Marketing talent is rare enough, but marketing genius only happens once or twice in a lifetime.
Here are more than a dozen men and women throughout history who changed the face of marketing, creating entirely new concepts, or bringing good ideas to full fruition.
If you think you might be a marketing genius, or just wish you were one, these are the luminaries whose thinking processes you should learn to emulate.
Although, in some cases, you might want to pick a different industry than the ones these geniuses chose.
Click here to see the marketing geniuses who changed the world →
This post originally appeared on BNET.
Hard to believe it now, but radio was once originally considered akin to a public library, a cultural asset free of commercials.
All of that changed when Quack Physician John Brinkley built his own radio station in 1923 to hype his cure for male impotence, which consisted of implanting goat testicles in the human body.
Brinkley combined entertainment (booking some of the great country music acts of his day), bible readings, and a strong sense for the memorable turn of phrase. His most memorable catch phrase: 'You'll be a ram-what-am... with every lamb.'
Now THAT's infotainment!
Network marketing (recruiting independent-agents to serve as distributors of goods and services, and then encouraging them to build and manage their own sales force) had been around for several decade when Mary Kay Ash founded her world famous cosmetics firm in 1963.
But older companies, like Amway and Wachters, failed to what Mary Kay did: turn the network marketing concept from something on the fringe into into an integral part of America's middle-class culture.
She did this by tapping a great underutilized workforce: the housewives who were sick of the June Cleaver act, but didn't want a traditional 9 to 5 job.
Her most brilliant move: awarding top sellers pink Cadillacs, thereby transforming them into mobile advertisements for the company's products. Beautiful.
The journalist George Wilkes, along with his friend Enoch Camp, founded the world's first girlie magazine, National Police Gazette, way back in 1845.
The Gazette was packaged as a trade magazine for law enforcement, but featured numerous engravings and photographs of scantily-clad actresses, strippers and prostitutes.
These pictures were often facing pages of advertisements, which in those days were dull by comparison.
Later, of course, the eye candy ended up in the ads, but Wilkes was the first to use sex to sell an unrelated product.
The founder of the Citroen automobile firm was always something of marketing genius.
He was one of the first auto execs to sponsor car races, for instance, and he promoted his car plant to tourists as 'the most beautiful in Europe.'
However, his real masterwork was renting the Eiffel Tower in 1925 and having the Citroen brand name emblazoned with in 125,000 incandescent lights. The sign remained in place until the company went bankrupt in 1934, partly because of the incredibly high electricity bills. (The first act of the new owners was to flip the off switch.)
The lesson here: no matter how brilliant the marketing, it's got to pay for itself somehow.
Viral marketing consists of creating a trend that carries along by word of mouth, creating demand for a product that previously wasn't on anybody's radar screen.
People tend to think of it as an Internet phenomenon, but it's actually far older. Some scholars believe it began way back in 1559, when the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner waxed lyrical about the beauties of the tulip -- a flower then not well known in Europe.
His remarks eventually spawned (in 1634... thing move a bit slower without the Web) what's now known as 'Tulipmania.' During the craze, some bulbs sold for the contemporary equivalent of several million dollars.
One tulip fancier actually murdered his manservant for eating a particularly prized bulb, believing it to be an onion.
Now, that's brand loyalty with a vengeance!
The best way to think of Lily is as the Madonna of her era (the singer, not the saint).
For decades, Lily acted, sang and conducted highly publicized sexual escapades (including an affair with the future King of England), creating an image of glamor that was ripe to be exploited.
And exploit it she did, adding her famous name to a line of cosmetics. The fee she charged the cosmetic firm: her body weight in gold... pound per pound.
It's easily to vilify Ponzi as a conman, but what he did right was promote his company by promoting himself. It's a technique that CEOs have been imitating ever since.
Ponzi may have intended to pay off all his investors eventually, but his marketing -- based upon a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption -- created so much interest that it all got out of hand.
At one point, Ponzi was taking in so much money that his offices in Boston were said to look as if a hurricane had hit a bank.
Today, of course, Ponzi schemes are illegal, unless they are run by the U.S. government.
In advertorial, of course, is a published article that appears to be news, but which is secretly intended to promote a product. It's a common way for companies to try to get their message across without being forced to cope with pesky concepts like accuracy and honesty.
When Julius Caesar was away in Gaul (now France), his enemies in Rome were busy trashing his reputation. So he invented the advertorial.
He started sending Rome reports on his progress, ostensibly to keep people informed, but really to make sure that everyone knew about his victories.
When Caesar finally crossing the Rubicon, he had a reputation to 'die' for.
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