The Evolution of Marketing: 20 years of celebration

Trends come and go, but we’ve been marketing since the dawn of time – to each other, about each other – and changing our world in the process.

From painting caves, to building monuments, to rearranging how we like furniture or choosing a brand of coffee, we are continuously adapting our lives to our environment. And in doing so, we have aired our desires and belief in a future. There is no more fundamental human trait than our need to tell people who we are, and improve our surroundings for comfort or a specific service.

Early marketers as a distinctive force

We can find marketers everywhere throughout history; designers as early as the Beaker People in Britain at the time of Stonehenge. But from the day we created business, promoting products became more than just sales. Marketing, an instinct finely nurtured, has become controlled and purposeful, a powerful instrument in any company’s strategic plan.

Getting the word out

Marketing has certainly evolved during the last 20 years. Following the door to door salesman, came posters, billboards and direct marketing brochures. This required some skill in writing and so the process became specialised in a dedicated marketing department. Writing – the printed word – is still one of marketing’s most powerful weapons to date. Moving from the salesman to the page called for greater sophistication, creativity and the art of persuasion made visible. Suddenly logos and design were important. Look and feel and emotional connection were beginning to edge into the process of paper advertising.

Radio, television and social media

The day print became audio, we had already stepped much closer to the customer. With the arrival of television, speaking to the hearts of consumers became even more direct and engaging. Marketing generally took place after a product was developed and produced. Thinking began to probe the idea of finding out what the customer might want – and our approach began to change.

The grand entrance of social media has allowed direct interaction and initiated focus on customer needs rather than just trying to sell a product. From TV to YouTube, from radio to podcasts, each progression took us closer to the customer; we were on the verge of capturing the very essence of what he or she was thinking.

The Internet – a giant step for marketing

Websites soon replaced business cards and began to act as shop windows. Initially, all they showed were the products or services on offer. And around this time, consumers began to exert power by using search engines with greater skill. Marketing came to realise that powerful algorithms could contribute valuable research potential through the analysis of viewer habits.

Blogs were added to websites and have become one of the most important tools in content marketing. Informal and informative – blogs can promote the company’s brand through useful information, providing engaging topics, giving customer feedback, creating awareness around the brand and social responsibility.

Email marketing put the marketer under the nose of the consumer. Instead of fleeting impressions of billboards or magazine ads – there was the pertinent information personally sent to an address where it could reach consumers in a more direct and concrete way.

Social media and the mobile phone – plus new techniques for understanding a customer’s place in the universe – have come together like a tsunami for marketing professionals, providing real-time connection with consumers as individuals, offering critical impetus for marketing. Tracking loyalty and developing customer relationships by knowing the right product for the right customer – and exactly where and when to reach them – is going a whole lot further than mere CRM.

Video is yet another step forward in connecting with customers. Visual that connects directly rather than via an impersonal TV screen, can make powerful impression. There is more emotional connection. Video, done right, can add blockbuster support to any marketing campaign.

YouTube still remains the top contender and would need to continue to entertain customers quickly and quirkily.

Artificial intelligence brings products and market research into super-quick connection. It’ a growing technology offering advanced analytic solutions that allow marketers to gain a more detailed picture of their targeted customers than ever before. Marketers can now sift, aggregate and segment large data with the least amount of work. Marketing has become truly data-driven, giving marketers the low-down on consumers – and more specifically, which medium they prefer to receive their messages. This ensures marketers can deliver the right message to the right person in the right way, and at the right time. AI provides the critical up-close and personal conduit between marketer and customer.

Out of the Blue – Celebrating 20 years of marketing evolution

Currently we’re celebrating 20 years in one of the world’s most exciting industries. We have enjoyed a phenomenal journey through all the challenges and changes – and now we’re eager to embrace fascinating new developments in this ever-evolving adventure. Learning as much as we can about consumers, their shopping habits and preferences is key to our business. Tailor-marketing to a customer’s preferences is vital to our trade; becoming intuitive and agile in response keeps us market savvy, ahead of the game, and always engaged.

If looking back leaves us awestruck, we can assure you that looking forward presents the most exhilarating ride yet to come! Find out more about us at: www.outoftheblue.co.za