Merriam-Webster (lovely lady, by the way), has produced a fascinating feature which determines when a word was first used in print. Surfing through the years, it’s somewhat surprising how long ago some commonly used marketing terms were first used.

‘Direct marketing’ was first used in 1961, and it follows that ‘database’ appears a year later. ‘Big data’ dates back to 1996.

‘Case study’ dates back to 1914 – usually referring to medical histories – the year of the start of WW1. If only there had been a cautionary case study showing what would happen if you asked thousands of young men to go ‘over the top’.

‘Email’ was, of course, first written in the early 1980s, and ‘e-commerce’ in 1993. 1999 gave us ‘blog’ (and ‘clickbait!), ‘vlog’ followed just three years later.

‘White paper’ was first used in 1884, but it’s not clear when marketing hijacked it and removed the necessity of governmental origin.

The first known use of ‘social media’ was in 2004, the year of Facebook’s launch, despite platforms such as Six Degrees and MySpace existing earlier.

And the word ‘marketing’ itself? 1561.  Which makes sense as it was the 1600s when posters were first used for promotion, and the first newspaper published leading to paid advertising becoming available.

Incidentally, the word ‘guru’ was first coined in 1613 – a year that most self-proclaimed marketing gurus seem to be stuck in.



Four letters are currently striking fear into the hearts of marketers, causing more anxiety than could be found in a cinema full of 8-year-olds forced to watch the new IT movie.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), 99 articles and 173 recitals worth of unadulterated text, kicks in on 25th May 2018, representing the biggest change to data protection laws in over 20 years.

In terms of data, the public will have greater access to the data held, and intelligence on how it is being used. No longer will marketers be able to send emails without the recipient’s consent – ‘assumed consent’ becomes a thing of the past, and double opt-in and the right to be forgotten will become mandatory under GDPR.  And the fine for disregarding the new law will be larger.

However, contrary to some of the scare stories being circulated, B2B marketers shouldn’t too alarmed. What is clear is that the when dealing with employees of corporates, that is limited companies, LLPs, partnerships in Scotland and government departments, the rules for telephone and direct mail are the same, opt-out. When emailing these individuals you do not need their prior permission, although you do of course have to offer a clear opt-out process.

So all you B2C marketers, maybe it’s time to move over to the dark side of B2B. It may not be as sexy, but we can still test virgin lists.