Abe Hagenston is homeless, been on the streets in Detroit for ten years, goes by the name “Honest Abe” and can teach all of us a thing or two about marketing. When Abe first went homeless, he panhandled every day. He quickly grew tired of hearing the objection “Sorry man; I don’t have any money on me.” Abe had access to the library, which means access to a computer and took time to build a website for himself that accepted credit cards. Now when people gave the objection of having no money Abe could direct them to a website where they could use a credit card to donate money to him. Later he advanced to using square so he could take credit card donations on the spot.
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Abe was a handyman and lost his business when his truck was confiscated by the police (they found drugs in it). When you are a handy man, your truck is your entire business, so he lost his truck and business. However, he used the tools he still had (ideas and knowledge) to become a professional homeless person. I have told this story many times and am always surprised to see some of the negative reactions from people who hear it. I am also pleased when I see the light go on for others who I know get busy right away promoting their business using digital media in ways they hadn’t in the past.