Every successful business knows that there are two things that can influence their prosperity — a good product and a stellar marketing campaign. In fact, according to GoPromotional branding experts, quality merchandise is the central pillar that holds up a company. It’s what helps a brand generate revenue and grow its enterprise for years to come.
Thus, companies need to make sure that what they’re offering is functional, of high quality, and, most importantly, meets the demands of their customer base. However, a good product alone isn’t enough if nobody even knows it exists. Therefore, brands need to create a solid marketing campaign to get their products noticed.
A promotional campaign is how a business communicates the quality of its merchandise to customers and incentivizes them to make a purchase. Since the competition is so steep, over the years, brands have come up with a myriad of advertising strategies to stand out in the crowd. So, for any company looking to up their branding game, here is a brief history of advertising — what it is, how it works, and the four ways promotional merchandising has changed over the last 10 years.
Many people associate marketing with big, thirty-second ads on the telly. However, promotional campaigns have been around for much longer than the 21st century. Some historians believe that the first instance of marketing dates back as far as ancient Mesopotamia.
Sometime around 1500 BCE, Mesopotamians started mass producing goods that required quality control. In order to let customers know the product they were buying was coming from a specific vendor, they stamped the products with a signature mark. This became an early form of a logo that customers used to identify the manufacturer, so they could come back for repeat business.
As trading developed, the concept of a logo stuck around. By the 1400s rolled around, the printing press was invented. This allowed merchants to mass produce these logos and place them in other written mediums such as books and newspapers. Thus, they could easily spread the word about their products and get them in front of as many eyes as possible. As expected, this revolutionized the business world and started what would ultimately become a precursor to modern promotional campaigns.
However, what truly defined modern marketing as it is today, was the invention of magazines. During the 1730s, Englishman Edward Cave came up with the concept of a periodical publication of articles and illustrations. Since early magazines were directed at a mass audience, brands saw an opportunity to spread the word about their business. After magazines came billboards, which slowly ushered in the era of radio and television.
In 1922, the first paid radio ad hit airways and it proved to be a big hit with consumers. However, the most effective ads came during the 1940s after the invention of television. Taking advantage of the fact most families were buying screens for home usage, brands started making one-size-fits-all adverts with catchy jingles that everyone loved. Their efforts defined modern advertising as it is today, even as digital marketing started pushing out classic TV commercials.
Advertising: Now and Then
While advertising has changed a lot throughout the ages, four key components have stayed the same. Industry professionals call them the four Ps, and they include product, price, place, and promotion. However, this doesn’t mean the advent of social media and e-commerce hasn’t affected them in different ways.
Product was always the most central part of the marketing playback. However, in the era where customers can easily google information and other customer reviews, it’s more vital than ever for brands to be mindful of the kind of merchandise they’re selling. Likewise, there is an increased demand for warranties and return policies, since the competition is steep. Similarly, there is a hunger for new, innovative products, as the internet keeps driving customer expectations higher and higher.
In an age where consumers can find better deals at just a click of a button, prices have become more dynamic than ever. Thus, brands are under constant pressure to create competitive pricing on their products and offer various discounts to customers.
But on the brighter side, online stores have allowed sellers to cut out retailers and sell directly to their target audience. This allows sellers to have greater control over the price of their products and keep more of the profit for themselves.
Place refers to how widely available a product is for customers — and the internet has done much to improve accessibility. For example, brands who sell their products on sites like Amazon get the advantage of their products reaching as wide an audience as possible. Plus, they also get credibility since Amazon is already a well-known entity.
However, a wide reach means that companies have a harder time creating the illusion of scarcity. People associate scarcity with higher value, so brands will have to do extra work to ensure their products are high quality.
Possibly the most visible cornerstone of marketing is the promotional work itself. This includes everything from advertising to PR work, trade shows and giveaways. Since everyone lives on the internet nowadays, it’s not surprising that it dictates how companies advertise.
For instance, it’s become common practice in the last 10 years to place ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Sites like these have a lot of traffic, so they guarantee maximum visibility. Then there is the rise of geolocation technology. Companies can now use phone tracking to locate which customers are nearest to their business and advertise specifically to them.
Lastly, the popularity of social media influencers has also spurred many brands to turn to them for sponsorships. Influencers have a wide reach and a positive relationship with their followers. Therefore, any product they push is much more likely to land well with customers and prompt them to research the company more.
Advertising is as old as the practice of selling goods for profit. But while the core of advertising has remained the same throughout the years, the last 10 years have significantly changed how brands broadcast their goods and services to the general public.
The internet has made direct sales easy. However, it has also made the competition steep and prices dynamic. Therefore, companies should research history carefully to stay relevant and ahead of the game in this unpredictable digital era.