37 Years of Marketing Innovations


So, to be honest, and to avoid aging myself too prematurely, when Marketing Plus opened in 1984, I was still in elementary school. Fast forward to high school, and my earliest marketing experiences included labelling Betamax tapes (really), filing tearsheets, cleaning up the office (or spinning in an office chair to avoid cleaning up the office), and licking stamps for direct mail envelopes. Exciting stuff, I know. This was the era of our founder (my stepfather Robert Hance) and my mom Susan running Marketing Plus. They worked tirelessly seven days a week—hardly ever took a vacation—and partnered with graphic designers and photographers. They had a single administrative assistant and used us kids for “special projects,” possibly violating a child labor regulation or two… 

Somehow through all the toiling, we survived—well, mostly; I learned very quickly that a label best not be at even a one percent angle, as perfection was the ultimate goal. And occasionally my sibs and I got to be talent for a shoot or storyboard artists for a client pitch. We also got to help out at trade shows (far better than stamp-licking). Soon, I found my way to college (and beyond) and settled into working in the nonprofit sector for a local children’s museum; I used my marketing experience to build programs and communications plans. Shortly after this period, Robert was diagnosed with cancer and, while Marketing Plus was a thriving agency with a full deck of clients, it became clear that this was a time for family; we needed to retool the business to balance the challenges life had handed us. That’s where the grown-up version of me comes in: I signed a contract to step in and assist in media purchasing and trade shows. I was going to “try it for a year.” Twenty-three years later, here I am—child laborer no longer.

Marketing Plus went from a fancy downtown office to my childhood bedroom before settling into a small office; this is when we began to refocus and grow into the M+ of today. Amazingly and fabulously, many of our clients have been with us since those early days back in the 80s. My dad and other family members worked in the produce industry, so in addition to marketing, I grew up in that world as well. I developed a passion for food and produce that has led the M+ of today to focus on those industries—providing communications and other support services. 

But, when my staff asked me to look back, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fun and interesting ways marketing and marketing technology have changed since Marketing Plus first arrived on the scene in 1984. So, how far have we come? Check out the timeline below. We’ve enjoyed this wild adventure from floppy disks to Facebook, and we can’t wait to continue to grow with you in the years to come.

  • 1981: Floppy disk drives are a component of the first PCs (they are discontinued by 2010).
  • 1984: Apple launches Macintosh.
  • 1987: Adobe introduces Photoshop and Illustrator.
    • CD-RWs (Compact Disc-ReWritable) are introduced.
  • 1988: Invention of the first digital camera.
  • 1993: Launch of first digital color printing press.
    • First virtual trade show is held.
  • 1994: AT&T launches the first digital web banner ad.
  • 1996: Motorola releases the StarTAC, the first flip phone (Yes, I absolutely had one, and yes, it was the best phone ever—and, yes, I dropped it in a toilet during a quick change at a trade show).
  • 1998: Apple releases the iMac (Yes, I had one—it was blue and I loved it).
  • 2001: Cell phones can now connect to the internet.
  • 2003: Launch of WordPress.
  • 2004: Launch of Facebook (A mere three years later, 100,000 companies will have business pages).
  • 2005: Adobe releases Flash CS3 Professional (end of support is announced six years later). 
    • Launch of YouTube.
  • 2006: Digital cameras become the standard for photoshoots.
    • Launch of Twitter.
  • 2007: Apple releases the iPhone, the first smartphone.
  • 2009: Launch of Uber—much to the excitement of trade show managers everywhere.
  • 2010: Apple releases the iPad, redefining personal computing.
    • Launch of Instagram.
  • 2011: Present-day Snapchat launches as “Picaboo.”
    • Adobe introduces Creative Cloud.
  • 2012: Launch of Instacart, signalling the beginning of virtual grocery shopping.