From analogue to digital, effective communication continues to be the crux of marketing.
Aulus Umbricius Scaurus was a legendary fish sauce producer in first-century Pompeii. His product was of high quality and he did not miss a single opportunity to communicate that. The mosaic fish sauce bottles, such as the one in the image below, carried succinct descriptions like “The flower of garum, made of the mackerel, a product of Scaurus, from the shop of Scaurus.” As these well-labelled products travelled across Italy, they worked as a combined product taster and a marketing tool – a subtle communication strategy – expanding his following of dedicated consumers.
A mosaic description on Scaurus’ famed Garum fish sauce bottle
Analysts believe that when markets sprang up in Europe in the middle ages, the term ‘marketing’ may have been introduced to explain the process of describing and selling products and services. And the sellers went all out to market their wares and beat the competition! While some went door-to-door to sell their services like plumbing and welding, others in China played a bamboo flute to sell their candies. Perhaps, the 20th-century ice cream van with its classic bell comes from this simple marketing technique from China. What started as an analogue form of communication over time evolved into an iconic branding strategy. But be it going door-to-door and screaming about their products or using a flute to call potential customers, irrespective of the medium, the message was effectively communicated.
Markets in Medieval Europe
Modern marketing began with the Industrial Revolution and the consumer economy in the 19th and 20th centuries. Newer mediums like print and the internet expanded the reach of sellers. Think about it. A post pigeon, who managed to convey the message to a handful of people is put to shame by email marketing where one can reach out to millions of potential buyers within a matter of seconds through bulk emailing. Similarly, with print media, hand-inscribed papyrus leaflets and posters have now been replaced by digital posters, reaching a far bigger audience.
Reaching a wider audience has opened up the avenue of targeted marketing where consumer psychology is thoroughly studied to create content that actually speaks to the target audience. In this age of content marketing, honest information by specialists is the foundation of any sales strategy. Combining this with authentic, immersive storytelling and marketing becomes a meaningful connection between the product and the consumers rather than a gimmicky tactic. This is when the team responsible for decoding the audience and creating effective content targeted to that audience is far more important than the medium itself.
As we move into Web 5.0, there is an ocean of untapped potential for effective communication while engaging the senses of consumers in real-time. The Digital marketing medium started with Web 1.0, which was a simple platform for pushing content to a handful of people, not very different from our ancient European markets. Web 5.0 is a massive leap ahead of Web 3.0 and Web 4.0, which introduced data-driven marketing. We are on the brink of some very exciting times as we see how marketers tap into consumers’ emotions in real-time to build a long-term loyal relationship with them.