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Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.
Content Marketing has been defined in multiple ways. The meaning of the term depends upon its purpose and context. One of the most used definitions is “the technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience in order to drive profitable customer action" 
- 1891: August Oetker sold small packages of his Backin baking powder to households with recipes printed on the back. In 1911 he started publishing his very successful cookbook. It went through major updates over past 100 years and is one of the most successful cookbooks, globally reaching 19 million printed copies. All recipes originated from the test kitchen of the Oetker company, and the book was carefully written as a textbook to teach cooking from scratch. Oetker was very aware of the need for good marketing, practical communication and use of his doctor title to lend authority to his marketing.
- 1895: John Deere launched the magazine The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The magazine, considered the first custom publication, is still in circulation, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries in 12 different languages.
- 1900: Michelin developed the Michelin Guide, offering drivers information on auto maintenance, accommodations, and other travel tips. 35,000 copies were distributed for free in this first edition.
- 1904: Jell-O salesmen went door-to-door, distributing their cookbook for free. Touting the dessert as a versatile food, the company saw its sales rise to over $1 million by 1906.
The phrase "content marketing" was used as early as 1996, when John F. Oppedahl led a roundtable for journalists at the American Society for Newspaper Editors. In 1998, Jerrell Jimerson held the title of "director of online and content marketing" at Netscape. In 1999, author Jeff Cannon wrote,“In content marketing, content is created to provide consumers with the information they seek.”
Recently, content marketing has become more prominent, especially where digital and online marketing is concerned. Seth Godin, American author and Marketeer stated in 2008 that 'content marketing was the only marketing left.'
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the 7 most popular ways companies use content marketing. In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93% as part of their overall marketing strategy.
- "Trends 2014 in Online Marketing: Content Marketing". Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- "Content marketing defined: a customer-centric content marketing definition". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- John Deere: The Media Company (Video). Content Marketing Institute. 30 April 2012.
- "The Michelin Guide: 100 Editions and Over a Century of History". Michelin. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
- Cannon, Jeff (1999), 'Make Your Website Work For You', pg. 45. McGraw Hill Professional, ISBN 978-0071352413
- The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends Dominating 2014 Forbes.com (2014-08-24). Retrieved on 2014-09-22
- 2014 B2B Content Marketing Research: Strategy is Key to Effectiveness ContentMarketingInstitute.com (2013-10-01). Retrieved on 2014-09-22