Business Eye: The changing face of marketing

Alex Pratt, chairman of Bucks Business First and founder of Serious Readers in Bierton
Alex Pratt, chairman of Bucks Business First and founder of Serious Readers in Bierton

Still in Ibiza, still thinking about marketing.

So much has changed from the old days when companies would run single adverts through mass communication channels to get their message over to potential buyers.

First came the newspaper, courtesy of Guttenberg’s printing press and Caxton’s first news sheets in 1593.

Desperate for news and gossip from beyond the village, the latest editions of these broadcasts were eagerly snapped up.

To pay for them Caxton commissioned advertising agents to sell space to enterprising local butchers and bawkers at a 15% commission.

Marketing is by no means a Johnny-come-lately aspect of trade. It has been applied to supply and demand since well before the early Egyptian cotton traders, and has funded much progress.

Radio came properly into being with the BBC first broadcast from Ali Pali on November 14th 1922. While commercials didn’t come along until later, they were successful enough to be included from the outset when on October 22nd 1925 John Logie Baird gave birth to television.

TV changed the world, especially the marketing world.

The very first goggle-box advert was chosen by lottery and was for Gibbs SR toothpaste, who had won out against Guinness, Surf and twenty other eager companies.

It ran at 8.12pm on Sept 22nd 1955 and of course television went on to spawn the era of the consumer, offering business owners the opportunity to promote the next new idea destined to improve quality of life widely and quickly, enabling scale manufacturing and driving competitive advantage.

As more companies took up their voice, each had to create a unique selling point (USP) to differentiate themselves in the competition for consumer attention. which led to a concentration on product, and corporate brands. Big business; big budgets.

And so it continued until 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee created the world-wide-web, and unknowingly turned the relationship between buyers and sellers on its head.

Browsing on the High Street has been replaced by browsing online.

The consumer is now regularly more informed than the person serving them, and they always now have a choice or ten.

When was the last time you didn’t google an important item you were interested in buying?

Next week, we’ll look at what it now takes to reach us in a world where more iPads are sold each day than there are babies born.