When I was young, I learned a lot about selling by watching the barrow-boys in Petticoat Lane.
They had to be different enough to stop people who were walking past.
They had to be amusing enough to hold them there long enough to listen.
They had to be convincing enough to make people part with money.
They didn’t go in for brand building.
They didn’t identify gatekeepers and make the consumer empathise with their core values in such a way that at some future point in time they would have an increased propensity to purchase.
They sold things.
They were funny and friendly and entertaining.
So people stopped to watch.
They cracked jokes.
So people stayed, and laughed, and enjoyed the performance.
They told you what their product did.
How much it cost.
And what a great bargain it was.
So people bought it.
Or they didn’t.
Those that wanted and/or needed such a product parted with cash.
Those that didn’t, enjoyed the performance and moved on.
The barrow-boys didn’t research their pitch at several focus groups.
They didn’t run it past the marketing department, or the strategy group, or the brand guardians.
They were entertainers.
They made people laugh.
So a crowd gathered round.
They told jokes about telling insights into everyday life.
Jokes that ended in the need for the product they were selling.
Inescapable common-sense that ended with an irresistible offer.
I used to go to Petticoat Lane for the entertainment.
I never bought anything, I wasn’t in the market then.
But I saw loads of people who did.
They had a fun day out, and they came home happy.
Imagine if those barrow-boys had operated the way advertising does today.
Focus groups, brand review committees, strategy sessions, think tanks, marketing overviews, planning sessions.
I don’t think anyone would have even gone down Petticoat Lane.