ticket stand looked like.
Free information… aka lead magnet. We were totally eating it up, without even knowing he was setting us up for the sale. First impression… I liked him. He was friendly and seemingly altruistic.
“How long are you going to be here?” he asked.
We told him about a week.
“In that case, you’ll get a better deal if you buy the CityPASS. You get unlimited rides on the metro, trolley, and tickets to some of the exhibits.”
Nice… I’m thinking.
“Here. Take this map for later.” He gave me a nice thick map. The type you’re paying a few dollars for at the gas station. “And here’s a few free tickets.”
“Thank you.” I accepted the tickets for some event I can’t even remember now. I will say, I was happy and grateful I met this guy. He was a wealth of information, I’m thinking. He truly added value. Remember… when you’re providing stuff to customers, you’ll want to give them value… that’s where you earn the trust.
This conversation maybe took 3-5 minutes. However, he took me through the stages of Know, Like, and Trust in that very short period of time.
“I hope I helped,” he said.
I was beaming. “Oh yes. Thank you so much.”
He smiled back. “You think that information was worth a few dollars for a cup of coffee.”
When he hit me with the pitch, I have to say, I was unprepared. However, I know I felt obligated to give him something for the help he gave us. He really primed us. I don’t remember if we had any money. If you catch me with cash, it’s a rare occasion. I do know if we had any, we gave it to him. If we didn’t, I walked away feeling guilty.
While we were there, we were hit by 3-4 other individuals with similar pitches… or attempts to reel us in.
What I later found was the free tickets and the map were free items he’d picked up. Free maps and tickets we found later on buses, on those grab-one-for-free stands, etc. Still, at the time I felt like I was getting value.
The same thing goes for the free information you provide in your lead magnets. I guarantee, whatever you’re offering in your lead magnet, webinar, or whatever, is readily available on google. For the potential customer, it doesn’t feel like that… or least it shouldn’t, if you’re doing it right.
It’s okay that you’re giving free information. In fact, that free valuable information is how you build trust. Some of the street people of San Francisco have truly gotten the Know, Like, Trust factor down. Not only that, but they know where their target audience is.
What about you? What’s your Know, Like, Trust process?