Marketing 40 years on…What’s changed?

January 21, 2022

Paul Parry

Next month sees me enter my 40th year in Marketing and it’s caused me to reflect on the changes that I’ve seen since that time.

Way back in the eighties when I first got involved in the industry (no prizes for trying to guess my age), it was called advertising. We worked on the principles of the four ‘P’s – Product, Place, Price & Promotion – and used a mix of the media channels that were available to us. A ‘Brand’ was your logo and we referred to it as a ‘Corporate Identity’ and, whilst Michael Lanning had already coined the term ‘Value Proposition’ none of us were even aware of its existence.

Typically, we split our budgets between Above-the-Line and Below-the-Line (when exactly did ‘Through-the-Line’ join the party?) and, even with the limited advertising channels that we had at our disposal, we still managed to engineer some pretty spectacular results.

Channel 4 had not long since launched, giving us the option of a second commercial station, local radio complemented many a multi-media campaign and we spent thousands on leaflet drops and outdoor media, all without the use of computers and the internet (how on earth did we manage?).

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Over my time in the industry, I’ve witnessed a significant number of changes and embraced every last one of them.

We had secretaries, internal memos and typewriters – it took days to communicate in writing – and we used Royal Mail’s DataPost to get artwork to the printers and media owners, yet still we rarely missed a deadline.

As the industry got to grips with technology were one of the first companies to have a Fax machine; problem was, none of our clients had them; we introduced Macs into the studio to produce our artwork (anyone else old enough to remember the big Agfa Repromaster cameras?), and we connected our hardware over ISDN lines.

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Jump a decade and we’re emailing one another. The role of a ‘Paste-Up Artist’ became redundant and we were on the cusp of a new digital age that would transform our industry forever.

Advertising became a subset of the Marketing revolution – it evolved into a science rather than a discipline. The media landscape opened up exponentially, Social Media took hold and online communication made the world a much smaller place. Things happened much more quickly and, as marketers, our value and worth were placed under a microscope, and we were expected to measure success at a granular level.

Analysis became almost as important as results. We could assess ROI in real time, allowing us to make adjustments on the hoof and everything became trackable.

The world of Brand changed too. A company’s ethos and values shaped the way that it was perceived, and the ‘Brand Identity’ became the manifestation of the personality behind it. All of this had a direct impact on the creative process and creatives become much more philosophical about there work (well… the good ones anyway!).

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So, forty years down the line what’s changed? In a nutshell, everything…

…except, I think. The four core principles that I abided by all those years ago; having a desirable product or service, in the right place (when someone has a need), at a fair price, promoted correctly still prevails today.

Get that right and the rest is so much easier.

Now… where’s my pipe and slippers?

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The four core principles that I abided by all those years ago; having a desirable product or service, in the right place (when someone has a need), at a fair price, promoted correctly still prevails today.

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