In the shadow of a mud hut with a straw roof, Thag, an aspiring entrepreneur, is enthusiastically explaining the benefits of his new invention to his cave mate, Urgh. It’s something of the likes that Urgh and the rest of the caveman community have never seen: a seemingly smooth stone shaped in the form of a circle. Apparently, this is the greatest innovation of the 4th millennium BC and will make the work and lives of all of those who dwell in the caveman community easier and more productive. As Thag passionately pleads the case for his new invention that he calls “the wheel”, Urgh stands by listening intently, digesting the benefits of this new revolution in pre-historical times.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed the birth of marketing. Although many opinions differ on the exact definition of marketing, we can all agree that it is a means of creating, communicating, and delivering an intended message or offering to an audience. To our prehistoric entrepreneur, marketing his concept of the wheel to his fellow cave dwellers required forethought and an understanding of his audience. To the rest of us living in the 21st century, the tactics and mediums currently being used have evolved significantly, however, some of the key elements of a prehistoric marketing strategy are still evident in modern marketing executions.
It’s been quite a journey for marketers throughout time. Starting from our Neolithic acquaintance to the earliest print advertisers in the early 1700’s, marketing has evolved into a billion dollar industry that still tries to pitch the benefits of the wheel.
Let’s take a look at some of the pivotal milestones in the history of marketing:
• 4000 BCE -Thag invents the wheel and therefore creates the first sales strategy and the means of communicating that strategy to his peers.
• 1450- Johannes Gutenburg invents the printing press consisting of moveable type making mass print possible for the first time.
• 1730’s-The first magazines emerge as an advertising medium.
• 1867-Earliest recorded billboard rentals.
• 1920’s- Market research becomes conceptualized and put into formal practice.
• 1922-Radio advertising begins.
• 1941-The first recorded use of television advertising.
• 1970-Everyone’s favorite form of marketing, Telemarketing, emerges as a common tactic.
• 1980’s- Print advertising explodes as desktop publishing and personal computers become common devices.
• 1993- The Internet is commercialized and forever changes the landscape of the industry from outbound to inbound marketing.
• 1995- The first search engines Yahoo and AltaVista are launched. Also, the first time the term “search engine optimization” is used.
• 2003- The age of social media begins as the proliferation of user generated content starts changing the marketing industry once again.
• 2007- The web marketing firm, Tribute Media, is founded by Corey Smith.
• Present- E-commerce and web marketing reign supreme in the field of marketing and market research.
From the invention of the wheel to entire industry analyses devoted to tracking search engine optimization, marketing has evolved through time as a means of communicating a product or idea to an end-user. As we enter the newest age of marketing, with the Internet as the principal medium and the consumer as king, we must be ready to adapt to the newest inevitable paradigm shifts that will change our outlook on marketing time and time again.