It’s hard not to feel for Del Boy and Rodney, the hapless stars of classic BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. Between their constant parade of failed get-rich-quick schemes and their perpetually rust-caked Reliant Regal van, it’s clear that they’re a couple of life’s losers.
Maybe they were just part of the wrong generation. As the quintessential 1980s market traders, Del and Rodders had to do everything the hard way, buying dubious “merchandise” from a man in the pub and selling it on their market stall for next to no profit. What they really needed was some way to buy, sell and get their message out there quickly and easily. In short, if Trotters Independent Traders had existed in the Internet era, things could have been very different.
He Could Sell through Online Auction Sites
It’s safe to say that Del Boy and Rodney would have loved online auctions. Selling goods through sites like eBay, Amazon, Marketplace and uBid would mean that they could do away with their market stall altogether and run their business from home. With no need to physically transport their wares to the market every day and no stall rents to worry about, they would see increased productivity and reduced overheads. Whether they would see that as a worthwhile trade-off for being stuck at home with Uncle Albert and his war stories all day is another matter however.
Online auction sites could help them generate some customer loyalty, too. In the show, Trotters Independent Traders was renowned for selling substandard goods, including used carpet steamers and Day-Glo yellow wall paint, but with most sites featuring a comprehensive seller feedback system they would find themselves needing to provide a better quality of product if they wanted to keep trading. While they might grumble about that initially, in the long term they would find that providing high-quality goods is an excellent way to win customers for life and generate repeat business.
He Could Embrace Social Media
The nearest Del ever came to using social media to promote his business is trying to sell some ex-Soviet Army video cameras to a man in the pub, but a decent social media strategy could work wonders for his 21st century counterpart. Effective use of social media is all about generating quality content that customers want to consume, not just bombarding people with marketing material, and with his likeable charm and quick wit Del would be a natural at engaging people on Twitter and Facebook.
Once his social media channels were up and running, Del might consider employing some outside help to take things to the next level. Contracting a copywriting agency would allow him to get blog posts, product descriptions and press releases created and posted to his various social media channels with a minimum of fuss, letting him concentrate on what he does best: trading. Given that his other option would be to hand the business’s copywriting tasks over to his loveable-but-dim brother Rodney; this would definitely be a wise investment.
He Could Buy a Better Van
Del Boy’s beaten-up old three-wheeler van is undoubtedly one of his most prized possessions and he’d probably be crushed to lose it. Image is everything in today’s business world however and sadly a banana yellow Reliant Regal with more rust than paint simply doesn’t say “reputable businessman” to potential customers.
His first task would be to sell his old van, a task that the advent of the Internet has made considerably easier. Although resale value probably wouldn’t be fantastic (to put it mildly…), he could still use online classified ad sites like Craigslist or Gumtree to find potential buyers, or put it up for online auction as a worst case scenario.
With the Regal gone, he would then be free to take advantage of the wealth of used car sites that have sprung up in the last few years. As a small business owner he’d definitely be looking to get the most for his money, but sites like Auto Trader and Parkers would allow him to set his budget and make easy comparisons to ensure he got the right van for his needs.
Chris Hoole is a writer who understands the importance of image and content in the online world of business, these days. Therefore, he suggests that by using a professional copywriting team, you can become king of the net.