The History of Marketing – From Shekels to Sales Funnels

I get asked all the time when Sales Funnels were invented and many people believe they were invented by me! As much as I wish I could take credit for inventing sales funnels, in today’s video I am going to give you a history of marketing. I want you to better understand how marketing works, so YOU can make more money online! Subscribe:


Sales funnels were not a recent invention. In fact, they are over a century old (they predate any form of television or radio). The simple principles of the original sales funnel are things we still use today. In fact, the most successful funnels I’ve seen look more like the first funnel invented at the turn of the 20th century. It’s important to understand where we come from, so we can see how to move forward. I guarantee this lesson will help you with your marketing.


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– Hey, my name is Russell
Brunson, and I’m so excited
for you to watch the
evolution of marketing.
I’m gonna talk to you
guys about everything
from the beginning of time
with bartering all the way
to sales funnels today, and I
want you to watch this video
because you’re gonna
understand the evolution
of how things have come
and when we understand
where they came from, it
makes it easier for you
to be successful with your
funnels in the future.
So we’re gonna go back to the
very, very beginning of time.
Back to prehistoric
bartering time.
Back then the way that people
traded stuff is they bartered.
This dude’s got a goat,
she’s got some fish,
and he’s like I really
want to eat fish tonight,
I want some sushi,
and she’s like sweet,
I need some goat milk.
Is that really a thing?
And so they traded it straight
across, and it was bartering,
and bartering was awesome
except for the fact
that you’re like, well,
my goat’s really cool,
I need 400 fish to like, and
it just got kind of complicated
but that’s where it all began
was prehistoric bartering.
Okay, the next phase, about
5000 BC is when the very first
time they started
finding actual,
like the archeologists
had found coins.
At least metal objects they
believed were coins, right,
and so this is when
instead of just bartering,
you could actually create
value and put value inside
of a coin, and then you can
say hey, I want this goat.
Cool, I’m gonna give you 10
coins, and now you could,
now money started becoming a
thing and it made bartering
so much easier
’cause it wasn’t like
I don’t need 400 fish, dude.
After that, in the
early 1700’s and 1800’s,
this is where the snake
oil salesman began.
This is where salesmen
started using a sales pitch
where instead of just bartering,
they would go together
and they’d get a whole
bunch of people in the crowd
to come around, and then they
would then present something
to them, right, like the
farmer’s market model, right?
Like here I am, get a bunch
of people, and then I can sell
instead of selling one-on-one
now I sell five people
at a time or 10 people at a
time or 100 people at a time.
So traveling snake oil
salesmen went out there
and started making some
money by doing a performance,
getting the crow all excited.
Fast forward now to the 1800’s
This is where the gold
rush started happening,
and what was interesting in the
gold rush is that the people
who made the most money
during the gold rush were not
the people panning for
gold, it was the people
who were selling the shovels.
One of my favorite
stories about this,
there’s a guy named Sam Brannan.
It was San Francisco, I
believe in San Francisco
during the gold rush, and
Sam was really, really smart.
He saw these things, all these
people coming to California
to go pan for gold and
make a bunch of money,
and he was like wait a minute.
Instead of doing that,
what if I sell the tools,
the picks, and the shovels,
and so he went around all
of San Francisco, bought all
the picks and the shovels
and the tools, brought
them to his own shop,
and then he got a little bit
of gold and he started running
through the streets in
San Francisco saying,
there’s gold in the
American River, there’s gold
in the American River, and
people started freaking out.
They’re like oh, we
need to find some gold,
and then they’re like we need
shovels, and he’s like oh,
I’m selling shovels over
here, and Sam Brannan became
the very first millionaire
in California history.
Now we’re gonna fast
forward to 1830’s.
We have P.T. Barnum
who is my man.
If you guys have seen
the Greatest Showman,
it’s a story about his life.
He’s written so
many amazing books.
P.T. Barnum was one of
the very first people
to really start doing
a lot of advertising
and things like that.
He didn’t just like have a
show, he was like putting
out leaflets and fliers and
pamphlets is that he may have
been one of the very
first people ever
to send out unsolicited
mail, A.K.A. spam.
He would spam
people’s mailboxes.
Next, 1886 to 1922,
this is where selling
at the top started.
This is John H. Patterson
was the president
of National Cash Register,
and instead of him going
and selling to a whole bunch
of people, he would go find
an organization and he
would sell the person
at the top a goat
and convince them
that everybody below
them needed goats.
So he’d just make one
sale to the influencer,
and then the influencer then
starts selling everybody else
in their company and their
team, whatever that might be.
Then we fast
forward now to 1898.
This was the invention
of the very first funnel.
So 1898, this was
way before I was born
in case anyone’s wondering.
Elias St. Elmo Lewis, he ran
an ad agency, and he came up
with this first concept
of there were four stages
of awareness, and if you
look at this it’s A-I-D-A,
and this is something
we still use today
in direct response marketing,
but it was the
very first funnel.
Say okay, at the top of the
funnel you’ve gotta give someone
awareness that you even exist.
Then you have to
create an interest,
like oh, I’m interested in that.
Then you create desire, like
oh my gosh, I need that thing,
and then you get someone
to take the action, okay?
A-I-D-A, and this is still a
principle today we think about,
we talk about all the time.
In fact, if your marketing
is struggling, it’s probably
’cause you’re going
straight for the action.
You’re like buy my
crap, buy my crap.
So even today, this principle
is extremely powerful,
and that came up in 1898
which is pretty cool.
All right, in the 1920’s
we started taking marketing
and business and
promotion to the airwaves.
In 1920’s, radio burst on the
scene, Dale Carnegie wrote
How to Win Friends
and Influence People
which is an amazing book
by the way that taught
the importance of
relationships and people,
and in the 40’s, traveling
salespeople were seen
going door-to-door selling
stuff that way as well.
In the 1940’s and 50’s,
this is where video
killed the radio star.
So when TV came out, and when
you read the Traffic Secrets
book I actually have a
whole case study about this,
but Bulova watch was the very
first TV commercial ever.
TV’s were getting put
out all over the place,
and then during, it was during
one of the World Series games
Bulova watch came on and
it was a 10 second ad
that cost $0.09 and it was a
little picture of the watch
and it said the
world runs on Bulova.
In fact, if you Google,
if you go to YouTube
and search Bulova ad you can
actually see the original ad.
It was like the worst ad
ever, but it was the first ad
that like interrupted people
while they were watching
a sporting event, interrupted
them, and created desire
for a thing which
was the beginning
of all interruption-based
marketing which is
what made Zuckerberg
famous and all of us rich.
1960’s, this is the
rapid evolution.
This is where telemarketing
started coming out,
1800 numbers, multilevel
marketing, people started using
all sorts of different
selling techniques.
There’s a really
good book called SPIN
Selling that came out
where instead of just going
and like trying to sell stuff,
SPIN Selling got people
thinking differently like hey,
instead of me selling something,
I need to look at myself
as a consultant, and it
started shifting the way
that they sold things
to create desire
and to become a
consultant and it became
just a better way to sell.
1990’s, this is where the
Internet started coming about.
We started surfing the web.
The power of the Internet
made it where instead
of just the big brands
like the Procter and Gamble
and people who could spend
$1,000,000 on an ad on TV,
the Internet gave the
ability where people like us
could spend a little bit
of money and get exposure
and eyeballs and be able to
like target directly the kind
of people we’re looking for.
2000’s, this is where it
became easier and easier.
This is where, you know,
tools started coming out.
CRM’s, marketing systems,
email autoresponders,
things like that that made
this whole marketing game
even better, and then in
2010 this is where funnels
started becoming a thing.
Companies like
HubSpot popped out,
other ones where they
started building tools,
they started taking
people through processes,
and then 2014,
this is where influencers
started popping up all over
the place where they could
now affect product sales.
It wasn’t just you buying
ads from Zuckerberg,
it was like you buy ads
from people all directly,
all sorts of people,
and 2015 to 2019,
this is where we helped
create the future.
Dotcom Secrets, which was my
very first book ever, came out.
We talked about funnels,
ClickFunnels came out
about the exact
same time as well.
People started building
funnels online,
and now we are five years
into this whole mission,
and we are at, we passed
100,000 active members last week
which is insane.
So we’re at 100,000
entrepreneurs using this,
and it’s growing.
We’ve sold, what’s the
stat, 4.1, $4,200,000,000
have been processed through
ClickFunnels that we can track?
It is insane, and
that is the history
of funnels in a nutshell.
If you want to get a copy
of the book I talked about,
the Dotcom Secrets book,
where we started talking
about sales funnels
and how they work,
you can get a free copy,
go to
On top of that, make sure
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Thank you so much
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I would love to hear
your thoughts down below.
Let me know what you think about
the evolution of marketing.
What are things we
should have added?
What are things
that I should add
in the future in other videos?
Let me know, and with that
said, thank you so much,
and go get your free copy
of the Dotcom Secrets book,

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