In the last decade, content marketing (or branded media) has surfaced as arguably the fastest-growing and effective “new” marketing strategy. But in truth, content marketing has been around for over a hundred years.
In 1837, after an Illinois blacksmith fashioned a steel saw blade into a self-scouring plow, the demand for smooth sided steel plows exploded. John Deere soon grew his fledgling company into the country’s largest manufacturer of farm implements. In 1895, the John Deere Company launched what is commonly believed to be the first custom publication with its magazine The Furrow, which provided information to farmers on how to become more profitable. Still in circulation today, The Furrow now reaches 1.5 million readers in 40 countries in 12 different languages.
Following suit, in 1900 Michelin developed the Michelin Guide. The guide offered automobile drivers information on maintenance, accommodations, and miscellaneous travel tips. Then in 1904, Jell-O started distributing its free cookbook, which presented Jell-O as a wonderfully versatile dessert option, which resulted in an increase in sales to over $1 million by 1906.
While content marketing has been around for more than a century, much has changed in our world in that time, and most of that change has made the concept of branded media even more impactful. 100 years ago, consumers had little choice but to believe what companies had to say about their products and services. Today, consumers are less likely to pay attention to what you have to say about yourself than what you have to say about the topics they care about. Carve out a content niche within which you can become THE authority—and just like John Deere, Michelin, and Jell-O before you, explore how to sell more, by selling less!