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November 6, 2022, 10:29 AM
from the rocking chair

subject; AKRON OH, as a hotbed for marketers. Theory here. Name dropping: Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy, Ben Suarez, Bud Weckesser, Rich DeVos, Jay Van Andel, and many names you never heard of.

Why does mid size city Akron have such a rich history of MARKETERS?

From the rocking chair, a bit of history content and context mixed in with some Gordonesque theories, eh?

Newer members should know, I am an amateur historian, specializing in the history of REMOTE direct marketing, and direct marketing. Ample posts in the archives. Anywhoo...

I included the Amway founders, albeit they came down from Michigan, but two of their first 9 super recruits lived in Akron, and it has been estimated these first two, Joe/Helyne Victor and Fred/Bernice Hansen, Nutralite dealers at the time, are on the all time DOUBLE DIAMOND wall of Amway Fame, may account for as much as 55% of the original growth, although disputable.

So, why Akron

Lets go back to the civil war, (lets DON'T)...THE war between the states left Northeast Ohio pretty unscathed, uninvolved with land fighting, although many served. Because Akron is about half way between Chicago and New York City, and the rails to the west, and the local grains, PLUS the Lake Erie freight were supply routes.

A lot of food came this way, but the staple of both sides, was OATMEAL. Rather oats, which were first fed to the horses, then discovered to be a very handy hot meal for the troops. The OATS industry thrived during the American Civil War, and Akron was at or near the center. What would become the Quaker Oats company, started in the area and by War's end, had become the dominant player in the game, consolidating several local firms into the giant player.

Quaker Oats, was an early player in the Direct Marketing game, and they had some early innovations, like gifts, and stamps, and got more from their boxes, containers than just a thing to hold product. They tested a lot of promotions.

Also, because Akron was so keenly located, with the Great Lakes and expanding railroads across America, companies found it an ideal location to sell to the West (Chi town/St. Louis) and to the East (NYC and between).

So the decades following the Civil War saw Akron become a trade center, and from here, shipping became an industry...at one time, not only was Akron the home to the Rubber Industry, but also the TRUCKING industry, because it was central and both of those were HUUUUGGEEE markets.

OK< OK fast forward...briefly...

Cars meant tires. WWI meant tires. Roaring 20's, high times...Depression...not so many tires but plenty...WWII LOTS of tires, women workers. Post WWII- HAPPY DAYS---men working, women having babies, THE BOOMERS, let the good times roll.

Vietnam, and GLOBALIZATION, DECLINE of Rubber.

However, post WWII, saw direct and remote direct marketing GROW, AND so enter Halbert, Suarez, Kennedy etc.

Akron was the ideal test center for offers, high % of wealth, big middle class with getting less enthralled with working 30 years at Goodyear, et al. And a surge of "escaping the rat race".

And enter, stage left, HOPE. Gary, Dan, Ben, Bud, Chase, Melvin, Joe and thousands of others had home based publishing businesses (some left the home into their offices) but for the most part, the Direct Marketing Industry sold a ton of BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY, AND/OR paper and ink as well as specialty items and trinkets.

Ant farms, spud guns, shrunken heads...and The LAZY MAN'S WAY TO RICHES...so much so, these guys got rich.

Because for most of the 60's and 70's, the Akron Beacon Journal offered cheap remnant space, marketers across America advertised here. If it could be sold in Akron, you had a winner. It was one of the TOP cities that marketers could test their offers on, at the lowest prices.

So, after all this history and the rest of the story, now you know...and today as it has changed from an industrial city to services and tech, it is easy to see and document what is hot, what is not, what and where your attention should go to, if you want to make the moolah.

Many of those guys are no longer with us, but the lessons they have left behind, coupled with the TODAY'S masters (Alen Sultanic), any SowPubber who knows what she wants, and why she wants it...has all the tools at the ready to build as big or as small as a business as desired.

Any questions or comments will get answered as I rock away staring at the banks of the Crooked river as it flows by.


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