Marketing is a concept – or better, an activity – that exist now for some 175 years, in the form as we think we know it. It is only the past few decades that marketing has become a major issue in the ever expanding business world.
Social media is not just a marketing spin-off. It is a modern implementation of marketing. Here is a chronological summary of the promotional – not the financial – part of marketing.
1839 Posters on private property in the UK. People were basically tweeting about their offerings. Anyone walking along could read it or ignore it. If they read it, they could spread the word, follow and re-tweet, so to speak. And that’s they way people communicated about common interests. That was word of mouth, literally. So the concept of twittering was put into the business arena.
1864 Telegraph mass spam. Just another one to many communication method. Shouting about what’s being offered, where to get it, how much to pay for it. Telegraphs were normally used to send messages though radio wave broadcasting. At the receiving end, an electrical typewriter writes out the message. At the end of the message, a small commercial gets typed. Later on, commercial messages got broadcasted just like that, so anyone who had a telegraph machine could receive it. That was the beginning of unsolicited spam.
1867 Billboard rentals. Well, the idea from 1839 proved to pay off, and so people started to make a living out of creating and planting billboards all over the place. Interesting to know that the physical billboard came only three years after the electronic telegraph.
1905 The University of Pennsylvania releases a first course in Marketing Of Products. Yep, the concept of reaching the mass by using various methods has gotten scientific status. It is not clear whether PhD degrees in billboard planting could be earned. Just kidding. Anyway, this university was before the now more famous Harvard.
1908 Harvard Business School opens. Nothing special for the moment, HBS still being in the grassroots. Just that there was considerable attention to the how-to of doing business. And marketing of course. Interesting to notice that HBS was not the first university with this curriculum.
1922 Radio advertising. The good old telegraph and billboard have given way to radio broadcasting. The DJ’s, as they were certainly not called that time, did their commercial talk to the listeners. Quite an impact.
1940 Computers. Here we are talking about mainframes. In present time we tend to use the term Cloud Computing, which is conceptually mainframe computing, a sort of centralized or grouped piece of computing power that users can hook up with through a terminal or workstation. Hey, don’t think in the 1940’s they had browsers. Just punch cards and line printers Huge machines with switches, wires and plugs, and only a few KB of RAM. Mainly production of printed documents. Lots of them. No office without paper.
1941 TV advertising. Same as the 1922 radio advertising, but then visually. Not too many special effects, besides of white noise on the monochrome cathodic ray tubes.
1957 Approximate … The internet immaculate conception. Here is when the first internet application got public. At that time, it was all mainframe based, with point to point terminals. This network technology was created by ARPA, with some military background flavor. Only 15 years later, the TCP/IP protocol came live. But really, the internet was born in the mid fifties!
1970 E commerce Electronic commerce is the technological implementation of computer aided selling and buying. You know, online shops and stuff like that. In those days the internet was not as it is today. It was an era without Java, Ajax, PHP, MySQL, XML and DHML stuff like that.
1980 Database marketing, relationship marketing, computer oriented spam. Business contacts got neatly recorded into electronic files that could be quickly read by computer programs that generate commercials. Addressed to the contacts directly. Printed.
1982 TCP/IP based internet world wide. This was the after birth of the internet whose immaculate conception was in 1957. Roughly 15 years after 1982 it became a commercial platform, the way we have it today.
1984 Guerrilla marketing. Wrong name for a peaceful way of spreading the commercial word by as many, more and most in the least possible amount of time. Typical quantity leap strategy.
1985 Print advertising through desktop publishing. Now anyone can create, print and distribute their own flyers. That’s what it basically was. In a way, flyers are paper pop-ups.
1990 CRM marketing & promotions planning. Customer Relationship Management simply means to take good care for your rolodex, and use the contacts to increase interest in your offerings. CRM is not just sending commercials. It is also integral part of account management, to keep the contacts live and happy through effective communication.
1991 Integrated marketing communications. An expensive term for smart computer programs that aid the marketeer in segmenting and targeting It has never been exactly defined what precisely the word “integrated” means in this context. It is not the first time that expensive words are used for simple stuff by those who don’t even understand these words themselves. And to this day, the word “integrated” is frequently misspelled by IT professionals.
1995 Alta Vista, Yahoo and eBay are born. The first search engines on the world wide web plus the first global auction site. Some 100,000 websites, roughly estimated, were around and indexed by the search engines. Boy, at that time my website was in the top 1000! Now its position seems nowhere.
1996 Ask.com viral marketing. The word “viral” – meaning spreading around and picking-up quickly, like a virus – is coined by some young dynamic people who really had too much caffeine on their desk. Viral won’t make anyone sick, other than unsolicited spam ads.
1998 Google and MSN. Yes, Google was born only in 1998! Today it has even become a verb in quite a few languages. A verb. Yak!
1999 Epinions, Second Life and Video Games. The 3D world is still in its infancy today. That is mainly due to crappy slow hardware & networks, and the intellectual entry threshold is a bit demanding compared to the average applications in the virtual world. Second Life and some adult games are misused for 3D virtual sex. Up to now, these virtual reality environments have not been used to the max of their true potential. A decade later: still a lot to do in this area! Except in modern movies where 3D rendering is absolutely necessary. Actors are being replaced by 3D avatars.
2001 Social bookmarking is nothing more than a one-click way of storing your favorites Usually it concerns a social network of some sort. Controlled through a mild form of mafioso. If you have your own social network, unless you can prove your 7 or 9 figures, you are likely not to be included in the world wide social bookmarking list. Prove me otherwise!
2002 Flickr and Photobucket photo sharing. Photo sharing was nothing new, as at countless other websites photos could be downloaded and saved. But some “official” entities managed to add some sort of formalities to it, to give that elevated feel of authority.
2003 MySpace. We have not forgotten the shared multi-site concept as brought forward by numerous free website providers. MySpace had a more dedicated look and feel and was targeted to a more specific audience with a web creative mind-set.
2004 Facebook and Digg. Same as MySpace, but in a different setting. Facebook, no way of individual page designs. Another social network that surprisingly still attracts under aged users as half of their total audience, although it started out as a local face-book at a university adult class. Only a sparse flavor of dating is present, contrary to the more specific or localized social networks. Micro blogs & comments are often used as two way conversations of limited time span.
2005 Vimeo and Youtube. Videos got available through the internet and of course heavily used by marketeers. And daters too! Porn is forbidden on these sites and there is considerable censorship on video content.
2005 Ten years after 1995, over 1,000,000,000 websites were around, most of them carrying some sort of ads. That is ten thousand times the number of 1995. Explosive growth.
2006 Twitter was one of the latest new marketing channels to come into existence, and is based on micro blogging of time lines. Most Twitter users blog URLs of external sites and have no content to write by themselves. There is hardly any two way conversation. Everybody is just shouting.
2011 The majority of social network developments are simply polishing the user interface. Some sites got better, most got worse. Graphical user interfaces got cosmetic overhauls at disastrous levels. Functionally little new, though. Shifting a menu, changing a background color or resizing thumbnails is not a significant improvement. It seems the developers have either fallen asleep or ran out of imagination. They just keep doing plastic surgery on their sites without really improving their business.
We are now a few years further down the marketing road, and not much new has been invented. So who’s going to be the next marketing multi-billionaire?