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Marketing today envisions the perfect blend between technology and advanced planning, but it was not always this way. Marketing began as early as civilization, from the desire to sell goods and services and has made its way through the modern era to become indispensable for any business.

Ever since people started selling goods, they came to the conclusion that, as long as people don’t know about your product, they don’t have a reason to buy it. Think about Coca-Cola, and how the product would have been lost in history if it wasn’t for the brilliant marketing mastermind who bought the formula from its inventor.

Prior to the 18th Century

According to researchers, the first time the term “marketing” appeared in the dictionary was somewhere in the 16th century, when it was used to describe “the process of buying and selling at a market”. As market towns started to emerge in Europe, traders started buying products that people from small towns had to spare and started selling them in bigger market towns. Throughout time, when permanent shops started to appear, marketers would go door-to-door to sell their goods.

In countries such as China, early signs of marketing began to appear through packaging as they would use some sort of labels to signal place names, family and the quality of the product, as well as using product branding that was imposed by the government.

In the 17th century, trade began to be conducted between multiple regions or countries. This meant that businesses and individuals alike needed information they could use in order to make smart business decisions. A merchant from London, Daniel Defoe, caught onto that and started traveling to get information about certain industries and their practices. He wrote many publications about trading, which can now be viewed as marketing research, but were known at the time as commercial intelligence.


18th Century

As the 18th century began, countries such as Britain, France, and Italy were already emerging into the advertisement industry. Their form of advertisement was well thought out and was already able to reach the masses. This was all thanks to two English industrialists, believed to be the fathers of mass marketing. The first one was Josiah Wedgewood, who started using techniques such as mailing, door-to-door salesmen and some sorts of catalogs in order to market goods. The other one was Matthew Boulton, who seems to have understood how to use celebrity marketing before it became a thing. He often supplied noble houses at lower prices, in order to benefit from the publicity.

When magazines first emerged, a whole new era of advertisement was awaiting. In 1741, the first American magazine was published in Philadelphia, when two printers, Andrew Bradford and Benjamin Franklin, were rivaling for the title. Ultimately, Bradford claimed the honor and published the first American magazine. Three days later, Franklin published his. Unfortunately, neither one of them was successful, as they both faded after a few months. But both Franklin and Bradford managed to set a precedent, an opportunity for a new era of press and advertisement.


19th Century

In the 1830s, the most used marketing channel were posters. Businesses would print posters and put them in high-traffic areas, in order to be seen by as many people as possible. But in 1839, posters were banned in London, as they were often put on private properties. In return, they started to use human billboards. People would wear boards that had advertisements printed on them and stood in front of restaurants and other public places. 

As posters began to fade in popularity and were proven to be less and less effective, something new had to emerge – billboards. Bigger, brighter and meant to catch more people’s attention, which has been the goal of marketing and advertisement since the beginning of time. In 1867, the earliest billboard rentals were recorded.

The early stages of what is now known as branded marketing began in the 1880s. A law was given, which was meant to protect the name of a specific business, in order for consumers to recognize it. If this law did not exist, anyone could have used a company’s logo or brand name to advertise their own products. This would affect the trust people have in the brand and consumers would soon start to leave.


20th Century-Present

As the 20th century started, marketing began to see another stage of evolution. In 1905, a course on “The Marketing of Products” was available at The University of Pennsylvania. Three years later, Harvard opened its Business School. Over a decade later, in 1922, the era of radio advertising begun. And judging by how popular radios were in that time and age, it was only a matter of time until it had to happen. The first recorded proof of television advertising dates back to 1941 when TV started to become the force it still is to this day.

Right in the middle of the 19th century, a new powerhouse would emerge – telemarketing. Calling people to advertise goods and services was a common practice that is still effective to this day, with both B2C telemarketing (Business-to-Consumer) and B2B telemarketing (Business-to-Business). Only nowadays, it is done in a less invasive and more professional way.

By the end of the 20th century, both technology and marketing have reached a new level of evolution. Computers and the internet were at their peak. As many search engines launched in the 90s, so did e-commerce. eBay, Yahoo search and Alta Vista search were the pioneers, followed by Google and the revolution of digital text, Open Diary, the first blog with comments.

From then on, at the beginning of the 2000s, the era of social networking begun, and with them, whole new advertising opportunities emerged. Companies found their way into social media with branded profiles and so did ads. Then, in 2005, the most effective branding strategy began – online videos, with the launch of Vimeo and YouTube.

Nowadays, marketing rules the business industry and it still follows the same principles as it did in the beginning – drawing people’s attention towards brands, products, and services in innovative and out-of-the-ordinary ways.