"Good morning to you, too," I said. "What's your name, anyway?"
"Harry!" he boomed. "Good to meet you, man!"
"Good to meet you," I said. "Have a good one!"
And with that I walked away from my first discourse with Harry, a good-natured homeless man I've been passing on my way to work for months.
Harry, however, isn't your "typical" homeless person.
He doesn't have a sign or a cup. He never asks for anything. He just stands out there and says "GOOD MORNING!" to passersby.
And every time someone says it back, he says "THANK YOU, SIR" or "THANK YOU, MISS," and the biggest smile lights up his face.
For the record: I like Harry a lot.
In fact, I'm sure that anyone who doesn't have their Chicago-morning-rush blinders on likes him, too.
How could you not? The man is an engine of positivity. In the months before I asked his name, I called him "Mr. Good Vibes."
At the end of the day, I think Harry's likability comes down to one fact:
He never asks for anything.
He spreads cheer -- a rare commodity most weekday mornings -- and he never, ever, asks for anything in return.
He provides free value, one thing good marketers know people notice, remember and, eventually, act on.
Which brings me to my point -- the fundamental marketing rule Harry never lets me forget:
"Marketing is About Help, Not Hype."
Help -- lots of it or just a little -- is valuable.
(So is information and entertainment.)
For a deeper dive into the marketing benefits of help over hype, I recommend you read Jay Baer's book by the same name...
Harry must have.