Helpful people who know I left Star Media, the place I called home for 12 years, have presented me with a variety of marketing and media opportunities. Recently I was offered a chance to try street hawking to a target of new and returning Northeastern University students with a great deal on an internet/cable bundle from Comcast.
College students are a target my former agency had focused on for years with a series of higher education clients, and so the opportunity to mix among that group had a great deal of appeal plus there might have been a bit of nostalgia for days, long, long gone by. I did worry, however what kind of appeal I could possibly possess for this group.
Here are my unscientific findings:
1. it’s difficult to engage the 85-95% of students speaking (or pretending to speak) on cell phones or with ears plugged by buds.
2. female students were far less willing to engage or take flyers. I’ve guessed at several reasons – strangers (even mid-aged women who could be their mother) posed more of a threat to women than men, they don’t care as much about cable and internet, they’re practicing their best brush off skills for when pesky co-eds try to divert their serious study intentions…keep going with that ladies!
3. my highest success rate was with guys. The guys seemed to respond for a variety of reasons: they wanted free stuff, are obsessed with the internet, were impressed by dj Adam 12,WFNX, wanted to win a tv and maybe, just maybe, were a little homesick. I went with my strengths (age and non-threatening appearance) and encouraged students to stop by initiating conversation – talking about the messages on their t-shirts, asking where they were from, talking about the WFNX giveaway. This was easiest with groups, (whereas I was snubbed by just about every female pedestrian whether walking singly or in groups.). I ended by advising my guys to study hard, keep out of trouble and make a wise decision for a super fast internet connection. The guys welcomed a pat on the shoulder – I guessed these were the guys a bit stunned by their very new independence, or those as yet unfamiliar with New England’s mandatory stand-offishness.
There was a beautiful and affable daisy-dukes-clad 20-something woman from the station who was handing out smoothie samples and generous coupons to Boloco Restaurant, and I told her how I loved my guys for the brief encounter we shared and she seemed surprised – “Really? They didn’t talk to me that much, they seemed kind of nervous”. Hmmm, matronly may be the way to go.
I like to think I gave out solid advice, did a good job representing Comcast and sold some first-time subscriptions to deserving young guys. Signing off now – your Huntington Ave street-mother.
Want to connect with the company that provided this opportunity for me as well as my stint as an event facilitator for the Amazing Race Auditions – call Robin Samora at Partner Promotion http://www.partnerpromotionsinc.com/projects.htmls