How it was: the evolution of marketing from its origins to the present day

How it was: the evolution of marketing from its origins to the present day

| Digital marketing

Many perceive the marketing profession as one of the most modern ones. Marketers haven't been around that long, but the roots of this profession are much deeper.

I wonder what promotion specialists looked like in the Ancient World and what they did. Let's trace the path of marketing development and find out what the profession was like hundreds of years ago, what has changed by our time, and what a marketer does in the Digital Age.

To begin with, let's keep in mind that a marketer is a specialist who creates a strategy to promote products and services to increase sales and the company's overall profit. To do this, they research the market, consumer demand, preferences, and capabilities of the target audience, as well as competitors' pricing policies and strategies. They have various tools at their disposal to help them attract potential customers, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SMM, targeting, and lead management techniques. However, this hasn't always been this way.

How marketing came to be


Marketing is now considered a basic business function, but experienced entrepreneurs realized this hundreds of years ago. Marketing began to develop in parallel with commerce. Some researchers believe that it happened even earlier, before the first civilizations came into being when craftsmen exchanged their tools for the skins of killed animals. Hunters offered meat to farmers in exchange for goods they needed. Back then, marketing was all about the most profitable barter and 'acquisition,' that is, getting the largest possible quantity of the desired good due to exchange.

Marketing acquired more recognizable features with the development of civilizations, the advent of market relations and competition. The first advertisements were found on the ancient Egypt papyrus. Greece and Rome saw the emergence of scientific works containing economic theory and marketing basics, that is, product promotion. For example, the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about producing, selling, and acquiring wealth. The urgent need for what we now call 'strategy' appeared at the time when the Greeks began to export their products to other countries and import the goods that were unprofitable for them to produce. That was when marketplaces became the cities' main attractions - venues for communication, exchange of information and news. Marketing developed along with trade and increasing competition.

Marketing Diversity in the Ancient World


The first advertising already came in several varieties. For example, in Ancient Greece, market barkers filled in potential buyers on available goods and performed song and dance numbers, running true shows in market squares. It is known that the sellers composed poems about their products, featuring unflattering comments about competing goods. Those were the first unique selling propositions to convince customers to buy a product in a particular place. That was how market traders competed with each other for the audience's attention, as well as the number of sales.

In antiquity, images that we now call 'brand symbols' appeared on goods. For example, wine was sold in bottles and barrels featuring a grapevine, while the hammer was a blacksmith's shop sign. Such logos were purposely put on the goods to prove their high quality. Antique shop signs were another type of advertising serving the same purpose. They provided information about the available goods and convinced potential customers of their high quality and the need to buy at their reasonable prices.

Advertisements, in turn, mainly focused on offering services. The walls of houses and public buildings wore scratched beautiful ads, for example, of a dream reader. There were also more elaborate advertisements called 'placards.' They offered a product or a service description in bright colors to attract the attention of potential customers as possible.

Advertising was verbal and pictorial already in the Ancient World. As new goods came to the market and trade progressed, marketing continued to improve, although no one has yet come up with a name for the art of promoting goods and services.

What came next: the Industrial Revolution and the recognition of marketers


A significant growth of cities in the Middle Ages drove Europe-centered intensive progress of trade and industry. Fairs remained the most popular and looked-forward events among the population, particularly the merchants. There, they could sell their goods in large quantities at a higher profit and exchange experience, interesting 'cases,' and current trade news. Entrepreneurs continued to send their 'scouts' to small towns and villages to determine what goods were needed. This was how the first marketers came into being-they researched the market, consumer demand, and potential customers' needs.

According to some researchers, by the mid-18th century, the foundations of classical marketing had taken shape, and specialists were also needed to focus exclusively on attracting consumers. This was due to the dynamic industrial development, market growth, and the industrial revolution. With the advent of mass production, the management of large companies and industrial enterprises began to thoughtfully approach their product sales and create jobs to study demand and identify the most popular product classes. However, large-scale market research, evaluation of product appeal, and metrics to determine performance were still a long way off. Marketers of the time communicated with regular customers, studied their preferences, competitors' offers, and pricing policies, and created attractive sales offers based on the information obtained. And they began to use mass media outlets to draw more attention to the goods and services offered. Newspapers enable the advertising of products to a broad mass of potential customers.

The first advertising agencies and the development of classical marketing


By the second half of the 19th century, the first advertising agencies were also established, similar to the modern ones. For example, J. Walter Thompson was set up in New York. It provided services for creating advertising campaigns designing and producing additional advertising materials for customers and large manufacturing companies. By the way, JW-still operational today-is the leader in the US advertising market. By 1869, five years after the launch of the first agency, N. W. Ayer & Son, offering the same services, came to the scene. By the mid-20th century, about 20% of enterprises already had in-house marketers, and the term 'marketing' became an integral part of the everyday life of businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, the USA became the advertising market leader, actively facilitating global marketing progress. Here in the United States, the first society of marketers, the American Marketing Association, was formed. It brought together promotion and advertising experts to conduct research and ran conferences and workshops, enabling sharing experiences and new ideas.

This is how universal marketing strategies began to take shape; for example, the concept of 'branding' emerged, meaning the creation of a unique image of goods, their positioning in the market, and the overall philosophy of a manufacturing company.

In 1964, The Concept of the Marketing Mix was published, a famous article by Neil Borden, a researcher and lecturer in advertising at Harvard Business School. It described the four fundamental elements of audience-competent marketing: the product, the place, the price, and the promotion. His works are called the 4P Theory (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). According to this theory, the marketer's duties include analyzing the product value for the consumer, identifying the most effective distribution channels, setting the optimal and competitive price, building a promotion strategy, and projecting desired results. This particularly popular concept was actively used until the advent of the digital age.

What a modern marketer is


The latest technologies and their aggressive adoption in all spheres of life have changed the business environment. Today's specialists in goods and services promotion have to go beyond classical marketing and use innovative methods and approaches in strategy development. Marketing has become completely digital, resulting in such a need.

This resulted in the diversification of promotion options. For example, content marketing. It involves creating self-important content that attracts potential customers' attention. This may be educational articles, videos, podcasts, other audio materials, and infographics. Other options include influencer marketing, which uses opinion leaders to enhance audience trust, SMM (Social Media Marketing), event marketing, and many other alternatives. Besides marketers, today's sales industry includes performance and email marketers, digital strategists, and brand and SMM managers. However, as a rule, professionals don't limit their efforts to just one type of promotion or advertising as they combine several marketing options for greater coverage of a diverse audience.

In the digital age, each specialist should not just identify the most pressing needs and analyze the information received. Still, they should be able to build and aptly position a brand on social media, aggressively communicate with users on various platforms, and engage the audience in interaction. In other words, the number of potential communication channels with prospective customers has increased, and so have the chances of attracting them in various ways. So, the latest technologies and the Internet potential have enabled product and service promotion specialists to move from an averaged and non-specific approach to a personalized one. Personalization has become the most important method of customer retention. Companies that adjust to the needs of each customer use targeting, contextual advertising, and lead generation. This enables building stronger, more trusting, and long-term ties with the audience.

Though the range of modern marketers' tasks has significantly expanded, it is now possible to automate routine processes, for example, through CRM systems, services such as Google Analytics, email newsletters, and other web tools related primarily to sales and marketing. Advertising campaign effectiveness can now be assessed with special metrics. The most important KPIs are conversion rate, click-through and bounce rates, cost per lead and customer, an average check, ROI, and many others. Such a detailed and comprehensive analysis allows for determining how wisely the promotion strategy was chosen, its shortcomings, and ways to correct them to prevent or minimize losses. Thanks to such a technological leap, marketing, and advertising campaigns have come to produce more tangible results; promotion specialists' effectiveness has increased, and so has the demand for and relevance of their profession.

Since the late 20th century, the period of the Internet's mass proliferation and the heyday of marketing, it has become one of the most common areas of activity. It has evolved significantly since the Ancient Times. Hundreds of years ago, people had no idea how to promote their goods, so they used direct advertising.

Humanity's initial experience with marketing was just that - loud signs, luring random passersby into their shops, and slandering competitors. Then came the tech revolution and widespread digitalization, but the marketing evolution is incomplete. Right now, we are witnessing the refinement and all-out adoption of artificial intelligence, evolving virtual reality, and robotization of various industries. We can only guess what the next stage in the evolution of marketing will be like.

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