Happy Birthday Thomas Paine!

On this day in 1737 Thomas Paine was born. Happy 273rd Tommy! I hope it is a good one for you.

Paine is arguably one of the most influential thinkers of the last 300 years, having played key roles in both the French and American Revolutions.

More importantly for this forum, he fundamentally understood marketing especially if you define marketing as the spread of ideas. As such, it is worthwhile for business people to reflect on the man.

Paine has much to teach us re the power of publishing and writing accessibly. Common Sense, the pamphlet he published in 1776, is often cited as being a key spark in fomenting revolutionary action against the British. It represented a departure from the style of times. Paine wrote the reasoned argument against imperial rule in language commoners understood and in the style of a sermon (folks used to go to Church) so that it would achieve maximum reach. It worked. Common Sense sold as many as 120,000 copies in the first three months, 500,000 in the first year, and went through twenty-five editions in its first year of circulation. It was thus an early example of something “going viral.” Today, in order for your business to flourish you need to publish and do so in a way that makes people want to spread your ideas. This means being accessible and publishing in a manner compelling to your audience.

Can you imagine what Thomas Paine would have done if he’d lived in today’s world where anyone can publish anything? It’d be stoopid. He would surely have 100 000 followers on Twitter and 90 000 subscribers to the RSS feed of his blog.

He has much to tell us. Happy birthday Mr. Paine.

Leave a Reply