The History of Marketing Operations and How We Use Them Today

Marketing Operations – What Exactly IS Marketing?

Marketing operations have existed for a long time. Believe it or not, some form of marketing has been around since the beginning of time. Today’s textbook definition is defined as:

Marketing, an activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers.

marketing operations

More simply stated: Marketing is the activity of satisfying a person’s needs and wants.
It all began with The Apple ?.

More simply stated, Marketing is the activity of satisfying a person’s needs and wants. It all began with The Apple ?. #marketing Share on X

The History of Marketing Operations

To explain the History of Marketing you must go back to the beginning of time. First, Eve had an apple, a very special apple. She wanted to eat the apple. Eve needed to convince Adam to eat the apple.

marketing history

She didn’t know it then, but Eve was using her marketing skills to convince Adam to eat the apple. Then she outlined her plan and made her pitch. Finally, Eve made Adam realize that he did need to eat the apple. We all know, Eve’s marketing plan worked. Thus, you could say, Eve became the first marketing person.

So long as people need or want something, there will always be someone or something out there to fulfill those needs and wants. Many times, people do not know that they need or want something until someone points it out to them. As a result, marketing comes into play.

Thus, you could say, Eve became the first marketing person. #marketing Share on X

The Evolution of Marketing Trends

Sales and Marketing go hand-in-hand. They have always been handcuffed together. How does a sales person market their goods? That’s been the ago old question.

Companies started working towards an answer to that question forever. But it wasn’t until the 1920’s that companies thought seriously about a solution to that question.

 1920’s The Golden Age of Radio

First, radio was the force in marketing communication. It was a way to speak directly to the consumer. Marketing was promoted through talking about products. After all, there was no option for visual contact at that time.

golden age of radio marketing

Companies would hire spokespersons to tell their story. Oftentimes, jingles would be created to promote brand recognition. It was a simplistic form of marketing.

It’s interesting to note that, back then, it costs $100 for a 10-minute spot on the radio.

Oftentimes, jingles would be created to promote brand recognition. It was a simplistic form of marketing. #marketing101 Share on X

 1930’s P&G Branding

By 1930, it became evident that name recognition was extremely important. Companies wanted their brand to become a “household name”. The first company to pioneer this mindset was Proctor & Gamble. P&G was founded back in 1837.

James Gamble invented the first bar of soap. Harley Proctor was the first Advertising and Sales Manager. He named it Ivory Soap. His name came first because of his marketing expertise.

Together, from the 30’s to present day, P&G has been the leader in marketing strategy. They launched such famous brands as Tide in 1946. Crest in 1955. JIF Peanut Butter in 1956. Other brands included: Pampers, Folgers, and Pringles in the 60’s.

For this reason, P&G has 83 brands now. They raked in $1 Billion last year. P&G surely has created a successful marketing trend.

Together, from the 30’s to present day, P&G has been the leader in marketing strategy. #marketing Share on X

 1960’s Marketing Science

By the 60’s, it became apparent that this was the time to include the consumer in their marketing strategies. Hence, Marketing Science Institutes (MSI) were introduced to marketing operations. Unbiased consumer product testing institutes became popular.

These institutes would create surveys sponsored by product companies.  They were searching for feedback on their product brand. Next, they would compare them to their competitors.

Many institutes would mail out boxes of samples of their product line. Finally, they would include their questionnaire to households throughout the country. P&G was a major supporter of this marketing concept.

Good Housekeeping gave products their “seal of approval” based on the results of these surveys. Their seal logo was a strong marketing benefit in a company’s marketing plan.

 1970’s Profiling Customers

The concept of profiling the consumer came to the forefront of marketing operations during this decade. The profiling was to analyze their needs and wants.

Companies became concerned about reaching the right target market. Does their product meet their customers’ needs? Is their product something the consumer wants? Who is the company’s ideal customer?

Market researchers and consumer panels were created to conduct in-depth research of the ideal customer. The panels focused on reaching certain market segments in order to sell specific products. They were looking for patterns and demographics. These included preference, socioeconomic status, lifestyle, product use, etc.

The concept of profiling the consumer to analyze their needs and wants came to the forefront of marketing operations during this decade. #marketing Share on X

 1980’s Metrics Statistics – POS Technology Soars

With all this new data, it was important to educate the marketing industry. They had to learn how to utilize the new statistical analysis information. Therefore, marketing textbooks added chapters on metrics, marketing organization structure and return on investment. This was the beginning of a new age in modern day market planning.

At the same time marketing technology was growing rapidly almost daily. It began with the Computer Identics Corporation (CIC). They installed the first true barcode system at General Motors.

UPC Codes Became Part of Marketing Operations

Later, the National Association of Food Chains developed, for the food industry’s purposes, a Universal Product Code (UPC). Food coupons were the first step in tracking consumer product purchases for marketing purposes. Hence, this was a major catalyst in changing marketing strategy.

upc codes a marketing operation

Notably,  a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum was the first retail product ever sold using a barcode scanner. By 1984, 33% of all grocery stores used barcodes. Today, almost 100% of retail stores, along with several other types of businesses, use barcodes.

Food coupons were the first step in tracking consumer product purchases for marketing purposes. That was a major catalyst in changing marketing strategy. #marketingstrategy Share on X

 1990’s Customer Retention

By this time, with all the statistical data and technology, comes the world of fierce competition for market share. With all this information available to marketing agencies, companies now have higher expectations. They are raising the bar to make their marketing departments accountable and responsible for market research and for their ROI.

Customer retention became the next point of focus for marketing operations. Companies wanted to emphasize the importance of customer loyalty and how critical it is to have that competitive edge. Thus, marketing automation software helped to assist marketing departments and agencies with their strategic marketing research.


 Early 2000’s The Digital Age

The turn of the 21st Century produced the Digital Age which created a new Marketing Mission, namely, “To propose the concept of adding more processing of Metrics Technology to marketing procedures.”

Not to mention, Search Engine Marketing provided more options for the new millennium.  Then, new advertising channels were created, along with personalized message directories. The likes of which were introduced as follows:

  • 2003 Google, already the strongest player in the market since 1998, released ADWORDS.
  • 2004 Facebook is born, as the first player in the Mobile Revolution.
  • 2005 YouTube is born as a popular video media source.

Analyst firm, International Data Corporation, notices a rise in Market Operations.
Gary Katz publishes article on Market Operations.
Market Operations Symposium is held in Los Angeles.

 Social Media Becomes Part of Marketing Operations

  • 2006 Twitter takes the world by storm as the next member of the Mobile Revolution.
    Marketing Operations holds round table before a crowd in Silicon Valley.
    Finally, Marketing Operations Partners establish first marketing operations consultancy.
  • 2007 Formal framework for defining marketing operations began.
    1st benchmark study on marketing operations establish best practices.
  • 2008 1st formal marketing operations training course started.
    1st University for marketing operations has begun.
  • 2011 Twitter introduces “Tweets and Trends”.
    Facebook’s Ad Revenue hits $1.8 Billion.
    Did you know marketing operations is identified as the fastest profession in marketing today?

     More Updated Marketing Operations

    • 2013 Programmable Media Buying becomes available.
    The introduction of software providing real-time bidding platforms. Hence, these increased speed and efficiency to online advertising.
    Introduction of Custom Marketing software to help companies with their marketing efforts. And then of course, automated marketing became the norm.
    • 2014 Summit meeting on Marketing Operations and Technology took place.
    • 2015 Global Digital ad spending reaches $171 Billion. $58.6 Billion in the US alone.

     More About Marketing Operations

    For additional information, see the Infographic below or visit

    Meanwhile, new computer technology was growing by leaps and bounds. Therefore, it’s time to include the statistical research in all your marketing strategy!

    This Infographic below is brought to you by Wrike project management software.

    The History of Marketing Operations

Lastly, I’d love to know in the comments below what facts you found most interesting from this marketing operations history lesson?

How can you apply some of these into your marketing today? Let’s discuss it in the comments!

Lisa Sicard
  • Moss Clement says:

    Hi Lisa,

    There is a reason why people always refer back to history. It is always relevant and helps us learn from the past. Many of this insight here are things I never knew, which is why I’m happy I read this post.
    I love your infographic, clear and easily understood.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Moss, thank you for coming by on this one. Oh yes, sometimes it takes more than once to learn from the past but it’s a great lesson. Which one surprised you the most?
      Have a great rest of the weekend Moss!

  • Amanda Ricks says:

    Way to go, Lisa, this is a fascinating history of marketing. I love how you managed to include and expand on all of the top points for each decade. I also love your example of the beginning of marketing with Eve and the apple.
    A fascinating post that I’ll bookmark for sure future re-reading.

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you Amanda. Yes, marketing has been around since the beginning of time. Whether we know it or not we are always marketing something whether for business or personal. We all have different degrees of doing it 🙂
      Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend Amanda.

  • Hi Lisa

    Since the days of P&G, name recognition has really been the biggest and most important part of marketing, to my way of thinking.

    Yes there have been advancements and certainly customer retention is a big part of marketing too.

    The digital age has changed the look of things, but not really the substance.

    Name recognition always has been and always will be the most important factor in building your business.

    I think the only difference today is that now we call it BRANDING… personal branding or business branding.

    It comes from developing a core message and sticking that on everything you do.

    That’s how you build name recognition (aka customer “attention”) and from that, develop customer “retention.”


    • Lisa says:

      Hi Donna, You make an excellent point about name recognition. That gives me something to work on with my branding here, thank you. I think part of the branding too is promotion, promotion and promotion. Look how much Coca-Cola still advertisers today on that. They have been around so long yet they still do promote themselves to each new generation. Thanks for coming by on this one Donna. Have a great day and wonderful weekend ahead. Are the trees starting to turn up in your end of the woods there?

  • How neat Lisa. I am floored that Twitter went live in 2006. Feels much older, and, younger too. I cannot explain it. I was fumbling around as a pier guard in New Jersey at the time, with no idea of Twitter or blogging or anything really, that I know and teach folks today, marketing-wise. What a neat journey. Fun post.

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you Ryan. I loved their infographic. Yes, imagine, it’s been 12 years? I started there on Twitter in 2009. I started just to see what it was about and then when I ran an online store a tweet got me the most sales about a year or two later. That’s how Inspire to Thrive was born. It all started with a tweet! Thanks for coming by on this post Ryan and have a great day and weekend ahead 🙂

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