There’s a lot to say about marketing, and I’m just one voice in the wilderness.  This new blog will publish observations and news on the world of marketing, both mine and, more important, key articles and resources I find as I navigate social media, my current focus, and the good old fashioned Internet, which, I now read is 40 years old.

It amazes me that, with all of our reliance on the Internet, so much printing still occurs. My mother, an avid user of the Internet – but, still, she’s over 70 – likes to request free brochures on vacation spots, local organizations, and anything else that piques her imagination and can be sent through the mail.  While she’s content to wander through the Internet for ideas, she likes the hard-copy form of communications that she grew up with.  As for me, younger than 70 but older than my 20-something daughters, my preference is the on-line format, getting things in print only when I suspect I’ll need to access it when I’m away from my computer.  At the other extreme, my daughters look at printing anything as a waste of time. After all, can’t they just refer to it anywhere thru their PDAs? (“But what if you’re out of cell phone range?” I say, pressing a printed map into their hands.)

My perspective is that there is room for both.  Maybe that’s just my generation.  Perhaps my daughters and their many texting friends will disagree.  Or perhaps they’ll decide print has its place.

While managing trade show marketing for Intuit Payment Solutions, one trend we noticed and acted upon was the desire of many attendees to avoid printed material in their goody bags. Like professionals, and like my daughters, they wanted to avoid extra weight and just preferred we send them a PDF via email. (“But what if you need something to read on the plane?” I whispered to myself in between scanning name badges at the booth.)

Sometimes, An Emperor is Just an Emperor

And now for a different perspective on marketing. Recently, while reading a history of the Roman Emperors, it amazed me how many emperors would “assume the purple” in one month, then within a year or so be assassinated.  This would be the rule for 5, 6 emperors in a row before one, like Aurelian, would come to power and hang on for a number of years, patching things up with a victory over the Gauls and some administrative duct tape before some other one-month wonder would take over.  How did they keep the empire from falling apart well before the final curtain call in the 5th century?  I believe the bottom line is that, for the Romans, their empire was worthy of keeping together. If only they could have convinced their unruly neighbors.  

What they needed was good marketing.  That may have allowed them to communicate the features and benefits of their civilization and make a better case to the hairy hordes surrounding the Roman Empire. Then, rather than invading Rome, the barbarians would have bought into the fun of plumbing, aquaducts, public baths and large-scale entertainment that was theirs for the partaking if only they join the empire rather than hack away at its margins.

But Marketing was a concept as foreign to ancient Romans as the Internet would have been. Sure, Roman shopkeepers would have used their instinctive merchandising skills to organize their line-up of beets, bread loaves or sheep parts.  But they didn’t think of the 4 Ps or any other 20th century concepts. As for the Roman Senate and Emperors, their belief in Roman superiority meant that they, overwhelmingly, preferred subjugating peoples with an iron fist over seducing them with charm. Who knows what would have happened if the opposite had been the case.