Discover the history and importance of marketing, as well as which types and strategies can help promote a brand and improve its sales with this comprehensive guide.
Ever since people had something to sell or trade, they also marketed. Although marketing is seen as a practice and industry born of the 20th century, this couldn’t be further from the truth. People have been advertising their products and services long before that, and marketing is more than just advertising anyway.
If you are a business owner or work in marketing, you know how big its influence is on the success of a product or company. Without good marketing, only industry-defying products make it through and are sifted away from the competition. So, it is important to stick to a good marketing strategy every step of the way in promoting and nurturing your business.
In this guide, you will find everything there is to know about marketing as we know it today, from where it all started, up to contemporary marketing types and tools that came with the digital era.
But, let’s start from the beginning.
The history of marketing
In some unconventional ways, marketing existed since humankind had anything to sell. But, if we define marketing scholarly, according to marketing professor and author Dr. Philip Kotler:
“Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential”.
So, according to this definition, practice isn’t necessarily marketing if it doesn’t happen in an identified market and doesn’t bring profit to the marketer.
Taking into account all these considerations, the earliest form of marketing came right after the Gutenberg printing press was invented in 1490, in the form of print handouts.
In 1741, the first magazine was printed in Philadelphia, and with it came print advertisements.
Posters started emerging and were a popular form of advertising events in the 1840s, and famous artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec designed them for bars such as the Moulin Rouge. Eventually, they became so popular across Europe, that property owners in London explicitly banned them from being glued to their walls.
About twenty years later, in 1867 came the first recorded renting of a billboard, marking the beginning of outdoor advertising.
Of course, with new technology, came new forms of marketing. With the groundbreaking invention of the radio in 1922 and it becoming a popular media with more than 50% of US homes owning a radio set by 1933, radio advertisements became a normal occasion.
The invention of television happened in 1927, but TV sets became a regular part of households in the 40s. The first televised advertisement for Bulova clocks came in 1941.
Telemarketing started happening in the 40s as well, as more households started having their own phones.
The real growth of marketing as we know it today, and it becoming a large and profitable industry that helps businesses achieve their goals, has happened only after the world wars, in the period between the 50s and 70s of the 20th century. This period is known as the Golden Era of marketing.
Newspapers, magazines, outdoor advertisements, as well as TV and radio advertisements all grow in price and popularity. Mass media reaches millions of people, and marketing materials become better designed, costlier in production, but also increasingly creative. The fight for airtime and good placement only further increases the costs of advertising.
After the 70s, print media started being less effective and more marketing agencies target audiences mostly through digital media. In the early 90s, however, the real digital era emerged a decade after the invention of the world wide web in 1983.
With computers being accessible in homes, the Internet becomes a popular channel for marketing. Still, the invention of design software eases the creation and production of print media, which had a revival in the 90s.
Email marketing became a thing in the late 90s and early 2000s, and with the lack of legislation, plenty of companies started sending out “spam” promotional emails.
Search engine marketing gains popularity in the same period, and with it comes search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, as well as blogging or content marketing.
In the early 2000s, the first social media networks popped up, with the creation of Facebook in 2004 marking a huge shift bringing along social media marketing and different subtypes of it (vlogging, influencer, video, etc.).
The invention of the smartphone shifts users from seeing marketing materials on their computers to their phones, making marketing messages clearer and shorter, as their attention span plummets.
E-commerce and SaaS businesses also become increasingly useful as people work and shop online more and more, and marketers are inventing ways to pull customers into their platforms, popularizing lead generation marketing.
After refining their algorithms, big corporations like Google and other search engines force marketers to find better ways of targeting their ads, hence inventing inbound marketing.
Why is marketing relevant?
It is a no-brainer that marketing is incredibly important when it comes to swaying the opinion of consumers, but also when a company wants to learn about its target’s needs and wishes.
Marketing doesn’t mean just advertising, and it is a complex clockwork that moves the market and helps create new trends and industries too. Whether it is a practice that helps a business reiterate its efforts, or helps a consumer make a purchasing decision, it takes place everywhere and at any time. And it is extremely important. Here are some of the reasons why.
Builds and maintains a company’s reputation
A company’s reputation has a tight connection to the marketing efforts invested in it. The marketing strategy has a favorable correlation with a business’s growth and longevity. As a result, it’s safe to conclude that a brand’s equity is determined by its reputation.
The majority of marketing initiatives are aimed at increasing the company’s sales, reputation, and nurturing the connection between it and its loyal customers.
Marketers ensure that a company’s reputation is maintained by effective communication, advertising, branding, public relations, and other techniques.
Of course, the reputation is good as long as the marketing promises are met. Marketing has the main goal of attracting and retaining customers, but many other cogs in the clockwork have a different task, and if in the end the final customer’s expectations are not met, the business can still not grow or even fail.
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Helps customers make informed decisions
By marketing a product or service, companies and organizations are making large audiences acquainted with what they offer. Even though the main goal of these companies is to convert audiences into buyers, it also helps the viewers make an informed decision about what they are purchasing.
When being in the top level of the marketing funnel, i.e. brand awareness, you probably hear of a product and its supplier and might become interested in it. The next course of action is, presumably, reading all there is to know about it, and researching competitor’s products, benefits and risks.
A small research can help a consumer learn more about what they put their money into and is a purchase worth making, essentially cultivating a better buyer culture and relationship with the suppliers.
Moves trends and spending habits
Good marketing makes even the most niche and unknown product wanted. Before Kim Kardashian told her millions of Instagram followers that she uses vitamin gummies for hair growth, no one even knew they existed.
Before Apple created a cult following around the design and functionality of smartphones, people were fine with just having plain old phones that you could use for calling and playing Snake with.
So, marketing is a practice that can influence people’s opinion so much that it can make them believe they need something that is far from essential. This promotes further spending and influences spending habits among whole demographics.
Of course, consumerism comes with its own bag of challenges and hurtful practices, but it all comes down to mindful purchasing in the end.
Helps boost sales and improves economies
Marketing employs a variety of strategies to showcase products or services. Once a product has been promoted, it has already been brought to the attention of the public, which boosts the producer’s chances of selling it.
Customers may wish to try out items or services before making a purchase, and through that can give feedback on the quality and ease of use for it. This helps manufacturers improve their products, and results in better sales too.
When clients are pleased with products or services, they become unwitting brand advocates. They’ll spread the word, and sales will begin to rise as a result.
When this happens to any company that survives in the free market, and the spending habits grow as we mentioned before, marketing can help move whole economies forward.
Creates new industries and job opportunities for millions of people
Sure, marketing is a practice that helps other businesses grow and thrive. But, it is also a separate industry that employs millions of people around the world.
Some of the career opportunities in marketing are:
- Research analysts
- Product managers
- Art directors
- Marketing executives
- Marketing accounts
- Content writers
- SEO specialists
- Graphic designers
- Social media managers
- PPC marketers
- Branding designers
- Brand managers, etc.
Whether it is an agency, an in-house team in companies, or freelancers that move and shake the employment market of today, there are many people that work in this creative area and widen the horizons of what marketing can do.
Marketing vs advertising
People frequently mix up the terms marketing and advertising. The former is a much more holistic discipline, whereas the latter is simply a technique for promoting a product or service to a particular audience.
Marketing, in its broadest meaning, is a closely regulated yet far-reaching process in which advertisers concentrate on message production. In order to persuade customers to take action, marketers research consumer behavior, while advertisers engage in design, multimedia creation, and other creative activities.
So, marketing is the process of conducting market research, strategic thinking, product development and promotion, and developing a market positioning plan.
Advertising is merely one component of it. It is the process of putting any form of promotional item in front of target customers to assist them to notice the product or service and “mold” their behavior. It can be used in the present ad space, which is made up of a variety of platforms.
The ad space has evolved over time, from simple print publications to in-stream films, influencer marketing, podcast commercials, and a variety of other tactics. Great advertising campaigns use a range of methods to generate interest in a product. Advertisers may use Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites to sell a product to a younger demographic, for example.
How can you make a strategy for both?
The first and most important part of creating a marketing and advertising strategy is to know your audience, but also your brand and industry trends.
Here is a simplified roadmap:
- Market research: No strategy can be done without understanding the market you are entering, as well as the trends and stakeholders that move it.
- Target audience: It is extremely important to have an exact picture of who your target audience is, what are their preferences and what they consider to be good-looking, professional, relatable and trustworthy.
- Competitors: Know your enemies. You need to know what are their strengths and shortcomings, what can you do better than them, what message do they use, how can you improve on their brand values and key propositions?
- Trends: Research the trends in design and marketing. Media channels, average attention span, trends, etc, can also make or break your strategy.
- What your target customers need: Good companies solve the problems and meet the needs of their customers. Instead of you needing them, you have to convince them that they need you and your product or service. This is an incredibly important part of modern marketing: inbound marketing starts from the product and service, and your brand needs to have that in mind.
Types of marketing
Throughout the centuries, marketing went from handing out pamphlets and singing tunes at harbors, to being able to target the exact audience in an exact location and time on the world wide web, and being able to measure exactly how people perceive a brand and how many of them have experienced a business’s marketing effort.
Whether it is traditional or digital strategies, inbound or outbound marketing tactics, each and every one has its perks and challenges. Let’s go through them one by one.
Traditional marketing strategies
You might think that companies nowadays are only focusing on all things digital, but the reason why some traditional marketing forms are still existing is that they are effective.
The main reason that traditional marketing is still important is that not all audiences are online. Although even your grandma is probably on Facebook nowadays, it doesn’t mean that she really understands how the ads function, and she probably believes that traditional media channels have more credibility and integrity. Hence, we still see TV ads and billboards.
Traditional marketing strategies have been around for centuries: the ancient Egyptians created posters out of Papyrus, and the Chinese practiced “oral advertisement” by playing tunes on bamboo flutes to sell candy. The first pamphlet called Common Sense was published in 1776, advocating independence from Great Britain for the thirteen colonies in North America, and is considered to be the first printed advertisement consisting of political propaganda.
Not only is it still super popular, but broadcast marketing is also one of the most creative forms of promotional activities.
Broadcast marketing consists of airing advertisements and promotional material (i.e. interviews and showcases that are sponsored) on television or radio, whose goal is to show certain brands and their products and services to a large audience.
TV and radio advertisements are historically known to be very effective and groundbreaking in terms of reach, but at the same time, they are a lot more expensive. Getting airtime in what is called “prime time” (when people are in front of the TV, for example after dinner, or driving home from work and listening to the radio), can cost a lot more than a social media campaign.
Airing a commercial during the Super Bowl, for example, can reach millions of people, but also costs millions of dollars (even billions, if you count production costs too).
So, broadcast marketing is not affordable to any business but reaches demographics that prefer traditional media or aren’t on social media. Of course, there are also local TV and radio stations that can be more affordable to market on.
The main shortcoming of broadcast marketing is that it is hard to measure its success, and there is no feedback. TV and radio stations always give approximate numbers of viewers in particular airtime, but you cannot measure if the person behind the TV screen paid attention, muted the volume or went for a toilet break.
It might not be the Mad Men era of advertising, but print media is still a viable option for many businesses to market their products. Newspapers and magazines are still sold worldwide and cater to a large audience, making it a good mass-media marketing strategy.
However, nowadays print media marketing is more focused on niche industries or products, such as fashion, luxury cars, sports equipment, etc, as specialized print magazines still haven’t been largely overtaken by online magazines, which seems to be the case with daily printed newspapers.
Fashion magazines are still full of print ads. Source: WWD
Same as print media, handouts such as flyers, brochures and pamphlets are not suitable for any industry or market. However, small businesses, especially in the hospitality, travel, food and beauty industries can benefit a lot from these traditional forms of marketing.
The good thing about print handouts is that they are fairly inexpensive to produce, and today there are thousands of ready-made designs that you can customize and print.
The bad part is that it is polluting the environment, and you also can’t measure how effective it is.
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Event marketing is a promotional tactic that entails face-to-face engagement between representatives of the company and its prospective customers at events such as fairs, exhibits, roadshows, cultural and sports events and so on. Because it is a very effective traditional marketing method, event marketing is a significant trend in the industry.
Effective event marketing has the ability to make an impression on the audience and raise brand awareness. It is seen as a direct technique of forging new relationships and offering unforgettable experiences for both prospective and existing clients.
Out-of-home or outdoors marketing is a strategy in which the audience experiences advertising outside of their homes. This includes everything, from billboards to branded bus stations and posters in public spaces.
Decals on vans and taxis, branded metro stations, public space pop-ups and others are also common examples of OOH advertising.
OOH marketing can be very useful when placed in the right spots. For example, a low-cost money transfer offered by a bank is something you want to see when you arrive at the airport in a foreign country. Or, posters for a music festival placed in parks or skate rinks where young people are known to frequent.
Advertising mail, also known as direct mail and unfortunately junk mail, is a marketing practice of delivering marketing materials into the letterboxes of recipients of postal mail.
According to Hubspot, direct mail is still very important in consumers’ purchasing decisions. A study by Pebble Post discovered that consumers tend to consider direct mail items such as newsletters and postcards when they are closer to making a purchase. It also reports that consumers prefer to receive promotional offers the most and newsletters the least, with brochures, postcards, and catalogs falling in the middle.
Direct mail is sometimes found to be wasteful because it takes a lot of printing and paper material and not all of the produced ads end up being successful.
All things considered, direct mail is only fitting for certain industries and can be beneficial for businesses when dropped in the right letterbox. For example, if you have a local pizzeria and drop flyers in only that residential area, it might bring in some new customers that get free delivery or are a block away.
Supermarkets and big retail chains also often drop catalogs in letterboxes, hoping that recipients will see current discounts and offers as an incentive to visit that specific store. However, most direct mail is also time-sensitive, and if the recipient doesn’t discover the mail on time, it is a waste of time and resources.
Hate it or not, telemarketing is still there. Also referred to as “telesales” or "inside sales”, it is a direct marketing practice in which products or services are advertised to potential customers over the telephone, and previously also by fax.
Telemarketing used to be exclusively done by telemarketers but nowadays it is possible to do it through automated telephone calls or “robocalls.”
Since telemarketing is very disruptive and it’s not unknown for scams and fraud, it has spurred a growing backlash against this direct marketing practice.
Digital marketing is a form of raising brand awareness and promoting products and services online, by placing promotional content on different platforms and in many different forms.
The most defining feature of digital marketing is two-way communication. That means that the viewers of your marketing campaigns online can give their feedback on which you can further improve your efforts with targeting, optimization and learning about your ideal buyers.
Here are some of the most prominent digital marketing forms (keep in mind that this list is not final and there are more digital marketing tactics).
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization or SEO is the practice and activities of making a website “attractive” to search engines.
Through best practices and research, SEO experts improve four different elements to better the performance of a website online:
- Content and its quality
- Number and quality of inbound links
- User engagement and experience
Pay-per-click marketing (PPC)
PPC marketing is a form of advertising that places an ad on an online platform, and the advertiser pays for each click the ad gets from a viewer. Its main goal is to get a noticeable and good spot on a search engine that then reaches a big number of viewers.
When a position on a search engine results page, commonly known as a SERP, becomes available, the engine fills it with what amounts to an auction. Each accessible ad is prioritized by an algorithm based on a variety of variables, including:
- The relevance of the keyword
- The quality of the ad
- The quality of the landing page or website it leads to
- The bid amount or price offered by the advertiser
Social media marketing (SMM)
The prevalence of social networks, as well as the fact that 3.96 billion individuals used social media in 2020, make it clear that social media marketing is one of, if not the most essential, forms of digital marketing.
Nonetheless, by advertising and posting on social media networks, social media marketing increases traffic to certain websites and raises brand exposure.
The fact that SMM involves active engagement and input from the target audience is the most significant factor. Advertisers can quickly track campaign results and learn about their target purchasers’ demographics, interests, backgrounds, and other characteristics.
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Content marketing refers to producing long-form content that helps the readers and viewers learn or discover things that are directly or indirectly related to the business’ scope of work. Content marketing is tightly connected to SEO since it’s usually based on a keyword analysis that overlaps the main interest of the business, its competitors and things that the audience wants to learn about.
The objective of content marketing is to generate leads who will eventually become customers. However, it works in a very different way than traditional advertising. Rather than tempting prospects with the prospective value of a product or service, it provides value in the form of textual information for free.
Email marketing has been around for almost as long as the internet. It consists of sending promotional, educational, and informational content in the form of a personalized email to subscribers, and it is still quite effective and worth investing in. Prior to the improvements in internet privacy and GDPR, businesses could collect emails without the recipient’s consent, which was unethical and, to be honest, frustrating.
Companies can now only send emails to potential consumers who have opted in to be on an email list and have agreed to receive email blasts, newsletters, and news about goods, releases, and sales at a frequency determined by the company.
Inbound marketing & outbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a sophisticated process with the primary purpose of attracting customers to a brand. It focuses on naturally attracting and converting internet users, as well as fueling sales decisions with information tailored to a specific buyer profile and its attributes. Rather than using invasive outbound efforts, it nurtures sales funnel leads through engagement and organic interest.
To help simplify the inbound marketing methodology, let’s use a case study. Hubspot, one of the leading marketing knowledge hubs that also has developed multiple automation tools, surely deserves praise when it comes to inbound marketing. They even share the gained knowledge in inbound methodology courses and blogs, but the way they pull it off is pretty simple.
The majority of their traffic comes from inbound marketing initiatives, which makes it easier for them to get noticed on search engines.
And, while they do invest in paid media, their organic search capabilities are nearly unrivaled. They’ve written hundreds of blogs with appropriate call-to-actions and content offerings. They’ve also invested time and money creating unique landing pages with a simple aesthetic style, short-form text, and a complete lead form.
To top it off, their landing pages provide hundreds of various lead-generating incentives in return for a person’s contact information (to fit their blog post content and the searcher’s purpose).
So, pretty much everything they do in terms of digital marketing has the inbound methodology in mind and is the main long-term goal.
On the other hand, outbound marketing is a type of marketing that involves sending messages to potential customers. Trade exhibitions, seminar series, and cold calling are examples of outbound marketing activities. It is expensive, and the return on investment is substantially lower than inbound marketing.
These approaches, which range from email blasts to outsourced telemarketing, are referred to as “outbound marketing” because marketers spread their messages far and wide in the hopes of finding that needle in the haystack.
Outbound marketing tactics are becoming less and less effective over time due to two factors: daily outbound interruptions and the rising cost of internet outbound marketing.
In branding and marketing, visual design is everything. The first impression the visual aspect of your brand makes, can stick in viewers’ memories for a long time, and sway their perception of your company for better or worse.
Of course, marketing is a complex and multifaceted process in which marketers, art directors, content and copywriters and designers work daily. But, no matter how good an idea is, if it doesn’t look good, it most likely won’t be successful.
That is the exact reason why marketing materials should be well thought out, creative, and most importantly well designed, and why marketing design is a specific subset of graphic design.
Marketing design fields
Marketing design spreads into many different fields and activities, which is why it’s hard to just refer to it as such. Different graphic designers specializing in marketing work in different companies in industries, from marketing agencies all the way to software companies and small businesses.
Some of the most common marketing fields in which graphic design plays a vital role are:
- Branding design
- Print advertising
- Digital marketing (and social media marketing, display advertising, lead generation, content and email marketing as subsets)
- Web design
- Product design
Benefits of good marketing design for business
There are plenty of reasons why you need good design in your marketing materials. Here are some of the most crucial ones:
Better brand experience and awareness
Brand bias is a powerful sales motivator. In the United States, up to 82 percent of adults claim to be loyal to a product brand.
If you want to build brand loyalty, you must use visuals to remind potential customers of your products and core values: a good logo; layout techniques for a clean and comprehensive website design; impressive and inspiring advertisements; beautiful packaging and branded social media pages—all of this must work together to create a consistent brand image.
People are more likely to remember your company and brand when your logos, brand colors, unique symbols, and typography appear in print and digital advertisements.
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Emotional response in audiences
People have a strong emotional response to visual imagery. Whether it’s humorous, startling, sad, or beautiful, your audience is more likely to remember it than you trying to explain it.
The most crucial feelings your commercials should elicit, according to marketers, are anger, disgust, affirmation, and fear. Try to analyze the messaging behind each ad you see in the future objectively, and you’ll notice that the majority of them are based on that.
The brand identity is not only established but also enforced by good marketing design. It allows a company to stand out in a sea of competitors and effectively tell its brand story.
More trust in the brand
A brand that invests time, resources and creative power into designing great marketing and branding, is a brand that takes itself seriously. For that reason, good marketing design can really help your audiences form an impression of your company as one to be trusted.
Graphic design is extremely important in today’s marketing trends, particularly in digital marketing. Better sales come from a well-executed marketing strategy, and the visual part of a campaign is extremely crucial.
We are vulnerable to things that seem attractive, catch our attention, and elicit emotion in us as humans.
If you are just venturing into the world of marketing, we hope this guide has cleared out why marketing is important, what are the types of marketing available to you and how to execute it well.
If you’re looking for more advanced tips on specific topics, from email marketing to flyers, be sure to check out the rest of our blog!