The Evolution of Marketing: How We Got To The Smarketing Age

by | Marketing Strategy, Sales Enablement

I’ve always operated under the belief that you can’t know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve been. As marketers and salespeople, this couldn’t be more true. We analyze the efforts of the past, and over time, as they evolve, so do we.
The evolution of Marketing in particular has witnessed significant milestones, from print and TV ads, to the digital age we live in today. Marketing has always played an important role in delivering information to potential customers, taking advantage of the technological changes over the years.

Where we are today couldn’t be farther from where we used to be, but we wouldn’t be here without the contributions to Sales and Marketing that our ancestors provided. Little did they know they would be leading us toward the path of Smarketing–the age of Marketing we are currently in.
HubSpot’s detailed infographic shows a timeline of all these changes and the major events along the way. But here is a distilled version of this history (for all you history buffs), to show how things have changed, and to offer a historical context for where we are now.
The Print Age
The Print Age began way back in history, around 1450, when a man named Johannes Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry, forever changing the way we communicate. However, at that time, not everybody could read. But as this changed, so did the types of things that we printed. Even in the Print Age, marketing used outbound tactics, working to send its message out to as many people as possible.
By the 1730s, the first magazines began to be printed, finally catching on in the American colonies around 1741. In the 1830s, posters became a marketing phenomenon, and by 1867, the first rented billboards came on the scene. In 1895, John Deere launched The Furrow, its’ customer magazine, known to be one of the earliest forms of content marketing.
The Broadcast Age
However, as newer technology and faster means of communication developed, marketing adapted. By 1933, over 50% of American households had a radio in their home. This opened the doors to a new channel of marketing, hitting as close to home as possible.
Now, rather than hoping for customers to see your ads in magazines at the newsstand, or your billboard on the side of the road, it was a near guarantee that your customers would hear your advertisements. When they sat down with their families to listen to their favorite soap operas, which were pioneered by Procter & Gamble in the 1930s, it would be as an engaged audience ready to listen.
In 1941, the first television advertisement was aired. And by 1954, spending on television ads surpassed the spending on both radio and magazine ads, bringing us closer to the ads we recognize and know today.
By 1946, 50% of American households were owners of a telephone. Then, in the 1970s, one of the most disruptive forms of outbound marketing began: telemarketing. Marketers now had a direct line to nearly every home in America. In 1973, the first mobile phone was developed, foreshadowing yet another channel for marketers–and quite possibly the best technological development known to mankind for all of us smartphone lovers.
The Digital Age
The 1980s brought the dawn of the Digital Age, with both IBM and Apple developing the world’s first personal computers. With the advent of the internet, everything changed. Email was established, and quickly became home to an annoying amount of spam—arguably just as annoying as telemarketing.
The Dot-Com Bubble also brought about search engines: Yahoo! in 1995, in ‘97, and of course, Google in ‘98. Customers could now take it upon themselves to search for products across the internet, rather than waiting for an advertisement to engage them. Here, in the Digital Age, customers began to take power away from salespeople, as more and more information flooded the internet.
The Smarketing Age
But then the Dot-Com Bubble burst, ushering in a new age of the internet. After the bubble burst, creating value for customers became the norm, rather than outbound methods like pop-up ads. In 2003, the Can-Spam Act was passed into law, and around the same time the National Do Not Call Registry was established—victories for inbound marketing.
In 2004, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook were launched, followed by Twitter in 2006. All of these became new channels for marketers. However, these channels are used to truly engage with customers, rather than forming the one-sided conversations of Broadcast Age. Also launched in 2006 was Google Analytics, changing Search Engine Optimization, making it easier for customers to find high quality content on the internet.
Companies like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, and new technologies like DVR, brought customers away from television sets, away from television ads. By 2011, one out of every two Americans owned a smartphone.
So why does this matter? How can knowing the history of marketing help your own marketing efforts? It shows a major historical trend, a shift in the power of information between businesses and customers.
Today, alignment between your Sales and Marketing teams, Smarketing, is necessary, because decision makers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. Sales reps are no longer the ones yielding all the information; buyers have access to thousands of resources, directly on their beloved smartphone.
Fortunately, Smarketing combats this power struggle.
Long gone are the days of pushing our message onto our prospects. These are marketing tactics that have had their moment in history. Now, creating valuable content for your customers is the name of the game. To effectively do this, Sales and Marketing must work together, to learn what your customers need. The time of telling your customers what they need has come and gone. Now it’s time to listen, engage, and educate prospects to nurture them into leads, and eventually customers.
Welcome to The Smarketing Age. 

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