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Marketing Success Secrets Of A Homeless Man: Look The Part

Aug 17, 2007
Ask any business owner, internet marketer or online entrepreneur to describe success and you will receive various answers. Perhaps the best definition of success comes from Earl Nightingale in the world-famous motivational tape, "The Strangest Secret."

Nightingale says "Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal." Using that description, I know of an apparent homeless man on the corner of the intersection of a major freeway in Humble, Texas who we can classify as "successful."

Without addressing any of the moral or social implications that surrounds the marketing methods of this "entrepreneur," and others like him who populate corners throughout America, you can not dispute several areas of mastery. If your business or service suffers from your inability to remove self-imposed barriers to marketing, you should model certain observations of the aforementioned homeless man in your business to immediate improve your bottom line.

Understand that most people will part with their money only after you convince them of your professional identity and not necessarily because of your qualifications. When we hire professional service people, for the most part, we want them to look the part.

For example, when visiting a doctor for the first time, very seldom if ever, will we question the framed credentials hanging on the wall. As long as the office looks like a doctor's office and the doctor resembles our image of a physician, we usually take him or her at their word.

We want our accountants, lawyers, business counselors, marketing experts to at least look like they know about the business or service they provide. While not entirely impossible, we would be hard-pressed to hire an attorney who looks like a ditch digger.

Being a ditch digger falls into the category of honest work, but if I wanted to hire one, I don't think I would hire one who looks like an attorney. As a book publisher I can tell you unequivocally, that people do judge a book by its cover.

The man in question reaches "success" on a daily basis (I haven't counted, but on any given hour a number of "customers" will hand over money to him through their car window) because he looks the part of a homeless person.
Can you imagine someone standing on the corner with a cardboard sign reading "Homeless Will Work For Food" wearing a suit and tie while talking on a cell phone?

That would be a novel approach, but you maintain a better chance of selling yourself as being homeless if you look like the stereotypical image. Consequently, most people harbor a preconceived notion of what a an individual in a particular profession should resemble.

Years ago, I visited the office of a financial planner located near one of the universities in Houston, Texas. As I drove up to the address he gave me over the telephone the word "stunned" would qualify as an understatement.

The knee-deep grass reminded me of the vacant lots often found in underdeveloped parts of most major cities; the building appeared to await designation as a hazard by the city's inspectors and misspelled words on populated the home-made sign nailed to the front door.

When the "financial planner" opened the door, the sights became even worse. To begin with, I think the homeless man dressed better.

As a former newsmagazine owner, I understand how files and etc., can quickly overtake a desk, so we won't even put that into the equation. However, after listening to him talk to clients on the phone (the office only had two rooms so I wasn't ease dropping) and watching him fumble through stacks of paper while trying to locate their cases, I knew the chances of him managing any parts of my money were nil.

You only have one chance to make a first impression and while you don't have to spend a lot of money on your wardrobe and office, you must project an image that everything about you -- your business cards, brochure, Web site, and other marketing pieces convince potential customers of your professional identity. If what you use now doesn't do this, you may be long overdue for a makeover.
About the Author
Marvin D. Cloud provides a self-publishing alternative at mybestseller.com. For a free writers' workbook and online marketing tips, go to http://mybestseller.com/html/marketing_tips.
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