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Telemarketing - how did we get here?
Part 1: The pre-history

With the historical backdrop of scam calls and tight legislation as a result, couple this with the rise of email and social marketing, has caused telemarketing to change out of all recognition to the early days of paper call lists and manual reporting, but how did we get here?

1876 Bell invented telephone: In the scale of human history 140 odd years is a not even a blink, but this invention certainly changed the course of our evolution!

1878 First telephone directory: It didn't take people long to realise that you need to find other people who had a telephone, so a list of 50 names around New Haven, Connecticut was created on a piece of cardboard.

1880 First UK directory: Of course we couldn't let our American cousins steal all the glory, so "The Telephone Company" created a list of 248 names and addresses, no specific numbers just yet, so you had to ask the operator to connect you to them by name!

1903 One of the first commercial telephone lists created: In the early days of telephones, rural areas only had one phone for the whole area, so the person who owned these phones were people who held considerable influence. Companies such as the "Multi-Mailing Company" from New York created lists from directories targeting these people of influence.

1957 the first telemarketing firm dialled out: The Americans were first again! DialAmerica starting operations with two calling stations, one inbound station and one outbound station, resembling something similar to what we know now as telemarketing.

1960 Private exchanges launched along with tone dialling: Larger corporations brought the telephone exchange in house and employed people to use wires to connect people. This was also the time where Bell Computers introduces tone dialling to superseded rotary dialling, thus paving the way for automated dialling.

1970 Automatic connection of calls main stream: Digital switches from the likes of Ericsson and Alcatel become mainstream, thus retiring to history the distinctive "clattering" of the physical electromagnetic variants.

1973 Saw the launch of the first mobile: While the early mobiles were far from mobile, today's variants carry more computing power than NASA had for the moon landings. This area has seen significant growth, especially in the B2C area in recent years and currently most people carry a mobile for work.

1980 Telemarketing as we know it today became mainstream: Computers, databases and telephone technology start to draw together the strands of telemarketing into the form we know today. 0800 numbers become common place for inbound telemarketing along with robot dialling. 1981 becomes the first year telemarketing expenditure exceeds direct mail. See the following link for some more views on robot dialling - Click here

So there we have it, telemarketing has emerged as a key marketing channel. However its not really much beyond the paper lists and manual reporting from pre-history. Part 2 will look more into how more recent events have shaped telemarketing into its current form.


Click the following link for the second part Telemarketing - how did we get here? Part 2: the early days