Marketing is a basic human need, one which has been around since the dawn of civilization. How did ancient civilizations deal with marketing? Did they have large teams of men and women working in designing campaigns? Or were their marketing efforts simple little ad-libs thrown together on an individual basis? Did they use only cash or money-only payments for their employees?
Advertising was done through word of mouth
In today’s information age, ancient civilizations might be able to shed some light on how they worked. Many experts believe that ancient advertising was mainly done through word of mouth and that small lists of recipients were used instead of large databases of consumers. This is similar to what we use today when we talk about email advertising. It is also believed that ancient civilizations relied on complex calculations to understand who would be interested in their product. Modern advertising might be more based on numbers, but ancient societies could understand how to appeal to the emotional side of buying decisions.
Does this mean that ancient civilizations had no real advertising strategies? Could they have used billboards, newspapers, and other modern media instead? Did they need to know how to effectively target a specific group of individuals or was their approach more wide-ranging? Many scholars believe that ancient civilizations practiced marketing much the same as we do today with the exception that their methods of reaching their audiences may be somewhat different than ours.
Lack of technology and data
The lack of hard data is one of the biggest impediments to answering these questions. As mentioned above, advertising was almost exclusively directed at large groups of people. Therefore, it is difficult to determine how much impact marketing had on ancient societies. One way to narrow the field somewhat is by looking at advertising in areas other than ancient America. For example, ancient China had a complex and massive economy that were based on trading. Ancient Egyptian writing makes reference to advertising, but few experts are able to figure out exactly how widespread that advertising was or if it helped to shape the society of ancient Egypt.
Other ancient civilizations were either extremely developed or very stagnant. Either way, there is little evidence that they practiced any form of mass marketing. Advertising in ancient Greece and Rome was centered on agricultural produce such as wheat, barley, and beans. Ancient Rome, though technologically more advanced than ancient Greece, was plagued by inflation and depended on trade for survival. Advertising in ancient Greece and Rome focused on the luxury market. Neither advanced any of the other two ancient civilizations.
Some researchers think that ancient civilizations simply didn’t have the means to be as profitable as we are today. They were limited by the size of their geographical area, the lack of written records, the absence of organized labor, and the population’s natural tendency to buy locally produced items. If the population in ancient times made purchases in response to current demand rather than to forecast future demand, the exchange value of local production would have been radically different. Modern consumers would also have a much larger population, which would likely drive up prices.
In contrast, we now have access to accurate and timely information, transportation and communication networks, organized labor, and a variety of communication technologies. These changes reduced the role that markets performed in ancient societies, which in turn affected the size and scope of their markets. As markets became more integrated, the role of individuals in deciding what to produce and where to produce, the quality of their goods, and how quickly they could produce them changed.
Is the economy of ancient civilizations important to us today? Markets did not create wealth, they produced losses, because of over-accumulation and under-accumulation by those who possessed less than the total amount of the product or service being sold. Markets allowed some individuals to get richer and some individuals to stay relatively poor. The question is do we need markets? Markets may become even more important as our population ages and the rest of the world’s economies improve.
You can also check out this link here for a brief idea about The Ancient Origins and History of Modern Marketing and Advertising.