Content Marketing Series: #2. The history of content marketing

04/02/16
Content Marketing

The history of content marketing

If you think of content marketing as corporate storytelling, then it’s easy to see how far back it goes.

Looking back at the first blog in this series, where we explained content marketing – it’s any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media (telling ‘stories’) and publishing content to acquire and retain customers. Historical research shows one of the first signs of custom publishing was found in 4200BC with cave paintings that loosely translated to “6 ways a spear can save you from a wild boar.”

In more recent years, if you can call 1895 recent, John Deere launched a customer magazine The Furrow. It had a circulation of 1.5 million copies, was distributed in 40 countries and published in 12 different languages. It’s considered the first custom publication and provided information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The Furrow is still in circulation today.

The Furrow - John Deere

Five years later, Michelin published a 400-page guide which helped drivers maintain their cars and find accommodation. Michelin Guide was distributed for free in 1900 with a print run of 35,000.

Guide michelin - Edition 1900

These three early examples may not scream “content marketing” in 2016 but all of them certainly do fulfill their target: “creation and sharing of media and publishing content to acquire and retain customers”.

The actual phrase “content marketing” wasn’t coined until 1996 when John F. Oppedahl of the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette moderated a roundtable for journalists at the American Society for Newspaper Editors. The idea was to offer different ways to think about readers and how papers were marketed.

And then in 1998 Netscape hired a “director of online and content marketing” in order to help take on their rivals, such as Yahoo, and in 1999 author Jeff Cannon said “In content marketing, content is created to provide consumers with the information they seek,” from his book Make Your Website Work For You. Content marketing has been full steam ahead since then.

Most recently, www.forbes.com said that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped up from 60 per cent the year before to 93 per cent as part of their overall marketing strategy.

So, if you think content marketing is a new thing, history says otherwise, but it’s certainly been gaining traction in the business world (of attracting and retaining customers) with leaps and bounds in the last five years.

More to come in our content marketing series:
-Types of
-Success stories
-3Ps - planning, production, publishing
-How to create great content on a regular basis: ‘I see content everywhere’

Click below for part 1 of the content marketing series:

Content Marketing Series: #1 What is Content Marketing?