One early example of Content Marketing is Michelin’s “Michelin Guide” – first published in 1900, it originally included useful instructions for drivers, along with a directory of mechanics, hotels and petrol stations. Another is Jell-o’s “Jell-o recipe book” which suggested different ways of using their product.
What do these have in common? Both are freely distributed pieces of content aimed at current and potential customers, providing them with value in exchange for exposure to the brand. Both are examples of early Content Marketing. Jell-o’s recipe book contributed to product sales of over $1m in 1906, and Michelin stars are still trusted as a yardstick with which to measure the highest quality restaurants in the world.
The underlying concept of Content Marketing in the modern world remains exactly the same, but the way in which it is executed has changed significantly. Increased technology has allowed brands to carry out more adventurous campaigns across a multitude of different media platforms, telling stories and providing value for both their existing and prospective customers.
In a B2B context, General Electric has an award-winning online presence, regularly populated with engaging and informative content that helps cement the brand's reputation in their industry. GE employees regularly publish articles on subjects within their field of expertise. From regular features like "5 coolest things on earth this week" to more detailed pieces such as “How Reliable Electricity Is Helping Africa’s 2nd Most Populous Country Recharge Its Economy”, each post contributes towards an overall picture of a business powered by knowledgeable and enthusiastic people, whilst at the same time reaffirming GE’s position as a leader in the technology and engineering industries. The brand is more popular and more trusted because it supplies an audience with valuable content, containing unique perspectives, entertainment, insight or knowledge.
A Content Marketing campaign does not have to be particularly funny, witty or light-hearted in order for it to be successful.
Depending on your target audience, a winning campaign may also be educational, thought-provoking or even the driver for behavioural change within a group or society.
Content Marketing enables you to:
• Achieve brand goals, such as becoming synonymous with excellence in your industry
• Directly improve sales of your product or service
• Put your business in the minds of potential and existing customers, making you first-choice when they are ready-to-buy
• If created with specific keyphrases in mind, Content Marketing can also have a positive effect on your website's organic position in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).