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Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash

When you’re at the mall, have you ever been approached by someone from the kiosk who either has some beauty cream, sunglasses, or hot pack for you to try? If you have, you either have walked straight ahead or took your phone out to simply ignore their approach. Or, you somehow got hooked from something they said and you find yourself standing at their kiosk demoing the product and even buying it.

I recently had to be that person at the kiosk but it wasn’t beauty cream or sunglasses I was selling — it was asking strangers at Las Vegas’ Miracle Mile Shops to try an edible cookie dough called Doughp on camera for their reaction. I’ve never worked at a kiosk trying to get people’s attention but I’m constantly selling so this is was a challenge I can accept.

Now here’s how I got 7 strangers to agree to be on camera with one principle in mind when asking:


Never open with a question that can be answered with yes or no.

This is the most important takeaway here if you want to sell something to strangers. Basically, you don’t want to give a prospect a way out but instead a choice to do what you want. For example, when asking for a meeting, you can ask “Are you available for a meeting?” Maybe that prospect is available for a meeting but if that person is weary of meeting you, s/he can simply say “No thanks.” A better way to ask is to give a choice: “I’d love to meet you. Are you available on Monday 10:30a or this Thursday 2:00pm?” If that person is available on either of those dates, s/he can choose or now propose another day and time.

While I am married, I compare selling to a courtship in which your “opening line” is like using a pickup line in a bar or in a social setting. Pickup artists have “openers” depending on the setting/situation and approach each encounter as “sets”. Knowing how to open is key to have a conversation for the set. The world of pick up artists is really fascinating by the way as there’s many things to learn from that utilizes psychology and body language (when used responsibly) — and yes, I’ve read up on their tactics because they are applicable in a business setting.

Let’s go back to Miracle Mile Shops where I’m asking strangers to be on camera for their reactions. And for the record, no one wants to be on camera unless you’re an actor being paid and/or for self conscious reasons i.e. “Ugh, I don’t look good today,” “I would be terrible on camera!,” “I don’t like what I’m wearing today”, etc. So this is truly the hurdle to overcome — not tasting free product.

The first thing I do is find people who are looking at Doughp’s logo/store long enough to show interest. I don’t approach anyone if they just didn’t bother looking our way where we have our camera setup in front of the store. The person may have saw the setup/store from afar but just decided to keep walking straight to avoid me at all costs (haha). But when someone does look our way, I pop the question: “Do you want to try Doughp?”

Just kidding. That’s a question that can be answered with either yes or no.

I ask, “Do you want to be on camera to show us your reactions of trying Doughp?”

Ok, kidding again. These are two questions that do accomplish what I want but are terrible in form.

Now here’s one of my real openers:

“If you haven’t heard of Doughp, Doughp is edible cookie dough. We’re actually filming quick reactions that will only take 2 minutes. There’s four flavors to choose from and whichever you like, you can leave with a 4oz container for free. Now which do you want to try first?”

This opener accomplishes a number of things:

  • Define what the product is
  • Define how long would the engagement take
  • And finally give what I think they want: free product of their choice

My alternative line when I know the person is really interested after seeing our camera setup, the buzz around it and occasionally will even ask with a smile “Oh! What’s this for?!”

“We’re giving away free 4oz jars of Doughp for quick reactions on camera that will only take 2 minutes! Which flavor did you want to try?”


And lastly, my alternative opener that’s “gentler” which gives an option for them to opt out and/or have low commitment:

“We’re giving away free 4oz jars of Doughp for quick reactions on camera that will only take 2 minutes. You can try all four flavors and if you don’t like any if them, you don’t have to go on camera. But if you like any one of them, we would like for you to share what you think or like about it. So which did you want to try first?”


Pitching/selling/marketing is tricky as it’s finding a balance on the approach to sell to someone individually as one great tactic won’t work for everyone. At worst, people see marketers (aka you) as a slick snake-oil salesmen or used car salesmen selling lemons. I’d imagine many are afraid to be sold to from a stranger because 1) you’re a stranger or 2) they‘ve been sold a lie before as the product didn’t work as advertised and don’t want to repeat that mistake. At best though, people are educated of the product and can find true benefits from it.

My various forms of asking strangers also defines one of the most previous thing a person has: time. I stress on “2 minutes” because in all honesty, it’s fairly a small commitment of time in exchange for a product that is selling $6–10. However, if you do say “2 minutes,” you really should deliver on that and get that person out by then or even sooner which I did.

Selling is powerful. Most people get into sales because they believe in the product (or least they should be) and really believe it can truly help others. Finding the right way to sell to a person is the challenge and for me, it’s what makes it fun. When I construct my openers, I’m thinking of every word and its order from beginning to end. More importantly, I ask politely and respectfully accept their denial.


And this is where I want to remind the reader here if you’re selling:

Ask politely in your opener for the sale but just as important, respect and accept their pass.


Once a prospect (stranger in this case) says “No”, I smile and just say “Thank you!” No need to try again or make a better offer or give guilt “Oh you’re missing out on free product!” or “Why not? It’ll only take 2 minutes! It’s easy!” This truly makes me mad when I see other salesmen do this. Save your breath and move on to the next prospect. The last thing you want is to make that person feel bad.


Happy sales pitching y’all.

How to Persuade a Stranger to Do What You Want

06 January 2023

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JCasas Photography | The Blog

JJ Casas

San Francisco-based portrait & commercial photographer & 
creative director. 

Sharing my thoughts as a photographer, cinematographer, marketer, and copywriter.