Marketing in the Twenty-First Century

Sherwin Cody had a problem. He was a low-paid English teacher, but he harbored a secret desire to become a wealthy man.

Teaching people how to speak English, Cody knew, wasn’t likely to make him lots of money. Yet he found a way to do just that.

Cody’s first step was to write down everything he knew in a book called The Art of Writing and Speaking the English Language. To sell the book, he hired a copywriter named Maxwell Sackheim. After discussing various approaches, Cody and Sackheim decided they would market the book by taking out display ads in magazines and newspapers.

They tossed around dozens of possible advertising angles. They finally settled on one that became one of the most successful marketing promotions of all time. If you are a student of marketing history, you will recognize it. The headline reads “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?” The ad made both Cody and Sackheim wealthy. More important, it launched them on dual careers in an industry that was just being born. The industry was direct-response marketing. The year was 1919.

Writing about direct response in the early 1900s, Cody observed that, with the advent of paved roads and a rail system, businesspeople had the ability to sell their products nationwide and deliver them quickly. And because direct-response ads in national publications could reach so many potential customers for those products across the country, it had a big advantage over local marketing by retailers, which had been the main form of advertising in the nineteenth century. As a result, he predicted, direct response would dominate marketing in the twentieth century.

He was right. During every decade of the twentieth century, direct-response marketing grew at double-digit rates. Today, at an estimated $2 trillion a year in the United States alone, it is the largest single form of advertising by a mile.

Countless fortunes have been made by small and large businesses that took advantage of it. And it is still extremely viable today.

Sherwin Cody went on to publish more than 200 books before he died in 1959. He made fortunes for himself and many others. And he did it by mastering the fastest-growing advertising trend of his century.

Multi-channel marketing is based on new, twenty-first century technology that has radically reduced the costs of communicating with prospective buyers and existing customers. In 1980, for example, it cost about 50 cents to send a direct-response sales letter through the mail to a customer. Today, that same transaction, via the Internet, costs less than a penny.

The Internet has completely and permanently changed the way that marketing – and business – works.

Everything moves faster and farther. And everything is interconnected – companies with their customers, customers with the media, the media with companies, and customers with other customers.

To ignore these changes is utter foolishness. To understand and embrace them is the way to succeed in business today.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, multi-channel marketing refers to marketing with as many different types of media (or channels) as possible. These channels include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Search engine optimization
  • Direct mail
  • Direct e-mail
  • Teleseminars
  • Event marketing
  • Print advertising
  • Social media
  • Direct-response television
  • Joint ventures
  • Public relations
  • Telemarketing
  • Radio

The more channels you use to reach your target customer, the better your chance of reaching him right when he’s ready to buy. Plus, using multiple channels allows you to reach customers who might not be right in your line of sight. Customers who don’t use the Internet might listen to the radio. TV watchers might not read magazines. And so on. Multi-channel marketing is the absolute best way to get your message seen and heard by as many people as possible, as often as possible.

The best part about multi-channel marketing is that anyone can become an expert in how it works. Whether you’re an entrepreneur with your own start-up business… or a brand-new employee working her way up the rungs of the corporate ladder… or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company… you can use multi-channel marketing to help the business grow and prosper.

This new trend in advertising – multi-channel marketing – is a trend that will continue to grow at double-digit rates for decades and decades to come. If you embrace multi-channel marketing, you will see improvements in your business almost immediately. And those improvements will continue at lightning speed, transforming your business into something much greater than it is now. How big and how fast it grows is up to you.

The trend is huge. The time is right. Your future is unlimited.

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The above article was adapted from Changing the Channel: 12 Easy Ways to Make Millions for Your Business, published with permission from John Wiley & Sons.]

Mary Ellen Tribby

MaryEllen Tribby is a business consultant and coach to entrepreneurs in the information publishing and digital marketing arena. She led Early to Rise from May 2006 to January 2010 as Publisher & CEO. She has also served as President of Weiss Research, managing divisions of Forbes, Globe Communications, Times Mirror Magazines and Crain’s New York Business. She currently heads up The CEO's Edge and