In search for a summer job, I looked up every website there was for any kind of work I thought to be capable of : English teacher, waitress, touristic guide, hostess… Being it in Bordeaux, or even Paris – my parents living there, I could stay in my sister’s bedroom for a while. I still have to ask around, and send my curiculum here & there. So, while I was browsing, I stumbled upon a street marketing offer on letudiant.fr, and sent a mail on a wimp without really big hopes. Turns out I got contacted again, filled a file for the company, and got the job !
Before letting you think of how degrading such a task would be, how the advert world is a b*tch, and how being an hostess is basically selling your body to promote a brand, I will say a few things.
First, the job of hostess may seem uninteresting, boring, and made for dumb social people with a good face, but it can also be taken another way. You need to think of the bigger picture. What I mean is : I do not consider myself stupid – and I am not -, and I actually think this work could be a very good experience for anybody out there. You still need skills to be somewhat efficient : memorizing the information about you mission, observing the crowd to find your targets, socializing with strangers, having great communication, keeping your smile whenever someone looks down on you… It could appear as basic things, right ? You would be surprised how many people are pretty bad at those, though. Thanks to my experience in an association for students for the past year, I already got better at communicating & socializing, making the first move to talk to others, etc. Continuing the improvement would not be such a bad idea, then. Also, being an obsessional fan of the art of observation & deduction, targeting individuals would be quite a nice manner of practicing directly in the field. So street marketing would be for me a way to improve my competences, even if just slightly.
Secondly, you can actually meet loads of people with this – at least have some social interactions -, and discover brands & projects you never heard about when you were locked up in your light-less room. This is an opening to the outer world. In addition, going out there underneath the sun is a change of mind – as I spend most of my time on the computer, or on a sketch book !
Thirdly, you do not really sell your body. You let the brand use your not-too-unwelcoming physical features to make the crowd more prone to grant it some time. You are a medium between the public and the product. Sometimes you will have to promote things you do not really enjoy, sometimes things you do : that is a job, not everything is to be liked.
Last but not least : being out in the sun smiling to people for a few hours, few days in a row makes some cash, and is definitely not that bad… *wink*
A week before the mission, I received my contract and the details about the operation. The debriefing was twenty slides long. I now had to remember the useful data, and prepare my dazzling smile !
I was not expecting that much of information, but it actually makes a lot of sense. You have an accurate description of you targets : who you need to approach, who you should not but still let participate if they come by by themselves. The brand is described (what this is, how long it existed, what they sell), the goals of the operation are given, and your tasks are detailed. Then, you have a list of things you should say in case people ask you forbidden questions… From “what do you say about…” – you being the brand’s image, so no bad answer allowed ! – to “environment friendly, but printing things ?”, there are four slides dedicated to typical sentences you need to reply with. That is what I call preparation !
The mission was to promote the partnership between a company making milk for babies and an establishment for forest preservation. Each child between 0 and 3 could foster a tree, resulting in the planting of it in a forest near his home. We had to target families, mothers, and why not possible grand-parents, asking them if they were interested, then taking their information, giving a flyers and a picture of the child(-ren) with (or without) them, as well as a little bag of seeds to plant themselves.
It was really pleasant to see the little guys enjoy themselves, grasping their picture with sparkling eyes, and playing with the bag of seeds already imagining how tall the trees would get ! A few curious ones even dragged their parents to our stand.
What is less pleasant is the reaction of some people. Some just sighed at our sight, some dodged us from afar, some said they were in a rush, some had to come and criticize the action, others pretended they did not speak french. We even had a bunch that laughed at our faces when the word ‘tree’ was mentioned (dammit ! don’t they know we breathe thanks to these ?!). People easily affected and/or offended will probably anger up very quickly… Thankfully, most parents were enthusiastic – sometimes even more than their kids !
What do I get out of all this ? It is definitely an experience worth having. Even in the cold, under the rain, facing unhappy disdainful individuals. You learn to dare. To promote something. To get along with you colleagues, and motivate them after a failure. Have a laugh now and then, talking about everything or nothing. I will do it again any time I get the chance to, and hopefully it will be very soon – I have at least five applications to send !