A world of diminishing distance

Abstract:

Many centuries ago, the term "direct marketing" was a conspicuous fact of life for those involved in the very beginnings of human trade and commerce. As man moved from the most primitive hunter- gatherer societies - within the scope of extended families, clans, and tribes -to gradually more complex agrarian communities, the very first "marketplace" came into being. This early marketplace was not, of course, our abstract notion of a collectivity of consumers, unseen and far away. The marketplace of that age was a real place, sometimes a village sguare, sometimes a church yard, or some other location where the sellers and buyers of merchandise and services gathered to conduct their business. In the earliest times, when barter was the rule, it was difficult to distinguish the marketer from the customer. As things became more complex and specialized, a more generally recognizable buyer-seller relationship emerged. However, the hallmark of the earliest marketing practice remained the same: the marketer interacted directly with the customer. In the early marketplace, transactions were the result of a face-to-face, two- way dialogue between these two parties. Marketing was, as Americans say, up-close and personal. It was often a crude and rude test of both the seller's and the buyer's skill at bargaining, haggling, and dickering for the most perfectly unfair advantage. On one hand, the seller had the advantage of looking the customer directly in the eye, comprehending fully the needs expressed, and carefully weighing the odds between an easy sale and a tough spate of bargaining. The customer in the old marketplace had the advantage of casting her eye about the marketplace, comparing the options offered up to her, and - most importantly - talking directly - actively bargaining with those marketing their goods. A relationship existed - however crude - between those who brought goods and services to the marketplace and those who went there seeking these goods and services. And, a critical EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION always took place in the immediate context of the transaction itself.

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