Why Content Marketing? It’s Worked for 300 Years…That’s Why!

content marketing for business

Content marketing has the longest track record of marketing success

Consumers, whether they’re businesses or everyday people, are not interested in your product. You can showcase features. You can tout quality. You can feature your incredible team, but here’s the harsh truth—consumers don’t really care. It is about them, not you.

Content marketing is most successful when it is about solving your customer’s problems and not selling your product or service. While many of today’s tactics are new, the whole idea of creating content to attract sales are not.

Content marketing may have become a buzz term over the last ten years, the practice is actually the oldest form of marketing! Here are some examples:

Poor Richard’s Almanac (1732) – Weather.com and Candy Crush of the 1700’s

In order to promote a printing company, this annual publication was packed with everything from weather predictions to popular sayings—even mathematic exercises (like Sudoku books of the past). As many as 10,000 copies were sold each year. This content marketing vanguard was created by United States’ Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.

John Deere: The Furrow Magazine (1895) – Forbes for Farmers at the dawn of the 20th Century

Although Mr. Deere’s tractors and farm equipment got off to a strong start, many farms were failing due to poor management or lack of advancement. The Furrow magazine coached farmers on business practices and new farming techniques to make farms successful.

Michelin Guide (1900) – Travel bloggers of the day who monetized their opinions

In 1900, automobiles were just not taking off in France. A new tire company decided to entice the people of France by rating restaurants. The guide included maps, garage listings, travel tips, and a bunch of useful motorist information. Automobiles got more popular and the Michelin Guide grew to include more countries. Michelin got smart and started charging for the guide!

Guinness and World Records (1955) – Fact checking for Irish pubs

In order to help settle more Pub arguments and sell more Guinness beer, the Irish brewery created this “book of records.” Each edition was packed with facts and figures compiled in visiting countless pubs (in the name of research, of course). The first edition rolled out and sold 187,000 within a year. Over one million were sold within the first 10 years. Today, over 143 million have been sold.

Red Bull (2013) – The media company that also sold energy drinks

Red Bull mini movies and extreme sports video storytelling captured everyone’s attention. From acrobatic airplane races to base jumping in wing suits, Red Bull sponsored incredible feats that racked up video views and accelerated sales. Today, Red Bull is positioned as a leading sport video content producer who just happens to dominate the energy drink game with about 25% of the US market.

The common thread between each of these is simple: It addresses a customer challenge. Your content strategy should be focused on the same principle.

How often do you investigate your customers’ challenges? Talk with your frontline sales reps? Review questions with your inside sales team? What are the questions and pain points that mean the most to your past, present, and future customers?

Does Content Marketing Really Work in Business?

The events of 2020 have accelerated the trend of online research overtaking in-person interactions or even a business’ “tribal knowledge.” It doesn’t matter if you’re purchasing widgets (B2B) or deciding on a vacation destination (B2C)—people want to feel a connection. Did you know:

  • 67% of B2B buyers said they rely on content research for making informed purchase decisions with the most impactful content coming from peers. (DemandGen)
  • 73% of Millennials are involved in decision making at their business and indicate that digital channels such as search engines, vendor websites and social media are the most important channels for researching new products and services—far eclipsing asking a coworker. (Merit)
  • Once you do provide useful content, 74% of buyers choose the provider that was first to add value and insight. (Corporate Visions)

How Do I Get Started with Content Marketing?

Drawing from the examples of past success stories, let’s start building a customer-centric content strategy. It doesn’t start with staring at a blank Word document. Here are some ideas to get things started:

  • Ask a few customers why they said “yes” to you and not your competitor
  • Interview your outside sales team to see what top questions are being asked
  • Your inside sales team can give insight into why customers stay with you
  • Review your “dream customer” list and see what associations or online groups they participate in to see the hot discussion topics

If you’re really feeling ambitious:

  • Start a Google Doc with your sales team to document the questions they’re asked
  • Ask the same questions in Google—where do you show up?
  • Investigate the customers of your “dream client” and understand their challenges
  • Test your idea by making a short (30 seconds) video answering the top question—post it to LinkedIn and YouTube to see what happens

As you start taking action on each of these steps, you’ll begin to understand the pattern of content success. It will also become even more evident why predecessors like Ben Franklin, John Deere, and Red Bull were really on to something.

If you want help getting all this started, please give Signalfire a shout. Our successful content marketing process can help you better connect with prospects, better educate current customers, and entice pervious buyers to return.