Marketing returns to the 16th century

Old Marketplace

Take a quick look back through your history books to the 16thcentury and you’ll quickly recognise that most people lived in small villages and seldom made contact with people from outside.

Obviously there was no electricity, telephones, public transport or other modern accoutrements back in that time which probably accounts for why most villagers seldom travelled outside of their village boundaries and when they did, it was slow and often arduous.

Typically any marketing activity revolved around the local village community and mainly happened in the local market square; the centre point of the village, the hub of commercialism and the focal point for many community relationships.

As with all societal groups, individuals got on with and trusted some neighbours more than others but all listened to local gossip and, whether they believed it or not, often used that gossip as a barometer for deciding who to do business with and who to stay clear of.

Step forward in time a little to the time of the ‘railway’ and then to the time of the ‘telegraph’ and notice how those previously remote areas become influenced by the goings on of the city and how astute city merchants created catalogues, brochures and travelling salesmen to enlighten the poor country folk as to what they were missing out on and how much better their lives would be if they only purchased whatever was being sold.

Modern marketing was born at this time and gathered momentum as the years progressed. Marketers started to develop and engage in all the psychological tactics to sell more of their wares we commonly see today. City businesses created shops, offices and manufacturing businesses to create market advantage through ‘localised service’ in order to sell more and more product.

As time marched forward to the information age, we saw the introduction of technologies – radio, television and then internet which sped up the sales/marketing processes and enabled marketers’ greater access and faster tools to ‘brainwash’ consumers into the many benefits of their products through campaigns of mass advertising, societal manipulation and blatant selling.

For many years customers followed the trends, bought the products and dived deeper and deeper into debt as they blissfully contributed to an ever wasteful cycle of consumerism.

But then they (the consumers) started to wake up, they started to realise how they had become slaves to all this ‘stuff’ that was meant to make their lives easier, they started to resent the constant bombardment of messages telling them they were not OK if they didn’t have Brand X and started to get frightened as they realised their whole world was crumbling under ever increasing mountains of debt.

They also found their voice and, through tools like social media, blatantly tell the world about those who have betrayed their trust, who have given poor service or who sell shoddy products or deliver shoddy service.

So, welcome to the world of consumer scepticism, a world where advertising messages are no longer believed and trusted, a world where personal referral from those we trust determines our buying patterns more frequently, a world where consumers help each other to determine who is worth dealing with and who is not. Then look at the way we are creating buying communities (villages) based on common interest and common need rather than geographical location and realise marketing has returned to the 16th century style – just with a global, modern twist.

Article written by Anthony M Turner – Small Business Coach/Mentor, Speaker, Author and the founder of Transform Your Business.

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This Article was sourced from Transform Your Businessa specialist coaching, mentoring, consulting and skills training services for small and micro businesses

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