When you boil it down, the true definition of marketing is the process of bringing a business’ products or services closer to its customers. The most primitive and essential tool in the marketing toolbox is the sign, which is simply the name/location of the business. Historically, the sign was the first step in increasing a business’ reach to a larger audience. The sign would let people know that the particular enterprise was in existence and of its precise location. Whether the sign was in front of the shop itself or at the town’s border, residents and travelers were made aware of the business’ existence.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution and the eventual development of the automobile, people were limited in their ability to travel to obtain a product or service. Thus, there was little need for marketing, as everything was within walking distance; i.e. there was no distance barrier that needed to be broken. So, if the initial objective of marketing was to close the distance gap between products and customers and there was no way for people who were not in your immediate vicinity to travel to you, there was no need for marketing. Of course, you could always use a sign to advertise new products or new services etc., but in terms of reaching a new customer base located in distant locales, there was just no reason to do this. Even if someone were to hear through word of
The advent of the personal automobile, which enabled people to travel to places never before accessible, gave birth to marketing, in its true sense. Now, as long as people “knew” about your product, the only thing stopping them from buying it was how badly they wanted it. Another change we saw was the growth of villages into cities. Even without the transportation revolution, we saw greater populations spreading out over more area, multiple service providers within the same industry evolved, serving an ever increasing population. When you juxtapose these two trends, you have the beginnings of the modern market, as we know it today – many businesses to choose from within one industry, all within equal reach.
In the mid 1990’s, the marketing landscape would be reinvented. Few saw it coming, but a new virtual world was born, circumventing all previous barriers to instantaneous communication. In the new virtual landscape, all of the previous challenges of overcoming distance barriers ceased to exist. As long as both parties had an internet connection, your website became a virtual window into the core of what your business was offering and what message you were trying to convey. This new world became one where it wasn’t so much about how far people were willing to travel to come to you – as everyone was now
We live in a world today with virtually zero geographic obstacles and an ever-increasing number of inroads that businesses can build for people to reach their front door, be it physical or virtual. The digital world allows businesses to get in front of their potential customers no matter where they may be in the world. Our “signs” have become so powerful that they can be seen anywhere on the globe at any time of the day or night to whomever we choose. Also, through the use of social channels, search engines and web design, businesses today are in a marketing position like never before; in a split second, they can exist anywhere in the world that someone needs their products or services.