If You Want Your Marketing to Be Inexpensive But Effective, Follow the Coconut Man

I can hear him coming from a half mile away. Amidst the chirps and chitters of kiskadees, parrots, and cuckoos, there’s a different sort of song, pealing like a church bell:



It’s Buddy, whom we affectionately refer to as the Coconut Man, ambling down the street with a wagonload of coconuts for sale. For $1 USD you can treat yourself to fresh young coconut water from one of the best marketers I’ve ever met.


The first thing you notice about Buddy is that he’s a rather slight man, an unexpected contrast to his booming baritone. He’s a bit shy but wields his machete with confident precision. He’s good at what he does and you can tell he takes pride in it. Between his distinctive hawker’s call, his simple cart of coconuts, and his steady customers, there’s a lot to learn from Buddy about how to successfully market your business simply and without spending a lot of money.

Clarity generates confidence within and without

There is one thing and one thing only that Buddy wants you to do: buy a coconut. He tells you clearly in his sing-song voice:

Sure, once you run out and catch him to make a purchase, he’s got more to say. But he doesn’t muddle up his message with extraneous fluff or try to pitch you mangos and mosquito nets along with his coconuts.

Take a look at your marketing materials like your website pages, one-pagers, and email campaigns. Is your call to action clear and to the point? Clarity instills confidence both in yourself about what you’re selling and in your prospects about their decision to buy. Although every communication doesn’t need to close with a direct call to buy, very often there are missed opportunities to logically lead a prospect toward their next step in the journey to becoming your customer. At the bottom of your service/product description page, do you explicitly tell someone what they can do next? That could be inviting them to schedule a call, check out a blog article, or sign up for a product trial.

Being predictable is never boring (and it don’t cost a thang)

The Coconut Man comes down the street about 10 a.m. every day. Every. Day. Rain or shine. For the past EIGHTEEN YEARS! That’s dedication. That’s motivation. That’s reliability.

Because he’s so consistent, we expect him. Our ears are attuned to him. I can now hear him while he’s still several blocks away. There’s a level of comfort in his predictability.

Being consistent is an important way to generate awareness and build trust. When you’re consistent across all communication channels, your message becomes strong and resilient. When you consistently show up with presence and care in conversations with customers and prospects, you are seen as dependable and trustworthy. It doesn’t cost a dime to be consistent with your messaging and how you conduct yourself in business.

Repetition aids recall. I repeat: repetition aids recall.

In a single pass through the neighborhood, Coconut Man will sing his one-word coconut song at least half a dozen times. It’s as effective as a million dollar commercial jingle and similarly that COOOHHHH-CO-NUT! tune sometimes ends up stuck in my head for the day.  

You’ve probably heard it takes someone being exposed to the same message at least seven times before they really hear it. It’s true. The more times you deliver your message—consistently, as per the previous tip—the more you improve the chances of it finally hitting the right note with the right people at the right time.

This repetition-recall is why taglines, positioning statements, and benefit statements are important elements of your messaging. They’re generally short sound bites that are easy to relay over and over again in memorable fashion. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re saying the same things about your business ad nauseum. Those on the receiving end haven’t heard it nearly as often as you, and they probably need to hear it more than once.

Your uniqueness is priceless

Not the greatest lighting but check out Buddy with his machete!

There are lots of people in Georgetown selling coconuts. But there is only one Coconut Man. His voice is unique. It’s strong. It’s clear. It’s melodic. The other day, for the first time since I’ve lived here, a different coconut man came through the neighborhood. His approach was drastically different. He was quiet. His presence was small. I wouldn’t have even noticed him if I hadn’t already been out in front of my house and seen him coming.

Decide what is different about what you do or how you do it and center your marketing around that. That’s your unique value, the thing that makes you stand out in the marketplace and compels someone to choose you over your competitor. Again, this doesn’t cost money. But, it does require you to take time away from the day-to-day activities so you can fully consider the things that make you distinct. When you do, you will be able to clearly articulate your positioning in your own brand voice and rise above the noise.

When the going gets rough, the tough keep going

On any given day, the Coconut Man might not sell a single coconut to anyone on our block. But still, he comes. Every day. The hot sun doesn’t deter him. Rain-flooded streets don’t deter him. Uncertainty about who will buy especially doesn’t deter him. He pushes his heavy wagon down the road and, as cheerfully as the day before, hawks his wares. But because he follows all the other best practices of effective marketing: clarity of message, consistency, repetition, and a distinctive voice, over time he’s successful in his endeavors.

Running a business and promoting it in modern society isn’t always easy. You might hit a snag or miss a mark. But keep at it. Keep trying—even when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and especially when you don’t make a sale that day. Conjure up your inner Coconut Man. Keep pushing that cart through those extra hot days and rain-clogged streets and let your voice be heard. Stick with it and you will find success with your marketing.

You don’t need to be fancy or spend a lot of money to have a strong presence and successfully promote your business. When you have a clear, compelling message that’s easy to repeat throughout your communication channels, you’ll build awareness and recall. Your clarity and consistency will earn the trust of prospects and customers plus it will make all those outreach efforts a whole lot more fun. Embrace what’s truly unique about your business and what you offer. Keep at it despite the challenges, the distractions, the naysayers, or your own fears... because when you believe in what you do, you’ll shine bright and nothing can stop you.

Have a comment? Or a specific question about what you just read?

Email me—I really will respond. I love getting email from readers, and I’m happy to give you a quick strategy or tip to make sure you’re rocking your message and your marketing feels fun and productive!

Lisa Mullis