Of all the national days, National Marketing Day may not strike your attention as it passes every year. You may have heard of National Opposite Day, National Pancake Day, and Pi (π) Day, but National Marketing Day is more important, more relevant, and more incredible than ever before in history as the world continues to progress. National Marketing Day is a time to celebrate the past and present progress of the marketing field and the hard work marketers put into their work for the future. The more obvious goal of marketing teams worldwide is to create brand awareness and aid companies and organizations into telling their stories and communicating their messages clearly, ultimately stimulating local and global economies and encouraging human cooperation. However, I’d like to focus on the bigger picture all marketers can relate to: allowing the world to communicate with itself, and creating space for educational, cultural, and economic collaboration.
Ever since there has been something to sell, trade, or communicate, the world has been using similar marketing strategies to what we’re familiar with today. Now, as the marketing age has shifted almost completely digital worldwide, we’re playing a completely different ballgame. We are no longer spreading the word about a brand, product, or organization – the internet does that on its own. We are now regulating its speed and direction and clarifying companies’ messages. Like one big telephone game, we are now using what we learned from the elementary school playground and applying it to the world wide web today. We are the crossing guards, the aircraft marshalls, and the telephone operators of today’s internet. Before we can truly appreciate how far marketing has come, let’s first take a look at its history.
Started From the Bottom, Now We’re Here
The first official recorded instance of trading, selling, buying, and negotiating was, of course, barter trades. Barter trades were before the use of money. Two or more parties needed to trade between their available goods or services without the use of a common currency to mediate defined values. This was called a double coincidence of wants, where Boris had furs and needed spices, and Armin had spices but needed furs. However, we have to think about this realistically. We can assume that the exchange was really that Boris had furs and needed spices, and Armin had spices but needed jewels, and Yousef had jewels but needed textiles, and Oliver had textiles but needed furs. You can see how tiring this gets for merchants after a while, 6,000 years before Christ.
Flashforward to the 11th century: The world industrializes. We can finally now advertise in print. No longer having to write individual, scripted letters from person-to-person, the world slowly adapts to Bi Sheng’s Movable Type originating from China (1045 A.D.), a series of blocks acting as a stamp, each inscripted with a letter. Johannes Gutenberg transformed and popularized the new printing style (1450 A.D.) from Chinese characters into Germanic and Latin letters and led the new approach to mass printing in Europe. For over 500 years since Gutenberg’s modification, Sheng’s invention had been the sole operator for printing, advertising, and mass communication across the developed world.
In the 1730s, a few decades before the English Industrial Revolution, magazines and newspapers emerged. Right around this time, you can imagine your stereotypical English newspaper boy covered in soot, holding up a newspaper and yelling, “Extra!” with no real target audience. We have a lot to thank this little boy for, acting as an important turning point in history for grassroots outbound marketing. In fact, after the first published newspaper in Philadelphia 1741, and the emergence of posters in England in 1839, communication mediums such as posters became so popular that London had banned them on public property. Evidently, this did not stop anything because the earliest billboard rental was only 30 years later – still, it was not a poster, technically. Sales and business development comes to one of its first bumps in the road as marketing history transforms into the history of advertising – as businesspeople and newspaper boys alike must now rely on unconventional mass production of advertising and design, rather than familiar consumer statistics.
Make Way for Newcomers
The early 20th century was a time for record-breaking, ground-shaking inventions such as the radio, the television, and telephones to name a few. Now, companies, organizations, small businesses, and individuals can communicate with each other not only through print, but also through simply talking to each other. By 1954, television ads and ad revenue outshined radio and newspaper ads and ad revenue. And of course, how can we forget telemarketing emerging in 1970 as a common grassroots tactic. In the 70s, for the first time in history, print media was officially dominated by the telephone and television. The digital age, also appropriately referred to as the information age, emerged here in the 70s as people began to navigate a surplus of information traveling at unforeseeable speeds. As a result, Time Inc. shut down Life magazine after almost 40 years, citing television and potential postal rates as the main components to its downfall.
It goes without saying that the hand-held mobile phone was next to shake the earth’s core, thanks to Motorola’s Dr. Martin Cooper, and IBM’s first personal computer closely followed in 1981. Apple quickly recognized its market and snatched the opportunity in 1984 with its first MacIntosh – naturally, appearing in its famous advertisement during the Super Bowl XVII commercial.
Briefly, in 1985, print advertising made a comeback with desktop publishing on personal computers, exploding the print advertising market. Of course, with 2G mobile device advancements and ongoing television advertising, this quick comeback is again dominated by the digital market in the early 1990s. The mid-80s and -90s saw the first big explosion in online postage – email! Email marketing naturally takes the reins and takes advantage of a cheaper, faster alternative to print advertising. The digital age and “dot-com” marketing marked the end of outbound marketing as salespeople began to talk with the consumer, rather than at them. This is now the most common form of digital advertising.
The year 1995 saw the beginning of search advertising with Yahoo! and AltaVista, followed by Ask.com in 1997. In December 1995, an estimated 16 million people contributed to the online population, which grew to 70 million in December 1997. With search advertising emerged Technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as we know it, thanks to John Audette’s multimedia marketing group. Just a year later, Google and msn latched onto the search engine market as well. By 1999, only a handful of online blogs existed on LiveJournal and Blogger.com, and by 2006, the number skyrocketed to 50 million. As Google introduces its PageRank metric for SEO, PPC (Pay-per-Click) and Adwords became an important part of search advertising in the year 2000. The NASDAQ Index reported a 500% increase in tech-related growth in the year 2000, and Google Analytics followed in 2005 to dominate the online market.
The World We Know Today
Finally, we’ve arrived at the emergence of inbound marketing. Information is being shared at an incalculable speed, UX/UI (user experience/user interface) design is completely consumer-centric, and collaboration between people regardless of location, class, language, interests, and culture is the new normal. Marketers are no longer pushing advertisements at people and creating an illusion of need. They are now redefining and creating value around brands, products, and services. In 2003, as George W. Bush pushed the Can-Spam Act, email users can now dodge all unsolicited commercial email spam and refocus their marketing efforts on things they’re actually interested in. This is where digital marketing strategy comes in: facilitating communication between consumers and marketers is of the utmost importance as interests are redirected online. As LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook launched in the early 2000s, and the National Do Not Call Registry enacted, consumers can finally navigate a safer, more organic space.
Now, we know that inbound marketing actually costs 62% less than outbound marketing, and social media marketing allows a space for real consumers to connect with companies and organizations, and do what they do best: consume. Marketers can now sit back and watch the internet organically unfold as marketing automation takes over – but don’t kick up your feet entirely. It is now solely our job to regulate the direction and speed of this intercommunication. Now that the world is self-educated, we no longer need to shout “Extra!” but we do need to learn to mediate this whole new world we’ve created. Our job has only just begun.