1923-2009 Have the Rules of Marketing Really Changed?

I read a very interesting blog post the other day, which made me think about the basic principals of SMM. Briefly, the discussed post suggested that the basic principals of SMM are in fact not new, as some suggest, and date back to the early 20th century.

This made me thinking. Early 20th century is a long time ago; times we did not have Internet, email, and other social media tools that make our lives easier as marketers. If media as we know it today did not exist in 1923, is it true to say that Social Media Marketing existed nearly 90 years ago?

Let’s compare and analyze the two eras  discussed in this insightful blog post.

Event 1:

  • Year: 1923
  • Tools: door-to-door sales
  • Tactics/Incentives: Free samples; free gadgets; free advice from professionals that help solve a problem

Event 2:

  • Year: 2009
  • Tools: Internet
  • Tactics/Incentives: Free services; innovative tools that cost nothing; free advice from professionals that help solve a problem.

It is suggested in the article that the tactics used on Event 1 resulted in 90% conversion rate! In other words, 9 out of 10 leads decided to buy the product, turning them to customers. This is an amazing number, considering these marketing tactics were used nearly 90 years ago.

The tactics used on Event 2, when creating a good SMM strategy, may result in the same high number of conversion rate.

My argument is quite simple. Media as we know it today did not exist in 1923, thus we can not call the tactics used in 1923 a Social Media Marketing. However, marketing tactics that were implemented in 1923, as you can see in the comparison analysis above, used the same approaches that are being used in 2009 SMM, and resulted in somewhat similar conversion rate.

What is the link then?

The link is Social!

1923 marketers used Social Marketing (SM) to generate leads and customers. 2009 marketers are using Social Media Marketing to do the same.

Same tactics –> different tools –> different eras.

Two Key points to take from this point:

  • A lot of people think that Media is the key to have a high conversion rate. Wrong! Just because you started using Facebook, Twitter and other SMM tools to promote your business, or yourself, does not guarantee that your business will grow.
  • Do NOT focus on the Media part when creating a strategy. It is cleared that Media as we know it today did not exist in 1923. Instead, focus on being social.

In conclusion, I do not think Social Media Marketing existed in 1923. I think it was more Social Marketing, which is really amazing to me because advocates of SMM are trying to portray it as something new (i.e. new rules of marketing, new rules of PR, etc), which in fact it is not.

90 years of marketing have gone by, and the rules are still the same: Socialize with your customers and create relationships.

Make sure to read the entire article here, it is very insightful!

Leave your comments, tell me if you agree or not.

facebook comments:

  • I agree with your main point that MEDIA is not the primary focus when developing any sort of markeitng. It is a tactic, not a strategy.

    I would like to clarify one thing though. I personally believe that the “Media” in Social Media Markeitng is neither Twitter, Facebook a blog or even a telephone, but rather PEOPLE!! The “medium” is people talking to each other and to the brand. THAT is social media, thats what keeps it honest. Social Media can’t be controlled by any brand and therefor when you hear lots of people talking about or with a particular product, its more believeable.

    But that’s just my opinion!

  • I agree with you, Itai, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. (Actual, I said something similar in my blog this morning, “Got Content? SEO is great, but content is king.” http://multiplanetmarketing.blogspot.com)
    I love your analogy. It’s a concrete example that helps people understand what we’re doing.

    What is new, though, is the fact that the Salesman’s customers never before had access to the conversations between the Salesman and the other customers. That alone will influence which salespeople/products/ companies succeed and which do not. (Some salespeople will be their own worst enemy.) In time, it could improve business ethics more than any federal regulation, legislation or MBA course. Let’s hope.

  • You sure have a point there. The “New” thing is because most of the techniques used in 1920 were forgotten by using other ones like newspaper ads, TV ads and other types of ads for more than 50 years. From relationship marketing we went through a period of outbound marketing only to rediscover the same techniques nearly one century later by using another medium.

  • Itai

    I like this post a lot. Advertising has evolved to the point where in the olden days there was no mass media to get the word out and when it did arrive it was the next best thing but while traditional media is great it loses the communication with the customers and never built relationships. Social media has reintroduced us to that handshake and the concept of getting to know me before you sell me. Also being accountable.

    Great reminder of where it all started.