Friday, July 31, 2015

Sharing economy, old business sales models, and individualism coming into conflict: Is "door-to-door" still viable?

The Washington Post has a story by Matea Gold Thursday about the “libertarian” Koch brothers campaign going door-to-door, at least in Florida, link here
Shortly after moving to Minneapolis in the early fall of 1997, I did help a libertarian candidate for Minneapolis city council with a brief door-to-door weekend event.

And LPMN often conducted ballot access petition signature drives, but mostly at neighborhood block parties (common in the summer in downtown Minneapolis), Pride festivals, county fairs, and outside sports stadiums, never door-to-door.  Women seemed to be more effective at this than men.

Shortly after my career “cardiac arrest” at the end of 2001, I discovered that a lot of the quick interim jobs out there involved “sales”.  One was door-to-door cable selling in new neighborhoods.  A lot of them were telemarketing (which I finally did for the Minnesota Orchestra and later National Symphony). 

Today, contacting people person-to-person or cold-calling them has gotten a bad rap, to be sure.  Robocalling is part of it, but maybe one of the biggest concerns is home security.  Home invasions weren’t big news in the late 1990s like they are now (especially given a recent infamous crime in a wealthy neighborhood of Washington DC). 

But there’s another paradox.  While social media pushes us toward more “information sharing” and even a “sharing economy” (I can’t imagine taking the time to keep a home ready for Airbnb – promoted with that theater ad showing a baby in diapers -- or working as an Uber or Lyft driver, which sounds dangerous to me at least), a lot of us become more socially or personally insular and defensive.   It’s getting so it’s hard to respond personally to “solicitations” on the street.  It’s easier to support the charities or political causes I like through a list at a bank once a month (although that cuts out matching contributions). 

I don’t like to respond to sudden emotional appeals for very specific causes or needs (even the “…lives matter”) because doing so distorts a bigger picture about stability and sustainability in the long run. I don’t like to get into the world of victimization. This sounds Scrooge-like:  Life is inherently risky. But I know that all of these factors play into “karma”. 
All of this reticence, when a lot of people show it, tends to make it harder for a lot of people to make a living selling the way they used to.  Maybe that’s why a lot of marketing today seems so scammy and desperate.

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