Marketing has been around since the early 20th century, and has developed in five main stages, some of which are still used to this day. Marketing is pinpointed to have begun during the early days of mass production, pre 1920s when efficiency was top priority. The famous words of automobile maker Henry Ford sum up the marketing values of the mass production era; his customers could have a car in “any color – so long as it’s black”.
The Sales era begun in the 1920s, when Western economies were struggling and sales became the single priority. This era saw the first active effort to push sales, and the introduction of the ‘sales pitch’ and a new breed of ‘salesmen’, something that has changed very little to this day.
The 1950s onwards became known as the Marketing era, as companies started to realise it was less about pushing the products they had made, but evaluating what people actually wanted them to sell. With this came much more choice of products and services than there had ever been, as companies began to do their research and sell a variety of products to suit the changing markets, something that is still a core value of marketing today.
By the 1990s companies were totally on board with the ‘customer comes 1st’ concept that the Marketing era brought, and thus came the Relationship Marketing era. From the 90s onwards it became all about viewing the customer as an individual, rather than considering the market as a whole, and it became more about gaining return customer and building good relationships with customers than simply gaining a sale then moving on to the next. Inevitably it was found that customer loyalty drives future sales not only from their own repeat custom but from their recommendations to family, friends, colleagues, etc.
Societal marketing came shortly after Relationship marketing began, and was the beginning of customer focused campaigning. Many companies began to see the benefits of placing the consumer at the centre of their organisation and focusing all their efforts on customer satisfaction, with sales becoming a secondary priority.
There is currently a sixth main stage of development taking place as we speak in marketing, and that is the Digital era. With the growth of technology and the consumer’s increasing dependency on this, marketing has begun to migrate to the online world. There will always be traditional marketing methods in place, and it is important to remember this, but digital marketing brings new methods of reaching a changing market.
We can increase customer relationship building and loyalty using communication tools such as social media and blogs, and we can increase sales and brand awareness by offering digital shopping experiences and engaging with the consumer through many different digital outlets. When SEO (search engine optimisation) is executed correctly and companies can afford to use tools such as Google Adwords or other Pay Per Click (PPC) methods to ensure they have a significant online presence, the greatest advantage of digital marketing can be that that during a time of recession companies of any size and niche can not only survive but grow and develop by reaching a wider market.
For more information on digital marketing and how to make the most out of it see some of our other useful blog articles, including Useful Online Tools For Digital Marketing Managers and Measuring Success – Marketing Metrics to Gain Insights.