Quick Internet Marketing Tip from Our 10 Day Adventure in Guatemala

Gabe Strom 1 17 Comments

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So last monday, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Guatemala to visit this beautiful country for the 1st time since living here over 17 years ago as a kid.

Not many people know this about me, but my parents actually served as missionairies here in Guatemala City for 2 years when I was a child, and not until now have we been able to come back to visit as a family.

So far, since arriving, we´ve climbed an active volcano, forged a raging river with our rental van due to a washed out bridge, and I got to have beers with one of my best childhood friends (after 17 years) with the help of Facebook — Go Go Gadget Social Media!!!

Anyways we´ve had a really busy travel schedule as you can imagine because there´s so much we wanted to see in our short 10 day trip, but thankfully we had some free time today after church and I thought you might appreciate hearing some of my breakthroughs since being down here for almost a week.

I´ve always said that living overseas in a developing country for 2 years as a child was one of the best gifts my parents could have ever given me.  Not only was I able to learn spanish as a child, but I was also exposed to extreme poverty and a beautiful culture other than what we´re used to here in the U.S.

It´s crazy because many of my close friends now have barely ever traveled outside of Illinois, nor had the opportunity to experience a 3rd world country.  And for this I am extremely greatful!

So as I expected, being back in Guatemala has brought back a flood of emotions, but one of the strongest is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the opportunities we have in America.

Mainly the fact that anyone with an ounce of the entrepreneurial sprit and an internet connection can make a simple video, send a few emails, and make more money in an hour than most people in the villages we´ve visited this week make in an entire month or even year!

This is reflected just about every where you visit outside of Guatemala City where you´ll find streed vendors selling bracelets and other home made items just to make enough money to feed their families and barely get by.

The really sad part is that alot of these ¨local entrepreneurs¨ are actually kids (ages 7-12) and don´t get to spend their days playing play station (like most american kids do) but rather are forced to enter the ranks of adulthood at an early age because there family needs them to work to bring in an additional income.

I met two kids on the street this week that really pulled a heart string for my in particular.  I met them during our short 1 day stay in a small village called Panajachel on the coast of Lake Atitlan, about a 4 hour drive from Guatemala City.  Their names were Tomas (age 12), and Dani (age 10) and I first met them as they approched me on the street trying to sell me home-made stuffed animals and bracelets.

Now just to set the tone a little, this was probably the 50th time this day that I had been approached by kids like these all trying to sell me the same stuff.

But this time rather than politely saying ¨No Gracias¨and sending them on their way, I felt inspired to invest a few minutes into these young entreprenuers by holding a quick marketing seminar on the street.

So with my best broken Spanish I asked them how much money they had made today selling their goods.  With a defeated look in his eye, the older one (Tomas age 12) told me that they hadn´t sold any, and were exhausted.

Now perhaps he was saying this just to get a sympathy purchase from me; but either way, I gently explained that they reason they weren´t selling much was because they were trying to sell  the same unwanted goods to tourists just like all the other kids on the street.

I then preceeded to explain (in the best Spanish I could), the principle of selling to ¨NEEDS over WANTS

To help ilustrate this even more, I then planted the seed of how they could differentiate themselves from all the other street vendors competing with similar goods.

You see,  during the rainy season in Guatemala, it rains every single afternoon like clockwork for about 6 months out of the year. With this in mind, I advised the boys that they should use the rain to their advantage and start selling umbrellas and ponchos (or pieces of plastic) to wet tourists, caught in the rain as they would be much more inspired to buy once their need was high enough.

After explaining the concept of selling to NEEDS rather than WANTS, I could tell that these two young entrepreneurs understood what I was telling them, and could see little wheels turning in their heads as their tired faces turned to smiles.

To then conclude our little street seminar, I reminded them that they would be the 1st kids in the entire town to have rain gear to offer the tourists and would have a monopoly on all the other kids who would still be competing for the pity purchases of $1 bracelets and stuffed animals.

So… why is this important?

I´m not telling you this story to brag about how we had this radical life changing experience with these two young boys; but rather, to inspire you to look at your own business and find the ¨rain gear¨ to sell in your own market.  My experience talking with Tomas and Dani has definately inspired me to take a deeper look at how I sell things online, and I hope it will inspire you to do the same.

Anyways, we´re packing up to head to the last leg of our journey where we´ll spend 2 days on the Carribean coast of Guatemala in a small fishing town called Livingston.  I´ll do my best to post some pictures on facebook when I get back, but until then, stay inspired, and remember that no matter where you´re at in life, chances are you´re alredy richer than you can possibly imagine!



Comments 17

  1. Wyteria Jacobo

    Wow! I didn't know you used to live in Guatemala, too….I was a missionary there in 2000-2003. While reading your post, I was going to ask you if you went to Panajachel. I used to live in Jucanya which isn't far from there. A friend of mine owns a restaurant on the main street in Panajachel. (Can't remember the name anymore but his name is Jim). Do they still have that restaurant where you can get 3 tacos for 10 Quetzales? My friend and I used to hit them up all the time when our money ran low LOL.

    Anyway, let us know when you get those pictures up on Facebook. It'll be like old times because I haven't had a chance to go back yet.


  2. Romymacias

    I agree with Lisa. You taught them “how to fish” instead of just “giving them the fish.”

  3. Gabe Strom

    Hey Wyteria,

    We just left Pajajachel yesterday, and I wish I would have go the good food tip from ya sooner, but it´s really cool to hear that you guys were missionairies down here too… it´s a small world huh?

  4. Gabe Strom

    Teaching to fish is the name of the game!!!!  It was a really cool experience for sure

  5. Kate J Huebler

    That was a really interesting post and video. It's funny where you can get inspiration… and personally traveling often inspires me. When I was living in Spain I actually bought an umbrella from street vendors twice (for I think 6 euros), but since both kept breaking I finally caved and bought a nice one (for 10 euros), but the umbrella vendors were fairly popular in Madrid. When it's raining, it's extremely convenient to buy one on the street!

    I was wondering, what software did you use to edit your video? It is really well designed, and I love how you were able to show the image of you speaking and move it around while you spoke.

  6. Stephany

    What a wonderful experience you are having!  Wonderful that you took the time to give value to two young budding entrepreneurs!  That will surely make a difference in their lives and lives of their families!! Safe travels!

  7. Homeofficemommy

    Go! Go Inspector God! Just watching an inspiring video encouraging me to look every to find the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of His people, and there you were young Gabe! Your parents rock!

    Believe well!

    Adelaide “Home Office Mommy” Zindler
    http://www.DisarmAutism.com (coming soon) 🙂

  8. Julia A. Rohrmoser

    Hola Gabe. Thank you for sharing this inspiring journey with us…we are indeed very blessed in America.  We are in the land flowing with milk and honey.  Enjoy the rest of your trip, and God bless you…

  9. Jona

    Gabe, what a great opportunity you have going back to your childhood years.  I love to travel and have been in several 3rd world countries.  I remember coming home from a 3rd world country trip to fall to my knees at the USA airport and kiss the ground.  I am so grateful to be a USA citizen! We here in the USA have so much opportunity.  We grew up knowing no different.  I got a job when I was 10 and have been self employed for 20+ years.  The non Americans come to America because of the freedom and they can work hard to make money unlike the many countries they come from.  We Americans have more opportunity then at least 85% of the world population.  Go after it!!!  Thanks Gabe for your inspiration!

  10. rebeccahappy

    wonderful that you were smart enough to break it down for kids to understand. you do have a lot of info and sharing that with others who could implement it to improve their family situation is fantastic. Street dealing on the streets is very common all over developing countries and is most often done by kids…not always safe either.

  11. Davidbeking

    Cool stuff man! Living in costa rica has been fun, central america is a cool place.  I see people selling on the beaches here and most of them sell the same things as well.  Keep up the great work!

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