A Brief History of Content Marketing

History of Content Marketing

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Content marketing has been around for a long time.

Some marketers believe content marketing didn’t take off until the internet where mass communication was possible.

However, content marketing in its simplest form is about storytelling – one of the oldest forms of communication.

Arguably then, for as long as humans have existed, people have been creating content; just think about cave paintings for example.

With that in mind, the history of content marketing probably goes back a lot further than you initially thought.

In 1440, Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press that created pamphlets which marketed products.

Fast forward to 1732, Benjamin Franklin released the Poor Richard’s Almanack book, which had been designed to promote his printing business.

Later in 1867, Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company published a company magazine that is still continuing to run under the same name today.

These examples above are the earliest representations of content marketing, where it was realised that sharing helpful information will help people realise they need your product or service and therefore build an audience.

But, it wasn’t until a few years later where content marketing really became successful and is how we know it today.

 

The Furrow

Published by John Deer in 1895, The Furrow was a publication designed to help the reader and not to push sales; a key example of what content marketing should be.

Remarkably, this was a magazine that offered useful information and advice to farmers who wanted to increase profits made from their lands.

As opposed to other publications at the time, the magazine included relevant, valuable information as well as engaging stories for consumers to enjoy – the complete definition of content marketing.

 

The Michelin Guides

Following the success of The Furrow, the French tyre brand, Michelin, released its Michelin Guide in 1900, which provided drivers with information to use on the road.

For example, it includes where to find repair shops, restaurants, hotels and travel tips and the company offered the first 35,000 copies for free.

Again, this was not an effort to sell tyres, but to encourage people to travel in hope their tyres would wear out and then go to Michelin for their service.

 

The Jell-O Recipe Book

Jell-O began to publish ads in The Ladies Home Journal in 1904 as they understood the American housewife was their target demographic.

And this saw rise to purposeful audience targeting which is exactly what content marketers do today.

In addition, they shared a recipe book that helped people make Jell-O, which generated more interest, resulted in more sales and turned it into a household name – proving content marketing to be forever-effective.

 

Exxon and Multi-Channel Campaigns

With the rise of television, brands realised they could take advantage of different mediums to advertise their products and services; print, radio and TV.

Now, marketers understood it was more effective to reach their audience by sharing the same message across all platforms, which led to consistent brand messaging and laid the foundation for content marketing campaigns in the future.

An impressive multi-channel campaign worth noting is Exxon (now Esso), where their content writer developed the slogan “Put a tiger in your tank”; their gas gave your car more power.

And this was used everywhere; TV, magazines, newspapers and more and this idea underpins every successful marketing campaign today.

 

The Digital Age

In the 90s, we saw the rise of computers and the internet, and this changed the world of marketing forever.

Gone were the days of printed material and in came its digital counterparts; emails, websites and blogs.

For marketers, the internet made it easy to create and publish content through a number of different ways which we are all familiar with today:

  • Website: the first commercial website was launched in 1993 by O’Reilly and Associates; a defining moment as anyone with internet access could create a site and push out content to bigger audiences.
  • Blog: a year later, in 1994 the first blog was published by Swarthmore College and was essentially a diary entry. Back then, this was known as “logging on the web” and larger corporations discovered this was an effective way to spread awareness – a robust strategy that still remains relevant today.
  • Social Media: the early 2000s saw rise to new platforms, like Facebook and Twitter where brands could target and engage with their audience; social media allowed brands to share content with wider audiences.

 

Content Today

Today, businesses on average allocate up to 5% of their budget towards content marketing as it’s a proven method to increase engagement and leads.

Positively, content marketing costs 62% less than other marketing techniques and it creates 3 times more leads – so if you haven’t started sharing content, you probably should!

All in all, content is powerful and the need to share it will not be going away anytime soon.

Keep in mind though, you don’t want to write for the sake of ranking for keywords, but to actually offer value to your target audience as a way to gain their trust and invest in your business.

 

To learn more, get in touch today.

Please check out our Digital Marketing Services in the meantime.

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