When I started in the real estate business around 1974, the common method for networking and growing data about your prospective customers was 2-fold. The first was a high-tech box of 3X5-inch blank cards. The second was called a Rolodex which was a rotating spindle that held specially shaped index cards that were referenced in alphabetical order and snapped in or out. Users would write contacts information on the cards or tape their business cards into the proper place. This was thought of as a high-tech method of accumulating business contacts. If you were following up with 100 or 1000 customers, the primary difference is that the box of 3X5’s and the Rolodex got larger. There was prestige and pride in lugging around a large spindle of business cards.
The IBM Personal Computer, commonly known as the PC Junior was created in late 1981. Other entrants quickly followed including the Commodore 64, Atari, and then Apple. Prior to that time, I hired two engineers and created a computer device using components. Pursi, Sorco, Cume, and Vector were the four components used to create a redundant mail merge marketing platform. The system had no internal memory, only two large floppy disks, one for the operating system, and one for the marketing data. By 1981 we thought we had gone to heaven using the new MS-DOS operating system created by a tiny company called Microsoft. There was no networking with multiple desk-top computers, sharing data with someone else and backing up the floppy disk from the original to a duplicate was cumbersome. On a designated Friday an employee spent 8 continuous hours backing up 256 floppy disks. I created a software package to use in place of the cumbersome 3X5 cards; I called it 3X5. From that time on if a customer called, you could find their name quickly and add data much more efficiently. Growing the size of a customer base became much more efficient, the only problem with the method was that you were stuck identifying the information when you were setting at a desk, otherwise back to the trusty 3X5’s or pen and pad.
Marketing yourself and your product, goods or services was through personal networking and direct mail. Getting to know as many people as possible and developing friendship relationships was the key. Even back then we fully knew that friends do business with friends. Referrals come from friends who like and trust you. That has not changed. Only the technology to manage those relationships has changed. There was no email, fax machines, cell phones, and black-and-white photo copies were high-tech. Who remembers the phrase “press hard 3 copies,” on carbon paper. Original typewriters with a written correspondence was the preferred professional approach. Mailing leads using the US postal service was the only practical tool available and using a return envelope or post card was common as a customer response tool or a phone response from the potential customer was preferable.
Data management back then was all mechanical. Either you or an assistant would be responsible to change or update all the data, such as return envelopes, changes of address, changes of phone numbers, and updating all the background data collected.
You could have a conversation today with a young person about the marketing strategies of 40-50 years ago, but, expect little or no comprehension! Caring about what happened 40-50 years ago begs the question.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not a solicitation.