As I was driving this morning I drove past this hitchhiker and immediately thought that he’ll never get picked up. From the photo, you can see that he’s standing next to the on-ramp of 101 north, just as drivers are accelerating and have no time to consider picking him up (or even have a safe place to stop). I drove on and went to get gas as planned. But from the moment I saw him I considered going back to get a better photo, because this is classic, both for hitchhiking and marketing.
Many small business owners, like hitchhikers, only consider where they’re going and not necessarily the most effective way to get there. The hitchhikers I see most often stand near an on-ramp with no place for a ride to stop safely. Now, if their strategy were to give a driver an easy reason to not pick them up and assuage their guilt, well then, mission accomplished. However, I assume most hitchhikers want to get safely and cheaply on their way. It’s like that with marketing too. If your offer isn’t convenient, even if your message is compelling, then it will fall flat and you will have wasted precious time and money. You could be standing there for a long time. Without a sound strategy and plan, marketing could be completely ineffective.
As you can see, my curiosity got the better of me. After getting gas, I drove a mile or so back to where the hitchhiker was. I reasoned that if he were gone, then maybe his plan worked and I was wrong. If he were still there, then maybe I was right and could get a better photo for the blog post. Well, he was there and I still couldn’t get a photo from my car window at the traffic light. I made the turn again and this time parked my car on a side road. I grabbed my phone and walked over to him to get a better photo and see what the deal was.
Well, turns out that the guy wasn’t a guy at all; he was a young woman named “Patch”. We chatted for a few minutes about her story and journey – 21 years old, from Wisconsin, not in school (didn’t want to waste her parents’ money or her time), and on a journey trying to find direction, but with no itinerary. I told her why I stopped, the angle of this post and asked if I could take her photo. She (obviously) agreed and then let me help move her belongings to a more strategic location – one where she’d be seen by cars coming from two directions and where a compassionate (and hopefully safe) person could stop and pick her up. I gave her a bit of money, a new bag and some snacks before saying goodbye. I’m praying for Patch and hoping that she stays safe and finds what she’s looking for.
As for you and your marketing, you don’t have to take risks such as Patch did. Develop a marketing strategy first before investing in tactics. Click here for more on strategy before tactics, one of the hallmarks of Duct Tape Marketing.
I’d love to know what you think? Any other analogies between hitchhiking and marketing? Leave a comment!