Marketing Techniques for the Ages

Today, marketing people and business owners come under fire from consumers for “new age” marketing and sales techniques that are deemed as too intrusive.

But I don’t think marketing or selling techniques have changed that much at all in the past 200 years or probably 2000 years.

Here are two examples:

One of today’s marketing techniques to endure the most criticism is “Pester Power”.

It is a term first coined by a major FMCG company to describe their tactic of putting products within easy reach (and scream) of toddlers, say in a supermarket.

That’s why the characters from Shrek are seen on cereal packs on the bottom few rows, well within reach of tiny hands.

The theory is the kid screams or pesters, and the parents give in.

(Except for those parents ignoring their kids and listening to an i-pod on volume 10 – determined not to give in to the supermarket’s ploy).

Watch the DVD of The Corporation if you need further information about this marketing technique.

However it strikes me that Pester Power is nothing new.

As a child did you ever see an ice-cream van cruising down your street with nursery rhymes pumping from the stereo?

If that isn’t the ultimate, and oldest, form of Pester Power, then I don’t know what is.

It’s just that mums and dads didn’t have an i-pod then.

In 1829, the master of bringing theatre to the public, PT Barnum, used to hire “nudgers”.

These were the guys at circuses who were paid to herd people into an attraction.

They circled and subtly nudged you towards the lady with the beard, or the world’s strongest flea.

You found yourself queuing up and paying even though the purchasing thought wasn’t in your head 10 minutes prior.

Was this the first form of subliminal advertising? 

Is today’s version the quick flash of a phone number on the screen, or the annoying radio ad with specially selected sounds that eventually pierce your brain?

The point is:  marketing methods don’t go away, they just get reinvented. 

Marketers still nudge us towards a sale, and encourage us to pester others – albeit with more sophistication and a greater media choice.

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