There are roughly three strategies to help beggars – those who are for some reason find themselves jobless and have to collect money on the streets.
One approach is to take away the most pressing discomfort and distress by providing them with food, a shower, and shelter during the night. Another approach is to provide them with some income by giving them the opportunity to sell street newspapers, which also seems to strengthen social networks and self-esteem. Sometimes beggars are also involved in keeping an eye on the streets and cleanness in a public space. A third approach is to offer them a home in return for medical and psychiatric treatment, an initiative originated in New York.
Yet we have never found a study or a campaign by a renowned marketing bureau like IDEO to help beggars to collect more cash. But beggars could be helped by teaching them some marketing techniques.
Most beggar’s marketing strategy is based on the idea that they should provoke pity. Some spend the day sitting on the street with a cardboard where they have written messages such as I have four kids, no income or I am jobless. Some beggars choose a more emotionally loaded place for provoking pity and guiltiness: entrances of churches, or well-filled food stores. Beggars with a more elaborated marketing strategy show their amputated limbs, display their last medicines in front of them or show humility by sitting for hours on their knees with a stretched back, murmuring for a deed of generosity.
But many beggars sit passively for hours. We have seen beggars who read a book, seemingly disconnected and detached from the collection of the money.
What marketing opportunities are missed here?
Why not a cardboard with: “I have been a philosopher”, or ” I am studying to qualify for a job outside my initial education”. or “I pray and read the bible for your salvation”?
Sometimes we have come across someone who refers to his or her website, this is something that we think is a real marketing innovation. Follow me on Twitter. Look at my LinkedIn profile before I lost my job, my home and my wife.Visit Pinterest or Instagram for pictures of my most favourite places to beg.
And look at this touching example of the use of storytelling: ” It is a beautiful day and I can’t see it”