Surprisingly, the marketing community started out with a few handbills and ads that were
considered boring and unreadable. In the early days, companies and marketers barely researched
what their consumers truly wanted in a product. Over the last century, the marketing landscape
has changed dramatically with the introduction of technology, and an emphasis on providing
value to the customer.
The Beginnings of Marketing
One of the earliest and most successful marketing campaigns were those for the New
World. At that time, Great Britain boasted the most advanced advertising, using extravagant
language on signs and handbills to get citizens to adventure to the colonies of America. This was
believed to have had a substantial impact on emigration and colonization of America. However,
advertising in the colonies, though well-established, was rudimentary at best, as the colonists
were mostly rural farmers and tradesmen with little need for advertising. The country also
lacked efficient transportation and communication systems to support national advertising. As
such, marketing materials were neither pleasing to the eye, imaginative, or legible (Foner &
The Antebellum advertising period saw repetitious marketing that was just as
unimaginative as it had always been. It was not until the 1820’s, as larger cities began advancing
along with printing technologies, that advertisements improved. During this time, newspapers
were treating advertisements like stories, changing them out daily. By the 1840’s, the beginnings
of advertising agencies could be seen through Volney J. Palmer’s business listing for his “coal
and advertising” company. While innovative for its time, this example demonstrates how
undifferentiated the field of marketing truly was. Finally, in the 1880’s the beginnings of modern
MARKETING THROUGH HISTORY
marketing can be seen as the importance of the packaged good increased. Businesses realized
that by packaging their own products, they were easier to brand and market nationally.
Distribution channels grew with the railroad system and communication expanded with
telegraphs. Hence, national advertisers were born. The largest product driver of that time were
magic elixirs and medicines guaranteed to cure cancer. Eventually these firms, desiring to build
stronger bonds with their customers, began to avoid the less honest medicine manufacturers
(Foner & Garraty, 1991).
Twentieth Century Marketing
Prior to the twentieth century, the trend in marketing had been for advertising agencies to
buy newspaper space at wholesale and sell it for retail prices. But by the end of the nineteenth
century, companies wanted to create and build brands. This brought about sweeping changes in
the marketing field including copyright laws, research techniques, and sources of compensation.
Firms were now paying closer attention to the message their advertisements were sending and
began researching what customers...