Magazine article Marketing

Marketers Can Learn Petticoat Lane Practices

Magazine article Marketing

Marketers Can Learn Petticoat Lane Practices

Article excerpt

The genesis of words, their etymology, is always fascinating, as is the genesis of brands. The term "marketing" derives from the word "market" as in Roman fora, Turkish bazaars and Cotswold market towns, to name but a few culturally diverse examples.

People have bought and sold every type of goods and service, for thousands of years, in a market: colourful, noisy, competitive, exciting. It does us good to remind ourselves of this derivation because there is a massive tendency now to try and make "marketing" a pseudo-science rather than the practised use of intuition and observation.

When asked to deliver a talk to the marketing department of a company so blue-chip it was practically sapphire, I surprised them by suggesting that the best way to learn their trade was to spend a week in Petticoat Lane running a stall. Why did I make this apparently outrageous suggestion?

A market stall owner has finely-tuned instincts and observations which he relies on for his very survival. He learns to discern the careful bargain-hunter from the carefree browser from the careless spendthrift by noting the way they walk, their clothes, their speech, the way they handle produce.

He knows when to discount to make a sale and when to hang on to his original price. He examines the stalls around him, their wares, their prices. He works out a "positioning" not simply by living out Conrad Hilton's edict of "location, location, location" but also by working out his price relative to others'.

His personality may be recessive -- "let the goods speak for themselves and the customers self-complete", or it may be a form of cajoling -- humorous patter -- or it may be a hard sell. …

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