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What Del Boy and T-Shirt Tony Taught me about Life

How Del Boy and T-shirt Tony Can Improve Your Agency

I’ve had loads of jobs over the years.

A seamless career path wasn’t the road for someone who gets as bored as quickly as me.

I’ve been a journalist, a removal company owner, a magazine publisher, a PR & Marketing consultant (which still holds my interest and attention) and a Ferrari merchandise manager.

Those were the good jobs.

The bad, sometimes really shi7e jobs included being a van driver (my sense of direction is shocking), a car salesman (I lasted a week as lying doesn’t come naturally) and a security guard (it’s a long story, but I ended up having my car nicked while I was on ‘duty’.)

But the best role in setting me up nicely for what I do was having a market in stall between 1998 – 2000. It was brilliant, fun and profitable, and it taught me bundles.

I hate marketing gurus.

Let me qualify that.

I despise people with little track record who make marketing seem mystical and complicated.

It aint.

These people tend to be pretentious and hide behind jargon because if you ask for a simple explanation, they don’t have enough real-world experience to articulate their ‘forward thinking thought patterns’ clearly.

The term marketing comes from the first retail experiences known to men and women – marketplaces held in villages across Mother Earth for centuries.

I was lucky to meet a true Marketing Guru in the late 1990s.

T-shirt Tony was his name. He sold …..t-shirts and was a shrewd character who worked the markets.

As he liked to say, ‘Think stalls, not stocks and shares.’

These were the glory days of the markets before the internet and out-of-town shopping centres eroded their appeal.

Tony wasn’t generous with money. Put it this way: if he were a ghost, he wouldn’t give you a fright.

But he took a shine to me and shared some tips that stuck in my head when I worked with businesses to improve their marketing, content and PR.

Here we go with T-shirt Tony’s tips:

Get your spread right: Market traders called the way their stalls looked ‘the spread.’ Or ‘The Flash’.

Good traders ensured everything was neat and tidy, prices were clearly shown, and the best offers were always at the front of the stall.

Everything was geared up to make it easy for the punters to look around, feel comfortable and spend money.

Think about how accessible and user-friendly your website is.

If you have an office front, does it look inviting from the outside?

Pitch perfect: When you think of Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses, you can’t help but smile.

A lot of his popularity was down to the way he sold things.

Call it what you like: patter, spiel or ‘presentation’. In essence, it’s the same thing.

Even in real life, the best market traders had a pitch for their products that was slick without being corny.

They knew what they were selling inside out, and so should you.

Don’t be shy: What’s the point in having a great product or service if you are too timid to shout about it?

Market traders are legendary for their use of ‘calling out’.

You had to do something in busy marketplaces to make your stall stand out from the others, all vying for business.

I remember a stall holder on Wembley Market who was in a dead end around the corner from the busiest thoroughfare.

It was, at first glance, a crap spot.

The enterprising stall holder used a loudspeaker every week to grab people’s attention simply by saying ‘Raaaaaand tha cornahhhhh’.

It aroused people’s curiosity and got them to venture around the corner.

 What do you do to let people know you’re available for business?

If you advertise, do you have a call to action for your adverts?

How are you grabbing attention?

Have fun: Remember visiting a market when you were a kid?

The best sellers made you laugh. They were fun, a bit cheeky and always seemed to enjoy themselves.

If you are bored with what you do – find something else you enjoy doing more, as it’ll come across when you are trying to sell—life’s short.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll leave you with this true story.

I sold sports merchandise on my stalls, mainly football-related products.

On a trip to a supplier in Bethnal Green, I bought a box of Tottenham mini footballs for an absolute song—pretty much a giveaway, so I thought.

Anyway, I pitched up at Wembley and made a good trade on the balls as they were priced so cheaply because we bought them for buttons.

I wanted a quick turnaround to free up cash to invest in the next ‘bargain.’

Next Sunday, I’m trading away at Wembley again when a sweet little Jamaican old lady walks up with one of our ‘cheaper than chips’ Tottenham balls.

‘Hello, love’ I say. ‘Allo daaahlin, I bought this ball last weekend for my grandson from you, but it ain’t right.’

‘Not right? Is it busted?’ I had a look but couldn’t notice anything.

She started smiling. ‘Look at the ting properly, young man.’

So I did, and boom, I spotted what she was talking about and discovered why the balls were so cheap.

These weren’t balls saying Tottenham. They were ALL printed up Tootingham!!!

I swear this story is true.

But that’s not the end of it. I applied one of Tony’s other tips and handled the complaint well.

I did the right thing and gave the lovely old dear her money back.

She saw the funny side, and then I ‘upsold’ one of our officially licensed balls for a few quid more, but I threw in some Tottenham Hotspur sweatbands to compensate for the inconvenience.

Thanks for reading, and if your content marketing has stalled, drop me a line.



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