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Customer Experience

Blast from the Past

Profit, like any business, must adapt human resources to meet current demands.

by Aaron Lazenby

May 2016

When I started my career—I mean truly started my career . . . I don’t count those jobs selling T-shirts, designing banquet menus, and restocking books—I found myself learning about marketing on the eve of the dot-com boom. And things were changing fast.

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First, I was in charge of marketing and publicity for a now-defunct independent record label. It was a fun job, but we were broke. Every morning, I’d be confronted by hundreds of promotional CDs that I couldn’t share with the press and retailers because I had no budget for postage. So I’d log on to America Online (perhaps you’ve heard of AOL?) and talk with fans about the bands that were coming to town and ask them if we had product in local record stores. This new digital platform with a very low marginal cost allowed me to connect with self-described consumers through a channel of their own choosing. Sound familiar?

Once my paychecks started bouncing (never a good sign), I moved to a PR/marketing agency that was starting an internet marketing division. They were working with large international brands to optimize newly launched web properties; monitor conversations that consumers were having about them in Usenet groups (remember those?); and manage email campaigns, among other recently invented online marketing practices.

That’s why I loved working on this issue of Profit. It gave me the opportunity to talk with practitioners and experts about how marketing has changed since the turn of the millennium.”

And every year, this firm worked with Columbia University’s School of Journalism on research about how journalists used the internet and email—which was not a foregone conclusion at the time. Today, it’s hard for me even to remember a world where newspaper writers preferred to be contacted by phone rather than email, research was done offline, and stories were published on actual paper.

Everything from that era felt new and novel as it was happening—and now seems digitally quaint and internet old-fashioned. That’s why I loved working on this issue of Profit. It gave me the opportunity to talk with practitioners and experts about how marketing has changed since the turn of the millennium. Many thanks to the Oracle Marketing Cloud team for letting me pick their brains and update my own marketing toolkit. I hope readers share my enthusiasm about the subject and learn something along the way, as I did.

Photography by Shutterstock