Saturday, October 21, 2017

Who Invented Marketing?

When asked to name the inventor of marketing, many fans point to Eve (of the Garden of Eden); but many more point to the early 20th century Chicago adman Albert Lasker.

Trained as a newspaperman, Lasker conflated advertising and reporting until the day he met the bibulous freelance copywriter John E. Kennedy in a saloon and was persuaded advertising is "salesmanship in print."

Lasker used that single insight to build a small agency into a powerhouse, launching brands we still recall today: Frigidaire, Lucky Strike, Palmolive, Kleenex, Kotex, Sunkist, Quaker Oats, Van Camp's, Pepsodent, Wrigley, and Warren Harding (the president).

Besides injecting sales-driven creativity into advertising, Lasker introduced other innovations we now take for granted: A/B testing, tracking, market research, the value proposition, discount coupons, sports team sponsorship, and the sponsored radio show.

But labeling Lasker "the father of marketing" discredits late 18th century potter Josiah Wedgwood, truly "the man who invented marketing."

Unlike his contemporaries, Wedgwood took full advantage of middle-class consumers' exuberance at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, turning a regional pottery-making venture into a world-class company.

An autodidact, Wedgwood was unafraid to experiment. He was the first to find that shop-window displays move luxury products; that celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing engage prospects; that trade show exhibiting spurs demand; that premium pricing attracts "aspiring" consumers; and that customizing products boosts sales.

Wedgwood also introduced the first sales catalog, the first traveling sales reps, and the first salesman's sample-kit; he introduced free shipping, the money-back guarantee, and the customer testimonial; and he introduced the paid product placement, the product name, and―most importantly―the brand (literally stamping his name on the bottom of each piece of ceramic).
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