The Basics of Marketing

The term “Marketing” has an interesting background. Many years ago men would farm their fields and raise livestock in order to survive and they would live off the land. These farms were a distance from the medieval towns that men of noble birth owned and they were basically castles and other types of strongholds that were capable, in varying degrees, of resisting attacks from marauders and the like. The Noblemen granted large tracts of land to the “Commoners” to farm and raise cattle. The only catch being that the Commoners had to give part of their food and cattle production to the Noblemen in exchange for the land.

There were various arrangements, some very oppressive, where the Noblemen would get the better part of the production. The Noblemen could use their share of the production to feed themselves or have it sold in the marketplace.

It struck these agriculture and livestock farmers that if they could produce more excess on their land, they too could sell their products in the marketplace and make some extra cash or they could trade (barter) for other things they needed that they couldn’t produce. Either way, they found a method of improving their standard of living.

So that’s what they did. They would produce extra and after they paid the Noblemen their due, they would go to the market and sell their excess.

So where did the term Marketing come from?

One of the farmers wives would be talking to another and the first one would say: “Where is your husband?” The second one would say “Oh, he’s gone Marketing” and that was the first use of the word – the farmers wives coined it.

Well you say, that’s not much marketing. Ok. let’s look at the parts of it. The farmers had to figure out what to sell. Tomatoes would not make the long bumpy trip and still be good, but wheat and corn could. So they were some of the first products that were viable to sell that had a need by the people in town. Wheat and corn were popular items at the time. In that the whole purpose of marketing is to sell something, now were getting somewhere. So they selected the product that would create the most Sales and if they were smart – Profit.

Then you had to get the corn and wheat into a transportable form. You couldn’t just throw it in the back of a buckboard or push cart. It had to be bundled somehow so it could be handed to someone who would pay you. So, the farmers would get their wives to make burlap sacks to transport the corn and wheat and Packaging was born.

Next was how do we get the corn and wheat to market? Getting the corn to market required at least a cart and a horse – too heavy to haul by yourself. So now we have Shipping.

Once the farmer arrived in the marketplace, he found there were a lot of other vendors selling their corn and wheat. So how did he solve that problem? As this was not his primary source of sustenance he didn’t have to charge as much as other vendors – whatever he made was gravy, disposable income. So now we have competitive Pricing.

But how would anyone know he had better pricing? Well your Location was important (ask McDonald’s), people had to be in the area where you set up shop to sell.

Then you had to tell people somehow what you were selling. Most people couldn’t read, so signage wasn’t ready as an art yet, but you could spread the word by telling everyone you met. Well, telling people is one way, that’s Word-Of-Mouth Advertising. Yelling at the top of your lungs about what you are selling and its benefits – cost, freshness and all that, is Promotion. Getting people who bought and liked your corn to tell their friends to come and buy from you and you giving them an extra bag of corn for doing so, is Referral Marketing.

So now, some of the local vendors thought, instead of competing with these farmers, why don’t we get them to do all the hard work and supply us and we’ll sell it for them and we’ll split the profits. Some of them would even sell to other vendors. So they set up their Supply and Distribution Lines.

Certain farmers would become known for their quality by the consumers in town so the farmers would get their wives to stitch their last names onto the burlap bags. This way, no matter who sold it, the consumers could recognize their favorite farmers wheat and corn and that landed us at Branding.

So, that’s where it all started and just look at what it’s become! The basics were invented long ago and a good understanding of them will make today’s marketing technology appear much simpler and I hope this article has increased your depth of comprehension of the subject of Marketing.

– Ron Norton

Copyright © 2019 by Ronald C. Norton