June 26, 2007

What's your message?



As I walked up to the post office the other day, there was a young man standing in front saying something to everyone who walked by. As I got closer, I heard "Help out the program on your way out today?. . . Help out the program on your way out today?"

Like most of the people walking by, I sort of glanced at him in confusion, noticed a large bin of candy bars on the ground, and said "no, thanks." I think he said something about youth crime prevention as I passed.

As I stood in line, I listened to the people behind me talking about the young man. "Is he selling something?" "I think he was selling candy." "I thought he said something about a program." "Oh, I didn't hear what he said."

I was probably in line for 15 minutes, and I didn't see anyone buy from him. Was it heartless of me not to stop and chat and give him some advice? I feel guilty.

I later started thinking about how he could have engaged people more, or at least been more clear about his message. In that 5 seconds he had to make contact, could he have said, "Help prevent youth crime"? Or, "How about some candy?" Or maybe he could have held a sign that said "Support youth crime prevention - buy some candy!"

My ideas are not that creative, but my point is that there were probably ten things he could have said or done that would have more impact than "Help out the program on your way out today?" Help what program? Why? How?

Heck, just smiling and making eye contact with people would go a long way.

Who puts these kids out on the street with no training, pretty much setting them up for failure? If I see him again, I might say something. Or at least get the name of the organization so I can share my feedback with them.

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3 comments. Please add yours! :

William Tully said...

Somehow it seems wrong if he were to ask people "Want some candy?" simply because we've been taught not to accept candy from strangers...

What if he asked "How would YOU prevent youth crime?". At least it would challenge people both initially and long term, and possibly start dialog. Besides, you can't sell anything without dialog.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

LOL - good point, William. I guess I pictured a savvy salesperson with a twinkle in his eye, playfully asking "Want some candy?" It plays better in my head.

Yes, dialog makes sense, if you can get people to stop long enough. That's where a really clever pitch comes into play.

William Tully said...

I think the beauty part is that we're all conditioned to answer asked questions. If the right question is asked, people will be answering (and engaged) before they even realize what is going on. Heck, by asking people how to prevent youth crime, they might actually get better ideas than to sell candy on the street corner... Great post!

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