In the summer of 2016, I started working as an independent marketer for Lyft. During that time, I learned a ton about marketing, human psychology, and business development. I would go out in the swampy D.C. heat and walk right up to strangers. “Hi guys, here’s fifty dollars in free ride credits with Lyft.”
For every person who used my code and took a ride, I’d receive twenty to twenty-five dollars. At one point, I remember walking around the White House, feverishly handing out pink cards to strangers while simultaneously trying to fight off heat exhaustion. I probably looked crazy to most people, drenched in sweat from head to toe in my pink Lyft shirt. When I couldn’t bear it any longer, I’d take breaks inside local businesses to get a breather. They’d offer me water and I’d give them cards or sign them up to be Lyft drivers.
Looking back at it, the whole thing was ridiculous; but the money was absolutely ridiculous, too. I hated the heat, and would soon find myself hating the D.C. cold. I needed to find a way to scale the operation that didn’t involve me having to physically be there. What I needed was automation.
Getting Out Of The Heat, And Into The Minds Of Consumers
Ever walk around your neighboorhood and see advertisements for dog walking or other obscure services posted on light poles? You probably think they don’t work. But I’m willing to bet they do to some degree. I decided to try the same concept out by advertising free ride credits with Lyft.
I had advertised Lyft online with limited success. Social media is a busy, busy place. My dream of being to lay on the beach drinking sangria while making tons of passive internet income was just that, a dream.
The physical advertisements I’d come across from others who were in the Lyft game were lame. They looked like a five-year-old pieced them together. Most of them were sloppily posted on college campuses or at local bus stops. This was an opportunity.
The fact that the competition was putting out shady looking flyers meant that I could post professional-looking flyers and grab people’s’ attention. But, I had one problem. What would I say? I wasn’t too familiar with copywriting at this point, but I did remember something I had learned from a dead Austrian economist named Ludwig Von Mises that gave me an idea.
A Simple Marketing Framework Based On Free-Market Economic Principles
Ludwig Von Mises was a free-market thinker who had great insights into human nature and capitalism. Without getting too far into his contributions to the field of Austrian Economics and Praxeology (Beyond the scope of this post), just know that Mises saw economics through the lens of individuals making decisions based on their subjective preferences.
In his Magnus opus, Human Action, Mises postulated that human action requires three things. This is known as the Human Action Model and it makes for a great marketing framework.
- A sense of unease
- A vision of a better state.
- The belief that you can achieve that better state.
If any of the three pieces are missing, an individual will not act.
With this in mind, I started to draft a simple paper advertisement for college campuses.
Specifically, I asked myself the following questions:
- What sense of unease do college students feel with regards to transportation?
- What does helping students with their transportation issues look like?
- How can I provide college students with the belief that by taking action, they can achieve a better state?
Here’s what I came up with:
The Human Action Model In My Flyer (Deconstructed)
- A sense of unease – College students go out on the weekends, often times drinking too much, and need rides home. They don’t want to drive home after drinking.
- A vision of a better state – Lyft will do the driving for you.
- The belief that you can get to a better state – Here’s free ride credit to get your free rides. Download the app and put in the code, and you’ll get home safely this weekend.
Other considerations when putting together advertisements like these:
- Simplicity – Avoid the urge to include excess verbiage. The more concise the message, the better.
- Credibility – I included official logos that communicated credibility.
- Design – You’ll notice that I highlight certain things in red to draw attention. I want people to see FREE RIDE and the promo code TOWSON50. Also, I make sure the Lyft logo is the first thing people see to grab their attention.
- Context and relevance – You need to place flyers where people will find them and be open to them. I placed these flyers on the postings board where people seek out information (housing, jobs, etc.) They’d expect to see a flyer like mine posted.
I had really good results using this method. Two-to-three people a week would see the flyer and use my code, providing me with an easy source of passive income. The only real work I had to do was make periodic check-ins to ensure that my flyer wasn’t ripped down (they were from time-to-time).
The Human Action Model is a simple, yet effective marketing framework that will help you craft compelling advertisements very quickly. If you’re stuck on ways to connect with your customers, give it a try. I’m confident that this framework will help point you in the right direction.
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