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The Finest Marketing Leaders of All Time

The Finest Marketing Leaders of All Time

You could have the finest product in the world but if you do not know how to sell it, no one is going to hear about about it. At the same time a smaller product with less potential can have a huge impact if properly marketed. The list below contains 6 of the marketing forefathers that I learned from, and who I believe contributed prized understanding to other experts. It is hard to know where to start and I am sure I might have missed some many bright individuals if I went even farther back in time. Note that only some on this list are recognized as experts, but the knowledge is no less applicable to modern day marketing procedures.

David Ogilvy – The Father of Advertising

The renowned advertising guru who formed iconic promotions for Rolls-Royce, Hathaway, Schweppes, and Dove began his profession in selling ovens door to door. He was so good at it that his employers asked him to write a guidebook for other members of its sales force, among his tips: “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” People quickly realized this man had a lot to offer and his best-selling book “Confessions of an Advertising Man” is one the most famous books on advertising. Fun Fact: Don Draper  from the popular marketing oriented series Mad Man was inspired by that book. There is a strong suspicion that Ogilvy is the inspiration for Don Draper in the popular .

Ron Popeil – Pioneered Infomercials

The Ronco founder created the process of selling via infomercial. He basically created news-like 30 minute length shows with a live audience and interviews, all of it focused on his product. His system was so effective, he created genuine demand for his out of the ordinary products such as Mr. Microphone, the Solid Flavor Injector, and the Showtime Rotisserie. “If I create a product, I can market it as well as or better than anyone on the planet,” he said in an interview in 2009. “I have the confidence and the passion. People see that, and they know it is real.”

Dale Carnegie – Brought Effective Communication Into Marketing

Dale’s milestone book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” teaches readers to become more effective communicators and create better relationships with customers and peers. Carnegie was way ahead of his time in exhorting his audience to take advantage of their social networks and personal connections. Carnegie began his career selling products to farmers. He ultimately landed in New York City, where he began to offer a series of public speaking courses that were visited by countless successful salespeople.

Joe Girard – Master of Door to Door Marketing

As a young boy, he sold Detroit Free Press subscriptions door to door and understood how to market on his own. With every doorbell he rang, he made more money. Girard, carried that attitude onward when he began his marketing empire. He quickly made a name for himself as the ultimate car salesman of the period. Having sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978, Girard has been accepted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s best salesman.

Mary Kay Ash – Inventor of Network Marketing

Network marketing (employing independent-agents to work for suppliers and also providing them the freedom to form and manage their own sales force) had existed for several years when Mary created her world famous cosmetics firm in 1963. Older companies, like Amway and Wachters, were unsuccessful in doing what Mary did: Take the concept from something small and help it grow into a fundamental chunk of America’s middle-class work and sales culture. She did this by approaching the era’s most underutilized workers: the housewives. This untamed workforce quickly made her and her company nationwide famous and hugely successful.

Danny Sullivan – Founder of SEO

Sullivan is one of the most familiar faces in the SEO business. He has been a forerunner since 1995 before SEO was even known. Danny is a founding editor of the internet magazine “Search Engine Land” and is a leading figure in SMX: The Search Marketing Expo. His simple and honest approach make his tweets a treasure trove of helpful information for those doing online marketing and especially SEO. This had the effect of essentially turning him into a one man SEO powerhouse.  

A Few Notable Mentions

Here are two modern marketers I feel worth mentioning, both are very distinct in many aspects yet similar marketers: Steve Jobs and Lady Gaga. Jobs, may not have been a qualified marketer, but he turned Apple into a universal brand unlike any other. Where Steve Jobs may not have been the first to combine design and technology, he took it to new and profound heights. Clients do not just need their technology to work, they want it to be cool also. Jobs showed us while design is not the whole shebang, it is still pretty imperative. Miss Gaga like Madonna before her, knows how to use eye candy and personality marketing. She understands the importance of wearing extreme attire and putting herself in the public eye. She courts her followers. The dissimilarity between Lady Gaga and an unidentified artist is that she is now a brand. Both of these personas have one major thing in common. Their own personality was integrated with the brand they are selling, people are not just buying their products, they are buying their passion and dreams. So what is the secret that all of these individuals know that you do not? They all have an excellent product but they have succeeded in jump starting marketing revolutions by getting the customers to do their marketing for them. They have built a following by charming people and conveying a message that echoes with the general public. They are risk takers and eager to share their knowledge and help others become great marketers as well. You are more than welcome to borrow some of these brilliant marketing practices to use in your own marketing strategy.


James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.