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October 10, 2007 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-10

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Wensa, coe "

B The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cont'd: What market research could mean for panhandlers

MONEY From page 4B panhandlers about the science of average passerby. New Yorkers in 2006 about what
their trade. In exchange for lunch one of her most successful inter- kind of person they gave their
the street. Results were displayed or a few bucks, she asked them viewees was a man named Robert change to for an unorthodox proj-
at the end of the survey. what worked, how much money who collected about $40 to $45 a ect during his summer internship
By presenting the panhandler they made on an average day, and day in the tourist-heavy area out- at Sinek Partners, a New York City-
types in such a blunt, controversial she noted their race, gender and side of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in based marketing company.
fashion, Davies created a media style of approach. New York. Robert was in his 70s Zimmerman's project was to
buzz about the site in hopes that Her interviewees responded and handicapped, he had lost an learn why people were giving their ,
people could use it to talk about positively. eye and he was ina wheelchair, but money to panhandlers and to find
more serious issues like homeless- "They were interested in the he wasn't homeless. Robert wore a out what methods could improve
ness, she said. project because of the prospect of clean, pressed jacket over a turtle- an average panhandler's income.
Davies used grants she received making more money," she said. neck and whispered a soft, "God By doing so, Zimmerman said the
from PBS to continue her project, Afterhours of interviews, Davies bless you," to passers-by. . company CEO, Simon Sinek, was
for the next three years, taking to developed a pretty good idea of "My way is the best," he had convinced he could better under-
the streets of Manhattan to ask what opened the pockets of the explained to Davies. "I've never stand the emotional attachments
asked a person for nothing." that exist between products and
Another panhandler who made long-term, repeat consumers. So
money was a woman named Easy, Zimmerman went out to try to
who referred to her job as "bus- improve the lot of New York pan-
tling." Her approach was creative handlers, buthe found thatit wasn't
and funny, which played well, espe- just the message or the slogan that
I -: }cially in the student areas near New swayed potential givers - it was
York University recalled Davies. familiarity and trust, too.
*ctos Easy ; had a different approach, The same principle was likely
*/067-/0/ cracking jokes and trying to "talk at work for a while last year when
people out of their money." She other than Ronnie stood on East
made about $60 a day. University a few blocks down from
So that means the guy on State his usual post by the Engin Arch
810 S State Street 222-4822 - 1906 Packard 995-9940 - btbburrito.com Street who uses the line, "Spare and said, "Spare any change, my
any change? No? How about 50 good friend?" After a week or so,
bucks?" is tapping into a tried and they abandoned the effort, likely
true technique. Of course, it's not because it didn't meet much suc-
just the New York City panhan- cess. People know and like Ronnie,
dlers that have imbued their pitch su it's easier for them to give to him
with humor, all the most successful regularly than another guy who's
corporate advertisers strive to do using his line.
the same thing. "Mostpeoplefeelliketheyshould
For more answers, other give," Zimmerman said, "But what
researchers on panhandling have affects whether or not they do is if
simply gone to the people with the the person looks authentic, if they
To play: Complete the grid s that every row, column pockets, asking passersby what had new shoes, if they really need
m etmegeu te n ontIg to9a c i ' t"I approached it as if the person Establishing a sense of need is
on the street was the consumer ... important, but even more so is cre-
he n gessingor ath involved, buying into this person (the pan- ating an emotional bond between
ut(use i ' tto ,sok/e. Good Luck and enjnoy handler)," said Matthew Zimmer- the consumer and the panhandler,
man, a senior in the Johnson School Zimmerman explained.
of Business at Cornell University. "If the consumer had their own
D ffiCulty Medium Zimmerman questioned scores of kids, for example, or when females
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give to females. There needed to be
a deeper, more personal connec-
tion," he said.
Zimmerman took the responses
of New Yorkers and applied them
to the case of one Manhattan street
panhandler, a woman named Amy.
Looking at how simple cardboard
signs convey information, Zim-
merman replaced Amy's original
sign, which said "Help me, I am
homeless," with one that said, "If
you give once a month, please con-
sider me next time." In addition,
Zimmerman encouraged Amy to
make eye contact with people who
walked by.
Amy panhandled until she
reached her goal of $30 and then
left her usual spot. After using the
new sign, Amy was able to earn her
goal ina dramatically shorter time.
"She swore by the sign," said
Why did it work?
Basically, explained Zimmer-
man, it made people feel good
about giving. Similar to a customer
purchasing a product, the street
donors could "buy into" this spirit
of generosity. The sign reinforced
the notion that they are, generally,
a good person.
Inthe advertising world, positive
or humorous messages like this,
explains Ross School of Business
Prof. Rajeev Batra can be used to
approach an uncomfortable topic.
For certain people who might avoid
giving money, a positive or humor-
ous message can ease a consumer's
mind about purchasing a product,
Batra said in an e-mail interview.
"I think that panhandling raises
uncomfortable feelings for many
people, (so) using humor is indeed
a great way for panhandlers to
approach potential givers," Batra
If these studies found that mak-
ingdonors feelgood aboutthe actof
giving was the best way of getting
money, then why don't all panhan-
dlers change their strategies for a
more positive approach? Somehow
it's hard to imagine most people
asking for money on street corners
in Ann Arbor grin and crack a joke
or ask for So bucks, and even if
they read this, they likelywouldn't
start. Even though someone can
panhandle artfully, most have
heavier burdens weighing on them
than perfecting their pitch. So the
next time you see someone in Ann
Arbor asking for money, before
you keep on walking, consider that
while his approach might not be
particularly winning, that might
be exactly why he needs your
spare change.

Obscure concentrators rejoice. Whether you want to becomec
investment banker, a teacher, a journalist or even a Bollywood star
University degree can help take you there regardless of your ma
B ai'Sras n essic ' r cha n

usiness School alum Ajay Anand
thought he was destined to buy and
sell securities. Like countless other
students, Anand had set his sights on the
most glamorous and well compensated
career path he could think of - investment
"I applied for the Business School for
no reason other than a friend told me I can
make six figures right out of graduation," he
said. "I really didn't know a lot about other
career options or what investment banking
was, except you could make X amount of
But even the promise of a mammoth pay-
check couldn't bring him to go into the field
after hearing about a friend's internship and
the 90 hour work weeks that are standard
for fledgling bankers.
And after completing pre-med require-
ments in addition to the Business School
curriculum, Anand decided he didn't want
to be a doctor either.
It was at a month-long acting camp he
attended in India that he discovered his
dream job was in creative performance.
Right now, he's saving the
money he

earns at a consulting job so he can return to
India in a few years to pursue film and music*
projects he said are waiting for him.
While Anand's story may sound unusual,
When music majors
trade in their
woodinstruments for
it's not uncommon for students who think
they've gotit all figured out to switch careers
midstream. According to a recent study con-
ducted by The New York Times, only 59 per-
cent of University of Michigan graduates
from 2002 are employed in the field.
they studied in col-
That doesn't

mean their educations went to waste.
Eighty-three percent of those surveyed also
said their undergraduate education pre-
pared them for the work they're doing.
That's part of the beauty of a liberal arts
education, said Greg Poggi, chair of the
University's Department of Theatre and
Drama. Even though students in his depart-
ment earn specialized degrees, University
graduation requirements mandate that they
round out their education. This means that
even students who spent their college years
learning how to breathe deeply and project
are competitive candidates for careers in law
or business, which Poggi said are popular
for theatre students, along with producing,
directing and other entertainment-related
"The degree you get at Michigan is very
flexible," he said.
Some students are able to bend their cre-
dentials with greater ease than others.
Business School alum, Jason Cooper, a
former Michigan Daily photo edi-
tor, also has his sights
set on the enter-

ment industry after turning
away from investment banking. Cooper
works as an executive assistant at a talent
agency in Los Angeles, a job he compares to
that of the maltreated secretary Lloyd in the
HBO series "Entourage."
"It's incredibly low-paying, demeaning
work," Cooper said
He spends his 12-hour workdays answer-
ing phone calls and listening in on meetings
at a company that pairs the producers of
reality TV shows with networks looking for
the next "Survivor."
Cooper said assistants at the agency are
often yelled at, made scapegoats and sent
out for too-personal errands by the enter-
tainment tycoons they work for, but that
people who hang on for two to three years
are thought to have what it takes to cut it in
"It's a crash course in the entertainment
industry," he said. "It's the most valuable
education I've gotten."
See CAREERS, Page 10B

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